scale

Going to Scale: Lessons from the Pandemic

GENEVIEVE BELL Australia National University The pandemic has disrupted everything from the global flow of goods and services, to the actions that individuals can take in their daily lives. It has changed, for now at least, the ecosystems in which we work—impacting both how we think about ethnographic activity and how it is might be used. In Australia, the pandemic has resulted in a collection of massive, unplanned, social experiments in scale, at scale. Examining five of these social experiments as they’ve played out, Genevieve will extract lessons that seem relevant to the work we all do now and to the ways we might want to orient to the future. After all, as the pandemic is demonstrating, scale is neither a stable nor singular concept, and our responses to it will need to be appropriately located and considered. Genevieve Bell is a Distinguished Professor, Director of the 3A Institute (3Ai) and Florence Violet McKenzie Chair at the Australian National University. She is also Vice President and a Senior Fellow at Intel...

Toxicity v. toxicity: How Ethnography Can Inform Scalable Technical Solutions

JAMIE SHERMAN Intel Corporation ANNE MCCLARD McClard LLC While a number of scholars have studied online communities, research on games has been mostly focused on the business, experience, and content of gameplay. Interactions between players within games has received less attention, and toxic behavior is a newer area of investigation in academia. Inquiry into toxicity in gaming is part of a larger body of literature and public interest emerging around disruptive and malicious social interactions online, cyberbullying, child-grooming, and extremist recruiting. Through our research we reaffirmed that toxicity in gaming is a problem at a global scale, but we also discovered that on a micro scale, what behavior gamers perceive as toxic, or how toxicity is enacted in gaming is different depending on cultural context amongst other things. The generalized problem at scale, and its particular manifestations on the micro level raise philosophical and technology design questions, which we address through examples from our own research...

On AI Natives and the Business of AI

ASHWINI ASOKAN Mad Street Den Ashwini Asokan is the CEO & Co-Founder of Mad Street Den, a computer vision and artificial intelligence company. The team’s mission is to build models of generalizable intelligence and create meaningful experiences with AI on scale, helping millions of people across the globe to become AI native. Working across US, India, LatAm, Europe, UAE and Japan, the team has been known to build some of the most cutting edge AI tech, while bringing about significant change in how companies think about the future with AI. The company’s first vertical, Vue.ai, helps the retail industry reimagine work and the future of their industry through AI solutions purpose built for them. Ashwini returned to India from Silicon Valley after more than a decade, to bootstrap her startup which she founded with her husband, Anand Chandrasekaran, a neuroscientist. Ashwini has been exploring how artificial intelligence can be brought out of the science and tech labs of the world, applied meaningfully and made accessible...

Personal Reflections on Scale from the Business World

photo of building with sky and jet stream in the background
by ADAM SINGER, Gemic Hi everyone, my name is Adam Singer. I’m a Strategist at Gemic and I’m new to the world of ethnography. Gemic is a strategy consulting firm founded by anthropologists that embeds anthropological and social science theory and methods into the core of its work. It uses these tools among others to identify growth opportunities and assess the future of culture, technology, and business for its clients. In contrast, I have little formal training or background experience in anthropology or ethnography. I come from a background in nonprofits and business (real estate development, commodity trading, traditional management consulting). Entering such an exciting field that is so different from my past experience has been quite the learning journey. In discussing the meaning of scale as the theme of this EPIC conference, I think it can be thought-provoking to compare and contrast how scale is considered and manifests between the world of business and the world of ethnography. Hopefully my perspective as someone...

Ethnography Taught Me to Fight Climate Change. But to Have Impact at Scale, Ethnography too Must Change   

photo of a piece of public art made of green computer components
by MELISSA GREGG, Intel In the spring of 2019 I met Klara, a fashion blogger based in Malmö with a growing reputation in sustainable design. Klara was a classic millennial of the type I had been studying for years: ambitious, anxious, confident and concerned about her future job security. In the course of a long interview about her laptop routines, she worried about depending so much on devices. She was one of several participants in different parts of the world who were cynical about tech companies’ constant push to sell new products. She had high standards for quality, but didn’t think there were enough products available that focused on sustainability. Rather than feel guilty about buying something that compromised her brand, Klara was considering making her next computer purchase second-hand. Several months later, the research complete and the presentations over, I am listening to another young woman from Sweden, Greta Thunberg. “This is all wrong,” she was saying on stage at the United Nations Climate Summit: “I shouldn’t...

EPIC2020 Will Be a Virtual Event—Join Us from Anywhere in the World!

→ Submissions Accepted through JUNE 1 → Proposal Review Starts APRIL 1 As the pandemic escalates, we’ve been contemplating the forecasts, listening to our communities, and rejigging our lives. It’s now clear that EPIC’s treasured annual gathering must transform into a virtual event this year. Although it’s heartbreaking to abandon our plans in Melbourne, our conference committee is energized by…

Place Making and Sustainability

by MICHAEL DONOVAN, Practica Group LLC Sustainability & Ethnography in Business Series, Mike Youngblood, Editor Place making offers us a largely untraveled pathway to thinking about sustainability. These two relatively high order concepts—'place making' and 'sustainability'—are conventionally located in separate domains of knowledge and ways of knowing. Place making is essentially the fluid filling in of geographic spaces with experience, social value, and meaning. It’s the kind of thing that cultural geographers, anthropologists, and historians are likely to ponder. Sustainability is harder to corral. Leaving questions of perspective and authority aside for a moment, what are “we” trying to sustain? Species? The ecosystems in which such species thrive? Or the natural places—those culturally mediated spaces (forests, rivers, bays, coral reefs)—in which such “systems” are embedded? How about places at further remove from “nature” and the protective eye of naturalists and environmentalists—neighborhoods,...

Scaling Empathy through IBM Design Research

by CHRIS HAMMOND and JESYKA PALMER, IBM Design Research As consultants we practiced the basics of design thinking and user centered design for years with a range of organizations. However, upon joining IBM and learning to apply the IBM Design Thinking mindset, we both realized this way of working differed from our past experiences. This difference is largely expressed by the addition of “the Keys” or IBM’s way to scale design within a large, geographically disparate organization. As researchers and strategists, the most resonate Key is Sponsor Users. A real challenge for enterprise and healthcare programs is access to users and their environment—rarely can you approach a hospital and ask if you can walk into an operating room with cameras and notepads in hand. In the healthcare space, we overcame the challenge by creating partnerships with clinicians and hospitals. These relationships brought clinicians onto our teams and closed the expertise gap. Clinicians shared with us a day in their lives and showed us their struggles...