transportation

A Dirty Perspective On A World Too Clean

LINE GROES Is It a Bird EMILIE STUHR ANDERSEN Is It a Bird PechaKucha Presentation We live in a world where we tend to categorize, quantify and measure a wide array of everyday aspects - from kWh consumption in our homes to Facebook-likes. We argue that this urge to categorize and standardize is problematic as we run the risk of oversimplifying reality. Based on an ethnographic field study of what a ‘clean journey’ means to train passengers we illustrate the gap between the Danish Railroad Company's cleaning standards and passenger experiences. By contrasting these standards with passenger experiences and attitudes we answer the question: What is left out, when service providers decide to categorize and measure lived reality? We suggest that rather than ‘cleaning up’ the complexities of human nature and perception, we must recognize and embrace them and find ways to integrate them into our categories and standards. Line Groes is the CEO and founder of IS IT A BIRD – A strategic innovation agency based in Denmark....

To Have and Have Not: Exploring Grammars of Sharing in the Context of Urban Mobility

ANNA ZAVYALOVA Stripe Partners This paper explores cultural differences in the practices of car sharing in the context of urban mobility. Challenging the all too frequent and often uncriticial uses of the term “sharing economy”, we argue for a more granular representation of practices that occur when “sharing” meets “economy”, focusing on the tensions that characterise people's embodied experiences of carpooling. By exploring emergent behaviour conventions, this paper seeks to highlight the ethnographic value of shifting perspectives between different players in car sharing transactions. We aim to offer a fresh, ethnographically rich and critical perspective on practices of mobility sharing in the context of an industry in flux....

Autonomous Individuals in Autonomous Vehicles: The Multiple Autonomies of Self-Driving Cars

ERIK STAYTON Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley & Massachusetts Institute of Technology MELISSA CEFKIN Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley JINGYI ZHANG Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley We take the polysemy at the heart of autonomy as our focus, and explore how changing notions of autonomy are experienced and expressed by users of self-driving cars. Drawing from work-practice studies and sociomaterial approaches to understanding technologies, we discuss how driving as a task is destabilized and reconfigured by the introduction of increasingly automated systems for vehicle control. We report on the findings of a hybrid ethnographic experiment performed at Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley, in which we video recorded interactions of 14 participants inside a simulated autonomous vehicle, and conducted semi-structured post-interviews. We look at the responses of our participants in light of three different themes of autonomy, which emerged through the analysis of the...

Ethnography First! Promoting Sustainable Lifestyles through Locally Meaningful Solutions

by DAN PODJED, University of Ljubljana Sustainability & Ethnography in Business Series, Mike Youngblood, Editor When we think of technology and innovation responses to global warming, we tend to imagine grand solutions that address the problem on a massive scale. For many ethnographers, designers in industry and other solution seekers, this makes the challenge of sustainability daunting, something we can't imagine pursuing in our day-to-day practice. However, we can make a significant impact with relatively simple solutions, especially if they are tailored to local lifestyles and take into account habits, routines, practices, requirements and expectations of the people. This was the approach of the DriveGreen project, which was launched in 2014. The initial plan for DriveGreen was to prepare a simple and affordable smartphone app for drivers of passenger cars. It was supposed to operate much like Toyota’s iPhone app A Glass of Water, which determines and visually communicates how economical, safe, and environmentally...

Developing Socially Acceptable Autonomous Vehicles

ERIK VINKHUYZEN Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley MELISSA CEFKIN Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley Case Study—Recognizing that the movement of cars on the road involves inherently social action, Nissan hired a team of social scientists to lead research for the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs) that engage with pedestrians, bicyclists, and other cars in a socially acceptable manner. We are expected to provide results that can be implemented into algorithms, resulting in a challenge to our social science perspective: How do we translate what are observably social practices into implementable algorithms when road use practices are so often contingent on the particulars of a situation, and these situations defy easy categorization and generalization? This case study explores how our cross-disciplinary engagements have proceeded. A particular challenge for our efforts is the limitations of the technology in making observational distinctions that socially acceptable driving necessitates. We also illustrate...

Riding with Heidegger: A New Perspective on the Premium Vehicle

by BENJAMIN AHNERT, ReD Associates The car has been the subject of social scientific research for decades. Scholars have described the empowerment people feel through the physical sensations of speed and acceleration. The ability of the premium vehicle to express status has been a staple of literature on signaling and social stratification. These days, even in emerging markets, premium vehicles are no longer scarce. In 2013 the German and British premium brands already operated 1,085 dealerships in China; by 2020 an estimated 300 million Chinese will be able to afford premium vehicles. Meanwhile, congestion is increasingly severe. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of vehicles in China rose at a CAGR of 19%, yet the length of Chinese roads rose at just 3.4%. Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have less than 1 km of road per one 1000 inhabitants, around one-fifth the amount in congested London and New York. In the face of these changes, a client sought our help to reinvestigate the meaning of premium mobility beyond status and...

What Is a Product? How a New Definition is Leading Us toward a Place-Based Design Process

by MEGAN NEESE, Future Lab, Nissan Motor Ltd. The Product Company Identity Crisis I have always worked at or with OEMs (original equipment manufacturing companies) in the industrial design and product development industry. The work has ranged from very large products such as sleeper cabins for long haul trucks and farming equipment down to very small products in the consumer electronics industry, but consistently, the emphasis has always been on products. The very nature of being an equipment maker requires expertise in integrating parts, components, and systems into physical objects. Product development processes have always been structurally similar, focused on integration and related at some level to Stage Gate or Six Sigma. They reflect the constraints of manufacturing, in which decisions are cascading to ensure forward momentum and reduce last-minute changes that could have unforeseen ricochet effects on years of decisions that have already been made. And they work—so long as you don’t consider software, data, automation, or...

Ethnographic Study Lifts the Hood on what REALLY Goes On inside that Car

by BRIGITTE JORDAN (Nissan Research Center - Silicon Valley), CHRISTINA WASSON (University of North Texas), and HEATHER S. ROTH-LOBO (University of North Texas) Driverless cars—the term, the fantasy, promises a pinnacle of automotive engineering that takes the human entirely out of the picture. But the closer the technology comes to reality, the more obvious it becomes that “driverless” doesn’t mean “people-less.” The automotive industry needs answers to questions that are fundamentally human and understanding of issues that are fundamentally social. We need to understand the social life of the car. No stranger to Silicon Valley hi-tech labs, Gitti’s charge at Nissan was to establish ethnography and design anthropology as foundational components of research that would underlie all aspects of the human-centered design that was the Lab’s purpose and ambition. The goal was to provide a path for thinking outside (and inside) of the technology box to generate actionable and inspirational techno-social insights. As she...

Everyone’s Trash: Recycling in China

MOLLY STEVENSGoogle, Inc. Are we really connected to the steps and act of recycling and reuse? Is the modern American vision for recycling too clean and removed from the reality of our waste? Images are a series of observations about a single example of community, value-based recycling from Shanghai. The images challenge us to reflect on what we can learn from other approaches....

You’ll Never Ride Alone: The Role of Social Media in Supporting the Bus Passenger Experience

PAUL GAULT, DAVID CORSAR, PETER EDWARDS, JOHN D NELSON and CAITLIN COTTRILL The paper discusses a study of social media usage within the context of a public transport operator. This involved fieldwork within three subsidiary companies of FirstGroup alongside a content analysis of the individual Twitter feeds they operate and the conversations they generate through them to engage with passengers. A refiguring of the notion of social is taking place within these companies through their emergent strategies for utilizing social media. The findings showed how the companies address this by pursuing a persistent conversation with customers, facilitating the provision of real-time information and carefully managing their Twitter identity....

Design Anthropologists’ Role in SMEs: Unveiling Aptitude and Attitude

MARK ASBOE Research collaboration and methods development within user-centered design and the emerging discipline of user-driven innovation have traditionally taken place in research institutions and large forward-looking enterprises. Due to this fact, concepts, methodologies, approaches have primarily gained foothold in companies with resources, competencies and organizational support to make sense of this seemingly fruitful but somehow elitist approach. The roles that the design anthropologist plays in user-driven innovation will depend on size and competencies of the specific organization. The economic realities of small-to-medium sized companies (SMEs) suggest a more holistic research perspective from the single design anthropologist that potentially constitutes the entire (and affordable) user experience department of the SME. This paper suggests a plausible approach for utilizing the skills of a design anthropologist in a small manufacturing company based on experience from two collaborative projects. Rather than informing about...

Putting Mobility on the Map: Researching Journeys and the Research Journey

SIMON ROBERTS This paper, based on a fieldwork conducted with community transport projects in rural Ireland, examines the place of mobility in the lives of older people. It uses the idea of journey to explore what mobility means to older people, what the research made visible to a diverse range of project stakeholders and to reflect on the nature of ethnographic projects in industry settings. For passengers, the journeying is often as important as the destination – travelling creates visibility of countryside, community and communion with others. For project stakeholders, the research encouraged a view of mobility that transcends travel because it highlighted the world beyond the bus. For researchers, the project created challenges to the dominant view of technology for ageing-in-place within their own organization. Finally, reflections are made on industry ethnography as a journey with often unknown destinations....