visual methods

Evidence before Art: An Ethnomethodological Approach to Video Ethnography in Commercial Research Contexts

by NICK AGAFONOFF, Real Ethnography/The Practice Insights I think of myself as a video ethnomethodologist1 – a social scientist who utilises disruptive techniques (social experiments) in conjunction with technical videography to explore, document and represent how people subjectively make sense of and navigate their everyday worlds in relation to brands, products and services. My films and their usefulness depend entirely on the scientific process that I employ to facilitate objectification of the lived experience data collected, otherwise referred to as the evidence. My films become art the moment they become about my own subjective experience; the moment I depart from being an objective social scientist. At EPIC2017 in Montreal, I had the pleasure of presenting my 10-minute documentary Andrew’s Story, an emotional portrait of a man who had recently experienced a permanent disability but was refusing to claim on his disability insurance. My client wanted to understand why people like Andrew are not making claims when...

Emotional Landscapes: Observing and Capturing the Emotionality of Experience

BRIDGET MONAHAN Vellichor Design PechaKucha Presentation This Pecha Kucha details how the imperative to employ visual thinking in doing ethnographic research work led to a fascination with capturing, through photography, the unguarded, natural emotions people express in their daily lives. It explores the differences in meaning behind these displays and the forcefulness of expressions captured in everyday lived situations. We, as researchers, pay attention to and interpret the words people say but often leave these emotional traces and visceral reactions undisturbed. An ongoing study of and immersion in these visible emotions formed a body of work around “emotional” landscape photography. Bridget Monahan, is a researcher and photographer. She has worked as a design researcher for a number of product design and innovation agencies, including MAYA Design, Razorfish, and Sapient. In 2017, she started Vellichor Design to concentrate more fully on her art and writing and to work as an independent consultant in the areas...

Instax as Objects of Record

DAVID PETER SIMON Atlasssian PechaKucha Presentation—Instant camera images can act as a physical-digital assistant and craft richer ethnographic records. The author particularly underlines the importance of photography for design field research, drawing upon his fieldwork work in Uganda. Starting by briefly contextualizing the history of photography in research practice he introduces the concept of Spradley's“objects of record” (1979). How can we optimize the use of instant photography with participants, and make operable projects in corporate contexts. David Peter Simon is a senior design researcher at Atlassian, a software company. Before Atlassian, David was a design fellow at Medic Mobile, producer for World IA Day, experience designer with ThoughtWorks, and blogger on Indie Shuffle. David studied digital ethnography and information visualization at the University of Oxford (MSc). 2017 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918, epicpeople.org/intelligences...

Tutorial: Virtual Reality and Ethnographic Research

KARL MENDONCA Amazon Music ADELE RAY Filmmaker; Berkeley City College OverviewWith growing interest across domains and industries in Virtual Reality (VR), this seminar style and hands-on tutorial gives participants essential skills for producing and incorporating virtual reality 360 video into ethnographic research. Participants will: Develop a critical understanding of VR by understanding it within a longer history of visuality and media studies. Learn about different workflows covering capture (cameras, rigs), editing (software) and distribution (viewing platforms) as well as technical elements behind successful VR (frame rates, camera movement, avoiding motion sickness). Review examples of VR based research methodologies such as diary studies, walk-throughs, contextual interviews, etc. Work hands-on with a VR camera to complete a short project based on a theme or set of research questions. This video includes only the presentation portion of the tutorial. Assigned Readings: Remediation...

Plus Size Fashion: What Happens when Stereotypes, Fueled by Popular Culture, Creep into a Retailer’s Business Decisions?

MEG KINNEY Bad Babysitter HAL PHILLIPS Bad Babysitter Case Study—This case demonstrates the power of video as a data collection tool and a storytelling approach to the presentation of research findings. Fresh Produce Clothing specifically selected Bad Babysitter as a consulting partner for their expertise in video-based ethnography and narrative style of delivery. The case begins with contextualizing a business with an imperative to evolve and an organizational culture that was not aligned. The locus of the debate was the Plus Sized shopper – a consumer segment that put interpretation of hard data by headquarters at odds with impassioned anecdotal inputs from the field. Video offered a visceral way to get past conjecture and “bring her into the room”. The primary benefit to the brand was the immediacy for translating learning into actionable insights and consensus on the way forward. The revenue impact was dramatic: leadership took a 180-degree turn from phasing the Plus shopper out to investing in her....

How New Social Design Captures the Social with Photographs

ILPO KOSKINEN School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University New social design defines “the social” rather than material things as its main design object, and builds usually on ethnographic research techniques in capturing the social. Designers use camera in their fieldwork but unlike social scientists, they build their camera practices on a variety of sources, often artistic and journalistic rather than analytic. This paper explores how new social design captures the social with photographs. It shows that the main unit of social action in photography is the design act. Place on the other hand remains a non-analytic feature that conveys the sense of having been there, but does not go deeper into the social. The most analytic constructs in photographs are diagrams and other representations. Discussion links these observations into the professionalization of design and its aesthetic rather than analytic base....

Do You See What I See?: Mobile Labs Enrich Ethnographic Nuancing

by APARNA RAY, DINA MEHTA & STUART HENSHALL, Convo We find our clients constantly look for deeper meaning and nuanced user insights to help them innovate, stay ahead and rise to the challenges of business. At the same time, cross-functional teams within the organization want research to throw light on their focal paths. Add to this the ever-increasing role of technology and digitization in the lives of users, real-time play and social media engagement, and you have a heady mix that calls for new approaches and tools for ethnographic research. “The relations between social life and its analysis are changing in the context of digitization… the means by which social life is performed and the devices through which it is recorded, observed and interpreted are increasingly the same or similar. Among many other things, this makes possible different ways of deploying social technologies in social and cultural research.” (Noortje Marres, What is Digital Sociology? CISP Online, 21 January 2013) Over the last few years, we...

Implementing EMRs: Learnings from a Video Ethnography

ERIK VINKHUYZEN, LUKE PLURKOWSKI and GARY DAVID This yearlong video ethnography of a healthcare clinic that transitioned from a paper process to a scanning solution documents in detail how the new technology impacted different groups in the clinic. While the scanning solution reduced the retrieving, filing, and paper-processing work for the Medical Record clerks, the ethnographic analysis showed that it also eliminated some of that work’s tangible benefits for providers. Ultimately, the scanning solution resulted in a shift in the division of labor in the clinic from Medical Records to the healthcare providers who were burdened with additional administrative tasks. Indeed, the scanning technology did not make the clinic more efficient overall, as the number of patient visits per day remained the same....

No More Circling around the Block: Evolving a Rapid Ethnography and Podcasting Method to Guide Innovation in Parking Systems

JAMES GLASNAPP and ELLEN ISAACS After many years with little innovation in parking technology, many cities are now exploring new systems meant to improve the use of limited parking real estate, reduce congestion, increase parking convenience, and raise additional revenue. We did an observational study to inform the design of one such novel parking system, and in doing so developed an ethnographic method we call REACT (Rapid Ethnographic Assessment and Communication Technique). REACT uses observational methods to uncover key findings relatively quickly and increases the impact of those findings by communicating them through an engaging video podcast. In this paper, we describe the REACT method and show how we used it to discover several key findings regarding parking practices that changed our team’s thinking about the intended customer, highlighted some critical design issues, and revealed unanticipated opportunities for new technology solutions. The video podcasts were extremely well received and ultimately affected the thinking of...

Acknowledging Differences for Design: Tracing Values and Beliefs in Photo Use

CONNOR GRAHAM and MARK ROUNCEFIELD This paper explores links between ethnographic approaches, technology design and use and values and beliefs. We document recent empirical work on the use of photographs amongst Chinese families; pointing to some differences with previous empirical studies from predominantly Western cultures and tentatively linking Chinese photo work to rather broader cultural values that may develop some ‘sensitivities’ for design. For some time ethnography has been interested in ‘values’ in methodological approaches and concerns. The notion of ‘values’ is also repeatedly called upon in ethnographic studies of (technology for) the home. In this appeal these studies tellingly echo Peter Winch’s sentiments regarding how, in general, social life can be understood only through a understanding of beliefs. This paper documents and explicates photo work amongst Chinese families, linking the families’ own explanations and comments about these practices to much wider, if particular, sets of social and cultural...

The Power of Participant-Made Videos: Intimacy and Engagement with Corporate Ethnographic Video

SUSAN FAULKNER and ALEXANDRA ZAFIROGLU Participant-generated, self-made videos engender powerful, often highly emotional, reactions from viewers who experience a stronger connection and identification with participants and their experiences than we have ever achieved with researcher-shot footage. Reactions have ranged from shock, discomfort, and offers of Freudian psychological analyses to laughter, immediate recognition and discovery. Through several video examples from recent fieldwork we explore the reasons for this heightened reaction, and raise questions related to representation, authenticity, intimacy and the role of the ethnographer in the age of YouTube, social networking sites, and reality TV. What is the ethnographer’s role when participants share their lives in videos we request that are stylistically similar to online user-generated content? What is that ethnographer’s ‘Do’, and what role does she play in editing, framing and presenting these videos? How do participants conceptualize what they are creating?...

Living Avatars Network: Fusing Traditional and Innovative Ethnographic Methods through a Real-time Mobile Video Service

DENISA KERA and CONNOR GRAHAM This paper presents a study of new technologies potentially enabling access to a sensory feast of places by ‘wired up’ flanêurs, real-time as well as remote ‘native’ description and interactions and situated oral histories excavated through ‘being in a place’. We describe an inter-disciplinary research project examining the cultural heritage of Singapore and the use of geo-location technologies incorporating social networking platforms as a medium for interactive heritage walks. The goal of the project is to engage both locals and non-locals in experiencing Singapore from a first person perspective, giving them a wider understanding of the ethnic and cultural diversity. The Living Avatar Network (LAN) supports sharing experiences and realities in real time through making it possible to ‘walk in someone’s shoes’ through a living avatar, re-experiencing someone’s memories of a certain place. Here we describe the approaches deployed in evolving a prototypical service - ‘traditional’...

Reassembling the Visual

LUCY KIMBELL In her presentation to EPIC, Kimbell reflects on how data are visualized and how they are experienced. Drawing on work in the visual arts and design, she considers what practices that seem to be gathering and visualising data are actually doing, from installations such as her project ‘Physical Bar Charts’ (2005-8) to methods such as cultural probes. These examples are combined with ideas from Science and Technology Studies (STS), which foregrounds the empirical and the mundane, and questions how accounts of the social are constructed. Writers in this tradition have emphasized the ways that public experiments are used to assemble data and paid attention how data are visualized. The discussion includes work from a recent public experiment in which Kimbell was involved, as organiser of an exhibition of work by artists and designers as part of an academic workshop in Oxford entitled ‘Imagining Business’. Together, these different ways of thinking about visualising and experiencing data raise questions for ethnographers...