visual methods

EPIC2019 Ethnographic Film

The film session at EPIC explores the ways ethnographic practitioners have used moving images to interpret data, share insights, and tell the stories of their work. Filmmakers showcase these forays in visual storytelling by screening examples and discussing the limits and possibilities of the form. Films were selected through anonymous review. Program Introduction, Charley Scull Food for Thought: The Path to Food Security in Newark, RUCHIKA MUCHHALA, Third Kulture Media The Learning Library: Using Ethnographic Film as an Organizational Change Tool by Scaling Human Insights across a National Preschool System, HAL PHILLIPS & MEG KINNEY, Bad Babysitter Clyde in Mulberry, ALLEGRA OXBOROUGH, Aero Creative Agency in the Smart Home of the Future, NICK AGAFONOFF, Real Ethnography Introduction CHARLEY SCULL, Committee Chair and Film Session Curator Considering the theme of agency through the lens of film offers many avenues for exploration, in terms of both the stories that film can feature and the power...

Tutorial: Participatory Visual Research—Getting the Most from Collaborative Methods

KRISTA HARPER University of Massachusetts Amherst Overview Participatory visual research methods like Photovoice open up opportunities for collaborative sense-making and advocacy. In these methodologies, data and knowledge are produced not only as an end product, but also in process. As participant-researchers contribute to research design, ethical discussions, data collection, analysis, and presentation of results, they communicate users’ values and concerns that can inform better organizational practices and improve products and services. In the first part of this workshop, you will learn about participatory visual research methods, from their foundations as methodology developed in the global South to promote the public’s “right to research” (Appadurai) to their application in a variety of organizational settings and design projects. In the second segment, you will take part in a hands-on Photovoice workshop exercise designed to open up questions of visual representation, ethics, and participation. In the final...

Creative Photography through Ethnographic Research

GABRIELA OLIVEIRA INSITUM PechaKucha Presentation This is a short story of when my sides of researcher and photographer met during a trip to the rural countryside of Brazil, where I went to research about internet connectivity, but ended up learning more about human relations. Photography creates connection between people, much like ethnography, and they interlace in a deeper level than just registering of fieldwork. Visual registration of research can be as valuable as the content gathered from the conversation, and photography can enable both analysis and creativity in a researcher, by prompting him or her to train an observing eye to both content and surroundings. Thinking of photography as a tool as valuable as interviewing activates new ways for researchers to use their humanity to face ethnographic research. Gabriela Oliveira is a Brazilian research strategist based in São Paulo. gabriela.a.deoliveira@gmail.com 22019 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...

Educating the Educators: An Entire Franchise Preschool System Embraces Ethnographic Insights to Improve Brand Experience and Drive Growth

MEG KINNEY Bad Babysitter HAL PHILLIPS Bad Babysitter This case study demonstrates the radius of influence that ethnographic insight can have throughout an organization as well as how it can be tied to business outcomes. This case also represents the power of video ethnography as a robust and enduring data set that provides a visceral, contextual, human record capable of aligning and galvanizing cross functional teams. At the cusp of aggressive expansion, Primrose Schools needed to address cascading business issues: low brand awareness relative to key competitors in new markets, brand engagement (vis a vis online content), and disappointing conversion rates for Parent enrollment. The first half of the case describes the design and key findings from our Parent Enrollment Study. Early education in present day America is contextualized against a backdrop of new parenting philosophies, socio-cultural relationships with smartphones and social media, and wage stagnation. The second half of the case illuminates how broadly the ethnography-inspired...

The EPIC Gallery: A Space for Action and Intervention

by MAKALÉ FABER CULLEN “We don’t fail because we are not intelligent or erudite enough; we fail because we don’t present our stakeholders with engaging material that will improve their ideas. We choose the medium which makes us comfortable, not the one our stakeholders would prefer.” — Sam Ladner, Practical Ethnography (159) Our work as ethnographers, as social scientists, is rich, experiential, relational, multi-dimensional and full-sensory. As often as we can, we immerse ourselves in communities and in landscapes and then—we heighten all our senses, turn down our ego and try to understand the context. Nothing is as important as context. We document and analyze these contexts and the individuals and objects within them, refining them for a new context of service design or product development that is itself a whole new ecosystem of relationships, ethics, finances, goals, timescapes. Businesses and organizations have distinct customs, rituals, and standards for creating "evidence-that-counts." EPIC2019...

Evidence Outside the Frame: Interpreting Participants’ “Framing” of Information when Using Participatory Photography

TABITHA STEAGER Pacific AIDS Network This paper discusses the benefits and challenges of participatory photography as ethnographic evidence and how as researchers we can “read” the evidence our participants create. Drawing on examples from an ethnographic study examining concepts and constructions of community on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, I examine how we can interrogate photographs as data rather than factual evidence. Adages such as “the camera doesn’t lie” support the view of photography as a purveyor of truth. Photos accompanying journalistic dispatches from far-flung outposts around the world are seen as authentic evidence of real-world situations. Amateur videos of people’s life experiences are filmed on smart phones and then posted to YouTube to be taken as authentic representations of life events. Early ethnographic uses celebrated photography as the ultimate tool for showing that anthropologists had actually “been there,” displaying the exoticism of other cultures in factual black and white....

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...