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Search results for '"ken anderson"'
5 March 2014

De l’importance de l’ethnographie appliquée aux technologies

Etvousvotrechaudiereestelleaccessible-221x300

For once a post in French!

Hubert Guillaud of InternetActu describes some examples – mostly from the recent EPIC conference – of the great contribution of ethnography in focusing our gaze on real life practices, in pointing out that what technologists do not see, and in explaining how the strictly technological gaze often fails. ["Le grand apport de l’ethnographie est de renverser notre regard sur les pratiques en pointant du doigt ce que les technologues ne voient pas, d’expliquer en quoi le regard strictement technologique bien souvent, échoue."]

“L’ethnographie est une méthode des sciences sociales consistant en l’étude descriptive et analytique, sur le terrain, des moeurs, coutumes et pratiques de populations déterminées. Longtemps cantonnés aux populations primitives, les sociologues, anthropologues et ethnologues ont depuis les années 70 élargies l’usage de ces méthodes à bien d’autres terrains, et notamment à l’étude de nos pratiques quotidiennes, afin de mieux comprendre “les expériences humaines en contexte”. Parmi les repères de la conception ethnographique appliquée à la technologie, citons au moins le travail pionnier de Lucy Suchman au Xerox Parc dès les années 90, ou celui de Genevieve Bell qui poursuit ce travail chez Intel et qui a signé, avec Tony Salvador et Ken Anderson, en 1999, l’un des articles fondateur de l’ethnographie appliquée aux questions technologiques.

Depuis 2011, le site Questions d’Ethnographie (ethnomatters) interroge ces nouvelles pratiques de l’ethnographie et permet à de jeunes chercheurs de discuter la tension entre l’ethnographie universitaire et l’ethnographie appliquée, tel que de plus en plus d’ethnologues la pratiquent. Pour eux, si l’ethnographie est importante, c’est parce qu’elle aide à maintenir “le développement technologique réel”, concret.

Récemment, le site a publié une série d’exemples tirés de présentations qui se sont déroulées lors de la conférence Epic 2013 qui avait lieu en septembre dernier à Londres, une conférence sur la pratique ethnographique dans le monde des affaires (voir le brouillon non finalisé des actes (.pdf)), qui éclaire d’une manière concrète l’intérêt de l’ethnographie appliquée. Le grand apport de l’ethnographie est de renverser notre regard sur les pratiques en pointant du doigt ce que les technologues ne voient pas, d’expliquer en quoi le regard strictement technologique bien souvent, échoue. Prenons quelques exemples pour mieux comprendre les enjeux.”

26 May 2013

For consumers, an ‘Open Data’ society is a misnomer

openbook

Despite all the hoopla about an “open data” society, many consumers are being kept in the dark, writes Natasha Singer in The New York Times.

“A few companies are challenging the norm of corporate data hoarding by actually sharing some information with the customers who generate it — and offering tools to put it to use. It’s a small but provocative trend in the United States, where only a handful of industries, like health care and credit, are required by federal law to provide people with access to their records.”

Particularly the initiative of San Diego Gas and Electronic caught my attention:

Last year, San Diego Gas and Electric, a utility, introduced an online energy management program in which customers can view their electricity use in monthly, daily or hourly increments. There is even a practical benefit: customers can earn credits by reducing energy consumption during peak hours.

About one-quarter of the company’s 1.2 million residential customers have tried the program, says Caroline Winn, the company’s vice president for customer services. Newer features, she says, allow customers to download their own use files. Or they can choose to give permission for the utility to share their records directly with a handful of apps that can analyze the data and suggest ways to reduce energy consumption.

Note also the discussion of initiatives taken by Intel, and the comments by Ken Anderson, an intel anthropologist.

19 October 2012

EPIC conference videos online

header-bg

Most of the videos of this week’s EPIC Conference, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD], are now online.

EPIC, which stands for Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, promotes the use of ethnographic investigations and principles in the study of human behavior as they are applied in business settings.

The theme of the 2012 conference was renewal, focusing on the current turmoil in our world, and encouraging attendees to reflect on their own contribution to the field of applied ethnography and the role of EPIC in pushing communities forward.

Here are the videos in chronological order:

Opening keynote
Speaker: Emily Pilloton
Tell them I built this: A story of community transformation through design, youth, and education [51:15]
Emily Pilloton is the founder and executive director of Project H Design, a non-profit design agency founded in 2008 to use design and hands-on building for community and educational benefit. Trained in architecture and product design, Emily now spends most days teaching her high school Studio H design/build curriculum, in which students design and build full-scale architectural projects for their hometown. She is the author of the book Design Revolution: 100 Products That Empower People a compendium and call-to-action for design for social impact, and has appeared on the TED Stage as well as The Colbert Report.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speaker: Tony Salvador, Intel Corporation
Epic Endings: The Key Is Renewal [20:59]
Innovation is about new ways to do old things and new ways to do new things. Yet, products, services, systems and even countries do end. As markets become increasingly volatile, we introduce the necessity of the concept of designing intentionally for things to end by purposefully designing the rituals to go with it generating renewal experiences and providing an emic potential for creative destruction.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speaker: Sam Ladner, Copernicus Consulting Group
Ethnographic Temporality: Using Time-Based Data in Product Renewal [14:54]
Breathing new life into a flagging product requires a deep understanding of the rhythm of everyday life. When do customers begin to use this product? When do they stop? It is tempting to rely on the automatically collected time-data from “big data” to answer this question. But ethnography offers a unique cultural lens to understanding the temporal aspects of the product lifecycle. In this paper, I analyze several technological products using the concept of the “timescape” and its three dimensions of time to show how products succeed or fail. I then suggest how to integrate this with digital time-data.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speakers: Min Lieskovsky, Charlie Hill and Morgan Ramsey-Elliot, ReD Associates
Function and change in China: Reviving Mauss’ “total social fact” to gain knowledge of changing markets [21:32]
This paper attempts to revive Mauss’ concept of the total social fact as a method to establish understanding of new markets. Our case study of alcohol in China illuminates the spirit baijiu’s connections to the total social facts of guanxi and hierarchy. We outline a methodology based on using total social facts as a heuristic device, removed from the problematic assumptions of classical functionalism.

Paper Session 1: Renewing ethnographic theory (curated by Stokes Jones)
Speakers: Fabian Segelström and Stefan Holmlid, Linköping University
One Case, Three Ethnographic Styles: Exploring different ethnographic approaches to the same design brief [17:51]
To inform the redesign of a Christmas market we employed three styles of ethnographic approaches. The three approaches were based on (social) anthropology, interaction design and mobile ethnography. We present the methodology chosen by each team and discuss the nature of the insights gathered by each team.

Pecha Kucha 1 (chaired by Michele Visciola, Experientia)
Renewals of Place [01:05:52] starts at 01:55
Presentations (in order):

  • Anthony Leonard (SCAD): The Resilience and Adaptation of OccupyDC
  • Jessica Grenoble (SCAD): Fading Into the Horizon: the disappearance of Appalachian hollow communities and culture
  • Arvind Venkataramani (SonicRim): Middle Perspectives: a walk through the High Line
  • Shubhangi Athalye, Stuart Henshall, Dina Mehta (Convo): Rebuilding Mumbai – Dreams and Reality
  • Chelsea Mauldin (Public Policy Lab): Public & Collaborative: Designing Services for Housing
  • Simon Roberts (ReD Associates): Peckham, Poundland, Post its and the Peace Wall: Staging a Post-Riot Renewal

> Presentation abstracts

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speakers: Thomas Madsen and Laura Hammershoy, ReD Associates
Ethical dilemmas in business anthropology revisited: How a phenomenological approach to the practice of ethnography can shed new light on the topic of ethics [19:12]
Business anthropologists are caught between two ethical worlds: the ethics of the academy, and the ethics of the business community. While traditional discourses on ethical behavior are founded on universalistic ideas of morality, the paper presents an alternative ethics for our field that is contingent on the specifics of context.

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speaker: Neal Patel, Google
If These Walls Could Talk: the Mental Life of the Built Environment [24:36]
This paper introduces a theory explaining why physical spaces become meaningful. Diverse modes of existence—exchange, retail experiences, lifestyles, identity—all occur in physical or virtual space. Yet ethnographers often divorce feeling at home or out of place from physical reality, as purely subjective mental forms. This paper argues the opposite, that there is a mental process which endows physical spaces with meaning. Renewing Lefebvre’s forgotten discussion of “rhythmanalysis,” I describe life in terms of overlapping, conflicting biological, cultural, and economic rhythms. I suggest human affinity with place depends on the extent that it provides refuge from such conflict, and increases relative to its restorative function.

Paper Session 2: Emerging Practices for Renewal (curated by Eric Arnould)
Speaker: Nicole Conand and Alicia Dornadic
The Ethnographer Unbounded: Considering Open Source in Corporate Environments [25:24]
Technological advances that enable seemingly endless information sharing, as well as various counter efforts that attempt to limit and control access to information, have prompted us to reexamine how industry-based practitioners of ethnography promulgate their research. A comparison of two distinct professional experiences reveals how varying degrees of information “openness” impact ethnographic work. One is an open source project supported by a Knight Foundation grant, and the second occurs within a large corporation in which research is proprietary and confidential. In doing so, we aim to discern which elements of open source ethnography have beneficial applications in corporate environments.

Invited Panel (curated by John Payne)
The Interaction of Ethnography and Design [01:00:44]
In keeping with the theme, EPIC has organized a panel of practitioners to reflect on how they use the combination of ethnographic and design practices to contribute to renewal in a variety of disparate areas of application, some established and some emerging. The panelists’ work sits at the intersection of ethnography and design in areas like technology, interaction design, service design, social entrepreneurship, and design of public services. They share some lessons learned and discuss the benefits and challenges they’ve encountered in bringing these two disciplines together.
The panelists are:
– Chelsea Mauldin, Executive Director, Public Policy Lab
– Shelley Evenson, Executive Director of Organisational Evolution at Fjord
– Dr. John Sherry, Director of Business Innovation Research, Intel Labs

Paper Session 3 (curated by Makiko Taniguchi)
Renewing Workplaces/ Organizations (video not yet online)

Paper Session 4 (curated by Dawn Nafus)
Visions of Renewal [01:02:47]
The works in this session all participate acts of envisioning the future. These visions, however, are not mere ocularcentric handwaving. No TED-style broad proclamations here. Each piece is grounded in specific evocative materials. One takes concrete—literally, concrete–as a site of envisioning what constitutes sustainability. Another investigates paper, space and embodied action as ephemeral materials that enact collective healing after a disaster. A third resituates “the digital” in relation to populations, social fields and city space to renew notions of civic participation. Through careful attention to materials, social processes and above all context, these papers all get beyond notions of vision as brash proclamation, and render new social dynamic conceivable in contextually-sensitive ways.
Presentations (in order):

  • Stokes Jones and Christine Miller (SCAD): STAND Where You Live: Activating Civic Renewal by Engaging Social Fields
  • Aki Ishida (Virginia Tech): Role of the Ephemeral in Recovery and Renewal
  • Laura Resendez de Lozano (Rice University): Concreting Sustainability: Renewing the Cement Industry through Sustainability Implementation

> Presentation abstracts

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Fumiko Ichikawa, Hakuhodo, and Hiroshi Tamura, The University of Tokyo
Scaling-Out: An Ethnographic Approach to Revive Local Communities [19:35]
Between the 20th and the 21st century, what is considered innovations have changed from technologically-centered to human-centered. Taking Japan’s visions and potential recovery strategy as an example, we describe how Japan is to renew oneself and propose the power of ‘scaling-out’, where ethnography would play a central role in its success.

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Colleen Heine, SCAD
Scene and Unscene: Revealing the Value of a Local Music Scene in Savannah, Georgia [20:48]
Throughout history, music has been central to the social fabric of communities, yet it is often perceived as an extraneous element in a city. “Scene and Unscene” is an ethnographic study of the local music scene in Savannah, Georgia. Interviews with key players and participant observation in local music events and venues, coupled with personal experience as a member of a Savannah-based band, provide an insider perspective on the local music scene—its current state and the collective vision for its desired future. The paper demonstrates the key roles a music scene plays in place-making, community building, and city life.

Paper Session 5: Renewing Places (curated by Ken Anderson)
Speaker: Siobhan Gregory, Wayne State University
“Detroit is a Blank Slate.” Metaphors in the Journalistic Discourse of Art and Entrepreneurship in the City of Detroit [18:28]
This paper is an investigation of metaphoric language in the contemporary discourse of Detroit’s “renewal.” News articles from local and national news sources from 2009-2011 provide evidence of critical and provocative metaphoric constructions found in the gentrification discourse of Detroit. As harbingers of gentrification, the discourse communities of artists and business entrepreneurs are the focus of this review. The author argues that metaphoric language in journalism must be critically evaluated and challenged to help ensure sustainable, equitable, and historically sensitive “renewal” of the city of Detroit and similar inner-city urban communities experiencing gentrification.

Paper Session 6 (curated by Shelley Evenson)
Renewing Services (video not yet online)

Pecha Kucha 2 (chaired by Suzanne Thomas)
Renewals of Culture [01:06:49]
Presentations (in order):

  • Daniel Goddemeyer (Unitedsituation): Exploring the analogue – digital legibility of our behaviors
  • Elisa Oreglia (UC Berkeley School of Information): 5 facts, 3 lessons, and 2 rules
  • Melissa Cefkin (IBM Research): Work and the Future
  • Richard Anderson: A Call to Action Regarding The Patient Experience
  • Robin Beers (Biz is Human) and Jan Yeager (Added Value Cheskin): Open Source Family | Implications for remaking and renewing notions of family
  • Carrie Yury: Don’t clean up and lie down: Ethnography and conceptual art

> Presentation abstracts

Artifacts Session (curated by Alicia Dornadic & Heinrich Schwarz)
Artifacts Introductions [34:49]
Features:
– Report by Heinrich Schwartz on EPIC Europe in Barcelona
– Introduction on the Artifacts by Alicia Dornadic

Paper Session 7 (curated by Nimmi Rangaswamy)
Renewing Our Discipline [01:25:13]
There always comes a time to reflect, explore and renew ethnographic praxis in industry. We face a felt need to cast a new light on praxis, be it broadening its coda, certifying its practioners or pushing boundaries of what are considered contexts of consumption. This panel will focus on three aspects of renewal: revitalizing practitioner ingenuity and expertise; pushing the limits of knowing consumers by enclosing broader discourses on context laden values; finally, incorporating an accreditation process to professionalize and certify a shared body of skills, methods and knowledge.
Presentations (in order):

  • Patricia Ensworth (Harborlight Management Services): Badges, Branding, and Business Growth: The ROI of an Ethographic Praxis Professional Certification
  • Arvind Venkataramani and Christopher Avery (SonicRim): Framed by ‘Experience’: Moving from User-Centeredness to Strategic Incitement
  • Susan Squires (University of N. Texas) and Alexandra Mack (Pitney Bowes): Renewing Our Practice: Preparing the next generation of practitioners

> Presentation abstracts

Closing keynote
Speaker: Philip Delves Broughton
Cracking The Marketplace Of Ideas (video not yet online)
Philip Delves Broughton is a journalist, management writer, and best selling author of two books. Philip was a journalist with The Daily Telegraph for ten years, latterly as Paris Bureau Chief (2002-04) before he took an MBA at Harvard, which became the subject of his first book, the best selling What They Teach you at Harvard Business School. Philip writes regularly for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator. From 2009-2010, he spent several months at Apple writing case studies for Apple University, its internal management program, and now works with The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Education. His most recent book The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life is an ‘insightful scholarly treatise on sales’ with a global perspective on this critical business function.

20 June 2011

Book: ethnography and the corporate encounter

Ethnography and The Corporate Encounter
Ethnography and The Corporate Encounter
Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books
2010, 262 pages

Businesses and other organizations are increasingly hiring anthropologists and other ethnographically-oriented social scientists as employees, consultants, and advisors. The nature of such work, as described in this volume, raises crucial questions about potential implications to disciplines of critical inquiry such as anthropology. In addressing these issues, the contributors explore how researchers encounter and engage sites of organizational practice in such roles as suppliers of consumer-insight for product design or marketing, or as advisors on work design or business and organizational strategies. The volume contributes to the emerging canon of corporate ethnography, appealing to practitioners who wish to advance their understanding of the practice of corporate ethnography and providing rich material to those interested in new applications of ethnographic work and the ongoing rethinking of the nature of ethnographic praxis.

Melissa Cefkin is a cultural anthropologist with experience in research, management, teaching, and consulting for business and government. Currently based at IBM Research in the area of services research, she earned her PhD from Rice University and remains dedicated to pursuing a critical understanding of the intersections of anthropological practice within business and organizational settings.

Related:

Last weekend, the Financial Times Magazine reports on one chapter of the book that describes how two Intel researchers, Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson, observed the rituals of everyday life in Intel’s corporate “jungle”.

“Ironically, while Intel worshipped the idea of free-flowing innovation, the way employees communicated was subject to a rigid but unspoken set of cultural “rules”. Post-it notes were deemed acceptable, and used to “push the boundaries”. This, however, “delegitimized knowledge which did not come in the form of bold, sweeping statements required of ‘out-of-the-box’ performances,” they write. PowerPoint and whiteboards were acceptable; communicating through dance was not. And “if your inspiration [for innovative ideas] happened to come from ‘suspect’ sources, such as religious texts, this can be smuggled in only through disguise.”

Read article

12 December 2009

Book: Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter

Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter
Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter
Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books (July 2009)
Hardcover, 253 pages

Businesses and other organizations are increasingly hiring anthropologists and other ethnographically-oriented social scientists as employees, consultants, and advisors. The nature of such work, as described in this volume, raises crucial questions about potential implications to disciplines of critical inquiry such as anthropology. In addressing these issues, the contributors explore how researchers encounter and engage sites of organizational practice in such roles as suppliers of consumer-insight for product design or marketing, or as advisors on work design or business and organizational strategies. The volume contributes to the emerging canon of corporate ethnography, appealing to practitioners who wish to advance their understanding of the practice of corporate ethnography and providing rich material to those interested in new applications of ethnographic work and the ongoing rethinking of the nature of ethnographic praxis.

Melissa Cefkin is a cultural anthropologist with experience in research, management, teaching, and consulting for business and government. Currently based at IBM Research in the area of services research, she earned her PhD from Rice University and remains dedicated to pursuing a critical understanding of the intersections of anthropological practice within business and organizational settings.

Chapters
1. Introduction – Business, anthropology, and the growth of corporate ethnography – Melissa Cefkin
2. “My Customers are Different!” – Identity, difference, and the political economy of design – Donna K. Flynn
3. Participatory Ethnography at Work – Practicing in the puzzle palaces of a large, complex healthcare organization – Christopher Darrouzet, Helga Wild, and Susann Wilkinson
4. Working in Corporate Jungles – Reflections on ethnographic praxis in industry – Brigitte Jordan with Monique Lambert
5. Writing on Walls: The materiality of social memory in corporate research – Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson
6. The Anthropologist as Ontological Choreographer – Françoise Brun-Cottan
7. Emergent Culture, Slippery Culture – Conflicting conceptualizations of culture in commercial ethnography – Martin Ortlieb
8. Insider Trading – Engaging and valuing corporate ethnography – Jeanette Blomberg
9. Emergent Forms of Life in Corporate Arenas – Michael M. J. Fischer

25 June 2009

Book: Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter

Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter
Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter: Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books, July 2009
262 pages

Abstract
Businesses and other organizations are increasingly hiring anthropologists and other ethnographically-oriented social scientists as employees, consultants, and advisors. The nature of such work, as described in this volume, raises crucial questions about potential implications to disciplines of critical inquiry such as anthropology. In addressing these issues, the contributors explore how researchers encounter and engage sites of organizational practice in such roles as suppliers of consumer-insight for product design or marketing, or as advisors on work design or business and organizational strategies. The volume contributes to the emerging canon of corporate ethnography, appealing to practitioners who wish to advance their understanding of the practice of corporate ethnography and providing rich material to those interested in new applications of ethnographic work and the ongoing rethinking of the nature of ethnographic praxis.

Introduction

Chapter 1. Business, anthropology and the growth of corporate ethnography – Melissa Cefkin

Encounters with corporate epistemologies
Chapter 2. “My customers are different!” identity, difference and the political economy of design – Donna K. Flynn

Doing anthropology in organizational contexts
Chapter 3. Participatory ethnography at work: Practicing in the puzzle palaces of a large, complex healthcare organization – Chris Darrouzet, Helga Wild and Susann Wilkinson
Chapter 4. Working in corporate jungles: Reflections on ethnographic praxis in industry – Brigitte Jordan with Monique Lambert

Refractions of anthropological ways of being and knowing
Chapter 5. Writing on walls: The materiality of social memory in corporate research – Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson
Chapter 6. The anthropologist as ontological choreographer – Francoise Brun-Cottan

Epistemologies, Part Two: Culture and the corporate encounter
Chapter 7. Emergent culture, slippery culture – conflicting conceptualizations of culture in commercial ethnography – Martin Ortlieb

Another look: commentaries from the academy and corporate research
Chapter 8. Insider trading: Engaging and valuing corporate ethnography – Jeanette Blomberg
Chapter 9. Emergent forms of life in corporate arenas – Michael M. J. Fischer

Melissa Cefkin is a cultural anthropologist with experience in research, management, teaching, and consulting for business and government. Currently based at IBM Research in the area of services research, she earned her PhD from Rice University and remains dedicated to pursuing a critical understanding of the intersections of anthropological practice within business and organizational settings.

9 May 2009

Design and ethnography at a ubiquitous computing conference

UbiComp 2008
One of the sessions at UbiComp 2008, the Tenth International Conference on Ubiquitous computing (Seoul, Korea), was devoted to design and ethnography.

The four papers are all in the proceedings, but (except for the first one) you will need an ACM membership to download them.

The Heterogenous Home
* Ryan Aipperspach, University of California, Berkeley
* Ben Hooker, Intel Research Berkley
* Allison Woodruff, Intel Research Berkeley
Due to several recent trends, the domestic environment has become more homogeneous and undifferentiated. Drawing on concepts from environmental psychology, we critique these trends. We propose heterogeneity as a new framework for domestic design, and we present design sketches that illustrate how ubiquitous computing technologies can interact with the domestic environment to create a more varied and restorative environment. This work speaks to a number of core issues in ubiquitous computing, such as how the increased presence of devices impacts quality of life, the desirability or undesirability of ubiquitous temporal and spatial availability of devices, and the advantages and disadvantages of device convergence (“”all-in-one”” devices) versus device proliferation (single application devices).

Plastic: A Metaphor for Integrated Technologies
* Tye Rattenbury, People and Practices Research Group
* Dawn Nafus, People and Practices Research Group
* Ken Anderson, People and Practices Research Group
Ubiquitous computing research has recently focused on ‘busyness’ in American households. While these projects have generated important insights into coordination and communication, we think they overlook the more spontaneous and opportunistic activities that surround and support the scheduled ones. Using data from our mixed-methods study of notebook and ultra-mobile PC use, we argue for a different perspective based on a metaphor of ‘plastic’. ‘Plastic’ captures the way technologies, specifically computers, have integrated into the heterogeneous rhythms of daily life. Plastic technologies harmonize with and support daily life by filling opportunistic gaps, shrinking and expanding until interrupted, not demanding conscious coordination, supporting multitasking, and by deferring to external contingencies.

Getting to Green: Understanding Resource Consumption in the Home
* Marshini Chetty, Georgia Institute of Technology
* David Tran, Georgia Institute of Technology
* Rebecca E. Grinter, Georgia Institute of Technology
Rising global energy demands, increasing costs and limited natural resources mean that householders are more conscious about managing their domestic resource consumption. Yet, the question of what tools Ubicomp researchers can create for residential resource management remains open. To begin to address this omission, we present a qualitative study of 15 households and their current management practices around the water, electricity and natural gas systems in the home. We find that in-the-moment resource consumption is mostly invisible to householders and that they desire more real-time information to help them save money, keep their homes comfortable and be environmentally friendly. Designing for domestic sustainability therefore turns on improving the visibility of resource production and consumption costs as well as supporting both individuals and collectives in behavior change. Domestic sustainability also highlights the caveat of potentially creating a green divide by making resource management available only to those who can afford the technologies to support being green. Finally, we suggest that the Ubicomp community can contribute to the domestic and broader sustainability agenda by incorporating green values in designs and highlight the challenge of collecting data on being green.

Designing Sociable IT for Public Use
* Steinar Kristoffersen, Østfold University College
* Ingunn Bratteberg, Mamut ASA
Service providers increasingly use self-service systems, such as kiosk and automata that offer faster and more flexible service. Most of us are familiar with appliances for buying and validating tickets, purchasing soft drinks or getting the newspaper. We book tables in restaurants and hire cars using hotel lobby kiosks. Unfortunately, many such systems confuse and annoy their users. Thus, information technology design for the public space poses distinct challenges. Yet, it is relatively unmapped within our field. Based on an ethnographic study of the purchase and validation of ticketless travel for an airport train, this paper shows how such systems need an extended framework of usability principles, which goes beyond well-known interaction design guidelines.

23 February 2009

Ethnographic research: a key to strategy

Ken_anderson
Ken Anderson, a senior researcher and anthropologist at Intel, wrote a short article for the Harvard Business Review on the importance of corporate ethnography:

“Corporate ethnography isn’t just for innovation anymore. It’s central to gaining a full understanding of your customers and the business itself. The ethnographic work at my company, Intel, and other firms now informs functions such as strategy and long-range planning. [...]

By understanding how people live, researchers discover otherwise elusive trends that inform the company’s future strategies. With smartphones, for example, we can contrast the technology perspectives of teenagers, who have used cell phones since they were in elementary school, with those of older generations, who came to them only after becoming proficient with PCs. Our job as anthropologists is to understand the perspective of one tribe, consumers, and communicate it to another, the people at Intel.”

Read full story

3 February 2009

Book: The Reconstruction of Space and Time: Mobile Communication Practices

Reconstruction
The Reconstruction of Space and Time: Mobile Communication Practices
By Rich Ling, Scott Campbell (editors)
Published by Transaction Publishers, 2008
ISBN 141280809X, 9781412808095
304 pages
Google preview

Summary

One of the most significant and obvious examples of how mobile communication influences our understanding of time and space is how we coordinate with one another. Mobile communication enables us to call specific individuals, not general places. Regardless of location, we are able to make contact with almost anyone, almost anywhere. This advancement has changed, and continues to change, human interaction. Now, instead of agreeing on a particular time well beforehand, we can iteratively work out the most convenient time and place to meet at the last possible moment—on the way to the meeting or once we arrive at the destination.

In their early days, mobile devices were primarily used for various types of emergency situations and for work. In some cases, the device was an essential element in various business operations or used so that overseas workers could communicate with their families. The distance between a remote posting and the people back home was suddenly and dramatically reduced. People began to share these devices not necessarily out of economic issues, but also questions of family and interpersonal dynamics.

The process of sharing decisions as to who is a legitimate partner makes the nature of relationships more explicit. By examining the economy of sharing, we not only see how sharing mobile phones restructures social space, but are also given insight into an individual’s web of interactions. This cutting-edge book deals with modern ways of thinking about communication and human interaction; it will illuminate the ways in which mobile communication alters our experience with space and time.

About the authors

Rich Ling is a sociologist at Telenor’s research institute near Oslo, Norway and has been Pohs visiting professor of communication at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion and The Mobile Connection: The Cell Phone’s Impact on Society.

Scott W. Campbell is assistant professor and Pohs fellow of telecommunications in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. His research has been published in the journals Communication Education, Communication Monographs, International Journal of Communication, Journal of Applied Communication Research, New Media & Society, and others.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The reconstruction of space and time through mobile communication practices
by Rich Ling and Scott W. Campbell

Tailing untethered mobile users: Studying urban motilities and communication practices
by Dana Diminescu, Christian Licoppe, Zbigniew Smoreda and Cezary Ziemlicki

Migrant workers and mobile phones: Technological, temporal, and spatial simultaneity
by Fernando Paragas

Portable object in three global cities: the Personalization of urban places
by Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Ken Anderson

New reasons for mobile communication: Intensification of time-space geography in the mobile era
by Ilkka Arminen

Nonverbal cues in mobile phone text messages: The effects of chronemics and proxemics
by Nicola Doring and Sandra Poschl

Mobile phones: Transforming the everyday social communication practice of urban youth
by Eva Thuline and Bertil Vilhelmson

Mobile phones: Transforming the everyday social communication practice of urban youth
by Eva Thuline and Bertil Vilhelmson

Negotiations in space: The impact if receiving phone calls on the move
by Ann Light

Mobile phone “work”: Disengaging and engaging mobile phone activities with concurrent activities
by Marc Relieu

Beyond the personal and private: Modes of mobile phone sharing in urban India
by Molly Wright Steenson and Jonathan Donner

Conclusion: Mobile communication in space and time—Furthering the theoretical dialogue
by Scott W. Campbell and Rich Ling

Chapter summary

Beyond the personal and private: Modes of mobile phone sharing in urban India
by Molly Wright Steenson and Jonathan Donner

This chapter contributes to the overall dialogue on the significance of mobile communication for human, social space by expanding the inquiry into one of the world’s largest communities of mobile users, India. In this context, we draw on ethnographic research to identify various modes of mobile phone sharing which cannot be entirely explained by economic necessity, and instead reflect deeper processes of human organization. In the process, the chapter further illustrates how mobile communication helps people create and alter the social spaces around them.
(via Jonathan Donner)

1 December 2007

Intel’s Essential Computing vision

Essential Computing
From Intel’s Essential Computing website:

Intel Research’s over-arching vision for the future is evolving from one of proactive computing to one of Essential Computing. Over the years, we’ve been part of a steady evolution moving computing from the machine room out into people’s workplaces and into their daily lives. As this transformation continues, we will see computing evolve from being a number of separate devices we each use occasionally to dozens of devices that are an essential part of daily life.

Intel’s vision of Essential Computing encompasses five research areas, or as we call them, research themes. These five research themes – Personal Awareness, Physicality, Emergence Engineering, Concealing Complexity, Richly Communicative – focus on making technology more viable, more useful, more personal, more essential in our daily lives. Through these research directions, we seek to simplify and enrich all aspects of our daily lives through applications and systems technologies that collectively empower each of us as individuals, connect us to each other and into the fabric of networked society.

The five research themes for Essential Computing

Essential computing is a big goal. To spearhead this effort, we’ve broken it down into five research themes.

Concealing Complexity
As more devices become essential to our daily lives, it will become increasingly important to conceal their complexity.

New Possibilities for the Cell Phone Platform
Imagine carrying all of your applications, documents, photos, and MP3 and video files with you, in a device no larger than a deck of playing cards. That’s the concept behind the Personal Media Server.

Personal Awareness
In the future we may have a “wardrobe” of personal devices to help us pursue short- and long-term goals and personal enhancement.

Physicality
What kinds of new interfaces, sensors and actuation systems will allow people to seamlessly interact with the computing and physical parts of their lives?

Richly Communicative
Computing devices are increasingly being used as communicating devices. What’s needed are ways to convey more meaning and intent.

Videos

Researchers

The Essential Computing site also links to a page which presents some key Intel researchers and the projects they are working on, including many of the People and Practices Research Group (P&P):

  • Ken Anderson (anthropologist, P&P) – Transnationals and cosmopolitans-people who are living outside of their home countries
  • Richard Beckwith (research psychologist, P&P) – community adoption of technology
  • Maria Bezaitis (director, P&P) – a vision on ethnography
  • Sunny Consolvo – user-centered design for ubiquitous computing
  • Scott Mainwaring (reseacher, P&P) – People’s relationships with technology
  • Wendy March (interaction designer, P&P) – Teen girls and communications technology
  • Eric Paulos – Emerging digital and wireless urban landscapes
  • Allison Woodruff – how people interact with the growing number of portable electronic devices in their homes
4 September 2007

People regularly featured on this blog

In alphabetical order:

A
Marko Ahtisaari
Ken Anderson

B
Nik Baerten
Genevieve Bell
Chris Bernard
Tim Berners-Lee
Ralf Beuker
Nina Boesch
Danah Boyd
Stefana Broadbent
Tyler Brûlé
Bill Buxton

C
Jan Chipchase
Hilary Cottam
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Alistair Curtis

D
Uday Dandavate
Liz Danzico
Regine Debatty
Paul Dourish

E
Jyri Engeström
Richard Eisermann

G
Jesse James Garrett
Fabien Girardin
Anand Giridharadas
Bruno Giussani
Adam Greenfield

H
Laurent Haug

I
Mizuko Ito

J
Bob Jacobson
Matt Jones

K
Jonathan Kestenbaum
Anne Kirah
Dirk Knemeyer
Jon Kolko
Mike Kuniavsky

L
Loïc Lemeur
Dan Lockton
Victor Lombardi

M
Nico Macdonald
John Maeda
Ranjit Makkuni
Ezio Manzini
Roger Martin
Stefano Marzano
Simona Maschi
Bruce Mau
Grant McCracken
Jess McMullin
Peter Merholz
Crysta Metcalf
Bill Moggridge
Peter Morville
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen

N
Jakob Nielsen
Donald Norman
Nicolas Nova
Bruce Nussbaum

P
Steve Portigal

R
Carlo Ratti
Howard Rheingold
Louis Rosenfeld
Stephen Rustow

S
Dan Saffer
Nathan Shedroff
Jared Spool
Yaniv Steiner
Bruce Sterling

T
John Thackara

V
Marco van Hout
Rob van Kranenburg
Mark Vanderbeeken
Joannes Vandermeulen
Jeffrey Veen
Timo Veikkola
Michele Visciola
Eric von Hippel

W
Tricia Wang
Luke Wroblewski

Z
Paola Zini
Jan-Christoph Zoels

25 August 2007

Mobility is cultural, not just functional

Walking
UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish and Intel researchers Ken Anderson and Dawn Nafus argue in “Cultural Mobilities: Diversity and Agency in Urban Computing” that urban computing, i.e. mobile computing in the city, needs a much broader definition that takes into account.

“On the application side, many systems design efforts focus on the city as a site of consumption and an inherently problematic environment, one to be tamed by the introduction of technology. On the user side, many systems design efforts focus their attention on young, affluent city residents, with both disposable income and discretionary mobility.

The narrowness of both the site and “the users,” we will argue, has meant that mobile and urban computing have been driven by two primary considerations. The first is how to “mobilize” static applications, allowing people to get access to information and carry out traditional desktop tasks while “on the move,” the anytime/anywhere approach as manifested in PDA applications that attempt to produce mobile versions of desktop applications or connect people wirelessly to remote infrastructures “back home” (e.g. email on the RIM Blackberry.)

The second is how to provide people with access to resources in unfamiliar spaces, the “where am I?” approach, as manifested in context-aware applications that attempt to help people navigate space in terms of resource such as devices (e.g. the nearest printer), services (e.g. recommending stores), or people (e.g. finding friends via Dodgeball).

While these applications clearly meet needs, they fail to take the urban environment on its own terms; they are based on the idea that urban life is inherently problematic, something to be overcome, in comparison to the conventional desktop computing scenario. Further, they fail to acknowledge the lived practice of urban life, and in particular its diversity and the different urban experiences of different groups. In focusing on abstracted rather than concrete behaviors, on individual consumption rather than collective sociality, and on the pairing between discretionary mobility and urban consumption, this approach paints a very partial view of urban living that leaves many people out of the picture.”

Instead, the authors “turn to research in social science that seeks to understand the relationship between meaning, identity, movement, and space, drawing particularly on work in anthropology and cultural geography”. Based on theoretical and empirical work from social science, they are “developing a new approach to the relationship between mobility and technology.”

Download paper (pdf, 248 kb, 14 pages)

(via Nicolas Nova’s Pasta & Vinegar)

28 June 2007

Portable objects in three global cities: the personalisation of urban places

In bag
With Daisuke Okabe and Ken Anderson. Draft of a chapter forthcoming in Rich Ling and Scott Campbell Eds., The Mobile Communication Research Annual Volume 1: The Reconstruction of Space & Time through Mobile Communication Practices. Transaction Books.

Mizuko Ito reports on her blog that a few years ago she was part of a collaborative fieldwork project with colleagues at her lab at Keio and at Intel’s People and Practices group.

They did data collection in three global cities — London, Los Angeles and Tokyo — looking at what young professionals carried around with them in locations outside of home and office. The authors were interested in issues of device convergence and how portable media players and different aspects of financial transactions were moving to the digital space and have just completed a draft of a paper on the three-city study.

Abstract

The mobile phone has become the central node of the ensemble of portable objects that urbanites carry with them as they negotiate their way through information-rich global cities.

This paper reports on a study conducted in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and London where we tracked young professionals’ use of the portable objects.

By examining devices such as music players, credit cards, transit cards, keys, and ID cards in addition to mobile phones, this study seeks to understand how portable devices construct and support an individual’s identity and activities, mediating relationships with people, places, and
institutions. Portable informational objects reshape and personalise the affordances of urban space. Laptops transform cafés into personal offices. Reward and membership cards keep track of individuals’ use of urban services. Music players and mobile devices colonise the in-between times of waiting and transit with the logic of personal communications and media consumption.

Our focus in this paper is not on the relational communication that has been the focus of most mobile communication studies, but rather on how portable devices mediate relationships to urban space and infrastructures.

We identify three genres of presence in urban space that involve the combination of portable media devices, people, infrastructures, and locations: cocooning, camping, and footprinting. These place-making processes provide hints to how portable devices have reshaped the experience of space and time in global cities.

Download paper (pdf, 300 kb, 17 pages)

Since then, Daisuke Okabe and Mizuko Ito have been conducting a longer term follow on in this work, focusing on Tokyo. They have been following a more diverse set of participants over two years, looking at how their “portable kit” changes over time. A short essay reports on where things stand at the moment.

23 January 2007

Catching the Bus: Studying People and Practices at Intel

Ken Anderson
In a talk given at the UCI Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction on Friday 19 January, the anthropologist Ken Anderson (bio – manager of People and Practices Research at Intel) discusses Intel’s work at understanding mobility and spatiality in urban and transnational settings, which is being carried out in support of ongoing interests in mobile and ubiquitous computing.

People and Practices Research (PaPR) is a group within Intel Research that engages the techniques of social science and design in order to develop a deep understanding of how people live and work. PaPR undertakes a wide range of projects in collaboration with universities, Intel business groups and other parts of Intel Research.

The presentation can be seen in video which can be downloaded from the UCI website, but be warned: it is huge (387.4 mb) and you need to download the entire file before you can view anything. The audio and video quality unfortunately leave to be desired.

(via Fabien Girardin‘s blog 7.5th Floor)

18 February 2006

The rise of ethnography at Intel

Ken_anderson
The company at the heart of the machine is trying harder to get into the heads of its users. In the latest MRWho, MrWeb’s Michael Kenyon talked to Ken Anderson, Manager of People and Practice Research at Intel and one of the company’s small but growing band of ethnographers.

Intel currently employs the largest number of ethnographers of any company in the world.

Anderson, who joined Intel in 2001, argues that “you need an ethnographer to cover both sides – the outside populations and the company itself. If you do a really excellent study but present the results in a way that doesn’t match the company’s culture, it’s not going anywhere. A lot of innovation dies because people can’t articulate it in a way that makes sense. [...] Our job is as much about understanding translation as understanding people.”

Read full story