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Putting People First

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Search results for 'dourish'
7 December 2007

Ethnography as design provocation

EPIC
Nicolas Nova has been going through the EPIC 2007 proceedings (the ethnographic praxis in industry conference), and ran across this interesting paper entitled “Ethnography as Design Provocation” by Jacob Buur and Larisa Sitorus.

The paper starts off by explaining how the use of ethnography in technology development has been limited to data collection, which led to isolate the researchers from design (which is R.J. Anderson’s point) and a limit to the way practice and technology can evolve together (Paul Dourish’s point). The authors advocate for another approach in which ethnography can “provoke new perspectives in a design organisation”.

They describe this stance through case studies of “design encounters” (i.e. workshops) showing how ethnography could be “shared material”, “embodied in design” and a way to frame “user engagement”. The conclusion they draw are also interesting:

“Firstly, to engage the potential of ethnography to provoke organisations to rethink their understandings of problems and solutions, the textual form may not be adequate. Neither are insight bullet points, as they submit to the logics of rational argumentation that hardly provokes questioning and engagement. Instead, we find it paramount to develop ways of engaging the organisation in sense-making through the use of visual and physical ethnographic material.

Secondly, the ethnographic theory building, though crucial to design, cannot progress independently of the prevailing conceptions of (work) practices ‘out there’ in the organisations – and these may not become clear to us until we confront the organisation with our material. Better sooner than later.

Thirdly, to move collaboration beyond requirements talk among the design team, organisation and participants, needs well-crafted ethnographic material to frame the encounters to focus on fundamental issues and perceptions.”

25 November 2007

Experience Project embraces anonymous socialising

Paul Dourish
The Experience Project (EP), which launched a public beta about a year ago, is built specifically around the concept of remaining anonymous while socializing, explains Josh Catone of Read/Write Web.

The site has grown to 250,000 members, almost 60% of those added in the past three months, and is backed by an impressive line up of angel investors including Ron Conway, Kathryn Gould, and Steve Blank.

According to EP, by emphasizing and encouraging anonymous interaction, the site allows people to open up more than they do on other social networking sites. One member gushes, “this is the most real representation of myself anywhere — friends, family or online. I’ve never felt so accepted nor had more fun anywhere online.”

Users create profiles on EP based around experiences, which are immediately transformed into groups where other members experiencing the same thing can share stories and feelings about that issue. These can range from the serious, such as medical conditions, battles with addiction, or marital problems, to the whimsical, such as being in love, or having seen the latest episode of Dancing With the Stars. You can also form groups around goals, such as the desire to lose weight.

Read full story

(via InternetActu)

25 November 2007

Ethnography and design

Paul Dourish
In “Responsibilities and Implications: Further Thoughts on Ethnography and Design“, presented a few weeks ago at DUX2007, UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish continues to elaborate on the use of ethnography in human-computer interaction and the “implications for design” issues he addressed at CHI2006.

In the CHI paper, he argued how the use of ethnographic investigation in HCI is often partial since it underestimated, misstated, or misconstrued the goals and mechanisms of ethnographic investigation. Which is problematic since researchers aims a deriving “implication for design” from these investigations.

The DUX paper continues on that topic to show how ethnography is relevant but not in the bullet-point “short term requirements” way some use to think about. As he says, “the valuable material lies elsewhere” or “beyond the laundry list“, which is described through two case studies about emotion and mobility.

Abstract

Many researchers and practitioners in user experience design have turned towards social sciences to find ways to understand the social contexts in which both users and technologies are embedded. Ethnographic approaches are increasingly prominent as means by which this might be accomplished. However, a very wide range of forms of social investigation travel under the “ethnography” banner in HCI, suggesting that there is still considerable debate over what ethnography is and how it can best be employed in design contexts.

Building on earlier discussions and debates around ethnography and its implications, this paper explores how ethnographic methods might be consequential for design. In particular, it illustrates the implications for design that might be derived from classical ethnographic material and shows that these may not be of the form that HCI research normally imagines or expects.

(via Pasta&Vinegar)

17 October 2007

The LIFT08 conference programme is out

LIFT08
Bruno Giussani reports on the press conference announcing the LIFT08 conference programme (backgrounder):

The conference LIFT08 will take place for the third time in Geneva, Switzerland, on 6-8 February 2008. The main structure of the programme has been presented tonight in a trendy bar downtown Geneva by organizer Laurent Haug and editorial producer Nicolas Nova.

And again, like last year, they seem to have got a knack of seeking out many new voices and speakers that haven’t made the rounds yet – but have interesting things to say. The programme is structured in thematic “tracks”, four per day on Thursday 7 and Friday 8. On Wednesday, a pre-conference will present a series of focused workshops. Thursday evening will feature the now-traditional fondue for 500+ people. Alongside the main conference there will be a “blogcamp”-like space for unplanned discussions and presentations, as well as an “off” space dedicated to design, art and games.

Here a quick rundown of the main tracks:

  • Internet in society — With Jyri Engestrom (he just sold microblogging platform Jaiku to Google), Jonathan Cabiria (on virtual environments and social inclusions) and others
  • User experience — With two tech anthropologists, Younghee Jung (Nokia, Tokyo) and Genevieve Bell (Intel, Seattle) and UC’s Paul Dourish.
  • Stories — With serial entrepreneur Rafi Haladjian and others.
  • A glimpse of Asia — With Marc Laperrouza, a specialist of new tech in China, Heewon Kim, a Korean researcher on teens and social networks, and others.
  • New Frontiers — With “cyborg” Kevin Warwick, Henry Markram who’s trying to simulate the functioning of brain cells, and Holm Friebe talking about new forms of cooperation and collaborative work.
  • Gaming — With Robin Hunicke (who worked on games for the Nintendo Wii) on gaming trends, and others.
  • Web and entreprises — With David Sadigh and David Marcus on how the web is reshuffling work practices.
  • Foresight — With future researchers Scott Smith (Changeist) and William Cockayne (Stanford) and Nokia designer Francesco Cara.

Haug also announced that LIFT is exporting itself to Asia: after a successful small launch event a few weeks ago in Seoul, South Korea, they’re now planning a full LIFTAsia in September 2008, again in Seoul.

I am very pleased to notice that Genevieve Bell, Paul Dourish and Francesco Cara are amongst the speakers.

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)

20 July 2007

Nicolas Nova talk now on Google Video

Nicolas Nova video
The video of last week’s talk by Nicolas Nova in Turin is now available on Google Video. The slides are available here (pdf, 1.36mb, 90 slides).

Nicolas Nova is a researcher at the Media and Design Lab at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne and one of the organisers of the LIFT conference.

His talk “Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments” was a critical overview of ubiquitous computing based on current research in the field (showing what people like Paul Dourish or Genevieve Bell are discussing but also geographers such as Stephen Graham), art/start-up/research projects and alternative visions such as what Nicolas is doing with Julian Bleecker.

The talk was organised by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turin.

(Thanks to Experientia collaborator Haraldur Már Unnarsson for making this possible).

14 July 2007

Slides available of talk by Nicolas Nova in Turin

Nicolas Nova
A few days ago Nicolas Nova, a researcher at the Media and Design Lab at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Lausanne and one of the organisers of the LIFT conference, came to visit us in Turin, so Experientia organised a talk for him at the local Order of Architects.

Nicolas Nova reports:

“Currently in Torino, where I gave a talk yesterday organized by Experientia and the Order of Architects of the Province of Turin. My talk “Designing a new ecology of mixed digital and physical environments” was a critical overview of ubiquitous computing based on current research in the field (showing what people like Paul Dourish or Genevieve Bell are discussing but also geographers such as Stephen Graham), art/start-up/research projects and alternative visions such as what I am doing with Julian Bleecker. As I said in the talk, lots of the aspects presented here as design challenges are messy to reflect the complexity of ubicomp design.”

Download pdf (pdf, 1.36 mb, 50 slides)

(We will soon also post a video registration).

26 April 2007

The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure

Planning and Design
In “The infrastructure of experience and the experience of infrastructure: meaning and structure in everyday encounters with space” Intel‘s chief anthropologist Genevieve Bell and UC Irvine professor Paul Dourish explore space as an infrastructure for our lived experience of the world, and discuss the ways in which pervasive computing transforms this experience.

The paper was published in the latest issue of Planning and Design – a theme issue on “space, sociality, and pervasive computing“.

Abstract

Although the current developments in ubiquitous and pervasive computing are driven largely by technological opportunities, they have radical implications not just for technology design but also for the ways in which we experience and interact with computation. In particular, the move of computation `off the desktop’ and into the world, whether embedded in the environment around us or carried or worn on our bodies, suggests that computation is beginning to manifest itself in new ways as an aspect of the everyday environment.

One particularly interesting issue in this transformation is the move from a concern with virtual spaces to a concern with physical ones. Basically, once computation moves off the desktop, computer science suddenly has to be concerned with where it might have gone. Whereas computer science and human – computer interaction have previously been concerned with disembodied cognition, they must now look more directly at embodied action and bodily encounters between people and technology.

In this paper, we explore some of the implications of the development of ubiquitous computing for encounters with space. We look on space here as infrastructure—not just a technological infrastructure, but an infrastructure through which we experience the world. Drawing on studies of both the practical organization of space and the cultural organization of space, we begin to explore the ways in which ubiquitous computing may condition, and be conditioned by, the social organization of everyday space.

I am also quoting one synthesising paragraph from halfway into the paper:

What we are suggesting then is an alternative model of space and spatiality than that which dominates current discourse in the design of pervasive-computing technologies and environments. Pervasive computing brings computation out of the traditional desktop and into the spaces beyond; but the critical feature of these spaces is that they are always already populated and inhabited. More to the point, the experience of space is the experience of multiple infrastructures — infrastructures of naming, of movement, of interaction, etc — and these infrastructures emerge from and are sustained by the embodied practices of the people who populate and inhabit the spaces in question. Spaces are not neutral, and their complex interpretive structure will frame the encounter with pervasive computing; as, by the same token, the opportunities afforded by new technologies allow for a reinterpretation and reencounter with the meaning of space for its inhabitants. Fundamentally, the experience of space is coextensive with the cultural practice of everyday life.

I highly recommend reading this paper, although quite conceptual at times , and to savour their thoughts on for instance the importance of ‘seamful’ design (as opposed to seamless computing), “allowing technologies to make boundaries and seams visible”.

(Last year, Bell and Dourish wrote another very good paper together which provided a people-centred critique of the current ubiquitous computing paradigm.)

Download paper (pdf, 173 kb, 18 pages)

(via Peter Dalsgaard)

10 April 2007

Ubiquitous computing is messy

Ubicomp cup
I missed this article when it came out, but when Intel’s chief anthropologist Genevieve Bell writes (she describes herself as “a cultural anthropologist with a primary concern in information technology as a site of cultural production and the consequences for technology innovation and diffusion”), I pay attention – even a year later.

The article, entitled “Yesterday’s tomorrows: notes on ubiquitous computing’s dominant vision”, was written together with Paul Dourish (professor of informatics and computer science at UC Irvine) and published in April last year.

It starts from the premise that the ubiquitous computing vision is now over a decade old, and argues for a “ubicomp of the present” which draws “on cross-cultural investigations of technology adoption” and “takes the messiness of everyday life as a central theme”.

“Our failure to notice the arrival of ubiquitous computing is rooted (at least in part) in the idea of seamless interoperation and homogeneity. The ubicomp world was meant to be clean and orderly; it turns out instead to be a messy one. Rather than being invisible or unobtrusive, ubicomp devices are highly present, visible, and branded, but perhaps still unremarkable in the sense explored by Tolmie et al. Ubicomp has turned out to be characterized by improvisation and appropriation; by technologies lashed together and maintained in synch only through considerable efforts; by surprising appropriations of technology for purposes never imagined by their inventors and often radically opposed to them; by widely different social, cultural and legislative interpretations of the goals of technology; by flex, slop, and play.”

Download article (pdf, 240 kb, 11 pages)

(via Small Surfaces)

28 September 2006

No more SMS from Jesus: ubicomp, religion and techno-spiritual practices

Prayer times application
In a reflective and insightful paper, Dr. Genevieve Bell, a highly respected anthropologist and director of user experience at Intel, analyses the use of technology to support religious practices.

Bell argues that “the ways in which new technologies are delivering religious experiences represent the leading edge of a much larger re-purposing of the internet in particular, and of computational technologies more broadly, that has been underway for some time.”

“We need to design a ubiquitous computing not just for a secular life, but also for spiritual life, and we need to design it now!” she claims. “In no small part, this sense of urgency is informed by an awareness of the ways in which techno-spiritual practices are already unfolding; it is also informed by a clear sense that the ubicomp infrastructures we are building might actively preclude important spiritual practices and religious beliefs.”

She adds that, despite the fact “there are few other practices or shaping narratives [as religion] that impact so much of humanity”, there has been up till now “an ideological and rhetorical separation of religion and technology”, which says a lot about “the implicit understanding of the kinds of cultural work” that technology should enable. Instead Bell positions: “If it is indeed the case, that religion is a primary framing narrative in most cultures, and then religion must also be one of the primary forces acting on people’s relationships with and around new technologies – one could go as far as to suggest that there can be no real ubiquitous computing if it does not account for religion.”

The anthropological research the paper is “informed by”, took place in urban settings in India, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Indonesia and Australia. Bell relied on “a range of ethnographic methods and methodologies, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, ‘deep hanging-out, and genealogies of ICTs to explore life in one hundred very different Asian households.”

The paper ends with two short scenarios that she wrote “as part of a
corporate exercise to develop a future vision for user-centered computing in 2015.”

The paper was published in P. Dourish and A. Friday (Eds.): Ubicomp 2006, LNCS 4206, pp. 141 – 158, 2006, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006.

Since it is not clear where you can download the paper, but Bell herself sent it out to the public anthrodesign Yahoo! email group with 853 subscribers, I consider it to be part of the public domain and re-post it here (pdf, 216 kb, 18 pages).

26 April 2006

Implications of ethnography for design

CHI 2006
Apparently, Paul Dourish‘s paper on the implications of ethnography for design has caused quite a stir yesterday at the CHI conference. Since it is so topical to the themes of this blog, here is the abstract and the download link:

Abstract
Although ethnography has become a common approach in HCI research and design, considerable confusion still attends both ethnographic practice and the metrics by which it should be evaluated in HCI. Often, ethnography is seen as an approach to field investigation that can generate requirements for systems development; by that token, the major evaluative criterion for an ethnographic studies is the implications it can provide for design. Exploring the nature of ethnographic inquiry, this paper suggests that “implications for design” may not be the best metric for evaluation and may, indeed, fail to capture the value of ethnographic investigations.

Download paper (pdf, 324 kb, 10 pages)