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Search results for '"genevieve bell"'
13 April 2007

The revolution will be televised and then switched off

Xing
Genevieve Bell, Intel’s senior anthropologist, started blogging and the first post immediately describes an intriguing research project on secondary homes.

“We care about how people live, how people want to live, about what matters to them; we strive to understand how technologies are used, understood, and imagined in homes around the world; and finally we seek to foster and develop technologies that provide a seamless fit with — and enhance — cultural, social, spiritual values and practices. (And yes, this is real work, and yes, it is an accepted way of thinking about technology, technology development and innovation. And yes, it is surprising to see this at Intel).

As my team and I are part of Intel’s Digital Home Group, we focus our energies on the ‘home’ in all its many forms and permutations. It is against this backdrop that I have been thinking about and studying ‘domestic satellites’ – homes away from home, or perhaps more precisely places of homefulness away from one’s primary residence. Think of these as dorm rooms, hotel rooms, hospital rooms, elder care facilities, vacation homes, even recreational vehicles, caravans, tents and perhaps your car or cubicle. All the places where we attempt to recreate some version of ‘home’, however incomplete or perhaps deliberately skewed.

I would argue (riffing on classic critical standpoint theory, and Harding’s notion of strong objectivity) that these sites, these domestic satellites, can tell us a whole lot about the nature of the home, precisely because they are a version, not the original rendering, of it. We might learn more about what people value, what they care about, and what frustrates them by seeing how they create home-like experiences away from home. Such domestic extensions also seemed likely to yield interesting technology opportunities in and of themselves – devices that would need to withstand long period of dormancy followed by sudden bursts of activities, or those that were energy conscious or aware, or those that have small format factors, high levels of portability and failsafe reliability and security.”

Although the project is not yet formally analysed, one interesting result is that “in listening to people talk about their second homes, the things they do there, and the things they do not, it is hard not to hear this almost lament, a kind of nostalgia, or longing for a time when technology didn’t feel quite so overwhelming.” People often use them as a place to escape from technology.

So Bell asks, “what should a multinational company that produces technology and technology visions do with such an insight?”

Read full story

(via Steve Portigal)

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)

27 March 2007

Intel admits tech can be tedious [The Register]

Professor Genevieve Bell takes questions
Genevieve Bell has a message for technologists who espouse the self-serving view that the more cell phone, laptops and other gizmos we integrate into our life the happier we’ll be: people often get fed up.

That notion may be obvious to anyone who has experienced the simultaneous, and seemingly unending, flow of instant messages, emails and ringing phones, all proclaiming to be urgent. But you generally won’t hear it from the companies who are trying to force their hardware and software down our throats.

Until now.

Bell is a “resident anthropologist” at Intel, who has conducted years of research into everyday people’s attitudes about technology. Her finding is that people are frequently looking for a respite.

“Someone once said to me they thought of their cell phone and the bundle of technology in their backpack as being like a nest of chirping birds and all the little mouths of baby birds all demanding to be fed,” Bell said to a small gathering of reporters. “It had gotten to this point that what they really wanted to do was fling their backpack into the river.”

Bell reached the conclusion by observing people somewhat out of the mainstream. She’s spent a fair amount of time studying enthusiasts of recreational vehicles, backpackers and people who own second homes, usually used for several months out of the year as vacation spots. The idea: these seekers of alternative abodes can tell us a lot about the way we all would prefer to live.

Read full story

17 December 2006

The home is not about efficiency or technology

Intel's Genevieve Bell observing in a French kitchen
Genevieve Bell, a highly respected anthropologist and director of user experience at Intel, writes in the latest issue of Fast Company about the fallacy of trying to make the home more rational:

“The challenge for technology companies isn’t to see the home as another place where we can rationalise production.”

“The digital home is never going to be about technology–it’s about the people who live there. We have slow-moving cultural paradigms, and ‘home’ means something in our imaginations. In England and America, you say, ‘My home is my castle.’ In India, people talk metaphorically about their homes as ‘pure’ and the outside world as ‘polluted.’ In Indonesia, home means grace, modesty and simplicity.”

“The things that people care about aren’t changing– we’re curious, we want to be socially connected and spiritually inspired. The home is not a blank slate waiting for technology to arrive.”

Read full story

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).

3 August 2006

PICNIC 2008

Experientia/Putting People First is a media partner of PICNIC 2008. Set up as a series of events – a top-class conference, seminars and workshops – PICNIC will be held in Amsterdam from 24 to 26 September this year, and will attract thousands of creative minds from all over the world.

Speakers

PICNIC brings together and disseminates the ideas and knowledge of the world’s best creators and innovators, including the following speakers: Stefan Agamanolis (scientist and developer); Genevieve Bell (anthropologist, Intel); Pim Betist (music lover and entrepreneur); Ben Cerveny (director, Playground Foundation); Matt Costello (writer and games developer); Esther Dyson (investor); Jyri Engeström (founder, Jaiku); Addy Feuerstein (founder, All of me); Eileen Gittins (founder, Blurb); Bruno Giussani (writer, commentator, entrepreneur); Adam Greenfield (futurist, Nokia); Rafi Haladjian (co-founder, Violet); Matt Hanson (movie maker); Laurent Haug (LIFT); Jeff Jarvis (media analyst, blogger); Michael B. Johnson (Pixar); Matt Jones (co-founder, Dopplr); Younghee Jung (senior design manager, Nokia); Ben Kaufman (founder, BKMedia, Mophie, Kluster); Aaron Koblin (artist, designer, researcher); Charles Leadbeater (advisor and author); Loic Le Meur (entrepreneur); Stefano Marzano (CEO, Philips Design); Bill Moggridge (founder, IDEO); Claus Nehmzow (general manager, Method); Madan Rao (consultant and writer); Martin de Ronde (director, OneBigGame); Ton Roosendaal (chairman, Blender Foundation); Philip Rosedale (founder, Linden Lab); Ken Rutkowski (KenRadio Broadcasting); Justus Schneider (marketeer); Clay Shirky (author); Eskil Steenberg (game designer); Linda Stone (writer, speaker, consultant); Kara Swisher (co-executive editor, AllThingsDigital); Itay Talgam (conductor); Michael Tchong (Ubercool); Peter Thaler (artist, entrepreneur); Vital Verlic (co-founder, OpenAd); Werner Vogels (CTO, Amazon); Kevin Wall (CEO, Control Room); and Ethan Zuckerman (blogger).

PICNIC Themes

The main theme of PICNIC’08 is “Collaborative Creativity” in its many guises. The organisers will look at new and connected forms of intelligence and creativity, from the fields of entertainment, science, the arts and business. From the global brain to crowd-sourced design, from data visualization techniques to fostering creativity; from connected cities to connected souls: in a series of ground-breaking presentations, discussions and debates PICNIC will explore the future of collaborative creativity and its implications for us all.

Below some of the themes the PICNIC’08 Conference will explore:

  • The Global Mind What happens if everyone is connected to everyone, all the time? PICNIC explores collaborative creative processes that involve large groups of people.
  • The Tupperware Economy Friends’ referrals are at the heart of new ‘advertising’ programmes. Social networks are commercial ventures that interlink communication and commerce in new ways.
  • Almost Real Advances in technology are also connecting us in new ways. From 3D cinema, to life video interactions and from 4K video to distributed opera, PICNIC explores reality in its new digital guise.
  • Future Urban Spaces Cities are experiments in new social forms, based on real-time information and feedback. How can we develop sustainable cities?
  • Creative Leadership How can leaders orchestrate creativity and innovation in an age of collaboration?
  • Domination of Infotainment Today more than ever, we can follow events as they unfold. The adrenaline of live reporting, turns news in to a game.

Media partnership with Putting People First

In the months leading up to the event, Putting People First, will feature several interviews with the speakers, including some exclusive ones. During the event we will also cover the event live.

Last updated: 24 May 2008

10 May 2006

How to build a better product—study people [PC Magazine]

Intel's Genevieve Bell observing in a French kitchen
PC Magazine just published a long feature story on how anthropology is moving into the corporation.

Product development has historically been predicated on a “build it and they will come” basis. But times are changing, consumer choice is increasing and the game plan has evolved.

Ethnography, a branch of anthropology, uses a variety of research methods to study people in a bid to understand human culture. Since top companies across several industries are treating ethnography as a means of designing for and connecting with potential customers, technology companies have recently begun investing significantly more research time and money into the field. At chip giant Intel, for example, the company spent approximately $5 billion on ethnographic research and development during 2004.

As the respective leaders in the hardware and operating systems markets, both Intel and fellow tech giant Microsoft have begun using teams of researchers to identify new market opportunities and improve existing products.

Read full story

10 March 2006

The role of ethnographic research in driving technology innovation – Lessons from Inside Asia

In a story in Pakistan’s Daily Times, Bill Siu (whom I presume to be an Intel Vice-President), shares some of the insights gained from Intel’s ethnographic research in Asia.

The Inside Asia project team, led by Dr Genevieve Bell [which is part of the People and Practices Research Team of Intel] spent two years conducting ethnographic research among 100 households in seven Asian countries, including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Korea, and Australia.

The article then continues with a focus on such uniquely Asian issues such as the emphasis on community, the sharing of technology, the difficulty of accessing electrical power in rural regions, the technological infrastructural delivery in cities (to buildings, rather than to apartments), the religious and spiritual resistance to the Western concept of being ‘always on’, and Asia’s fairly large internet cafés with up to 50 PC’s.

Intel has already begun to translate the findings of the field research conducted in Asia into new technology products and has introduced two innovations for Chinese consumers: the China Home Learning PC and the iCafé platform.

The China Home Learning PC supports educational experiences and development through a unique combination of hard-key switching between “educational” and “general” mode and a novel use of touch screens and voicematching to coach children in Mandarin and English.

Intel’s iCafé platform is a major new computing platform customized for the nearly 200,000 Internet cafes (or “iCafés”) in China, where people socialize, send e-mail, watch movies, and play online games. Intel’s new platform technology is expected to transform the way iCafés do business.

The writer suggests that more is to come. Because the PC as we know it was built from the ground up with a Western set of values and constraints, how might a PC look if it were built from the ground up in Malaysia or India or Kenya or Egypt?

- Read full story (Pakistan Daily Times)
– A longer version of the same article can also be found on the Intel web site

21 September 2005

BBC Radio 4 discusses anthropology in business

Bbc_radio_4logo
In a 30 minute dicussion with six guests, BBC Radio 4 delves into the topic of anthropologists who no longer observe tribal people out in the jungle, but watch us instead. This approach is meant to give busy executives an insight into the real world that people like us inhabit. But, they wonder, does it really work or is it another passing fad in the world of marketing, like the focus groups many people think it’s replacing?

Guests are Dr Simon Roberts of Ideas Bazaar, Paul Eden of Ogilvy and Mather, Genevieve Bell of Intel, Professor Patrick Barwise of the London Business School, Professor Richard Harper of Microsoft, and Paco Underhill of Envirosell.

Listen to the programme (RealPlayer)
Programme web page

(via Usability Views)