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Concept Video: Kate & Alicia

Applications now open: MSc Design Ethnography 2013/14
Start your journey here! Applications are now open for the MSc Design Ethnography 2012/13 academic year starting this September, at the University of Dundee, UK. The MSc Design Ethnography course provides students from a wide range of backgrounds with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the tools, techniques and controversies of user research and design ethnography. It aims to address an industry need for user/design researchers, [...] Read more – ‘Applications now open: MSc Design Ethnography 2013/14’.
Refocus Group
I love Tom Fishburne’s cartoons! Don Norman and Roberto Verganti are asking in this article “Can design research ever lead to radical product innovation?“and they provide the answer “Yes, but this is unlikely to occur through the methods of human-centered design.” Going on they say: The more that researchers study existing human behavior, activities, and products, the more they get trapped [...] Read more – ‘Refocus Group’.
Part 4: Synthesizing Data
Recording. Coding. Transcribing. It’s painful. But it’s necessary. And it normally doesn’t look like an orderly rainbow-colored layout of post-its on a ping-pong table. I’ve gotten to the point where I know that 30 minutes of interview will take me 2-3 hours to transcribe. An hour of recording can take up to 5 hours, or possibly [...] Read more – ‘Part 4: Synthesizing Data’.
Part 3: Out In The Field
Steps To Getting To What We Know [WWK] (Continued from Part 2): Desk Research: A term unfortunately foreign to me prior to arriving at Dundee, this literally means stuff you can do at your desk, on your own, without going into the field. (Friends, please correct me I am wrong). Usually, this translates into Google [...] Read more – ‘Part 3: Out In The Field’.
Part 2: Research Methods
I’ve taken courses in statistical and research methods in psychology, and I’ve had the fun of discreetly sampling background music in various parts of Tokyo in an attempt to explore the city through an auditory perspective rather than a visual one (the mode most of us tend to default towards). When it comes to planning [...] Read more – ‘Part 2: Research Methods’.
Part 1: Project Management, Team Culture
Prior to the course, I thought group work was easy. (Shakes head sheepishly.) Somehow during my undergrad years and when I was out in the workplace, team work and project management seemed simple; people understood their roles, we all had the same vision or goal, and it was almost implicit that you joined a company, [...] Read more – ‘Part 1: Project Management, Team Culture’.
Critical Reflections i.e. What it’s like to do the MSc Design Ethnography
Hello! For those thinking of applying to the MSc Design Ethnography, I will be posting a few excerpts over the next week from my ‘daily log,’ courtesy of our first semester’s Experience Research 1 module taught by Catriona Macaulay and Kate Saunderson. These entries will take you through the mind of one would-be design ethnographer [...] Read more – ‘Critical Reflections i.e. What it’s like to do the MSc Design Ethnography’.
Making Meaning. An Interview with Brigitte Jordan, Part 2
This post is the second in the series, you can read from the beginning here – Language. An Interview with Brigitte Jordan, Part 1. At the time that I interviewed Brigitte Jordan, I was wondering about design ethnography’s way of handling data. While the academic anthropologist usually works alone, goes to the field alone and [...] Read more – ‘Making Meaning. An Interview with Brigitte Jordan, Part 2’.
Language Issues. An Interview with Brigitte Jordan, Part 1
Last September, during our first MSc Design Ethnography module, I had the opportunity to interview the wonderful Brigitte Jordan, described by Cat Macaulay as one of the „godmothers“ of design ethnography. I was particularly interested in talking to her because she had transitioned as one of the first from academically grounded anthropology into the field of [...] Read more – ‘Language Issues. An Interview with Brigitte Jordan, Part 1’.
Meteors, Culture and Natural Selection
The story. You are probably aware of the meteor falling in Russia last week. You probably also watched lots of high-definition videos of the fire-ball tearing the sky. Did you wonder, “how did they manage to get all this footage?”. In summary,  because of violent roads, corrupted police and skeptic justice system, dash-cameras are a must have [...] Read more – ‘Meteors, Culture and Natural Selection’.
Challenges: Gaining First-hand information in Second Language
As a bilingual or multilingual speaker, have you ever conducted an interview in another language other than your primary one? When conducting an interview in another language, it is more challenging, since the language itself adds an extra layer of understanding and interpreting to the whole work. As a Mandarin speaker studying in an English-speaking [...] Read more – ‘Challenges: Gaining First-hand information in Second Language’.
Finding your element
I am currently working my way through the book ‘The Element’ by Sir Ken Robinson, his underlying principle throughout is that if we can unite our natural inclinations with our passions then anything is possible. I know in my own experience when I am working on something I am interested in, the work gets done a [...] Read more – ‘Finding your element’.
Presenting Design Ethnography Project Outcomes
Presenting DE project outcomes is a tricky business. You want to bring your participants to life yet at the same time convey that while this person may have their quirks, they are not unique enough to be ignored. In other words this participant’s behavior or beliefs are symptomatic of your client’s market and accurate enough [...] Read more – ‘Presenting Design Ethnography Project Outcomes’.
An Apparent Acceptance of Discomfort OR The Foreign Voyager
This Christmas break my husband and I went to Germany. All my family and friends live in Germany, and since I emigrated from Germany to the US in 2003, I have not been able to be home for Christmas. Being in Europe for my Master’s studies finally offered us the opportunity to go back, consume [...] Read more – ‘An Apparent Acceptance of Discomfort OR The Foreign Voyager’.
Learning by Design
A few weeks ago I attended an event that focused on service design, and offered an opportunity for a small group of people to share experiences and thoughts on this growing field of design. A conversation arose around changing career paths, how experience translates into new areas of work, and what transferable skills apply to [...] Read more – ‘Learning by Design’.
Challenges in documenting ethnographic research for design ethnographers
  As part of a team I contributed towards two ethnographic research projects, ‘exploring the work patterns of mobile workers’ and ‘how multi-person households do grocery shopping’. The challenges I faced in documenting ethnographic research for design ethnographers were mainly concerned with ‘communication’. In order to communicate well, design ethnographers’ doc umentation, such as interview [...] Read more – ‘Challenges in documenting ethnographic research for design ethnographers’.
Insights as artfully told facts
The other night we had dinner and drinks with some good friends and soon the discussion turned to science and how the general assumption in our society is that if it’s science, its gotta be true. Science is often seen as the eternal truth…unquestionable facts…the secret weapon of many heated debates. And this was the [...] Read more – ‘Insights as artfully told facts’.
Design Ethnography Hothouse Summer 2012: Self-service
Self-Service? The impact of the rise in self-service and automation on users and providers.   “The Dundee Summer Hothouse epitomises for me the way that industry-academic collaborations of the future could and should work. Everyone wins.” - David Prendergast, European Social Science and Design Lead, Health Research and Innovation, Intel Labs (Hothouse 2010 and 2011, now [...] Read more – ‘Design Ethnography Hothouse Summer 2012: Self-service’.
Ask Us Anything
  What is it? A chance to learn, to get advice from students and alumni, and to find out more about Design Ethnography.   How: Post a comment with a question you’d like to see answered. Scan through the comments to find questions you’d like to answer. Continue the discussion by replying to the thread. [...] Read more – ‘Ask Us Anything’.
Different fields, key texts.
What is your key text? More than ever before we are asked to dip in and out of varying fields of knowledge, but when you first hit the ground running how do you know what text is your next ‘key text’? So I am throwing the question out there, what do you define as your [...] Read more – ‘Different fields, key texts.’.
Top 5| ‘What is design ethnography?’ pointers
Image by fras1977 What is design ethnography? What is Design Ethnography, is that even the right term? When niche fields become the buzz words of the moment there can be confusion, misdirection and charlatans. For those who worked in the area before, those who wish to contribute  or  plan to work there after the dazzle [...] Read more – ‘Top 5| ‘What is design ethnography?’ pointers’.
On Their Bikes! The Hothouse Summer 2011 Launched
  If you bump into a Dundee design ethnography student roaming around in Germany or the USA, India, China or London this summer, say hello! Semester three of the Masters in Design Ethnography is underway and the gang are off on their fieldwork travels. It’s Hothouse Summer time again and it is all about the [...] Read more – ‘On Their Bikes! The Hothouse Summer 2011 Launched’.
Human Computer Interactions: Creating Space for Recovery through Skype
Seth Godin, a prominent entrepreneur and author who was named the “the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age” by Business Week, said it best in his post on empathy, addressing the catch-22  that experience researchers help to resolve: as important as it is to business (leaders, marketers and designers) to be able to effectively empathize with your [...] Read more – ‘Human Computer Interactions: Creating Space for Recovery through Skype’.
@dethnoreads – book group chatter in 140 characters (or less)…
One of the things I struggle against in our wonderful, infuriating, info-rich world (I’m old enough to remember the time before!) is that it just gets harder and harder to find the time to do the thing that more than anything helps me translate ideas, information, words, into thoughts, knowledge, sense. Share. When kids, career, [...] Read more – ‘@dethnoreads – book group chatter in 140 characters (or less)…’.
Social Innovation Camp visit Dundee University
Social Innovation Camp visit Dundee University A word from the SI Camp team: Ever thought of a way the Internet, the Web, and your mobile could do some good in the world? Ever wanted to start your own business? Ever wanted to meet a bunch of cool people and work on cool things that really [...] Read more – ‘Social Innovation Camp visit Dundee University’.
3D Landscaping Workshop
We have been designing a workshop that will wrap up the focus phase of our semester long Design Ethnography project. The workshop aims to pull together all the work we have done across 5 different teams and present it to our Client in a meaningful way. We hope to not only engage our Client in [...] Read more – ‘3D Landscaping Workshop’.
Laziness, busyness and business
People are lazy and busy, how do you make business out of it? Read more – ‘Laziness, busyness and business’.
Voice of Experience newsletter
Welcome to the Voice of Experience. We hope our newsletter will gradually evolve into a new outlet for all of us inside and outside academia interested in exploring, developing and sharing the ways in which ‘up close and personal’ experience research can be used in design and business settings. This isn’t just a place for [...] Read more – ‘Voice of Experience newsletter’.
Big Business Today: The Value of the Past
How do you keep pace with the relentless pace of the next new thing? You go sideways, or in some cases backwards, to move forward. Savvy entrepreneurs understand a few things: The past is big business. And it’s a treasure trove, literally, in more ways than one. Read more – ‘Big Business Today: The Value of the Past’.
Ethnography from Anthropology to Design and Beyond
An essay by Sara Samford, MSc Design Ethnography student exploring ‘From anthropology to design: mapping the migration of ethnography from academia to industry and beyond’. Ethnography from Anthropology to Design and Beyond View more documents from DesignEthnography. Read more – ‘Ethnography from Anthropology to Design and Beyond’.
Hothouse Summer 2010
For three months in the summer of 2010 our MSc in Design Ethnography students worked in small teams for a group of international industry clients on their final semester Major Projects. These projects were undertaken under the banner of our innovative approach to industry-academia partnering on masters projects: The Hothouse Summer. The vision of the [...] Read more – ‘Hothouse Summer 2010’.
Standardising teminology
From Anthropology to Design Ethnography, below Dhruv discusses how it was the change of terminology which was the most disconcerting… At CKS, while we were trying to analyze the data collected over several months by multiple researchers, I was fairly new to the whole idea of Design Ethnography. After studying Anthropology for 5 years in [...] Read more – ‘Standardising teminology’.
Post-it note Etiquette
Here are some simple Post-it Etiquettes to help each other digest, analyse and synthesize our vast data spread across hundreds of post-its! Choose different colours of post-its for writing under different categories. If you run out of colours, tag them at the bottom with a code using a 0.5 mm blue pen. Choose the same [...] Read more – ‘Post-it note Etiquette’.
Everyday Entrepreneur: The Art of Winning Allies #1
Case in point: How would you describe what you do to a potential boss? Your mother? A story has many uses. However, left on its own, it's virtually useless. Put in the hands of the right people with the right context, it becomes amplified -- and news travels fast. You may not need a PR department if your customer is also your biggest ally. The work of the ethnographer can be useful at any stage, but it's shines the best at the front end instead of at the tail -- it can set up the conditions in which relationships, both existing and new, can prosper in a shared understanding. Read more – ‘Everyday Entrepreneur: The Art of Winning Allies #1’.
Course information guide
Do you want to be part of the continued growth of design ethnography – adding value to business, design and innovation? Do you want to extend your skills portfolio as a designer, engineer, innovator, or design or market researcher? Our course information guide outlines the basic information about the field of user research and design [...] Read more – ‘Course information guide’.
A welcome note
So you are interested in our unique one year masters in Design Ethnography, and thinking of joining us? Well we think the best starting point is to talk! Email Programme Director Cat on catriona@mac.com and she’ll be in touch soon to arrange a good time to talk (don’t worry, she’ll call you).  And if you [...] Read more – ‘A welcome note’.
These Things We Know: “Only Connect”
The gang undertook a project last semester in their Design Ethnography 1 module looking at the how notions of friend and stranger are changing as social media become more deeply part of everyday life (for many). One of the things about doing fieldwork is that until you dive in and do it it is very [...] Read more – ‘These Things We Know: “Only Connect”’.
Opening the Door on Design Ethnography: Event summary
Wednesday, December 7th marked the first ‘Opening the door on Design Ethnography’ one-day workshop and exhibition. We want to thank; David Prendergast from Intel, Param Venkatamaran from IMRB Qualitative Research and Rachel Jones from Instrata for providing inspiring keynotes and everyone who attended the morning presentations and participated in the afternoon workshop session and the [...] Read more – ‘Opening the Door on Design Ethnography: Event summary’.
Digital Sabbatical
Digital Sabbatical simply means ceasing to work in/using the digital means. During my search I found this interesting podcast of “William Powers”, a Harvard fellow and American Journalist. Powers wrote a groundbreaking essay called “Hamlet’s Blackberry” which later transformed into a book by the same name. One statement from his talk, that really caught my attention [...] Read more – ‘Digital Sabbatical’.
How to Address Gamification: A Primer for Design Ethnographers
The buzzword “gamification” is plastered all over the web.  Will it save the world or will it flop and fizzle out? Will you need to know what it is, or can you safely ignore this corner of the universe teeming with debate and hype? Most likely gamification will cross your path and you should be [...] Read more – ‘How to Address Gamification: A Primer for Design Ethnographers’.
Thomas Power and Digital Coaching
Thomas power’s talk in the digital mindset workshop was remarkable! He is the founder-chairman of ecademy, a UK-based professional networking site. I had never imagined meeting an SNS founder right after completing my research on SNS and social media. The workshop was both interactive and informative. He started his talk with some background information about [...] Read more – ‘Thomas Power and Digital Coaching’.
Gamification and Design Ethnography Workshop
We will be putting on a workshop focused on exploring the possibilities for synergy between design ethnography and game design tactics. It will take place on December 1st, 2010 at 1 pm in the design ethnography studio. Gamification, the addition of game mechanics and elements to non-game situations, has grown in recent years and its [...] Read more – ‘Gamification and Design Ethnography Workshop’.
Project Brief and Initial Brainstorming
This is a cross-post from Third Wheel’s Team Blog from 26 October 2010. Today we received the project brief for our new Design Ethnography exploratory research project on friendly strangers and strange friends. We are directed to explore the weird mixed world of virtual and real friendships and strangerships. Our aim is to explore and [...] Read more – ‘Project Brief and Initial Brainstorming’.
The value of drawing in communication.
We do not eat with our hands tied behind our back so why do some people design with their hands tied? Read more – ‘The value of drawing in communication.’.
Opening the Door on Design Ethnography
A free one-day workshop and exhibition from the team behind the world’s first Masters in Design Ethnography at the University of Dundee When: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 from 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM (GMT) Where: The Design Council, WC2E 7DL, London Get your ticket here: http://designethnography.eventbrite.com/ Why: The worlds of design, marketing, innovation and business [...] Read more – ‘Opening the Door on Design Ethnography’.
Challenging convention with a question.
As students we are here buying space and time to think and act. At the moment students are spending their time in the streets of London protesting against future changes to the system. We are here to learn and the best way to learn is to challenge convention. You can’t find the best way of [...] Read more – ‘Challenging convention with a question.’.
Look, don’t overlook.
I remember the first time I went to school, my first kiss, the first time I moved away from home. I remember these because these events were unique at the time. These are some great moments in my life that I will never forget. These unique events are really interesting but they are too often [...] Read more – ‘Look, don’t overlook.’.
IxTEC: Presenting Fieldwork
The final activity of the IxTEC project (see previous post IxTEC: Managing Design Ethnographers) was to produce a 3-minute video based on the insights that had been arrived at. The purpose of this was to make use of the video probes method and create a standalone explanation of insights arrived at by each team from [...] Read more – ‘IxTEC: Presenting Fieldwork’.
Reflecting on Assessment One
This assignment struck home for me. Our task was to track ethnography from anthropology into industry, providing a brief history of anthropology and a description of how ethnography could be used in industry, illustrated with case studies. I am an anthropologist. I am in the Design Ethnography program at University of Dundee because I want [...] Read more – ‘Reflecting on Assessment One’.
IxTEC: Managing Design Ethnographers
A summary of the activities that took place around a recent field trip to Edinburgh that involved exploring the relationships and interactions occurring between people, technology and public spaces. Read more – ‘IxTEC: Managing Design Ethnographers’.
Everyday Entrepreneur: The Dilemma of the Door Handle
What happens when what we take for granted, fails? We live in a designed world. Design is so ubiquitous, and, for the most part, it's designed for our convenience. But, even the best intentions (answers, solutions, systems, plans... you name it) go wrong at some point. From products, to relationships, to whole economies, the value of design is clear not when it works.. but when it doesn't. Read more – ‘Everyday Entrepreneur: The Dilemma of the Door Handle’.
Embracing uncertainty with a hug.
Creative processes are fraught with uncertainty, we are explorers, exploring new ways of doing things. Read more – ‘Embracing uncertainty with a hug.’.
Not a Rock Star
Even though the current generation has been raised dreaming to become rock stars and heroes they no longer do. And it is actually a good thing and not the result of disillusionment. It is because of our capacity to learn, adapt and evolve within this world as we are changing it. University is a place [...] Read more – ‘Not a Rock Star’.
Let’s sing aloud
This year’s MSc Design Ethnography course is said to be the most diverse group so far. That may well be true, since we’re coming from all over the world and have very versatile professional backgrounds. Add to that all our previous life experiences, career plans, dreams and passions and you’ll get quite an interesting mix. [...] Read more – ‘Let’s sing aloud’.
About everything and nothing (and everything in-between)
We live in a complex world. One governed by human systems. We interpret these systems to make sense of uncertainty. Read more – ‘About everything and nothing (and everything in-between)’.
Designing Data Analysis
As a part of our curriculum, we were required to conduct a personal project for the third semester. We were offered diverse projects as internship opportunities to choose from – Project Banter being one of them. Banter is a Ph.D. project being undertaken by Paul Gault, a designer from the University of Dundee. Personal interests [...] Read more – ‘Designing Data Analysis’.
User Observation: Why is it so important for Design Ethnographers?
User Observation: Why is it so important for Design Ethnographers? We talked about how at times the straight forward data that we gather from user interviews could be misleading knowing the fact that users may not be aware that there is a problem in their interaction with products they are using. Problems that need to [...] Read more – ‘User Observation: Why is it so important for Design Ethnographers?’.
Building Dreamscapes
Today was our first official day in Design Ethnography I! Our plan was as follows: Explore  the Module Interviewing Introduction Interview Designers Process Interview + Notes Work with Mdes Students to Create a Community Dreamscape We walked through our module and plan for the semester, looking particularly at the core goals and skills with which we [...] Read more – ‘Building Dreamscapes’.
Case for change; a primer for 2010/11
As humans we have developed the ability to alter our environment. This allows us to have an impact on our surroundings. In modern life today, we are all part of a society which has a greater reach than anything before it. Within this society there are communities that we are part or have an affect [...] Read more – ‘Case for change; a primer for 2010/11’.
Remote Usability Testing as a data gathering method….and how it could be useful to you?
What is Remote Usability Testing? A way to test how easy to use an application/website is with users who are in a different geographical location. Traditional usability testing brings users and researchers together in one place to conduct the test, whereas remote usability testing allows the researcher and user to be in different locations while [...] Read more – ‘Remote Usability Testing as a data gathering method….and how it could be useful to you?’.
What is a Design Ethnographer?
A design ethnographer is a professional creature, that has drank mind altering social science voodoo Kool-aid laced with business acumen, as well as design theories, and is left to stew in a borderline obsessive tail spin focused on the importance of strategic information design. Read more – ‘What is a Design Ethnographer?’.
Ethnographic Liquidity in Industry – Intel Global Ageing Study
One can argue that conducting fieldwork and analyzing data represents the comparatively easy parts of any research project. The real challenge when conducting ethnographic research in the context of industry, comes in the practice of sustained knowledge transfer and in the ability to drive the insights gained and communicated through research into a program for [...] Read more – ‘Ethnographic Liquidity in Industry – Intel Global Ageing Study’.
Data Analysis: Work smart, not hard
It's that time again, analysis time. So I know some people in the group have already got started, and for some it is a wee bit away BUT I think it is good idea to start thinking about your approach to analysis. Read more – ‘Data Analysis: Work smart, not hard’.
How a Design Ethnographer is not just an Ethnographer.
Many people say we are in the business of formulating and asking questions. I say NO! We are so much more, we are renderists. We render multidimensional dynamic models of the what is under our microscope, and then take our models into the world to be played with by anyone who will join us. We believe in collective intelligence and collaboration, and we are going to change the future. Read more – ‘How a Design Ethnographer is not just an Ethnographer.’.
Researcher, translator, innovator…what is your future position?
There is an immense gap between research and practice. I’m tempted to paraphrase Kipling and say “Oh, research is research, and practice is practice, and never the twain shall meet,” but I will resist. The gap between these two communities is real and frustrating. Between research and practice a new, third discipline must be inserted, [...] Read more – ‘Researcher, translator, innovator…what is your future position?’.
Ethnography and the Bleedy Edge: Living in the Gray (Coping with Uncertainty)
I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche that the world isn’t black and white. This is true. And if you want to be a design ethnographer, you’d best get accustomed to living in the gray. Living in the gray is a balancing act, which involves, among many other things: standing with one foot in the world [...] Read more – ‘Ethnography and the Bleedy Edge: Living in the Gray (Coping with Uncertainty)’.
Urban Professionals and Social Networking
I recently returned from a 2 week fieldwork session in London looking at how urban professionals use Social Networking, both privately and professionally. This project is also being carried out in Berlin and Zurich in parallel, but all are alongside our client Swisscom. I am looking at corporate professionals and those with positions related to [...] Read more – ‘Urban Professionals and Social Networking’.
Ethnography and the Bleedy Edge: How to Deal With Useless People
Sometimes you will be forced to work with useless people. Read more – ‘Ethnography and the Bleedy Edge: How to Deal With Useless People’.
What We Do: Data Management
One of the greatest challenges for ethnographers is what to do with all of the data we collect. In addition to the physical notebooks full of scratch notes, we also have lots of digital data–from audio recordings of interviews to photographs taken during observations to the field notes we write up after an interaction with participants. Organizing [...] Read more – ‘What We Do: Data Management’.
Playing Plant Wars: Participatory Ethnography
One of the tools ethnographers use to understand the users or participants of a particular situation is called participatory ethnography. This means that we go and do what they do. In a traditional ethnographic project, for example ethnographers are brought into the factory to see how working conditions could be improved, the ethnographers would go [...] Read more – ‘Playing Plant Wars: Participatory Ethnography’.
What We Do: Field Notes
Field notes are detailed descriptions of field work, interviews with and observations of people. Contrary to what the name suggests, field notes are not actually taken in the field while we are interviewing and observing people. Rather, while we are in the field we take scratch notes. In our scratch notes we write down things [...] Read more – ‘What We Do: Field Notes’.
Prototypes can spark interaction
This is the second of my discoveries from the foyer of the Prototype Symposium 2010. Prototypes can spark interaction: The work of Roy Shearer, uses Niftymitter to look at the possibility of using open source practice with physical objects. Niftymitter: an open thing is a device that transmits from an audio source to any FM radio. It is designed to be taken by the new owner and hacked, tampered, improved and can even be profited from. The only constraint is that you must release it under the same parameters, as there are no patents or copyright attached. This wild card factor allows for the strangers to work collaboratively in a way that though not new, is more predominant in today’s society. In her talk 'From Mari to Memphis', Catherine Rossi regales a story about a side note on instructions from an Enzo Mari furniture pack in 1973, ‘The author asks those who build the furniture and in particular those who make variations of it to send a photo to his studio’. This practice is noticeable in areas such as software development, we had a great talk by Leonardo Bonani, 'Tools and tool makers of the Bazaar, new paradigms in computer aided craft' in which he discussed nature of Cathedrals and the Bazaar. Read more – ‘Prototypes can spark interaction’.
Prototypes can spark conversations
The Prototype Symposium 2010, brought together a varied group of practitioners exploring theory, practice and recounting experiences. Yet before the speakers even began I was taken on a journey with the prototype exhibition in the foyer, these projects lead me to two new discoveries. Prototype Prototypes can spark conversations: The work of Sarah Kettely was [...] Read more – ‘Prototypes can spark conversations’.
Prototype Symposium, Day 1 – The Power of …..
During the first talk of the day Constance Adams stood in front of this photo and told us – “there’s no barriers – its all one planet”. For me, this set the tone for the first day of the Prototype Symposium ,which provided the audience with a heady mixture of craft, design, architecture, business, art, [...] Read more – ‘Prototype Symposium, Day 1 – The Power of …..’.
Prototype Symposium: Craft in the Future Tense
The next few days are going to be very exciting in Dundee, as the Prototype Symposium gets underway! Prototype: Craft in the Future Tense has been co-convened by the V&A and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.The event is part of Craft Fest Scotland and ‘will explore the radical and multiple ways that [...] Read more – ‘Prototype Symposium: Craft in the Future Tense’.
Exploring the world of games and the older adult
Exploring the world of games and the older adult is a project being undertaken by Caoimhe and myself (Kate) in connection with Intel Ireland, this is a collaborative project for our 3rd semester. Read more – ‘Exploring the world of games and the older adult’.
YULE project: Working as a team
In this ever shrinking world, working in a team has become more common than before and it is very close to being a ‘way of life’. Being a part of the batch of sixteen multi-talented ethnographers from different nationalities, diverse professional backgrounds and distinct personalities, ‘teamwork’ has become a way of life! The most recent [...] Read more – ‘YULE project: Working as a team’.
Reflect, practice and try again
Last semester we were 'mapping the research landscape of the entertainment', and in this post I explore the set up and what lessons I can apply to my summer research project, as this year we are part of the Hot House. A series of projects working with various industry partners to explore a variety of subject matters, but more on that in another post. This is about reflecting, not talking about the future. So lessons did I learn? It is now we, not me. Learn to balance your energy output: When research is shared, challenged, taken apart and reworked as a group, it allows you to take a step back and review it on a new level. This process allows for the research to transform, indeed the final outcome will be produced to a higher level of work. In this setup of research stages, do not exhaust yourself in the first stage, because it will reduce the quality of group work and this is where the magic happens. There is no ‘I’ in Ethnography: Any individual can create a body of work, yet the quality produced is increased with the choice of good materials and instruments. In the case of ethnography, instruments take the form of your mind and body, your fellow researchers, your clients and participants. They must be attended to and maintained, in the form of relationships, communication and interaction. We must support others but also lean on them in our time of need, which will inevitably happen. You will never know enough, but that’s okay: The trick is not to master every skill in the book but to surround yourself with the right people. If you can decide what skill base will be needed for the project, then you are in a position to strategically choose who to work with, or ask advice to, this is how you will succeed. Read more – ‘Reflect, practice and try again’.
Team – Up!
Another semester comes to an end now. It was an interesting journey – a lot of takeaways. Two more projects witnessed happy closures. But… one still remains. It is not a project per se but is an ethnography of its own kind. An ethnography of the ethnographic projects conducted in this semester. I discussed some learnings from [...] Read more – ‘Team – Up!’.
Strategic Duality: Reflections on what design ethnography can offer
“When we have a really hard problem we naturally want experts to solve it- people on the inside, people closest to the problem, but that might be exactly the wrong thing” -Jonah Lehrer In researching the audience of Lieder, a niche classical music genre, for our client this last semester, I couldn’t help but ask [...] Read more – ‘Strategic Duality: Reflections on what design ethnography can offer’.
It’s Not Just Who You Know: Benefits and Limitations of Personal Networks in Participant Recruitment
Naturally my first points of contact (and some of the richest information sources) came from friends and family ... In several cases, these first degree contacts suggested friends and fellow music lovers from their own personal networks for us to also speak with. Many of these secondary contacts in turn were open to recommending even more people that they knew to be interested in our research as well ... Read more – ‘It’s Not Just Who You Know: Benefits and Limitations of Personal Networks in Participant Recruitment’.
Ethnography and the Bleedy Edge: Agile Deliverable Development and the Death of Perfectionism
Read more – ‘Ethnography and the Bleedy Edge: Agile Deliverable Development and the Death of Perfectionism’.
Nimble Collaboration Tools
Being one of the few studying part time on the Design Ethnography MSc course and at a fair geographic distance from the rest of the team in Dundee, our latest project has led me to reflect on the nature of working virtually, and particularly the lack of nimble tools to enable this. First thoughts led [...] Read more – ‘Nimble Collaboration Tools’.
Advice for Next Year’s Class of Design Ethnographers
A wall scroll of advice for the class of 2011. Read more – ‘Advice for Next Year’s Class of Design Ethnographers’.
Personalized CHI2010 Recommendations
I realize that my last blog post on CHI2010 highlighted what I found interesting at the conference.  Speaking of “pointers” (thanks Dhruv!), here are some more personalized recommendations. Most of the papers I list below are ones that I remember off the top of my head (ie ones with awards or ones that others spoke [...] Read more – ‘Personalized CHI2010 Recommendations’.
CHI 2010
Last week I had the privilege (thank you Daniela!) of attending CHI2010, a conference on human factors in computing systems in Atlanta, as a Student Volunteer.  It was an amazing and insightful experience!  I especially enjoyed being an SV as it provided an immediate community and allowed me to start building a network of fellow researchers from [...] Read more – ‘CHI 2010’.
Compete or Collaborate?
Why is ‘Ecology’ such an interesting word? Ernst Haeckel would have never imagined the power of the word, ‘Ecology’ in a business context when he coined it. I love the word and my fellow ethnographers smile every time I use it. The word conveys so much when used in various contexts like market ecology, technology [...] Read more – ‘Compete or Collaborate?’.
Ethno-Open-Collab?
Within the world of design, open-collaboration and mass creativity are the new buzzwords doing the rounds. This is also the message coming from the lecturers at the University of Dundee, that this is the future of design, that you won’t necessarily have a specialisation within a discipline such a Graphic Design or Web Design, you will be required to be proficient [...] Read more – ‘Ethno-Open-Collab?’.
Three simple words: Design Ethnography process
3 Simple words: How to describe the Design Ethnography process. Read more – ‘Three simple words: Design Ethnography process’.
NCR Surface competition: The process of creating Zest-it
Last September the School of Computing at the University of Dundee, supported by NCR, announced a programming competition, this year it was to make an application for the Microsoft Surface. A Multi-disciplined team made of two Design Ethnographers, a Applied Computing student and a PHD studentat teh School of Computing took up the challenge. Read more – ‘NCR Surface competition: The process of creating Zest-it’.
NCR Surface Competition Finals
On Wednesday, we (Team Palimpsest, including 2 design ethnographers- Kate Saunderson and myself) presented a working prototype of our Microsoft Surface Zest-it application for the final round of the NCR Surface Competition. Here are some snap shots from the dragon’s den: Photo from: http://dewey.computing.dundee.ac.uk/ Photo from: http://dewey.computing.dundee.ac.uk/ Awaiting the judges’ decision nervously Photo from: http://dewey.computing.dundee.ac.uk/ [...] Read more – ‘NCR Surface Competition Finals’.
NCR Surface Competition
Last December Dundee University’s School of Computing announced the launch of a programming competition sponsored by NCR.  The challenge was to design and develop an application for use by multiple users to run on the Microsoft Surface. The school of computing organized a meet and greet session in hopes that some of us design ethnographers would [...] Read more – ‘NCR Surface Competition’.
Digital Ethnography
Kate recently posted a link to Michael Wesch’s anthropology of youtube, and all I can say is wow!  What a comprehensive and oh so relevant ethnography! In watching Wesch’s video, I was reminded of a great essay I read last semester on digital ethnography. In the last ten years especially, with globalization and the wide spread [...] Read more – ‘Digital Ethnography’.
Scope Creep vs Follow-On Sale
Scope creep: In almost every profession there is the defining of a brief between the client and the worker. Scope creep is when uncontrolled changes can occur if the brief isn’t defined fully enough and can have a negative impact – running over budget limits, running out of time and not actually being able to [...] Read more – ‘Scope Creep vs Follow-On Sale’.
Stunning informative graphs and charts
In the image above Paley has created single glyphs which highlight a large amount of information about a stock’s performance for those wishing to glance through many and see the patterns. I want to create similar glyphs for our participants in ethnographic work. Still working out the details. Look here for more: http://wbpaley.com/brad/chartingAndGraphicWork.html Read more – ‘Stunning informative graphs and charts’.
Field Note Experimentation
The least enjoyable part of being an ethnographer, my classmates and I have discovered, may be the writing up of field notes. The notes we take in the field, which we actually call scratch notes, have to be translated into something that is reasonably coherent and human readable. Pictures have to be added in the [...] Read more – ‘Field Note Experimentation’.
Revelations: Design Ethnography in context
We have had the pleasure of many visiting lectures and workshops from various people within the world of design, ethnography and design thinking. Tye Rattenbury, Intel PnPR, Phillp Joe of Microsoft-Windows Emerging Markets, David Prendergast of Intel Health, to name but a few. Though it was Tom Inns, Dundee University, who hit a chord when [...] Read more – ‘Revelations: Design Ethnography in context’.
Online recruitment
What is the best way to access people and get them to agree to an interview? What happens if the people are spread out across the world? Can the internet act as a global gatekeeper to those on blogs and social networks? These are a some of the questions we hope to explore through three online methods we are currently trying out. Read more – ‘Online recruitment’.
Intel project: Navigating the Blogosphere
Currently Kate and I are working on a project about the blogosphere, which is the online footprint created by people and blogs. Our project is about understanding how individuals begin blogging and become members of the blogging community. Specifically, we will be focusing on mapping the audiences of blogs. Our research will help illustrate connections [...] Read more – ‘Intel project: Navigating the Blogosphere’.
Negotiating Access
Gatekeepers are the group of people who would know the inside stories and details about your subject. The gatekeepers could be anyone from a janitor, receptionist to an office boy, supervisor or an assistant manager. So the question is, how do we negotiate access with them ? This Week, Tye Rattenbury,Intel PaPR, visited and he [...] Read more – ‘Negotiating Access’.
When is technology appropriate in Ethnography?
Just when is technology appropriate in ethnography? Does it replace your core ethnographic skills? This was a question that Ilya and I were discussing after a recent field excursion. My thoughts as they stand just now; voice recording can be useful, but only in the right circumstances. It is very good as a backup for [...] Read more – ‘When is technology appropriate in Ethnography?’.
When the Internet and Your Interests Collide
Lovely TED talk form Stefana Broadbent. A truly different way of thinking that made my day and also relates nicely to the Blographers project exploring the blogosphere. Read more – ‘When the Internet and Your Interests Collide’.
DE in the Design Industry
I recently watched an inspirational TED talk by Tim Brown where he urges designers to ‘Think Big’, and he mentions about the importance of starting design thinking with people rather than with technology. The journey of design from the 19th century to the 21st century has seen a shift from designer centric design to consumer [...] Read more – ‘DE in the Design Industry’.
Design Ethnography Class 2009/10
The faces of the Design Ethnographers who are currently studying in Dundee: Read more – ‘Design Ethnography Class 2009/10’.
Recruiting interviewees
This semester our group is researching German Lieder (art song) and recruiting classical music enthusiasts which has proven to be quite a different experience. Cora and I have been attending concerts and recitals and targeting our fellow audience members frantically at the interval and after the performance in order to find out more about the [...] Read more – ‘Recruiting interviewees’.
Issues driving the MSc Design Ethnographers
In the third semester of Design Ethnography it is time to create, design, facilitate, analyse and manage your very own ethnographic study on a subject of our choosing, individually or part of a pair. Have a peek below to view what issues are driving the Design Ethnographers in Dundee: Read more – ‘Issues driving the MSc Design Ethnographers’.
Deep Dive Interviewing Tips
As I find myself crafting interview guides and genrally preparing for two (and a half) simultaneous research projects, Steve Portigal’s sage advice on the art of the question (gleaned from the tweets on Steve’s Deep Dive Interview Secrets webinar)  is proving to be golden! Here are some of my favorite points in italics with my [...] Read more – ‘Deep Dive Interviewing Tips’.
Concept Video: Kate & Alicia
Using drawing to explore a research space, this is a concept video for the project Kate Saunderson and I are embarking on. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgWXh8MtMKA] Live Ideation by Alicia Dudek & Kate Saunderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.youtube.com. Read more – ‘Concept Video: Kate & Alicia’.
Our Bodies are Our Instruments
In some ways, an ethnographer is just a vessel, a sieve through which the world is organized and presented. Our bodies and minds are our instruments. A harpist wouldn’t dream of performing on an untuned instrument–so why would an ethnographer try to work in a body dissonant with exhaustion, mind a dischordant clash of frustration and misery? [...] Read more – ‘Our Bodies are Our Instruments’.
Facilitating remote Ethnography
In early May 2009, a large Telecom service provider company in India decided to engage with its rural customers. Instead of hiring an external agency to conduct fieldwork in rural areas, the organization’s leadership decided to take the opportunity of sending its senior and middle management from sales, marketing, research (and possibly all divisions you [...] Read more – ‘Facilitating remote Ethnography’.
Design Process: When can Ethnography be applied?
Different Stages when Ethnography can be Applied. Read more – ‘Design Process: When can Ethnography be applied?’.
Combining Ethnography with Semiotics
Can the application of semiotics add a new dimension or rather add more value to the ethnographic observations? Can knowledge of semiotics during the stage of analysis add greater depths to the findings? Can it be used to make the ethnographic insights holistic? Yesterday, we had an interesting session by Dr.Shaleph O’Neill on ‘Semiotics and [...] Read more – ‘Combining Ethnography with Semiotics’.
Mark: My Design Ethnography
On reflection I have always had the inclination to tell stories and I have always been inquisitive. I would tear things apart to figure out how they worked, never quite getting them back together.  I would ask questions continually; “Why does that do this?”, “How does that work?”, “What made him do this?”. These are questions [...] Read more – ‘Mark: My Design Ethnography’.
Ethnographers are Gardeners
It generally takes three occurrences of something in a reasonably short period of time for me to learn something new. I noticed it first in learning German. I will hear a new word while I’m listening to Harry Potter in German during my morning swim; then maybe a few days later I will overhear Cora [...] Read more – ‘Ethnographers are Gardeners’.
Unifying Design Ethnography
I still remember the first major data affinitizing session we had during the first semester of the course. As design ethnography students from different parts of the world, we were collectively trying to make sense of data gathered by all of us during a day-long ethnographic session at Glasgow. The initial stages of this session seemed [...] Read more – ‘Unifying Design Ethnography’.
Concentrating on Communication
Throughout the course so far I have become increasingly interested and concerned with how important communication is to a design ethnographer. From either watching/interviewing someone to actually teaching/informing someone else, it seems that interpretations and misunderstandings can occur at any time. This ranges from simple slips of the tongue, to different nationalities/language and culture and [...] Read more – ‘Concentrating on Communication’.
Post-it Etiquette for Smooth Digestion
To work with post-its collaboratively and to enable each other understand what we've written on our post-its, it is essential to follow some homogenous post-it etiquettes. Outlined here are the 10 big blunders we've made and solutions to avoid them. Read more – ‘Post-it Etiquette for Smooth Digestion’.
People are the centre and the circumference
Sounds like a million dollar question, doesn’t it? The answer is priceless… something that money cannot buy (in the words of mastercard!) because it addresses the reasoning behind: the path my professional career will take, the stimulating thoughts that will trigger actions leading to meaningful contribution and satisfaction at the end of the day… To [...] Read more – ‘People are the centre and the circumference’.
Design Ethnography Mantra
“………people…who can move fluently & easily between different social & personal vocabularies…enjoying a rich diet of ideas & techniques & styles, creating their own special mixes. There is no snobbism in this picture – no material too common or too exotic to be used, no simple distinction between real & make believe…..” Brian Eno ” [...] Read more – ‘Design Ethnography Mantra’.
Do video games have more to offer?
Design Ethnography has opened my eyes to a world that I really did not know existed before, a world I feel I am now unable to live without. The sheer abundance of material that has been opened up to me just because I know where to look and what to look for is just phenomenal. It is from [...] Read more – ‘Do video games have more to offer?’.
Making Numbers Talk: Tye Rattenbury
Follow on from Making Numbers Talk: Something Exciting in Design Ethnography Today we had a guest speaker, Tye Rattenbury from the People and Practices Research group from Intel. He gave us a presentation on how his team does user research, and it blew my mind. Essentially, what Tye’s team does is collect a bunch of quantitative [...] Read more – ‘Making Numbers Talk: Tye Rattenbury’.
Sampling: What’s your number?
A curious Haider asked me yesterday, “Do you think findings from a few users in Dundee alone are universally applicable?” His question was well-framed, sharp and had the same inquisitive timbre that we as Design Ethnographers, are likely to encounter in the industry. Deciding against using the term ‘theoretical sampling’ as used by Johanna Brewer [...] Read more – ‘Sampling: What’s your number?’.
Design Ethnogtaphy: Exploring personal definitions
Design ethnography maybe a mouthful to say, but we have to show the world what it is and communicate clearly. Read more – ‘Design Ethnogtaphy: Exploring personal definitions’.
Making Numbers Talk: Something Exciting in Design Ethnography
My journey from quantitative researcher to qualitative researcher has not been without frustration. In general, both communities seem to scorn the contributions of the other. Qualitative researchers can be heard to say, “But when there are numbers, people think that it is concrete and objective! And nothing is ever objective!” Quantitative researchers, on the other hand, scoff, ”But [...] Read more – ‘Making Numbers Talk: Something Exciting in Design Ethnography’.
Capability Scotland: Project delivery
In the boardroom, before a long table surrounded by my teammates, my classmates, and my clients, it began. Two presentations passed before I could refocus my attention from my own work. I still had my presentation to present. We took a break after Alicia’s presentation–enough time for a group hug in the bathroom and another [...] Read more – ‘Capability Scotland: Project delivery’.
Stategic Design Thinking
A reflection on my Strategic Design Thinking module: “It’s… a bit hippy-dippy for my tastes,” I wrote home after my first Strategic Design class. “We were given these big sheets of paper and told to write our definition of “ethnography”, what an ethnographic perspective is, and the ten key skills of an ethnographer. Then we [...] Read more – ‘Stategic Design Thinking’.
Capability Scotland: Client presentations
Capability Scotland, campaigns with, and provides services to disabled children and adults throughout Scotland. We were working with them to review their current volunteering structure, with a view to make it more sustainable. Capability Scotland Sustainable Volunteering Introduction View more presentations from rachelshadoan. An overview of the client presentation: On behalf of the 2010 Design Ethnography [...] Read more – ‘Capability Scotland: Client presentations’.
Capability Scotland: iVolunteer presentation
iVolunteer: Sustainable Youth Volunteering View more presentations from rachelshadoan. Our group, Neha, Ilya, Leanne, and I, focused on young volunteers. 17 to 25 year olds. The iPod generation. Why Capability Scotland Needs Young Volunteers Why invest the time? Why does Capability need these volunteers? Because if you build a solid relationship with them while they [...] Read more – ‘Capability Scotland: iVolunteer presentation’.
Ethnographic Research: A Key to Strategy
Ken Anderson, from Intel, wrote this excellent article for the Harvard Business Review on the importance of ethnographic insight. “Corporate ethnography isn’t just for innovation anymore. It’s central to gaining a full understanding of your customers and the business itself.” Check out the article: http://hbr.harvardbusiness.org/2009/03/ethnographic-research-a-key-to-strategy/ar/1 Read more – ‘Ethnographic Research: A Key to Strategy’.
Our Studio space: 2010/11
The studio is the shared space of many, with each intake of students the studio is cleared, shuffled and redesigned. The year 2010/11 were no different. Here we are in the various stages: 1.  Planning it out. Thinking through different layout possibilities. We used the top right hand corner of the ping pong table and paper [...] Read more – ‘Our Studio space: 2010/11’.
Design Ethnography Continuum
Design ethnography, Dr. Catriona Macaulay tells us, is a continuum. It extends from the work of ethnographers, who ask the why questions, to the work of designers, who ask the what questions. The why questions give us answers that are contingent. They are unstable and varied, and change over time. The what questions give us fixed [...] Read more – ‘Design Ethnography Continuum’.