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Ethnographic Field Methods and Their Relation to Design

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Ethnographic Field Methods and Their Relation to Design. by Kim, Antony, Chipo, Tsega. Goal of the Paper . Exploring relationship between: developing a descriptive understanding of human behaviour and designing artifacts which support them. Overview. Introduction Ethnographic Approach - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Ethnographic Field Methods and Their Relation to Design

  • Ethnographic Field Methods and Their Relation to DesignbyKim, Antony, Chipo, Tsega

  • Goal of the Paper Exploring relationship between:developing a descriptive understanding of human behaviour anddesigning artifacts which support them

  • OverviewIntroductionEthnographic ApproachEthnographic Field MethodsEthnography and DesignThe Participatory Design ProjectConclusion

  • IntroductionChallenge of linking ethnographic field methods and designEthnographers interest is understanding human behaviourDesigners interest is designing artifacts1980s designers refocused interest & realization of inappropriateness of methods used

  • Ethnographic ApproachRequires and includes: involved field workdescription of activities and practicesInterpretation of activities studiedHas Four main Guiding Principles:Natural settingsHolismDescriptiveMembers point of view



  • Blomberg et al. , 1993 s. 128-129

  • Blomberg et al. , 1993 s. 128-129

  • Ethnographic Field MethodsRequirements when doing field work:Personal involvement of investigatorWillingness to be in situations out of controlAn abandonment of strict scientific control

  • Ethnographic Field MethodsThe Methods include:ObservationNote takingInterviewing Video Analysis

  • ObservationWhy observe?How should observation be done?What should the focus of the observation be?

  • Note takingVery individual activityUseful to evoke memories of experienced eventsVideotaped records as notes

  • InterviewingObservations coupled with interviews Start with unstructured & open-ended questionsThen conduct more structured & systematic interviewsShould be done in local settingCan be combined with observationCarefully plan who to interviewRules of thumb in interviewing

  • Video AnalysisUsed as supplements of substitutes to field notesCan be viewed and analyzed by a wide range of people (researchers, designers)Caution needs to be taken as:video taping generate large quantity of tape time consuming to analyzesome human activities are difficult to record

  • Traditional ApproachesCustomer SurveysOperability AssessmentsFocus GroupsField Trips which could either be:Field visits orField tests

  • Ethnographic vs. Traditional ApproachEthnographicOn-going relation with usersIncorporates users perspectivesRelation between tech & work understoodProvides a context to evolve mutual understandingTraditionalLimited to provision of functionality to end-usersEvaluation in imaginary settingTechnology drivenLittle room for collaboration

  • Ethnography and DesignWhen using ethno in design, the human behaviour needs to be understood as a mechanism for changeIndividuals for whom a system is being designed must come first

  • Ethnography and DesignThere are Participations and Expectations Involving those studied, one gains new understandingsInterests of those studied should be respectedEarly involvement of users crucialIssues of access & reciprocity must be confrontedAccess the settings without promises

  • Ethnography and DesignWhy ethnography is relevant to design?designers to understand the settingsnot to impose designers view on usershelps explain uses of the tech designedusers gain broader perspective on techgives good understanding of users workreduces focusing on single task

  • Ethnography and DesignHow can ethnography and design be linked?ethno study work practices & transfer insights to designersteam of ethno & designers undertake the study togetherteam of ethno, designers & users

    Success depends on how well tech supported the work activities

  • The Participatory Design Projectconducted by researchers at PARC & designers in the ID/HI at Xeroxto explore ways of linking ethno & designteam comprise anthropologists, graphic & industrial designer, human factors & users

  • Goals of the Projectunderstand user work practicesdevelop new ways of incorporating the understanding into designintegrate lessons learned into Xerox product dev.focus is on relation btwn tech & human activity

  • Project Methodologyfirst designers needed grounding in ethno & two workshops heldwkshp1- perspective on ethno, observation, open-ended interviews & audio & video rec.wkshp2- analysing & interpreting info. recthen team interviewed usersanalysis of resultsconstruction of collage of ideas, issues..translation into possible design concepts

  • Project Scopeworked with one user communitychoice of comm. based on:comm. had broad range of technologiesrich array of documentsvariety of mediaEagerness by the community

  • Conclusiondesigners gain a new way of thinking & understanding when ethnographic field methods are usedit is important that the designers first understand how to translate the insights

  • Thank You


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