(becoming a part of them; Smith & Davis, 1997).
Traditional Describes cultures (Anthropology or Sociology) Uses local language Objective Compare general principles of society Non-interference Duration: Several Years Design Describes domains (i.e. Air Traffic Control or Taxi Dispatch) Uses local language (terminology) Subjective Compare general principles of design Intervention Duration: Several Weeks/Months (depends on task(s) studied)
Appearances and observation alone do not tell the whole story “ Things aren’t always what they seem” Need to look beyond observation to get to the whole story Practitioners/ ‘Natives’ are not always the best people to tell the whole story. lack insight as to analyze data and convey relevant information to the design team. Discovery Ethnographer should be able to ‘fill-in’ these gaps N.B. – ethnographer should guide design team, not vice versa.
Pre-design (conceptual) stage During design (requirements and analysis) stage Evaluation Stage (ethnographer pose as user) Generally, it depends on time constraints and when it was first implemented. The sooner, the better. Ethnographer should be seen as a key member of the design team.
Observe/interview users in their workplace and collect subjective/objective quantitative/qualitative data.
Refine the goals and the process used.
discuss findings with developers and act as “substitute users in a ‘user-centered’ systems design process” (Bently et al., 1992).
Discovery! - Identifies assumptions that maybe taken for granted by system designers
Context too specific, not generalizable to other organizations or systems. ‘ Going native’ – develops a bias for analysis and interpretation. Must negotiate access Time & Money (hiring, training, managing, conducting, analyzing data, etc.) Data is messy and often unstructured. Too much data, not enough time to tell a complete story. How do you assess significance? (Did we learn something new, valuable?)
Communication (Randall/Rouncefield, CSCW 96 tutorial): Ethnographers --> analysis, non-judgmental, lengthy timeframe Software Engineers --> synthesis, judgmental, short timeframe Can be solved via iterative approach. Time & Money Deadlines and budget restraints govern what methods/materials you will use. Multiple Roles Being both an ethnographer and designer can make you biased. Consider one thing at a time. Do not jump to conclusions. Generalizability
What is Ethnography? Defined as: a method of observing human interactions in social settings and activities (Burke & Kirk, 2001) as the observation of people in their ‘cultural context’ the study and systematic recording of human cultures; also : a descriptive work produced from such research (Merriam-Webster Online) Rather than studying people from the outside, you learn from people from the inside
Who Invented Ethnography? Invented by Bronislaw Malinowski in 1915 Spent three years on the Trobriand Islands (New Guinea) Invented the modern form of fieldwork and ethnography as its analytic component (Anderson, 1997; Malinowski, 1967; 1987; Kuper 1983)
Who Invented Ethnography? Documented three types of data Detailed description of day to day life and activities All stories, narratives, myths, etc. Synoptic Charts (Anderson, 1997; Malinowski, 1967; 1987; Kuper 1983)
Traditional VS Design Ethnography Traditional Design Describes cultures Describes domains Uses local language Uses local language Objective Subjective Compare general Compare general principles of society principles of design Non-interference Intervention Duration: Several Years Duration: Several Weeks/Months (Salvador & Mateas, 1997)
Why do an Ethnographic Study? “Things aren’t always what they seem” Practitioners/ ‘Natives’ are not always the best people Lack insight Discovery N.B. – ethnographer should guide design team, not vice versa.
When & Where is it used in the Design Process? Pre-design During design Evaluation Stage Depends on time constraints and when it was first implemented. The sooner, the better. Ethnographer should be seen as a key member of the design team.
Step 1: Preparation Familiarize yourself with: Organization policies Work culture Current System & its history Identify the Focus of the Study Set initial goals and prepare questions. Can be guided by designer goals Gain access and permission Gate-keepers vs. Sponsors (Rose et al., 1995)
Step 2: Field Study Establish rapport with managers and users. Record everything: your visits, observations, impressions, feelings, hunches, emerging questions, etc.ASAP for accuracyBe Meticulous!!! Field notes, audio, or video recording. Follow any leads (Rose et al., 1995)
Step 3: Analysis Compile data into databases: Numerical Textual Multimedia Quantify data and compile statistics. Reduce and Interpret Data. Review and Redevelop Ideas. (Rose et al., 1995)
Step 4: Reporting Consider multiple audiences and respective goals. Prepare a report and present the findings. Have debriefing meetings (Rose et al., 1995)
Dos & Don’ts Don’t Do Ask simple Yes/No Ask open-ended questions questions Ask leading questions Phrase questions Use unfamiliar jargon properly to avoid bias Lead/guide the ‘user’ Speak their language Let user notice things on his/her own (Nielsen, 2002)
Advantages ‘Real-world’ data Provides in-depth understanding of people in an organization. Discovery Can be economical (if you ‘do it yourself’).
Disadvantages Context too specific ‘Going native’ Must negotiate access Time & Money Data is messy and often unstructured. How do you assess significance?
Potential Problems Communication Ethnographers VS Software Engineers Solved via Iterative approach. Multiple Roles Time & Money Generalizability
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