01        In this presentation today I’m going to discuss with you
INTRO     a case of ethnography inquiry that has been b...
the way in which the quality take shape in interfaces and artifacts.


           Second, designers itself are facing this...
individual knowledge is entwined with group knowledge ,


          therefore any kind of design intervention on tools
   ...
08        The theories of Christine Hine inspired us to elaborate a double-core ethnography
OBSERVA   method:
TORY      an...
10
        the triangle refers to the concepts of “ascolto attivo” active listening,
        "autoconsapevolezza emozional...
techniques;
             for designers, this mean to choose, and more often to design
             the research toolkit: c...
we suggest that insights, processes, rough thoughts are
           effective methodological inspirations,
           and i...
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2009 | IASDR 2009 conference discussion transcript

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the transcript of speech at IASDR 2009 conference
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2009 | IASDR 2009 conference discussion transcript

  1. 1. 01 In this presentation today I’m going to discuss with you INTRO a case of ethnography inquiry that has been built and practiced by the specific communication design mindset. 02 I want to start with some key points TOPIC TOPIC First I want to introduce the context of the research We are talking about knowledge production and sharing within design communities. In fact, research explores the local and contextual environment of tools and resources that are usually considered as design knowledge, in order to develop tools and practice in the ICT field that can support the process of knowledge generation, share and reuse. 03 It’s necessary a PREMISE: PREMISE In the issue of km, the present situation of networks and digital knowledge that emerge from internet confronts us with an increasing change that ask for the development of the tools for knowledge production and management and moreover the network culture challenges us in considering the relevance of its cognitive and social aspects because it suggests that knowledge is a public and commons undertaking. This is something that is increasingly concern any kind of discipline and social domains. 04 RELEVANCE RELEVAN In fact the idea of network unveils not only a new and effective organizational and CE productive model But also latent and primary questions for our society: for example: the extension, the meaning, the rules and the features of our own digital nature. these become practical and concrete questions, that pertains to each local knowledge context and space. For designers, this means two kind of challenges: First, a specific interest for communication and ICT design about the quality of the interaction with digital knowledge, and then
  2. 2. the way in which the quality take shape in interfaces and artifacts. Second, designers itself are facing this changing in working environment and in knowledge management tools, and this is why this research encompass intimate and reflective thoughts about design knowledge itself 05 QUESTION Therefore the research aims to develop an understanding of the changing knowledge environment of design organizations and team-works. in order to do that we need to find the balance between the need and the interest to achieve the applied research and prototypes, and on the other hand the need and the relevance of establishing, in a systematic way, the practice of understanding of knowledge spaces. The balance has been achieved through the construction of a rigorous methodological approach that I’m going to present With this approach I suggests the specificity of communication design as strategic skills for understanding and acting within this kind contexts. 06 DKS It is important to understand that by knowledge spaces we intend the overlap of the physical and the cognitive level. All definitions of the creative spaces consider this twofold dimension: the physical space gives form to cognition; any cognitive process goes on within a mediated cultural and physical context. Within the design literature this dimension refers to the notion of common ground, A quality of a given context that defines the contents as well as the frame of this cognitive level. If we talk about design organizations Common ground pertains to the collaborative dynamics, and concerns the tacit processes that make the existence of the design knowledge space.
  3. 3. individual knowledge is entwined with group knowledge , therefore any kind of design intervention on tools resides in the need of keep track of the contents of sharing activities with the same importance than the process of sharing itself so the main goal of designing this kind of technology should be the ability to preserve and improve this relational values: we can say that the main question about knowledge and technology is not if we can use ICT to support sharing practice, that it is almost obvious, but if we can drive ICT to influence the motivation to sharing practice, so intervening both on information than attitudes and behaviours 07 ETHNOGR within the framework of constructivism epistemology, there are two aspects worth APHY AS being underlined: first is the idea of social epistemology, that means knowledge is redefined by collective experiences in a progressive manner Secondly, we consider the subjective aspects of constructive epistemology, that means that knowledge process are mediated by an explicit and reciprocal interference between the knower and the known; In this perspective observation techniques have epistemological relevance because allow the 1:1 scale outlook, and are sensitive to the local spirit of each knowledge spaces. This is why We choose ethnography to understand the physical level as well as the cognitive level in the process of designing. The specificity of the ethnographic practice by design mindset grounds on these two aspects of reflexivity and relational/dialogue and it is theoretically supported by two theories the Virtual Ethnography research practice (Hine) and the framework of communication epistemology (Sclavi) that we are going to briefly present.
  4. 4. 08 The theories of Christine Hine inspired us to elaborate a double-core ethnography OBSERVA method: TORY an external observation in situ (interested towards the different contexts and the instrumental and cognitive specificities) and a self-reflective observation, that aims to give an insight on the own design knowledge tools and practice. While observing and researching we, as designers, are both the subject than the object of our research hypothesis; in this sense we integrate the ethnography, as a method borrowed from the social science discipline, with the basics of practice based research: This twofold approach to observation refers in social science to the concept of reflexivity, And within the practitioners literature it is grounded in Schon theories, that stress the need to convert and use reflective insights it in design practice 09 The second inspiration comes from theories of Marianella Sclavi, that has been defined as communication epistemology. She provides a theoretical outlook on ethnography and observation that is specific for practitioners mindset, considering knowledge process as a special kind of communication process. Basically, Sclavi suggests a perspective on ethnography as a useful tool for understanding complex communication systems, and the effectiveness of this perspective based on the main focus about relational capabilities of individuals and groups involved into communication Also the methodology given by Sclavi is based on the crucial concept of reflexivity of observer and the listening dynamics as the key of interpretative activity; it bases on two conceptual tools, the “complex communication triangle” and the concept of “cognitive frame”.
  5. 5. 10 the triangle refers to the concepts of “ascolto attivo” active listening, "autoconsapevolezza emozionale" emotional self-awareness and “gestione creativa dei conflitti” creative engagement) and these ground a theoretical framework about dialogue as the effective strategy for understanding within complex communication contexts. The triangle explains the structure of ethnography of communication context: observation and interpretation are dynamic, recursive and flexible because the actors involved continuously influence and remodel communication itself. So it is a structure schema that emphasize communication as a process of relationships more than contents. Instead, the cognitive framework is the concept that describe the cultural and cognitive forewords of individuals within a communication process that directly influence the way in which they build meaning and cognitive relevant references. The cognitive frames are the key points of an efficient interpretation within a local system; they represent the starting point of our own interpretation process, as its limit points, the boundaries where continuously redefine the dialogue between observer and observed. In the perspective of communication and complexity, dialogue allow the perception of tacit knowledge and the interaction with common ground. 11-23 In this final part we will shift from theory of communication epistemology to practice. From the designers perspective, ethnography is more than a toolbox that we borrow from other research field; in the practitioner mindset, ethnography is a problem-setting skill, a way to frame the problem, and this is why “observing and understanding” firstly mean to be able to build a own and rigorous method. The Ethnographer is a part itself of observation when he choose its research
  6. 6. techniques; for designers, this mean to choose, and more often to design the research toolkit: constructing participant observation is a communication design project. In the paper the structure and the tools of the ethnography are described in details. Here we have time just to say that specific artifacts has been built both for the interaction phase (data gathering) Than the interpretation phase (data analysis), and to show the general outline of research that has been conducted. I want to briefly present the materials and the contents of ethnography, In order to show a short description of the research process, that aim to clarify how we interpreted the theory about dialogical observation in order to provide a praxis for dialogical interventions. 24-25 In the final step of the design ethnography we are discussing, model we shift from techniques and methods to a more conceptual outcome. The ethnographic strategy has been synthesized and schematically presented in a practical model of design ethnography for observing and acting within knowledge context. The model progressively developed on three different levels: the first to describe in details contents, procedures and options of the full process of communication ethnography; the second to abstract from details and show key-points and milestones activities of the process; the third, which is an outlined and conceptual synthesis of the observation in ethnography practiced and entwined by dialogue and reflective practice. 26 Finally opensource I want to point out that, together with the model which is a “final artifacts” of the research, we claim to share also the ongoing contents of research, in some way the source code of the ethnography. Besides the procedures methods and rules, that are some kind of “conceptual software” that we can use to do design ethnography,
  7. 7. we suggest that insights, processes, rough thoughts are effective methodological inspirations, and in the same way than procedures and solutions, are worth openly discussing and sharing. The wider premise of this approach is the repositioning of the idea of use value, by the inspiration of open culture and peer production, according to the Internet education that knowledge grows and enhance by use, manipulation and sharing. 27 dk From the research emerged a clear and defined specificity of design knowledge, That has been deeply analyzed, visualized and discussed with the involved organizations. The final part of the thesis suggests a way to transform the ethnographic insights in guidelines and practice for intervention by ICT. I left this part to a further paper and I hope to be able to present soon the results of this process, its validation, and its design outputs. 28 CONCLUSI In the paper we introduce the interpretation of ethnographic plan ON as a tool for communication epistemology and as a relevant research tool for the understanding and interaction with high complexity knowledge contexts. Coming back to networks, there are two final important remarks: that design shall to face the challenge to open, in the direction of opensource design, and this cannot happen just considering the final artifacts but mostly with the effort to open and share the process itself and then, in the scenario of co-creation design, the main activity would shift from forcing or inducting participatory activity to the enabling of an aware, and diffuse, attitude to sharing, that is definitely something that cannot be designed, but just experienced by people together. 29 THANK YOU

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