recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : fieldwork   19

‘Liz Was a Diehard Conservative’ - POLITICO Magazine
"Warren herself says that in her early academic work she was merely following the dominant theory of the time, which emphasized the efficiency of free markets and unrestrained businesses, rather than holding strong conservative beliefs herself. Still, she acknowledged in our interview that she underwent a profound change in how she viewed public policy early in her academic career, describing the experience as “worse than disillusionment” and “like being shocked at a deep-down level.”

Her conversion was ideological before it turned partisan. The first shift came in the mid-’80s, as she traveled to bankruptcy courts across the country to review thousands of individual cases—a departure from the more theoretical academic approach—and saw that Americans filing for bankruptcy more closely resembled her own family, who struggled financially, rather than the irresponsible deadbeats she had expected.

It wasn’t until Warren was recruited onto a federal commission to help reform the bankruptcy code in the mid-1990s—and then fought for those reforms and lost that battle in 2005—that she became the unapologetic partisan brawler she was in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, serving in the Senate and, now, stumping on the 2020 campaign trail. “I realize nonpartisan just isn’t working,” she recalls of that second conversion moment. “By then it’s clear: The only allies I have are in the Democratic Party, and it’s not even the majority of Democrats.”

Some friends and colleagues say Warren became radicalized, equating her change to a religious experience, to being born again. “She really did have a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion when she saw the bankrupt consumers really were suffering—forced into bankruptcy by illness, firing or divorce—and not predators,” Johnson says. Other friends argue Warren’s shift has been more gradual, and that she is not the extremist her opponents have sought to portray her as. “It drives me crazy when she’s described as a radical left-winger. She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal,” says Warren’s co-author and longtime collaborator Jay Westbrook. “When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line.”"



"What Warren’s Republican history means for her presidential prospects remains unclear. There’s a version of this story in which her politically mixed background makes her the ideal candidate to capture not just the the American left but also the center—a pugilistic populist vowing to take on corporations, a policy-savvy reformer who believes that markets are essential to the economy.

But that’s not the political landscape of 2019. Warren’s tough stance during the financial crisis got her tagged by Republicans and many Democrats as more Harvard liberal than an up-by-the-bootstraps working mom from Oklahoma. And her work on the CFPB alienated much of the financial services industry. Meanwhile, much of the left wing of the Democratic Party, for which she was the banner-carrier after the financial crisis, has found a new champion in the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. And members of the growing Democratic Socialists of America and the hosts of the popular leftist podcast Chapo Trap House have criticized Warren for her adherence to capitalism. As of this writing, she is generally polling fifth in the Democratic field, and her 2020 fundraising has fallen short of several other rivals’.

With some in the Democratic Party demanding purity, perhaps Warren thinks going back through her Republican history could hurt her. When I suggested near the end of our interview that she might consider talking more about that part of her biography, and her conversion, she was politely noncommittal.

“Sure, sure,” she said, before quickly pivoting back to another question."

[See also: https://twitter.com/siddhmi/status/1120023080477298693

"A very good read. Warren's story is such a profound American story, and a very deep story about how ideology works, and what it takes to get free.

This is how you get free: You do the work, and embrace the learning.
Warren’s academic career soon took a turn that made her far less comfortable with unfettered free markets. Prompted in part by a surge in personal bankruptcy filings following the passage of new bankruptcy laws in 1978, Warren, Sullivan and Westbrook in 1982 decided to study bankruptcy in a way that was then considered novel in academia: by digging into the anecdotal evidence of individual filings and traveling to bankruptcy courts across the country, often rolling a small copy machine through airports along the way.

Whatever their take on "capitalism" or "socialism," I'm here for leaders who understand how American capitalism in its current form (since the late 1970s; "neoliberalism") has completely failed—both morally and technically.

In the presidential field, there are exactly two.

The intellectual damage of the 1980s is intense. It's immensely to Warren's credit that, as a young woman untenured professor then, she realized—through fieldwork—that she could not in conscience enforce the ideology.

And everyone who went to elite colleges in the US in the 1980s needs to be scrutinized. I remember intro economics in 1985-86. Martin Feldstein preaching the catechism to 1,000 young minds in Sanders Theatre. Midterms where you "proved" why rent control was bad. Deadweight loss!

Three years later those young minds were lining up for "recruiting" as Goldman, Morgan, McKinsey et al swarmed the campus to usher them into the golden cage. This shit happened quickly, people. It's a wonder anyone escaped.

People shaped in the 1990s, with the neoliberal foundation cushioned by Clintonite anesthesia, post-Cold War complacency, and the mystical arrival of the internet, are no better. Probably need even more deprogramming. That's why the arrival of the AOC generation is SUCH A RELIEF."

https://twitter.com/NYCJulieNYC/status/1120080930658557952
"Not everyone. A lot of college students in the 1980s were committed activists, from those involved in Divestment from Apartheid South Africa to ACT UP to activism against US policy in Central America."

https://twitter.com/siddhmi/status/1120081603403898886
"Indeed. I was one of them! But that doesn't mean we didn't get coated in the zeitgeist. We all need periodic cleansing."]
elizabethwarren  mindchanging  politics  research  listening  2019  berniesanders  siddharthamitter  billclinton  1990s  1980s  ronaldreagan  economics  martinfeldstein  neoliberalism  2000s  us  policy  bankruptcy  academia  jaywestbrook  highered  highereducation  ideology  fieldwork  rentcontrol  regulation  consumerprotection  democrats  republicans  finance  cfpb  banking  markets 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Role of the Ritual | MISC
"When we build insights, we are trying
 to elevate something that has been observed during anthropological fieldwork into something that has profound meaning for the design process and allows us to identify problems that can be addressed as we build a product or service. This is not always easy, because people are often looking for an “aha moment” that feels revolutionary or transformative. However, some of the most important in-field discoveries are actually far subtler; they are realizations that the people we study see very mundane things in slightly different ways than we do. In these instances, the role of the insight is not to highlight and observe a single issue or to identify an unmet need, but rather to allow the reader to see something that they already know in a completely different way.

The insight I have selected is a good example of this. It came from a project in which my team and I examined the experience of self-injecting medication. We went into the field and spoke with a large number of individuals who had to use hypodermic needles or injection pens (self-contained automatic injection devices that deliver a subcutaneous injection with the push of a single button) to take their medication without the assistance of a nurse or doctor. The purpose of the project was to try to make this experience better. What we found was that patients have a very different experience than their doctors and nurses think they do. We also found that there were some commonalities in the way people approached their injections, underlying what seemed to be idiosyncratic approaches. These commonalities became the key to articulating a set of insights that provide context for the entire act of self-injecting, rather than focusing on a particular need or problem to solve. These contextual insights provided a basis for the insights and observations that guided our ideation and design. Here, I present the most important one.

There Is Always a Ritual

The most profound way that people contextualize all aspects of their self- injection and bring this process into 
their lives is by building a ritual for injecting. This ritual can take days or seconds, and it can have any number of steps. Despite the variation in people’s rituals, the act of ritual itself is an important way that patients contextualize the meaning of everything they are doing when they self-inject. This makes it easier for them to manage their fear and incorporate 
the alien action of self-injection into their lives. The ritual provides structure and allows them to turn complicated actions into habits. It does this by allowing them to systematically make difficult actions simpler through repetition. This repetition also provides a context for these actions that helps patients think about other things and avoid obsessing about the injection. However, these rituals are not taught by healthcare practitioners; they are the product of trial and error, which can result in mistakes becoming permanent habits.

Implications

/ Rituals can be healthy or unhealthy developments.

/ Failure is a major component in the development of an injection ritual.

/ A ritual must be respected, because it is a carefully organized mechanism for managing oneself and one’s emotional wellbeing.

/ Most healthcare practitioners do
 not teach ritual in any meaningful way, and, as a result, patients’ rituals are not respected or supported by the healthcare system.

This insight is something that is true despite a great deal of variation. Because it is
 not the product of a single observation, its implications are deeper than just uncovering a need or alerting the reader to something interesting. It speaks about something structural that is universal. Because of this, it has the power to substantially change our thinking.

Understanding how humans build rituals of all kinds can profoundly change the design process. Rituals have a basic structure, and we can look to ethnographic literature for any number of examples. Following Arnold van Gennep’s work on rites of passage and Victor Turner’s 
work The Ritual Process, we know that rituals have a basic structure. There 
are roughly three major phases: the entry, the liminal phase, and the exit phase.
 The purpose of a ritual of any kind is to develop a liminal state, a new conceptual space that is outside of real life. In such 
a space, society’s rules are different. People speak a different way, we act differently, and we are able to do things that might be against the rules of our daily lives. For good examples, think about how people act on a Friday night
 at a club, during a carnival, or at weddings. Much of that behavior would be completely out of place when the 
sun is out. The entry and exit phases are transitional phases that help people 
both move away from real life and get back into it. We put on different clothes; we pump ourselves up. We even add stimulants like drugs or alcohol to change our conceptual state. The process is entirely devoted to behaving in a different way and socializing differently.

When it comes to ritual and self-injection, the difference between the liminal phase and real life is what allows us to do things like inject a metal needle into our bodies. Patients’ rituals are organized so that they can do something they otherwise would not do. This also means that we have to pay close attention to what patients do to get themselves into this liminal phase.

Any designed intervention into this ritual – be it a service or a new injection device – is actually a forced adjustment to existing rituals. Additionally, clinical training is actually ritual training. Nurses who help people learn to use self- injection devices are actually laying 
the foundation for an injection ritual.
 This means that if we make changes to the training or design a new service 
to help people eliminate something like site pain or improper injection technique, we are actually designing rituals.

The practical implications of this are easy to understand. As service designers, we have to make sure that whatever 
we build to help is part of building a good ritual. Any self-injection service has to help people with their entry phase; it has to make sense in the liminal state; and 
it has to help people return to their daily realities. Understanding that the ritual
 is the most important factor for understanding the successes and failures of the moment of injection helps us design
 with new information. Without an insight like this, we would be unaware that 
we are not designing an experience; we are designing for three discrete phases
 of a ritual process.

Each of these parts already has a 
logic that we all understand and use. The ritual process provides a guide 
for organization behavior. No ritual can be redesigned without serious thought 
and attention. This insight brings in a wider world of human behavior that
 will make the design process easier by focusing a designer’s attention onto 
a framework that they already know.
 With this information in mind, the entire design process can take a new
 direction and align itself with something that makes us all the more human."
paulhartley  ethnography  medicine  health  ritual  injections  2018  behavior  anthropology  fieldwork  self-injection 
december 2018 by robertogreco
elisehunchuck [Elise Misao Hunchuck]
[via: https://twitter.com/lowlowtide/status/1052233654074654720

"what a rare pleasure, listening 2 @elisehunchuck presenting her research on an incomplete atlas of stones: ‘Trangressions & Regressions’ @tudelft #ULWeek2018

“stones help us understand how the earth moves”—@elisehunchuck"]

"Elise Hunchuck (b. Toronto) is a Berlin based researcher and designer with degrees in landscape architecture, philosophy, and geography whose work focuses on bringing together fieldwork and design through collaborative practices of observation, care, and coordination. Facilitating multidisciplinary exchanges between teaching and representational methods as a way to further develop landscape-oriented research methodologies at multiple scales, her research develops cartographic, photographic, and text-based practices to explore and communicate the agency of disasters through the continual configuring and reconfiguring of infrastructures of risk, including memorials, monuments, and coastal defense structures.

A University Olmsted Scholar, Elise was recently a finalist for the 2017 Maeder-York Landscape Fellowship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cambridge, US) and a research fellow with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (Washington DC, US). Her writing has appeared in The Funambulist and her research has been featured on BLDGBLOG. She has taught representational history and methods in the graduate architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto, CA) and has been an invited critic in the undergraduate and graduate programs at the architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty and the School of Architecture at Waterloo.

Elise is also a member of the editorial board of Scapegoat Journal: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy.

For general enquiries, commissions, or collaborations, please contact directly via email at elisehunchuck [at] gmail [dot] com."

[See also:

"An Incomplete Atlas of Stones"
https://elisehunchuck.com/2015-2017-An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones
https://cargocollective.com/elisehunchuck/An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones-1
https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2018/02/21/elise-hunchuck-mla-2016-presents-incomplete-atlas-stones-aa-london
https://thefunambulist.net/articles/incomplete-atlas-stones-cartography-tsunami-stones-japanese-shoreline-elise-misao-hunchuck
https://thefunambulist.net/contributors/elise-hunchuck

"Warnings Along the Inundation Line"
http://www.bldgblog.com/2017/06/warnings-along-the-inundation-line/

"Century Old Warnings Against Tsunamis Dot Japan's Coastline"
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/century-old-warnings-against-tsunamis-dot-japans-coastline-180956448/

"How Century Old Tsunami Stones Saved Lives in the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2018/03/11/how-century-old-tsunami-stones-saved-lives-in-the-tohoku-earthquake-of-2011/#18355a8244fd

https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2017/06/28/bldgblog-features-incomplete-atlas-stones-elise-hunchuck-mla-2016

https://issuu.com/danielsfacultyuoft/docs/2016.04.11_-_2016_winter_thesis_rev ]
elisehunchuck  landscape  multispecies  morethanhuman  japan  iceland  tsunamis  design  fieldwork  srg  multidisciplinary  teaching  place  time  memory  disasters  risk  memorials  monuments  coasts  oceans  maps  mapping  photography  canon  scale  observation  care  caring  coordination  markers 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Future Archivists
"My name is Ian Alan Paul and I've been hired by archivists from the future to perform temporally remote fieldwork in Palestine's West Bank. You can read about how this all began by reading my first field note here, and you can also follow along on facebook and twitter.

Entries are divided into "Field Assignments" from the Future Archivists, "Field Reports" consisting of my research, and "Field Notes" which are personal reflections on the process.

If you have a question you'd like to ask about my fieldwork or about the future archivists, please send an e-mail to ask@thefuturearchivists.com"

[See also: http://www.ianalanpaul.com/the-future-archivists/

"The Future Archivists is an experimental online documentary about the West Bank that adopts the form of a speculative fiction. The project is based on the premise that a consortium of archivists from the future have hired Ian Alan Paul to perform temporally remote fieldwork in Palestine in order to help them fill discovered absences in their future archives."]
alanpaul  palestine  fieldwork  estbank  future  speculativefiction  archivists  archives 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Refusal as Research Method in Discard Studies « Discard Studies
"Researchers examining waste issues have the potential to uncover particularly sensitive information—that specific places, people or animals might be contaminated— that has very real social and material consequences for communities being studied. We also might be given access to report on potentially painful community events and experiences. As researchers interested in social justice, how do we proceed helpfully in our research?

The concept of ‘ethnographic refusal’ is one way forward. Ethnographic refusal is a practice by which researchers and research participants together decide not to make particular information available for use within the academy. Its purpose is not to bury information, but to ensure that communities are able to respond to issues on their own terms. An ethnographic refusal is intended to redirect academic analysis away from harmful pain-based narratives that obscure slow violence, and towards the structures and institutions that engender those narratives. It is a method centrally concerned with a community’s right to self-representation.

This method comes out of an ethical commitment to decolonize research. For example, the recent ‘ontological turn’ in discard studies encourages researchers to engage with Indigenous knowledge systems and ontologies, as a way of better understanding how issues of contamination and waste are understood and experienced within Indigenous communities—something that is easily (and often) misconstrued by non-community members, including academics. In turn, researchers might have access to internal conversations, knowledge that is considered sacred, or that the academy otherwise “doesn’t deserve” (Tuck and Yang 2014a: 813). Engaging in ethnographic refusal as method, then, is intended as an ethical intervention that provides research participants the opportunity to dictate whether knowledge is to be made available within the academy (among other places), how environmental and human health issues are responded to, and by whom.

The following annotated bibliography is an introduction to ethnographic refusal. The first two texts in this bibliography (Tuhiwai Smith 1999; Zavala 2013), provide overviews of decolonization as a methodology, outlining the colonial traditions that inform contemporary anthropological practices and the need for decolonizing research. Both texts indicate the importance of research collaboration and emphasize efforts by Indigenous people to take control over their representation in research. The more recent piece (Zavala 2013), suggests that decolonial research must place Indigenous perspectives and interests as the marker through which research is evaluated and practiced. Based on readings written primarily by Indigenous researchers, I suggest that ‘ethnographic refusal’— whereby certain information about Indigenous knowledge and experiences is kept out of the academy— is a method that helps keep researchers accountable to the communities they research. The different perspectives on ‘ethnographic refusal’ held by Ortner (1995) and Simpson (2007) showcase how the method developed through two different bodies of literature, driven by very different goals and objectives. The final papers by Tuck and Yang (2014a & b) provide examples of ways that researchers can incorporate ‘refusals’ throughout their research process."
ethnography  method  refusal  2016  via:javierarbona  research  representation  self-representation  fieldwork  decolonization  ethnographicrefusal  illegibility  legibility 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Fast Path to a Great UX - Increased Exposure Hours
"As we've been researching what design teams need to do to create great user experiences, we've stumbled across an interesting finding. It's the closest thing we've found to a silver bullet when it comes to reliably improving the designs teams produce. This solution is so simple that we didn't believe it at first. After all, if it was this easy, why isn't everyone already doing it?

To make sure, we've spent the last few years working directly with teams, showing them what we found and helping them do it themselves. By golly, it actually worked. We were stunned.

The solution? Exposure hours. The number of hours each team member is exposed directly to real users interacting with the team's designs or the team's competitor's designs. There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces."

[via: http://tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/episode-sixty-we-have-always-been-at-war-our-independence-day-spimes-duh ]
design  research  usability  ux  observation  understanding  empathy  2010  learning  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  attention  exposure  exposurehours  organizations  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Sixty: We Have Always Been At War; Our Independence Day; Spimes, Duh
"Last episode I talked about the Chief Empathy Officer, and in case I wasn't clear, I want to make it abundantly so this time: I think having a chief empathy officer is a stupid idea, exactly the kind of tactic that makes it look like you're jumping on a bandwagon and fixing something without fixing anything at all. It's almost as bad as having a hived-off UX team and exactly the kind of thing where, as Matt Locke points out, a general good practice in business is promoted up to the C-level suite so that you don't have to do deal with it anymore.

Let me put it clearly: no one person in an organisation should have sole responsibility for "empathy", especially in a manner that's going to make it easy for detractors to make fun of it. Instead, customer-centricism is something that needs to be distributed throughout, from the bottom-up as well as top-down

Leisa Reichelt tweeted at me in response to that episode the concept of 'exposure hours'[1], which is such a blindingly simple idea that you're kind of surprised (and then when you think about, it understand why) more companies or organisations don't use it. It's just this: the more time your designers or product owners spend with end-users, the better designed those products or services tend to be: "There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces." And this isn't just for design personnel - as soon as non-design personnel were included in the contact hours, the entire group would fall together. This is as much an argument for audience/customer contact across each functional unit or team across an organisation.

An aside: there's a wonderful tv series (it's true! Such things exist!) called Back To The Floor[2] which started in the UK in which, for entertainment purposes (and the occasional tear-jerker), C-level executives are forced to take entry level jobs in their organisations and are bluntly confronted with the humanity of their employees. Because, you know, living in a bubble.

At this point my brain wanders off and looks at the anti-pattern. Capitalism is all too often thought of as being combative and the American strand in particular borrows heavily from sports metaphors (crushing it, home run, left field, sprint). It's all anyone can do to try and impress that often capitalism doesn't necessarily have to be a zero-sum game, and that type of thinking feels like it's at odds with a customer-centric or empathy-driven organisation.

The anti-pattern, of course, is dehumanising your enemies so you can make it easier to kill them. Losing shopkeepers with face-to-face interaction dehumanises customers. Interchangeable call-center workers dehumanise customers. Reducing a customer to a statistic and traffic-light feedback mechanisms. In essence, putting up barriers and abstracting away difficult-to-quantise or measure or digitise measures that seek to make the customer experience more predictable and scaleable.

In some ways, you can get at this empathy intuitively and by having strong direction - if you're lucky. And by lucky, I mean *really* lucky - you're the kind of person who's a one in a million Steve Jobs type, and remember even *he* got it wrong with things like the hocky puck mouse and, well, iTunes, where the strategy was right and the initial user experience (plug in a first gen iPod, FireWire your songs over) was great but then degraded over time with lack of focus. And Jobs, well, Jobs was just making sure that he understood *himself* really well and appeared to be pretty true to that and wouldn't stand for any shit. So at least you get clarity of vision for products like iPhone or iPad that way.

But for everyone else, and for everyone else, chances are blindingly highly likely that you're not Steve Jobs, in which case research to understand the audience and the user need is absolutely critical. So the question is: why do hardly any organisations do this?

It's interesting because for engineers and entrepreneuers the first product is often the "scratch your own itch", which makes sense, because you understand your own itch and you know exactly where it's itching and what you might need to un-itch yourself. But when that product or service starts to grow outside of that market or that population, then having the ability to understand the people you're interacting with becomes super important, I think.

There are ways to mitigate needing to have a super-developed corporate sense of empathy, though. You can use network effects to tie people in social applications, you can use local monopolies like in fixed-line telecommunications, and plain-old regulation of competitors and limited service in air travel. But the flip side of Moore's Law is that communication and computation has gotten ever cheaper, so all of these organisations got "social", which the consultants remind us is all about having "conversations". And the thing about having conversations with an organisation that lacks empathy, or lacks the ability to act upon empathy, is that over time, they end up feeling like a sociopath.

For those of you who have been following along at home, the protracted amount of thinking in this area may or may not have something to do with one of my side projects.

[1] http://www.uie.com/articles/user_exposure_hours/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Floor_(UK_TV_series) "
danhon  empathy  titles  culture  ux  organizations  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  knowing  leisareichelt  exposurehours  exposure  attention  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Table | Somatosphere
"Early anthropological experiments depended on tables to hold their equipment steady, at eye level, and off the ground. Photographs from the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits in 1898 make it clear that tables played an important role in the psychological experiments conducted by the anthropologists.

A table is a technology that stabilizes people and things in space for a time. The table, with its chair, enforces a posture of attention to what is on it. It permits display and use of other tools, and enables precise recording on paper. It also allows the display of disparate materials on the same plane in space. Bruno Latour explained the effect of this, as he watched botanists in the field arranging soil and plant samples on tables: “specimens from different locations and times become contemporaries of one another on the flat table, all visible under the same unifying gaze.”[i] The flat plane provided by the table enables the abstraction of dissimilar specimens into categories.

Infrastructures like the table are not necessarily passive. Perhaps the table is even a kind of trap. Open and inviting a table might seem, but once you are sitting at it, certain forms of courtesy might serve to hold you there. Alfred Gell famously described a hunting trap as a device that embodies ideas and conveys meanings because it is a “transformed representation of its maker, the hunter, and the prey animal, its victim, and of their mutual relationship, which . . . is a complex, quintessentially social one. . . traps communicate the idea of a nexus of intentionalities between hunters and prey animals via material forms and mechanisms.”[ii] If the table can be thought of as a kind of trap to capture and contain a subject, it is a disarming one—it looks so placid and innocent, for something that has the potential for intrusion and control. Perhaps this is one reason it has largely gone without notice. Nor need the table, or any technology, only have one use. Think about dinner tables, seminar tables, and of course medical examination tables. Nor are such tools neutral in the play of gender dynamics: think of the “head” of the table, or “high” table, both of which provide a stage for social hierarchies.

Now, at the table: How can we best understand the deep assumptions that govern the scientific method, particularly when it is applied to the human sciences? In particular, how can we identify epistemological assumptions that enable historically specific understandings of such concepts as number, measurement, conservation, time, space, or mass?

I am beginning a new project on the history of the “subject” in experimental psychology. How was (and still is) a living human being held constant in time and space so that comparable data can be extracted from him or her? My participation as a subject in psychology experiments leads me to propose a modest candidate for a scientific technology central to the psychological experiment: the table. Obvious and overlooked, the table is nonetheless an essential accompaniment of civilized living: the first thing Robinson Crusoe did after being shipwrecked on his island was build a table. As he put it, “I could not write or eat, or do several things, with so much comfort, without a table.”[iii]

Down through the ages, anthropologists have had their tables, once used to create an island of French culinary civilization in the Brazilian rain forest. The photograph chosen to represent the ethnographic work of Claude Lévi-Strauss in his obituary showed him in a Brazilian rain forest standing by a table made of sticks lashed together. Laura Bohannan says that among the limited bits of advice given to her about how to do fieldwork in Africa, was this: “You’ll need more tables than you think,” a remark attributed to Evans-Pritchard.

Tables have also been used to corral thought, guide the reader’s mind along a certain course, as in the classic and often quoted examples from Plato and Marx. As usual, such tools do not determine their own use. “Table” is also a verb, as in “table it” in which the “table” holds items of business steady and unchanged in time. There are a myriad practices in meetings involving tables of all kinds, which exert a certain force in governing how matters proceed. Think of referring to “what is on the table,” “setting an agenda,” “laying a question on the table,” “taking a motion from the table,” and so on.

By now you might be wondering why the graphic form drawn on paper, displaying data enclosed in columns and rows is also called a “table”! It might have something to do with early scientific collections, arranged in flat boxes divided up into little square compartments. Or perhaps the table as a graphic form derives from the medieval practices of counting money on tables marked with squares. The table — as a piece of furniture with a flat surface and legs — and the table — as a display of facts in columns and rows — might both trace their genealogies to the Latin tabula rasa, literally ‘scraped tablet.’ The tablet was wax, and it could be heated and smoothed (scraped) to yield the literal origin of the epistemological “blank slate.” Whatever the historical link between the two kinds of tables, they both remain intriguing forms of everyday technology, which guide and form our posture and attention so that we can become, instead of blank slates, stable human subjects in psychology experiments, in the classroom, or at dinner.

In my current project tables are ubiquitous. Tables, with their chairs, keep one’s body in place. In all the experiments I participated in, the experimenter made frequent and repeated requests concerning tables: sit here at the table, pull your chair closer to the table, put your hand on the table, rest your hand flat on the table, arrange the keyboard conveniently on the table. And of course tables hold computers, monitors, keyboards, and recording equipment steady. In the contemporary lab, the place of the psychological subject in relation to the equipment is not open for debate. The subject sits at a table and yields data to the machines.

The table is so embedded in the experimental context that it escapes notice, even though without it the stability of the subject in space and over time would be difficult if not impossible to achieve. Once it becomes evident that the table is an active artifact in the production of knowledge, new possibilities for opening up the nature of the experimental space in psychology abound. Latour was right to say that “Laboratories are excellent sites in which to understand the production of certainty, [but] . . . they have the major disadvantage of relying on the indefinite sedimentation of other disciplines, instruments, languages, and practices. One no longer sees science stammer, making its debut, creating itself from nothing in direct confrontation with the world. In the laboratory there is always a pre-constructed universe that is miraculously similar to that of the sciences.”[iv] After a discussion of the table’s role in experiments, one of my researcher interlocutors began puzzling about what it would take to conduct an experiment about – say – memory in a crowded coffee shop instead of an experimental setting. This was disconcerting to him because leaving the laboratory would mean leaving a world of tables, flat, one dimensional, and still. But anthropologists should take note: even the busiest coffee shop has its tables too."
tables  anthropology  fieldwork  fieldresearch  ethnography  technology  psychology  emilymartin  research  traps  experiments  laboratories  environment  influence  language  via:anne 
march 2014 by robertogreco
anthropology + design: anne galloway. | Savage Minds
"[This post is part of a two-week series featuring interviews with designers reflecting on anthropology and design.]

ANNE GALLOWAY. designer. ethnographer. archaeologist.

ANTHROPOLOGY + DESIGN.

My sense of anthropology is very materialist so I think it made a lot of sense for me to gravitate towards design. I originally trained as an archaeologist and did ethnographic fieldwork on Andean textile production, so I’ve always been interested in the things that people make. Of course, as anthropologists we’re taught the importance of context and I think that bringing anthropology and design together really stresses contextual meanings. For me, the most interesting connection between anthropology and design can be found in how each practice enhances the other. Anthropology provides a kind of thick description that contextualises design processes and products, and design offers anthropology creative means of exploring and representing what it means to be human. I also enjoy the explicit combination of thinking, doing, and making—of blurring boundaries between analytical and creative practice, between rational and emotional experience.

Sometimes, in design, we talk about research about, for, and through design—and I think that anthropology is well suited to contribute to each endeavour. As we know, ethnography (including material, visual, and discursive culture) can tell us a lot about the roles of design in everyday life. Ethnography also provides us with valuable information that can be used to design “better” things—or to design nothing at all. And although research through design is perhaps less obviously related to anthropology, I think that every kind of anthropological research could create and employ objects and images with as much nuance as we’ve come to use words.

PEDAGOGY.

My teaching is focussed on issues-based design, which means that my students have proposed everything from community recycling services and conservation activities to publicly curated museums and stray animal sanctuaries. My students also often work in the tradition of critical design, where they create object and image-based interventions or provocations into more culturally fraught issues, like euthanasia and immigration.

WHAT I DO.

My recent research has focussed on seeing how speculative or fictional design can be used as a public engagement strategy. Critical design has sometimes been criticised for a lack of nuanced politics and failure to engage audiences outside of gallery settings. So I began to wonder: what might happen if I applied my background in anthropology and science studies to practice? My “Counting Sheep: NZ Merino in an Internet of Things” research project was conceived as a means to explore possible human-livestock-technology futures, and each fictional design scenario currently exhibited on our Counting Sheep website is based on actual hopes and concerns voiced by research participants.

Inspired by cultural interests and artistic provocations rather than corporate or government forecasting activities, we created a series of speculative “everyday” objects, images, and narratives that we hope will challenge people to critically examine common assumptions and expectations about livestock animals and near-future technologies. (If you’ll forgive me for getting a bit more academic here—) By making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar, we were interested in learning how “what if…? ” scenarios might act in the present, especially in terms of constructing multiple publics and co-producing knowledge. We were also interested in better understanding how these scenarios might support and hinder understanding assemblages of people, places, animals, and technologies as moving processes rather than as static things.

invitro.culturedlamb invitro.meatballs

HOW I SHARE.

In addition to grounding our creative work in substantial empirical research, one of the things we wanted to do was systematically assess people’s responses to our designs—to see if and how they resonate. Since the scenarios were designed as prompts for reflection and discussion, we’ve created an anonymous online survey that anyone can take (Please take our survey!) before the end of April 2014. We’re also following up with our earlier research participants to have more in-depth discussions about the different content, our intentions, and their expectations. The project winds up at the end of June 2014, so we’ll be writing up our research results for both academic and popular publications after that. What I can say now is that things are looking pretty interesting—and not least because of disengaged or disinterested publics!

MY TOOLKIT.

It turns out that I’m compelled to get out and witness the goings on of the world, so despite working in design for the past five years, I still consider my primary tool to be fieldwork through participant observation. And, like all fieldworkers, I have a set of things that I use to collect what I see and do.

These days I never do fieldwork without my iPhone, iPad, an extra camera, a notebook and set of pens. I tend to use my phone’s camera as a sort of external memory device, and my other camera for presentation and publication-quality shots. To be honest, I’ve always found that cameras interfere with my ability to be present (and that’s a real problem during participant observation), but photos help me catch things I miss or to see things a bit differently, and that’s very helpful.

I record all my interviews with an app called Highlight, which I like because I can flag interesting points during the conversation and return to them later, without interrupting the flow. I do a lot of note-taking, using a regular paper notebook or an app called iA Writer (because that’s where I do most of my writing these days, including right now). I also try to post regular field reports to my research blog (http://designculturelab.org), but that’s not always possible or practical. I have quite limited drawing skills but I always map where I am and make sketches that are too ugly to share with anyone but are useful to me. Design work is much more varied and collaborative, and the tools we use are highly dependent on whether we’re creating objects or images.

METHODOLOGY.

I think I’ve already touched on where I see the most potential for design and anthropology to come together. In terms of more academic methodologies, I’m quite inspired by Celia Lury and Nina Wakeford’s 2012 edited volume, “Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social,” because they point out clear paths already being taken by interested researchers. I also hold out hope that speculative design can be stretched and strengthened by more explicit engagement with empirical research—not least because it may make it easier for us to explore a less anthropocentric anthropology, or tend to the nonhuman in new and exciting ways. I’ve also written about a bit about this recently—”Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design“–and there’s more to come!

RESOURCES.

Galloway, Anne. 2013. Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design. Ethnography Matters Blog. September 17.

Lury, Celia and Nina Wakeford, eds. 2012. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge.

ME.

Anne Galloway (@annegalloway) is Senior Lecturer at the School of Design(Victoria University of Wellington,) and Principal Investigator at Design Culture Lab. Her research brings together social studies of science and technology, cultural studies, and design to explore relations between humans and nonhumans. She is particularly interested in creative research methods for understanding—and supporting public engagement with—issues and controversies related to science, technology and animals. Her current research, supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund, combines ethnography and speculative design to create possible future scenarios for the use of wireless technologies in the production and consumption of NZ merino."
annegalloway  2014  anthropology  design  ethnography  speculativedesign  methodology  fiction  observation  fieldwork  howwework  making  craft  friends  research  fictionaldesign  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  everyday  objects  provocations  context  pedagogy 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Jon Kolko » Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis
"Designers, as well as those who research and describe the process of design, continually describe design as a way of organizing complexity or finding clarity in chaos. Jeff Veen, founder of Adaptive Path, has noted that "Good designers can create normalcy out of chaos."[1] 1 Jeff Veen, The Art and Science of Web Design (Indianapolis: New Riders Press, 2000). Jim Wicks, Vice President and Director of Motorola's Consumer Experience Design group explains that "design is always about synthesis—synthesis of market needs, technology trends, and business needs."[2] During synthesis, designers attempt "to organize, manipulate, prune, and filter gathered data into a cohesive structure for information building."[3] Synthesis reveals a cohesion and sense of continuity; synthesis indicates a push towards organization, reduction, and clarity.

Yet despite the acknowledged importance of this phase of the design process, there continues to appear something magical about synthesis when encountered in professional practice: because synthesis is frequently performed privately ("in the head" or "on scratch paper"), the outcome is all that is observed, and this only after the designer has explicitly begun the form-making portion of the design process. While other aspects of the design process are visible to non-designers (such as drawing, which can be observed and generally grasped even by a naive and detached audience), synthesis is often a more insular activity, one that is less obviously understood, or even completely hidden from view. Designers may follow a user-centered discovery process to immerse themselves in a particular subject or discipline, and then go "incubate" that material. After a period of reflection, they will produce a tangible artifact as a visual representation of the reflection. When synthesis is conducted as a private exercise, there is no visible connection between the input and the output; often, even the designers themselves are unable to articulate exactly why their design insights are valuable. Clients are left to trust the designer, and more often than not, the clients simply reject the insight as being "blue sky" or simply too risky.

For example, a designer developing a new digital device might study the use of digital devices used in the workplace. Typically, a designer will observe four or five users as those individuals conduct their work. The designer will ask questions of each user about their jobs and record details of their responses. The designer might also take screen shots or photographs of the tools being used, and probe for details about each item. The designer will then return to the design studio. In the privacy of his or her natural work place, the designer will attempt to make sense of what he or she has learned. The goal is to find relationships or themes in the research data, and to uncover hidden meaning in the behavior that is observed and that is applicable to the design task at hand.

The user research sessions will produce pages of verbal transcript, hundreds of pictures, and dozens of artifact examples. Because of the complexity of comprehending so much data at once, the designer will frequently turn to a large sheet of paper and a blank wall in order to "map it all out." Several hours later, the sheet of paper will be covered with what to a newcomer appears to be a mess—yet the designer has made substantial progress, and the mess actually represents the deep and meaningful sensemaking that drives innovation. The designer will have identified themes, and will better understand the problem he or she is trying to solve; the designer will have discovered "the whole," as described by Daniel Fallman: "Fieldwork, theory, and evaluation data provide systematic input to this process, but do not by themselves provide the necessary whole. For the latter, there is only design."
design  sensemaking  jonkolko  2010  magic  transparency  process  synthesis  fieldwork  jimwicks  jeffveen  howwework  bluesky  risk  messiness  demystification  canon 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Lasers, Drones, and Future Tech on the Front Lines of Archaeology
"James Newhard is Director of Archaeology at the College of Charleston, where he works to bring 3D imaging, mobile technology and geographic information systems to a field more popularly associated with shovels and dusty brushes. Gizmodo got in touch with Dr. Newhard to learn how he uses emerging tech to dig deep into ancient societies."



"In another blog post you mention drones in archaeology. What's a good example of how you could use drones?

Drones—oh man, they are hot. In early 2000, I was a grad student working in Albania with a young PhD. We had the inglorious task of mapping the site. We’d start out every morning, and jot down a point every four to five steps to make a high-resolution topographic map. It took us about 12 weeks of field work to put that map together.

Now, you just put a couple sensors on a drone and fly that thing over the site, and you’ve got it in a day. It goes off at a low altitude and snaps everything up; the images are all geo-rectified; bada bing bada boom, there it is."
jamesnewhard  archaeology  3dimaging  mobiletechnology  mobile  gis  fieldwork  geoffmanaugh  drones  droneproject  maps  mapping 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Numbers | Savage Minds Backup
"1. The other day I was thinking about conferences.  Let’s say you’re in a panel with 10 people, and each person pays a total of $500 dollars to get there.  This includes conference fees, airfare, hotel, and so on.  So that’s a grand total of $5000 dollars so everyone can write a paper, fly across the country, walk into a room, present their paper for 12-15 minutes and maybe have a group conversation for another 20 minutes or so.  It’s a lot of money.  Granted, conferences are about a lot more than just going to present.  They are about going to other presentations, making connections, seeing friends, etc.  But I think there are times when it might make sense to take that collective $5000, round up 10 people who want to collaborate, find a cheap central place to meet—and then do something.  Like write a book.  Create and actually start implementing a project.  Whatever.  Again, conferences have their place.  But I think sometimes it’s also good to look at what we’re doing—and what we want to do—and know when it’s the moment to do something a little different.  Imagine what 10 people with a common goal could really do if given some serious time to really put their heads together.



6. Now let’s talk about funding your fieldwork. Everyone wants to get a grant. A lot of time goes into writing them. Now, think about the total amount of time you put into writing a grant. Let’s say you work on a grant for a year, and you average 5 hours per week (of really working on it). And, after that year, let’s say you get a grant for $10,000. That would be about $38.46 per hour of work (this does not account for the work time of your adviser or anyone who helps you edit etc). If you work on this grant for an average of 10 hours per week, that would be $19.23 per hour. If you average 20 hours per week, that translates to about $9.62 per hour. At what point does it make more sense to work slinging drinks in the local bar to fund your fieldwork?

7. How much money do undergraduate students spend on the average introductory textbook? Let’s say it’s about 100 bucks. And let’s say there are 300 undergrads in one particular department. That’s $30,000. Multiply that by 5 years. Now we’re at $150,000. Imagine what one department could do with 150 grand, a heap of political will, and all of the potential of open access publishing."
via:anne  professionaldevelopment  ideas  money  conferences  research  fieldwork  funding  grants  efficiency  academia  highered  highereducation  openstudioproject  snarkmarketseminar  self-funding  retreats  generativewebevents  2013 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design | Ethnography Matters
"So how do I teach ethnography to design students? First, I tell them that if they’ve ever wondered why people do things, or how things got to be the way they are, then they’re already part ethnographer. I say that my job is to help them get better at asking and answering social and cultural questions, because understanding and building entire worlds is a huge challenge that no single discipline can accomplish on its own. And I tell them that I believe the best designers are those who understand that what they’re doing is cultural innovation, which requires them to move beyond both personal impression and expression, as well as any self-righteous desire to ‘fix’ the world. My approach to design ethnography binds us to others, and I place a lot of emphasis on the need to develop a social ethics, rather than relying solely on personal interests and beliefs.

Over the years I’ve observed that design students often have much better observation and documentation skills than sociology and anthropology students do, but they appear to struggle greatly with how to interpret the information and represent this knowledge to other people. On the other hand, anthropology and sociology students often have superior analytical skills but are terribly limited in their desire or ability to communicate in anything other than the written word—even when their topic is visual or material culture. Consequently, I’ve come to think that ethnography makes design better as much as design makes ethnography better, and in that sense I believe we can serve each other equally.

Design ethnography, in the context of our classroom, is about trying to understand how people use words, images and objects to build worlds—and creating new combinations of words, images and objects that help us, and others, understand these worlds in different ways. All of our projects involve empirical fieldwork and analysis, along with the production of creative works that critically engage the subject of fieldwork. Because so many students attempt to do the creative work first, and use their ethnographic work to justify their ‘solution’ to a perceived (but rarely demonstrated!) ‘problem,’ I tend to be a bit more dogmatic about doing the ethnographic work first than I would otherwise advocate. The important thing I’ve learned, though, is that the best work always treats design and ethnography as complementary activities that are done in an iterative fashion that actually makes them difficult to separate in the end.

In teaching design courses, particular ethnographic methods became unappealing to me. Take auto-ethnography, for example: at its best the students continued to privilege their own thoughts and experiences; at worst it became a self-serving exercise in psychoanalysis or confession. And although performance ethnography can be interesting, I lack the expertise to assess it and worried that the students would again turn design into a form of privileged self-expression that could be difficult for others to understand. I needed something more accessible, that could more effectively trouble the opposition between subjective experience and objective fact—and I found it in fiction, which I think is rather beautifully both and neither."



"I think that the research environment for exploring these ideas has been crucial to their development. For the past few years, I’ve been working on a project that re-imagines NZ merino sheep in the (imagined) context of an Internet of Things. Note that I’ve not been tasked with designing possible software applications, but rather to imagine how different technologies could shift relations between livestock production and animal-product consumption. For this research I’ve combined traditional ethnographic methods of participant observation and qualitative interviews, with speculative design practices including fictional object and image-making—and I’ve given them both ‘life’ through creative writing. We’re about to launch these design scenarios, and will spend the next six months following up with more participant observation, interviews and online surveys to see how different audiences interact—or do not interact—with them.

For me, creating ethnographic fiction and speculative design has most often been a matter of material choice: both literally and figuratively. When the research subject matter is wool and meat-producing livestock, it was easy to start by imagining weird and wonderful things made of wool and meat! All the contexts for these fictional things (a government ministry and public programme, a host of consumer products and services) are plausible because they’ve been based on ethnographic research of people’s actual interests and concerns—but none of them are possible or even particularly realistic. To be honest, I really felt I was on the right track when I started talking about getting inspiration from contemporary urban fantasy novels—especially favourites by Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs—and both my design and ethnography colleagues just laughed. (It was like Joanna Russ had never written How To Suppress Women’s Writing!) But the important bit is that I came to understand that although fantastic ethnography and speculative design don’t have to derive their plausibility from realism or rationality, they should move people—because the space of the fantastic and the speculative is, after all, affective space, or the space of potential."

[Related (lined within): http://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2011/08/28/why-you-need-read-designing-culture-anne-balsamo
and http://www.designculturelab.org/2012/08/17/on-fantasys-green-country-and-the-place-of-the-nonhuman/ ]
annegalloway  2013  ethnography  designethnography  fiction  designfiction  writing  speculativedesign  design  ursulaleguin  margaretatwood  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  ilonaandrews  patriciabriggs  plausibility  rationality  realism  research  speculativefiction  worldbuilding  imagery  words  images  objects  fieldwork  noticing  observation  listening  wondering  ethics  documentation  interpretation  autoethnography 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Michael Shanks: Archaeological manifesto
"Archaeologists don't discover the past;
they work on what remains
with a view to the present and the future.

Archaeology is THE discipline of things - the history of design, innovation, creativity, how people get on with the material world, materiality itself.

Archaeologists deal in the life of things.

Archaeology is also our only access to a long term perspective on history and what it is to be human Archaeological evidence frequently provides insights counter to the great narratives of history that we have grown so used to over the last couple of centuries.

I have researched megalithic monuments in an archaeology of the prehistoric body, ancient Greek perfume jars in the early city state, the design of contemporary beer cans, managed a project with DaimlerChrysler to develop a model of the car interior of 2015, in an archaeology of the contemporary past. My current fieldwork is revisiting an old genre of writing on the land - chorography - in a study of the Roman borders with Scotland - how to understand and represent a region, in the context of imperial incursion and local response.

Archaeology stretches from genetics to art history, includes laboratory study, fieldwork and survey, statistical analysis, and textual interpretation, combining media old and new, from graphics to virtual reality. I am committed to hybrid practice where art becomes scientific research, where the academy becomes an art sudio, where pedagogy mingles with outreach into the community and industry, where practice can be research, where old disciplinary divisions give way to a committed address to matters of common human concern.

All made possible by our newly fashioned freedoms of digital authorship, collegiality, collaboration and creativity.

New Humanities Post disciplinary practices ...
shifting a custodial model of stewardship - looking after the past
to one of production and creativity - working on what remains to help guide us now and for the future.

Archaeologists work on what remains of the past...
This means that
we are all archaeologists now ..."
archaeology  michaelshanks  past  present  time  humanities  interdisciplinary  creativity  future  genetics  arthistory  fieldwork  statistics  art  media  newmedia  chorography  writing  deepmaps  innovation  materiality  design  designthinking  manifestos  stewardship 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis » GUEST INFORMANT: Jan Chipchase
"The trick on the ground is to be able to read both the persons and the context and to create a situation where interaction with the stranger in their midst is the natural next step. It’s like picking someone up in a bar but without the sexual intent. Show respect before, during and after the conversation, leverage non-verbal cues and pay attention to the details. It’s not just about reading the street – you need to let the street read you.

One informal research method that you won’t find written up in any manual is called the Meanest Motherfucker – seek out the meanest, most unlikely candidate for an interview (whether or not they have an oedipus complex) and open them up to a meaningful conversation. Child’s play, if only because mean is subjective, and bound by the limits of our experience of the human condition…

Everyone has a story to tell, most people don’t have someone to listen.

Never ask the question if you’re not willing to listen to, and act upon the answer."

[See also: http://janchipchase.com/2011/09/the-meanest-mofo/ ]
janchipchase  listening  warrenellis  designethnography  ethnography  fieldwork  interviews  nigeria  lagos  2011 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Anthropological locations ... - Google Books
"Among the social sciences, anthropology relies most fundamentally on "fieldwork"--the long-term immersion in another way of life as the basis for knowledge. In an era when anthropologists are studying topics that resist geographical localization, this book initiates a long-overdue discussion of the political and epistemological implications of the disciplinary commitment to fieldwork.<br />
<br />
These innovative, stimulating essays—carefully chosen to form a coherent whole—interrogate the notion of "the field," showing how the concept is historically constructed and exploring the consequences of its dominance. The essays discuss anthropological work done in places (in refugee camps, on television) or among populations (gays & lesbians, homeless people in the US) that challenge the traditional boundaries of "the field." The contributors suggest alternative methodologies appropriate for contemporary problems and ultimately propose a reformation of the discipline of anthropology."
anthropology  akhilgupta  jamesferguson  via:steelemaley  books  toread  fieldwork  methodology 
july 2011 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read