Archive | January, 2016

What on Earth is Post Disciplinary Ethnography?


This post is part of the Post Disciplinary Ethnography Edition based on work done at the HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training and curated by Joseph Lindley. The other articles in the series are “What’s the matter with Ethnography?“, “Everybody’s an Ethnographer!“, “Don’t Panic: The Smart City is Here!”  and “Lemon Difficult: Building a Strategic Speculation Consultancy“.

joe lindely gif

‘Jargon free’ text is the name of the game according to the Ethnography Matters style guide, so titling the introduction to this edition ‘Post Disciplinary Ethnography’ – a bit of a mouthful if ever there was one – seems slightly counter intuitive. Before this post is finished I will invoke a range of other, less-than-straightforward, locutions and idioms. For instance I will have to touch upon the mysterious ‘HighWire’ and the lofty-sounding concept of the ‘method assemblage’. Thankfully, even if the words themselves are unfamiliar, I believe that with some simple explanations we can cut right to the point.

First of all though, I will introduce myself: I am Joseph Lindley, a 32-year-old male of the species ‘homo sapiens’, I reside in Manchester (UK) and I like to think I ‘know where my towel is’. I have a bit of a miscellany of life and work experience including being a manager in a healthcare organisation, working as an IT professional, studying interactive arts, and being a musician under the moniker Joe Galen.

For the last four years though I have been a postgraduate student where I attained a masters degree in research methods and am currently studying for a doctorate on the strange topic of ‘design fiction’. The postgraduate part of that story has all taken place at Lancaster University’s ‘HighWire’ doctoral training centre. All of this edition’s content will come from researchers at the HighWire centre, so before proceeding any further, let me describe it.

HighWire is a 5-year project that was funded by the UK Research Council’s ‘Digital Economy’ programme. HighWire’s approach is fundamentally post disciplinary, which is rather different to its more commonly seen cousins that we refer to as inter, cross and multi… disciplinary (this report offers a fantastic definition of each of these terms and explores their nuances). These related terms, each describing how people (or concepts) with different expertise (or philosophical foundations) come together form teams (or produce insights) that are in some way ‘greater than a sum of their parts’. More often than not, those outcomes are achieved by, as Blackwell’s title suggests, ‘creating value across boundaries’. The properties and tropes of each discipline remain in tact, but, extra value can be created bridging the gaps between them. Post disciplinarity I see rather differently.Read More… What on Earth is Post Disciplinary Ethnography?

We have a Slack! Join us at Ethnography Hangout to discuss applied ethnography


Last week, we announced the rebirth of Ethnography Matters with a retrospective of the last five years of posts. Part of the rebirth involves meeting the community where it is at. And one of those places is Slack. So the Ethnography Matters, Anthrodesign, and EPIC teams have created a Slack channel for conversations about ​ethnographic methods. At Ethnography Hangout, we are an interdisciplinary group wearing many hats from design to tech and research, so you don’t need to have any formal background in ethnography to participate.

To us, creating a single Slack channel made a lot of sense to have our overlapping communities join into one place for conversations that extend beyond our own organizations and mailing lists.

We envision the Ethnography Hangout Slack to be a place for anyone to discuss applied ethnography. Those interested in discussion specifically grounded in the discipline of  Anthropology can also check out American Anthropology Association (AAA)’s Slack.

Founded in 2002, Anthrodesign’s mailing list established a new space for people working at the intersection of applied anthropology and design. Since 2005, EPIC has been promoting ethnography in organizations though the field’s premier annual conference, and more recently through an online community and professional resources at epicpeople.org . Launched in 2012, the Ethnography Matters blog has created publicly accessible content from people working in industry to academia at the cross section of technology and people. Despite having been formed at different times for different reasons, all three organizations  are committed to a people-centric to organizations, products, and services, thereby expanding the field of applied ethnography.

To join the discussion on Slack , please fill out this form where we ask for some information about you and your work. Read our Slack guidelines. We look forward to seeing you on Slack!

For any question about joining Ethnography Hangout Slack, please contact the administrators.

Ethnography celebration and retrospective: We’re back!


The editors of Ethnography Matters are pleased to announce that we’re back to our regular editorial calendar for 2016. We’ve set up a new series schedule for the year, with a focus on “centers of ethnographic practice.” Centers could be geographical (such as the focus on work happening at the interdisciplinary center, Highwire, in our first edition of 2016 edited by Joe Lindley), or centered around a particular idea, method or person. Each series will evolve over two months and will be edited by one of the team or by a guest editor.

celebration

In November last year, we celebrated the four-year anniversary of the founding of Ethnography Matters. Born in November 2011, Ethnography Matters was launched when we assembled a founding group of individuals who wanted to explore how technology makes us and how we make technology. Our original goal for starting Ethnography Matters was to create a body of work about ethnography that would be accessible in plain language to the public. No paywalls. No jargon. No degree waving. We wanted to build a community across industry, academia, and civil society. In the past four years, we have had an impressive collection of 182 posts, 13 editions, 14 interviews, 3 series, and 30 methods. Posts have been cited and reproduced in numerous academic publications and books, and the site has been featured as a resource for ethnographers in books by Christine Hine, Patricia Sunderland’s and Rita DennyGerrish & Lathlean, Gaillet & Eble and Bucchi & Trench.

Since 2011, we’ve watched this community grow on our WordPress dashboard from 500 readers a month to 15,000. It’s not only about numbers, though. We recognise our community not only in the numbers but in the stories we regularly hear from people who look to Ethnography Matters as a resource and talking point.

All communities need a narrative for why they exist, and Ethnography Matters is no different. Ethnography matters to us because it helps to keep technological development real. We believe that technologies need to develop close to the needs and experiences of users. Technologies need to aspire – to help us to not only do what we need to do but to be better people, to help us become a better society. These ideas have always mattered, but they matter now more than ever. In recent years, we’ve witnessed the global rise of new forms of automated and flextime labor systems such as Uber, Instacart, and Seamless. Technology is becoming increasingly embedded into our daily lives, bringing with it a particular set of logics that are difficult to resist. It’s clear that we’re in the middle of yet another social transition, but the question is, into what?Read More… Ethnography celebration and retrospective: We’re back!