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[En Ethnography Matters han publicado una serie de posts donde varios antropólogos comentan las “Tools we Use” en el trabajo de campo y el análisis de la información. Tricia Wang realiza una síntesis de sus herramientas en este post. No existe una sola herramienta que proporcione todas las utilidades y una parte del trabajo no puede basarse en tecnología, pero existen varias apps y hardware que facilitan el trabajo y permiten compartirlo y difundirlo en tiempo real (“live fieldnoting”, que hace la etnografía más abierta en el sentido en que la define Wang). Evernote e Instagram son quizás las apps más útiles en este sentido]

Tricia Wang: Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography

- Participant observations: Instagram, iPhone notes & email, Evernote

- Interviews: notebook, audio recorder

- Organizing fieldwork data: Evernote, Mendeley, wall with photos and sticky notes

Read other posts in the Tools We Use series:

Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography

Live fieldnoting: A live fieldnote is a blog post that is intended to provide an on-location and synchronous visual and textual coverage of an instance from the ethnographer’s fieldwork. The live fieldnote is created with a image sharing app on a mobile phone that is then shared to other social networking services. Images are accompanied by a description of the image and can also include a brief analysis of what the interaction means to the participatants in the image and/or to the ethnographer. All live fieldnotes are timestamped, publicly accessible on the internet, and include location data. Live fieldnotes demonstrates the combination of two activities that are central to ethnographic research, 1.) the ethnographer’s participation in a social world and 2.) the ethnographer’s written account of the world through her/his participation. Live fieldnotes are typically comprised of a one to five sentences. The accumulation of many live fieldnotes works towards producing a “thick description” along with other long form fieldnotes.  Live fieldnotes are not intended to replace the entire fieldnote writing process, rather it is just one of many ways notes can be jotted down for reflection at a later point in time.

The predominant image of design in the 21st century is that cliché of the empty conference room or studio—just after some feverish brainstorming extravaganza—plastered with Post-it notes … as if the act of design had suddenly morphed into some strange game of pin the Post-it on the mind map. How is it possible that the wonderfully complex process of design has devolved to the point that we now commonly represent it by the leftover artifacts of quickie ideation? Is that all there is?

I point the finger of blame squarely at Design Thinking, that aspiring little brother of design that has recently been getting all of the attention. The rise in Post-it portraiture has more or less mirrored the infiltration of Design Thinking into the boardroom. And as creativity becomes the lubricant of the innovation economy, what says it better than a crazy quilt of Post-its smeared to the wall? It’s no surprise that this version of ideation is particularly salient in a business context, where outputs are more often intangible strategies, financial instruments, services, and information flows. An array of Post-its does make a more vivid photo than a bunch of suits with their ties off ruminating. The Post-it portrait accomplishes the work of saying, “creativity and leaps of imagination happened here.” It puts the gloss on innovation.

The problem is that in serving as a substitute for the whole of design, the Post-it represents only a small fraction of what makes design uniquely effective. It papers over the fact that ideation without materialization is not design. Designers discover as they turn ideas into thing (even when those things have no physical form). We gain true insight in the act of making a mark on a page or pushing pixels on the screen. We don’t need to over-hype those processes, but to ignore them means that we shortchange the practice of design.

Clifford Geertz en su famoso librito “El antropólogo como autor” (1989) busca cuál es la clave del relato etnográfico y nos dice que no es su retórica factual, ni su argumentación teórica, ni su primoroso estilo, si no su capacidad para “convencernos de que lo que dicen es el resultado de haber podido penetrar (o si se prefiere, haber sido penetrados por) otra forma de vida, de haber, de un modo u otro, realmente “estado allí” (pág. 14). Es el diálogo del etnógrafo o de la etnógrafa con sus datos lo que da sentido al texto etnográfico. Lo que da sentido al relato de campo es el propio proceso de aprendizaje del autor.

… In recent years, close attention has been paid to the ways in which mobile phones in particular, and information and communication technologies (ICTs) in general, are redefining and reconstructing experiences and understandings of time and space (Castells 2000, Ling and Pedersen 2005, Maroon 2006). For many, the “perpetual contact” granted by mobile phones has been perceived as intrusive; various studies have reflected on the invasion of the public space with private talk, and argued that growing mobile phone use was leading to a decline of the public sphere and a correlated erosion of privacy (see the edited volume by Katz and Aakhus 2002). However, the “communication revolution” (Osborn 2008:317) currently underway in southern Mozambique appears to be occasioning quite the opposite by providing individuals with a level of privacy that many had never even dreamed of (see also Hahn and Kibora 2008, Ito 2005, and Maroon 2006). Indeed, local discourses are all about evaluating the mobile phone’s effects on intimate relationships. In Inhambane, like in most of sub-Saharan Africa, land-line infrastructure remains weakly developed and most people have passed “from no phone to cell phone” (Orlove 2005:699). As such, a mobile phone is not a better telecommunication tool; it is a tool that makes telecommunication possible often for the very first time, thus opening up entirely new spaces and possibilities.

In Inhambane, normative discourses paint a strict sexual division of courtship in which men are defined as the active players. They are the ones who have to demonstrate their interest and their worthiness to the women they like, while the latter are expected to feign complete disinterest. Before mobile phones, that is, only a few years ago, opportunities for young men and women to meet and flirt were rather limited and courtship was usually a mediated affair. Young men relied on family members or neighbours to make their interests in a woman known. Wedding negotiations were usually the preserve of fathers and uncles, thus excluding, at least to some extent, the couple concerned (Junod 1966). For those who preferred more direct communication, there was the possibility of sending love letters, but, as many recalled, the time delay was often demotivating. Young men would also “hunt” women by hanging out in the alleys leading to the market. Many still do. Being a public space, however, the alley offers serious restrictions as a courtship space. With the entry of mobile phones, courtship has become less mediated, more personal, much easier (in theory, at least) and, ultimately, more private. As Fakira, a young Mozambican man explained: “Before, when I wanted to talk to a girl I liked, I would risk getting beaten by her brothers or her boyfriend. Now, I just phone her!”

In a context where privacy is scarce and where discreetness is highly valued, the invisible realm of mobile telecommunication becomes invaluable to the consolidation and management of intimate relationships away from the gaze of family members, neighbours and other partners. As a result, relationships are consolidated, which might not have been, were it not for mobile phones. What is more, multiple relationships become easier to manage (cf. Horst and Miller 2006). Owing to the creation of this new space, endeavours to transcend the state of surveillance that characterises daily life become more successful, and the power relations reproduced through this control, more easily challenged. Like fences, however, phones often provide only a false sense of privacy. They might help conceal secrets, but they can as easily reveal them by providing proofs of unfaithfulness, through intercepted phone calls or text messages…

In a context where privacy is scarce and where discreetness is highly valued, the invisible realm of mobile telecommunication becomes invaluable to the consolidation and management of intimate relationships away from the gaze of family members, neighbours and other partners. As a result, relationships are consolidated, which might not have been, were it not for mobile phones. What is more, multiple relationships become easier to manage (cf. Horst and Miller 2006). Owing to the creation of this new space, endeavours to transcend the state of surveillance that characterises daily life become more successful, and the power relations reproduced through this control, more easily challenged. Like fences, however, phones often provide only a false sense of privacy. They might help conceal secrets, but they can as easily reveal them by providing proofs of unfaithfulness, through intercepted phone calls or text messages.

1. Defer Judgment. Don’t block someone else’s idea if you don’t like it…put it on the whiteboard and maybe you’ll be able to build on it later.

2. Go for volume. Getting to 100 ideas is better than 10, no matter what you initially think about the “quality”. Try setting a goal for the number of ideas you’ll get to in a certain amount of time to provide some stoke.

3. One conversation at a time. When different conversations are going on within a team, no one can focus.

4. Be visual. Sketch your ideas out for your teammate. It will communicate them more clearly than words alone, plus you might inspire some crazy new ideas.

5. Headline your idea. Make it quick and sharp, then move on to the next one.

6. Build on the Ideas of others. This leverages the perspectives of diverse teams and can be especially useful when you feel like you’re stuck.

7. Stay on topic. Your idea for an edible cell phone is awesome, but not during a brainstorm on making opera more exciting for children.

8. Encourage wild ideas. The crazier the better…you never know where your team might be able to take it. (See #1 and #6).

The Open Scholar, as I’m defining this person, is not simply someone who agrees to allow free access and reuse of his or her traditional scholarly articles and books; no, the Open Scholar is someone who makes their intellectual projects and processes digitally visible and who invites and encourages ongoing criticism of their work and secondary uses of any or all parts of it–at any stage of its development.

P2P Foundation  » Blog Archive  » We need Open Scholars

[Excerpt from a proposal and thoughtpiece by Gideon Burton. Definición de “open scholar”]

The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action by Donald Schön … Schön’s objective, which was about setting an epistemology of practice that place “technical problem solving within a broader context of reflective inquiry, shows how reflection-in-action may be rigorous in its own right, and links the art of practice in uncertainty and uniqueness to the scientists’ art of research“…

Steps in a Design Thinking Process
UNDERSTAND. Understanding is the first phase of the design thinking process. During this phase, students immerse themselves in learning. They talk to experts and conduct research. The goal is to develop background knowledge through these experiences. They use their developing understandings as a springboard as they begin to address design challenges. OBSERVE. Students become keen people watchers in the observation phase of the design thinking process. They watch how people behave and interact and they observe physical spaces and places. They talk to people about what they are doing, ask questions and reflect on what they see. The understanding and observation phases of design thinking help students develop a sense of empathy.DEFINE. In this phase of design thinking, students the focus is on becoming aware of peoples’ needs and developing insights. The phrase “How might we….” is often used to define a point of view, which is a statement of the:
user + need + insight
This statement ends with a suggestion about how to make changes that will have an impact on peoples’ experiences.
IDEATE. Ideating is a critical component of design thinking. Students are challenged to brainstorm a myriad of ideas and to suspend judgment. No idea is to far-fetched and no one’s ideas are rejected. Ideating is all about creativity and fun. In the ideation phase, quantity is encouraged. Students may be asked to generate a hundred ideas in a single session. They become silly, savvy, risk takers, wishful thinkers and dreamers of the impossible…and the possible.
PROTOTYPE. Prototyping is a rough and rapid portion of the design process. A prototype can be a sketch, model, or a cardboard box. It is a way to convey an idea quickly. Students learn that it is better to fail early and often as they create prototypes.
TEST. Testing is part of an iterative process that provides students with feedback. The purpose of testing is to learn what works and what doesn’t, and then iterate. This means going back to your prototype and modifying it based on feedback. Testing ensures that students learn what works and what doesn’t work for their users.

Steps in a Design Thinking Process

UNDERSTAND. Understanding is the first phase of the design thinking process. During this phase, students immerse themselves in learning. They talk to experts and conduct research. The goal is to develop background knowledge through these experiences. They use their developing understandings as a springboard as they begin to address design challenges. 

OBSERVE. Students become keen people watchers in the observation phase of the design thinking process. They watch how people behave and interact and they observe physical spaces and places. They talk to people about what they are doing, ask questions and reflect on what they see. The understanding and observation phases of design thinking help students develop a sense of empathy.

DEFINE. In this phase of design thinking, students the focus is on becoming aware of peoples’ needs and developing insights. The phrase “How might we….” is often used to define a point of view, which is a statement of the:

user + need + insight

This statement ends with a suggestion about how to make changes that will have an impact on peoples’ experiences.


IDEATE. Ideating is a critical component of design thinking. Students are challenged to brainstorm a myriad of ideas and to suspend judgment. No idea is to far-fetched and no one’s ideas are rejected. Ideating is all about creativity and fun. In the ideation phase, quantity is encouraged. Students may be asked to generate a hundred ideas in a single session. They become silly, savvy, risk takers, wishful thinkers and dreamers of the impossible…and the possible.

PROTOTYPE. Prototyping is a rough and rapid portion of the design process. A prototype can be a sketch, model, or a cardboard box. It is a way to convey an idea quickly. Students learn that it is better to fail early and often as they create prototypes.

TEST. Testing is part of an iterative process that provides students with feedback. The purpose of testing is to learn what works and what doesn’t, and then iterate. This means going back to your prototype and modifying it based on feedback. Testing ensures that students learn what works and what doesn’t work for their users.

Design ethnography: strategy for visual communications (pdf). Leslie MacNeil Weber. 2009 Graduate Thesis, University of Washington

Ethnography, a field of anthropological study and a research technique, helps visual communication designers create materials that evoke meaning and inspire action in their audiences. Ethnography enables a designer’s understanding by uncovering cultural contexts and social norms.

This thesis examines the intersection between the fields of ethnography and visual communication design. First, the thesis describes the value of ethnography in developing effective strategies for visual communication design. Second, the thesis describes how designers can most effectively collaborate with ethnographers in all phases of the design process.

As designers working to improve the quality of life in other countries, the firm IDEO has spent more than 10 years creating a methodology focused on designing for the user. And now, IDEO wants to give all of that methodology away. A series of PDFs that are free to download, the Human-Centered Design Toolkit hopes to empower organizations and design firms by giving them their field-tested tools for social impact in a way that focuses more on sharing information than authorship. (via Open-Source Innovation: IDEO’s Human-Centered Design Toolkit | Designerati | Fast Company)

As designers working to improve the quality of life in other countries, the firm IDEO has spent more than 10 years creating a methodology focused on designing for the user. And now, IDEO wants to give all of that methodology away. A series of PDFs that are free to download, the Human-Centered Design Toolkit hopes to empower organizations and design firms by giving them their field-tested tools for social impact in a way that focuses more on sharing information than authorship. (via Open-Source Innovation: IDEO’s Human-Centered Design Toolkit | Designerati | Fast Company)