Discussion about Ethnography on LI, which maybe of interest

FYI - https://www.linkedin.com/posts/drchrisdiming_breaking-it-down-integrating-agile-methods-activity-6716039982085238784-L4Rh

Thanks! The interesting information is: there are some designer types doing some stuff around “ethnography” (it seems that what they do is really user workshops, “ethnographic methods” at best rather than full-on ethnography). This is a signal that ethnography is “hot” and “hypey”, which is both good and bad news.

For future reference: if you find something interesting and want to share it, I recommend to:

  1. share it publicly, not with a private message. Your information might be important to someone you do not know.
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Are you OK with me moving this thread to a public space?

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sure thing, go ahead. I found it interesting because of the combination with “sprints” from Agile Methodology btw. So happy to comment that when it is in a public space. tnx, Ro

Design ethnography has ineed been hot and hypey for a few years now (the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry (“EPIC”) conference is a good way to keep your finger on this pulse https://www.epicpeople.org/).

For what it’s worth, that conference gets a lot of hate in the academic anthropology circles, in part for the same reason as I’d hate on this method – it’s just not ethnography if it’s not long-term, because you need long-term engagement to fully immerse yourself in the worldview of the people you’re studying and to have the time to unravel both your own and their unspoken assumptions about how things work. You need time to develop ideas about what’s going on and then put those ideas up to be challenged by your participants. As @alberto says, at best you can call these design methods ‘ethnographic methods.’

Rather than taking the path of hating hard on this kind of thing, I take it as a good sign that people are interested in people’s subjective and qualitative experience. But it’s important to be clear on the limitations of a short-term approach. Sarah Pink is an academic who supports this short term ethno, but I don’t fully agree with her arguments (and it’s still not super, super short-term). You have to find a way to acquire depth and nuance, and time is generally the best way to do that.

One answer could be the direction we’re going in, though — layer multiple ethnographers’ perspectives, working at the same time. Then you have the kind of back-and-forth challenge you need to make sure you’re not staying on the surface. I always thought suuuper long-term fieldwork was overly fetishized, particularly done by individual researchers, but I don’t think these short, short sprints are the answer. And, perhaps unsurprisingly as these are usually for-profit industry applications, they are often highly extractive (so, ethically questionable).