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Ethnography in Human Computer Interaction

27 November, 2007

I thought you might be interested in an recent presentation given by Paul Dourish on the use of Ethnography in Human Computer Interaction. It’s a bit of a follow on from his much discussed comments from an earlier Computer Human Interaction (CHI) conference, where he suggested that you couldn’t just simply translate enthographic research into a series of design implications.

The abstract reads:

Many researchers and practitioners in user experience design have turned towards social sciences to find ways to understand the social contexts in which both users and technologies are embedded. Ethnographic approaches are increasingly prominent as means by which this might be accomplished. However, a very wide range of forms of social investigation travel under the “ethnography” banner in HCI, suggesting that there is still considerable debate over what ethnography is and how it can best be employed in design contexts.

Building on earlier discussions and debates around ethnography and its implications, this paper explores how ethnographic methods might be consequential for design. In particular, it illustrates the implications for design that might be derived from classical ethnographic material and shows that these may not be of the form that HCI research normally imagines or expects.

The pdf link is http://www.ics.uci.edu/~jpd/publications/2007/dux2007-ethnography.pdf

(links and story via the http://www.experientia.com/blog/)

Stephen Cox

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