Respondent: Robin Pharoah (invited), ESRO – Ethnographic Social Research Options
Ethnographers have been working in commercial design contexts for more than 30 years. They can be found influencing the design of everything from stock market dealing room software to fashion to snacks. But what can design ethnographers offer social design, and what can social design offer design ethnography? Is design ethnography the silver bullet that will solve all of social design’s problems, the rebranding of old ideas like consultation and needs assessment, or a costly fad?
Cat will lead you through the exciting and rather odd tale of how anthropologists and
ethnographers ended up working in such unlikely places as a silicon chip manufacturer and a large US hotel chain. She’ll unscramble some of the confusion around what design ethnography does (and doesn’t) do, and propose a vision for how social designers and design ethnographers might work together in the future. Finally, she’ll wash a little of Design Ethnography’s slightly soiled laundry in public, and consider the ways in which engaging with Social Design might also help design ethnography freshen itself up.
BIO: Cat Macaulay
After what we now politely call a ‘portfolio career’ that took her from teaching numeracy,through running an LGBT cafe, organising a million dollars worth of civil engineering aid to Bosnia, and community gardening, Cat fell into academia by mistake in the mid-90s. She took a PhD in Computing, examined by a scary sociologist called Richard Harper (now at Microsoft Cambridge). This started out being about the design of soundscapes for user interfaces, but ended up being an ethnographic study of journalists seeking information. It took her three years but she eventually figured out they don’t, they seek sources instead. (Her mum was right, she’s a slow learner.)
Cat is regularly invited to speak on design ethnography both within the UK and internationally,and in 2008 designed launched the world’s first masters programme in Design Ethnography.Industry funded projects she has coordinated within the MSc Design Ethnography include a comparative study of carers in Finland and India (for Intel), a study of how the inhabitants of megacities understand and negotiate well-being in their lives (for PDD London), a study of mobile working amongst highly-mobile professionals in Berlin, New York and London (for Swisscom), and an investigation of the impact of new technologies on tv production (for the BBC). She has nearly 20 years experience of developing and managing large inter-disciplinary projects within business and academic settings, but mainly she loves the challenge of trying to figure out what on earth design ethnography is, and might be apher prior to joining the University of Dundee in 2001 to develop and launch the BSc programme in Interactive Media Design. Catriona is regularly invited to speak on design ethnography both within the UK and internationally, and recently designed and launched the world’s first masters programme in Design Ethnography. Industry funded projects she has coordinated within the MSc Design Ethnography include a comparative study of carers in Finland and India (for Intel), a study of mobile working amongst professionals in Berlin, New York and London (for Swisscom), and an investigation into the impact of new technologies on tv production (for the BBC). She has nearly 20 years experience of developing and managing large inter-disciplinary projects within business and academic settings. Prior to entering academic life Catriona was manager of a large news monitoring and analysis agency, director of a IT services company, and operations director for $1.25 million UNHCR funded humanitarian relief mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Robin is an anthropologist and ethnographer. He founded ESRO in 2004 to combine the best elements of academic and commercial research. Robin has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and additionally has extensive knowledge of the theories that underpin culture, society and politics spanning psychology and sociology. Robin specialises in ethnography and has experience working both internationally and in the UK with clients such as Microsoft, NESTA and Kent County Council.
Bridging the gap between his professional and personal passions, Robin is also a fully-fledged China expert, fluent in Mandarin with an inside-out knowledge of Chinese attitudes and behaviour. On those rare occasions when he isn’t immersed in the world of ESRO and/or the Far East, Robin busies himself as a keen amateur cricketer and sometime chess hustler. He also has a half-decent sense of rhythm, which he expresses either through incessant tabletop finger-tapping in meetings or, more productively, as drummer in several band
Committee Room G,
House of Lords,
enter via Black Rod’s Garden Entrance: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/faxmap.pdf
Tickets for this event are free and can be found on our eventbrite page