ethnography matters


We came together to start this blog because we believe that ethnographic research — with its focus on human experiences in context — is critical for countering the trend towards users as numbers, as digits, as data and as markets. In the push to scale technologies globally, technological talk often focuses on the production and consumption of technological goods — There are Users, Makers, and Artifacts — and very little in between.

We believe in the in between.

This blog will be a place for conversation between academic and applied ethnography, for listening to and thinking about people’s stories, and for analysis and theory focused on the social patterns and contexts of technological (re)use, rejection and  (re)construction.

In the specific frame of technology research and design, ethnography matters because the practice of telling user stories, exposing how technology makes us and how we make technology, can help to direct information tools in the service of human values like empathy, global solidarity, surprise and joy. Ethnography matters because it provides a mechanism for evaluating theories of “revolutionary” technology as grounded in the lived experience of people and communities. Ethnography matters because it helps to keep technology development real.  Through ethnography we can delve into what we have in common and where we diverge to better envision human possibilities. When we understand this we can, in turn, get a better grasp on why technology matters.


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