SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: MLIS: Anthropology
Re: SIGIA-L: MLIS: Anthropology
From: Pete Wendel (pwendel_at_resource.com)
Date: Fri Sep 01 2000 - 20:20:55 EDT
Dennis & Marc,
Thank you for your postings!
As an information architect that has used ethnographic methods to inform
I can also testify to the fact that field studies and 'applied'
ethnography often yield answers that traditional
market research can not. For me, its being able to learn what people do
vs. what people say that make ethnographic methods so valuable.
Though used widely in industrial design, software, and intranet
applications, ethnographic methods still seem to be a hard sell for
e-commerce projects that have a wide variety of users (and users that
may only return to use the site occasionally or sporatically over time).
In those circumstances, and with the usual TIGHT timelines that many
e-commerce projects are designed under, I've found it can be hard to
justify even an extra week or two of contextual inquiry, field studies,
interviews, or other ethnographic methods for learning about target
Does anyone claim to use any 'discount ethnography' techniques that are
structured to bring the highest price/performance ratio to the business
Usability has made great strides in the last year or so. The business &
mainstream press has latched onto the likes of Nielson (discount
usability), Mark Hurst (Creative Good), and others that proudly wave the
banner of usability and customer experience. Certainly usability is a
valuable practice, and one that is folded into user centered design
processes at many places that do interactive design. However, usability
is not the be-all, end-all.
Slowly, ethnography is starting to generate a buzz. Recent developments,
such as the AIGA's Advance for Design/ Experience Design effort, are
starting to force the issue of context up into the forefront of design.
It would be nice if anthropology/ applied ethnography/ contextual
inquiry had as much media buzz as usability.
Any thoughts about 'discount ethnography' or translation of ethnographic
methods into marketing & business language that might make it more
palatible for the newsbyte-riddled media?
Senior Information Architect
Dennis Schleicher wrote:
> Wonderful stuff on your site! I would call it a must read for any
> anthropologist IAs out there.
> Dennis Ask & Ye shall Receive Schleicher
> Information Architect, Argus Associates, Inc.
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: owner-sigia-l_at_asis.org [mailto:owner-sigia-l_at_asis.org]On Behalf Of
> > Marc Rettig
> > Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 12:08 PM
> > To: sigia-l_at_asis.org
> > Subject: Re: SIGIA-L: MLIS: Anthropology
> > Hey, thanks for some juicy links!
> > You'll find a few links and book recommendations at the end of
> > the slides from
> > my ASIS talk from a few months ago. Check out
> > http://www.enteract.com/~marc/asis/slide0022.htm
> > I've been using ethnographic methods to drive design and
> > strategy for a few
> > years now, and can offer an enthusiastic vote of confidence for
> > what Eric,
> > Jason, Dennis, and others have been saying. Doesn't have to take
> > long (but
> > sometimes an extra two or three weeks can make a huge difference). And as
> > someone said, the *translation* of the observations into
> > opportunities and
> > design direction is the key. That's the hard part, the part that takes
> > practice and, in my experience, the input of several different
> > disciplines.
> > I hesitate to recommend this, but since it might help someone
> > out there.... I
> > have some rusting slides from an old version of a talk I gave at
> > Web99 called
> > "live with your users." I've since updated it, but the update
> > hasn't found
> > it's way to the web. I'll have the new one up this fall in time
> > for Web2000,
> > but for now check out http://www.enteract.com/~marc/web99/livewithusers/.
> > Hope this helps. Great to see this conversation going on here.
> > Thanks for the
> > insights.
> > - Marc Rettig
> > --
> > Marc Rettig
> > Chief Experience Officer
> > HannaHodge
> > www.hannahodge.com
> > www.enteract.com/~marc
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