Sunday, November 25, 2007

Implications for Design: responsibilities and framing

The effects of ethnography on design ...

"In “Responsibilities and Implications: Further Thoughts on Ethnography and Design continues to elaborate on the use of ethnography in human-computer interaction and the “implications for design” issues he addressed at CHI2006 (see my notes here.

In the CHI paper, he argued how the use of ethnographic investigation in HCI is often partial since it underestimated, misstated, or misconstrued the goals and mechanisms of ethnographic investigation. Which is problematic since researchers aims a deriving “implication for design” from these investigations. The DUX paper continues on that topic to show how ethnography is relevant but not in the bullet-point “short term requirements” way some use to think about. As he says, “the valuable material lies elsewhere” or “beyond the laundry list“, which is described through 2 case studies about emotion and mobility.

Then what should be these implications for design (voluntarily skipping the examples, see the paper pls)?

“The implications for design, though, are not of the “requirements capture” variety. They set constraints upon design, certainly, but not in terms of operationalizable parameters or specific design space
guidance. What they tend to do, in fact, is open up the design space rather than close it down, talking more to
the role of design and of technology than to its shape.
(…)
A second observation about the implications is that they are derived not from the empirical aspects of ethnographic work but from its analytic aspects. That is, the ethnographic engagement is not one that figures people as potential users of technology, and looks to uncover facts about them that might be useful to technologists (or to marketers). Instead, ethnographic engagements with topics, people, and fieldsites are used to understand phenomena of importance to design, and the implications arise out of the analysis of these materials.
(…)
the theoretical contributions that the studies provide have a considerably longer shelf life, and a relevance that
transcends particular technological moments.

Is it a cop-out to say that what these studies provide is a new framing for the questions rather than a specific set of design guidelines? Hardly."    (Continued via Pasta&Vinegar)    [Usability Resources]

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