Town Hall Debate

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013, 14:45 to 16:20


2013 has been an eventful year for ethnographers so far:

During the Interaction13 conference in Toronto, Paul Adams of Facebook provided a first provocation to our field [00:39:30 and onwards] by advocating a radically different development cycle than the "ideal" user-centered one (qualitative user research first, then modeling and concept development, followed by prototyping, testing, and iteration). Instead he proposed a much faster cycle, which discards the initial user research entirely: first quick hypothesis development (based on data mining, heuristic knowledge and culling from existing behavioral research), followed by immediate prototyping, development and implementation, and then a series of fast iterations through A/B testing.

This Big Data inspired thinking led to a huge debate both on the IxDA and the anthrodesign forums, one that has seen many iterations since, including this recent post by Tricia Wang on "Thick Data", as well as one by Carl Miller on this blog.

Neuromarketing and lean UX are creating similar waves in our community.

The icing on the cake came in the form of a disturbing blog post by a trained professional ethnographer Julie Peggar, who finds job hunting extremely difficult these days, because "being an ethnographer is no longer a job in and of itself. It’s been subsumed into traditional market research, into design, into data mining, UX, and “applied machine learning,” whatever that is."

During EPIC this year we want to create a space for an open debate about these challenges and on the future of corporate ethnography. This 'Town Hall' will take place on Tuesday afternoon in the RIGB theatre and run concurrently with the three Salons. 

We want to ensure as many contributions to this debate as possible. To help us achieve this we're inviting you to send us a mail with the most provocative, disturbing and difficult comments or stories you have heard or experienced as a practitioner. We will use these emails to shape our planning and use some of them as base material for a debate with the entire EPIC 2013 audience. Let us know as well if you will be at EPIC this year so we can call on you in the discussion to share you opinion. 

We want lots of mail!

Mark Vanderbeeken - EPIC 2013 Town Hall Moderator