From CS 160 Fall 2010
- The role of ethnography in interactive systems design John Hughes et al., ACM Interactions, vol 2(2), 1995.
- On "Technomethodology: Foundational Relationships Between Ethnomethodology and System Design Paul Dourish, Graham Button, Human-Computer Interaction, vol 13, 1998
- Jane Fulton Suri on Ethnography and Design
- Genevieve Bell on Ethnography at Intel
^ Luo, Michael (2004-09-14). "'Excuse Me. May I Have Your Seat?'; Revisiting a Social Experiment, And the Fear That Goes With It". The New York Times.
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Frank Chew 22:50, 12 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethonology for computer systems design seems like a bit of a stretch. But perhaps it is a healthy stretch to open up the mind of the designer, even if ideally to something a little less discursive. The author did not provide examples of ethnology, something which was lacking in this document.It was interesting that the author pointed out that IT systems are to "displace labor". Ethnology seems useful in order to make "designers aware of what to avoid and what more specific issues might be". It seems that the field of IT was lacking a solid predictable foundation for surveying user systems when it reached out to ethnology, necessary for a new maximum point in the space of investigation approaches. In the long term, a derivative of ethnology combining other successful methods of system data acquisition will probably prove to be a better method than the ethnology approach alone. Regarding ethnomethodoogy, it seems that what ever approach is used by the designer to put themselves in the shoes of the user, (Master-apprentice relationship, interview, ethnomethodology, or ethonography), the result is always that the designer is displaced enough to do design something new. Whether ethnomethdology is better than interviewing remains to be seen. What will be the user surveying standards methods of tomorrow will no doubt likely be in perspective of all this research in user research, ethnomethodology included.
Jonathan Look 00:53, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Using ethnography in HCI design to me is like taking a passive approach to the master-apprentice model. Although I believe this may help provide a context for developers to understand more about their target user group and how they will perceive the design, I do not feel like there were many examples to advocate the employment of ethnography or ethnomethodology over more conventional means (like the master-apprentice model style of interviews). Also, the added time and cost in performing ethnographic studies (although it was mentioned they can be short) is something to consider, especially when that time and effort can be used toward the iterative process instead.
In regards to ethnomethodolgy paper, I did not quite understand the accounts model. I did find it interesting though that it called for more detailed information regarding a failure and how that information can be used by users in making ‘moment-by-moment’ decisions. What this includes is providing information that may be useful, even under no abnormal conditions. In other words, provide good feedback to the user about underlying conditions.
Sean Tai 01:16, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The second article was difficult to understand. As evidence of this, I still do not know what the definition of “ethnomethodology” is (and Wikipedia states that, in general, many people don't, either). There were many broad, verbose statements, such as those repeatedly stating what the purpose of the research was, and an abundance of jargon, causing me to not understand any of what the authors were attempting to convey.
The first article was not much better, but the idea of doing “field work” to observe how software is used in practice seems like a reasonable way to evaluate the quality of a design.
Raymond Williams 01:24, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I must admit, I don't pay much attention to the ethnological, anthropological, or sociological aspect of computer users. While developing, I assume a certain level of education, intelligence, and knowledge base of the target users. I understand that people are different, but if someone is using a computer, I think it's safe to make a few assumptions.
It's easy to look up a word if you don't know it. Furthermore, unrecognized grammar can be understood by context. This may sound mean, but if the user can't figure things out on their own, they will find live quite difficult. Not everyone will make things easy for them. While I don't often consider ethnology, I do, however, like the concept of a target user. When developing, they are the only ones that matter.
Actually, my goal is to take the human out of the equation entirely. Artificial Intelligence will eventually do everything for us. They will make our decisions, and perhaps even form our opinions. The era of the human being is almost over... viva la machina!
Bernard_Wong 03:14, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Convention certainly counts for something in interface designs, users are accustomed to certain ways of doing things, and respecting such convention maybe lead to a successful design, however, it can also lead to something that is not as outstanding, not as innovating as one user would hope. The ethnological aspect of computer science can often hint at a trend that is being developing, like moorse law, for instance, or from tablet computers to more touch-screen devices like iphone, ipad and android mobile devices. Knowing the history of how things come about often help us understand where the next trend might be.
Karl He 07:27, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethnography and Ethnomethodology, since I find it difficult to determine exactly the difference between, I will consider as one subject. The methodologies focus on inspecting the actual environment in which software is used, sort of a more in-depth version of the previously discussed master-apprentice model of interviewing. This, however, appears to be a much more long term and expensive commitment.
I would say that such a methodology can be extremely informative, but it is not something to be used in all projects. It is simply not very practical to put into practice for smaller-scale software. However, for software of a very specific niche such as a control room, or software with enough investment riding on it, this can become a powerful technique.
Christine Lu 07:57, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The Hughes reading presents a very valid point - that Ethnogcaphy is very difficult for programmers to grasp because we aren't able to quantify its results. It is much more based on "soft" results that we get from interviewers that we cannot directly translate into a program. However, it has much value in user interface design because the user is so accustomed to the conditions around them. I feel that a good device will be able to accurately link together the results of an ethnographic enquiry and what the users sees in a final product.
Chris Song 08:23, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I had difficulty on connecting this week's readings to what we are currently doing. I understand that HCI is not all about Android app making. However, due to our focus on Android devices, I couldn't make the connection to much broader examples of using ethnography. The articles made the whole process seem much bigger and broader, making it seem like a process only a dedicated team of people can perform. However, I still found it useful in a sense that we can employ the same thought process throughout our UI design. I think the key point is the same as before(Contextual Inquiries, interviews, etc). What makes or breaks a UI design is the amount of data collected beforehand. Ethnography and enthnomethodology are just ways to collect more data. Before encountering some of the idea in this course, I naively thought that designing a computer application starts by a team of engineers sitting in front of a computer trying to decide how to start coding the next big thing. But it is clear to me that programming is only a very small part of an application. It makes much more sense in CSCW, to consider ethnography and sociology. As more and more emphasis gets put on CSCW, it will be almost impossible to separate ethnography from the design itself. Programs are not what they once were. Computers are no longer just fancy calculators. As developers, we must not only learn to use variety of methods for user data collection, but also to make sure to interpret the data correctly.
Chao liu 23:40, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
For ethnography it is a method that used in sociology, and now implemented in interactive system design. As the article mentions “if we accept that the design of interactive systems needs to attends to the sociality of work, then any method must respect the nature of this phenomenon.” It’s very important to know that software is worked for people, and any methods that only consider the designer but not the users will fail to meet the needs of the customers. There are also many problems in ethnography, such as there is no enough number of data and it really takes a long period to finish one study. It’s not a perfect method to use in software design, but it provides us a new approach to have a better understand of the design process.
Another article focuses more on an abstract concept, it’s not about how to design a interface, but about how to “think” in a different way. It’s a little difficult to understand and all I know is they want to merge the two things: computer science and ethnomethodology. It’s not a simply combine together but more like investigate a new “thought”. Totally change the designers’ mind and make them focuses more on human-being.
Sui Kun Guan 09:00, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
In Hughes's article, it mentions that ethnography is necessary when designing interactive systems because designers have to pay enough attention to he social context of work. It requires that designers should investigate the existing methods of requirements elicitation and work analysis. Also, in Dourish and Button's article, it states that ethnography and ethnomethodology are connecting together. When considering a particular social action, designers should use ethnomethodology, and ethnomethodology usually focuses on how users can apply their commonsense understandings to the interactive systems.
Alex Aberle 09:59, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The first article hits a high point in simultaneous wordiness and vagueness, so bravo for that. Seriously, what he took ten agonizing pages to say could be summed up in about four sentences. Watching people work is helpful, but there needs to be a good way to translate that into feedback a designer can use. There, that can be the first sentence. I found it funny how they say they did "quick and dirty" ethnographic study, but it apparently took 18 months to do. The author also managed to avoid stating what an ethnographic study actually is. Is that similar to contextual analysis? How does it differ? Who knows?
Second article. Right off the bat, my eyes glazed over, though it is more readable in parts than the first article. Here is a tip to the authors, though: when you have an entire section entitled "What is ethnomethodology?", you had better actually answer that question. For all the work these HCI people put into making human-computer interactions easy and intuitive, it's like they almost enjoy making their writings impenetrable. Here is my sneaking suspicion: these guys are embarrassed to plainly state anything about their work, because it boils down to "hang out with the people doing the work and take a lot of notes." So they dress it up in enough lingo and vagueness to put even other HCI researchers to sleep, cross their fingers and hope the peer review board collectively says "I don't know whats going on, so it must be good." I don't mean to be anti-intellectual here, I just really think that there is an accessable way to write this stuff up, and these authors deliberately chose not to do so.
Jeremy Sasson 10:26, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I must say that the document by Dourish and Button is one of the most vague documents I have read in quite some time. I'm left confused as to what the main purpose of their paper is. Not until we arrive at the example about file copying do Dourish and Button's ideas start to solidify. I do agree that, to some extent, ethnography and ethnomethodology play a significant hand in system design. It is important that the average user be able to react to whatever is on the screen and know how to act rationally without much error.
Derrick Tao 10:46, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethnography principle virtue is its "ability to make visible the 'real world' aspect of a social setting". This is basically having a way to observe how certain activities occur in real life. This can help when it comes to designing different physical devices as well as virtual devices. I am not sure how else the first article explains the true use of it because it seems very simple idea of just watching someone use a device and then asking them questions about it and then refitting the application to fit the user. The second article went further in depth about "Technomethodology" and how it relates to Ethnomethodology and system design. This article expanded on the human-computer interaction research and how it has helped to research of "sociology". The article continue to explain how all these research ideas fit into actual practice when it comes to creating new designs. I am not quite sold on the idea of doing this very long process as a software engineer.
Richard Nguyen 11:06, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Both articles seemed to be talking about the same thing to me. They both basically speak about how to observe the users and the environment that the system will be used in. The way I understood it was that it's a more broad version of our own contextual inquiries and lo fi prototyping. Each ethnographic study and debriefing meeting is essentially a user test of a lo fi prototype for us, and followed by an analysis of what we've discovered. I liked how the dourish reading brought to light how similar HCI design and anthropology are in respects to how groups/people interact with their environment and the tools that they use.
Tsung Han Tsai 11:40, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Figuring out new interface ways may be good if you're looking for something revolutionary, but doing things by convention can still satisfy the users. If the users are satisfied with the current convention, why change? Of course, then you would have to worry and hope your competitors don't come up with that really good new idea.
Brian Maissy 13:00, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
It seems like the main problem with using ethnography for design is that it's required level of rigor completely kills any attempt to rapidly iterate through prototypes. As mentioned in the first article, it took three years to get through enough ethnographic studies to develop a first full version of a system. It might be more effective to use efficient design techniques to develop a product. Ethnographic studies can then supplement user feedback in improving the system for a next version. Also, I doubt that its results are really necessary anyway. A user interacts with an interface roughly the same in a test room, and even more so in a contextual analysis in his ordinary environment, as when he is not being observed. These strategies can provide the same type of data enthomethodology seems to be interested in: objective realities about social actions.
Calvin Wang 21:35, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Both articles advocate ways to inject social-awareness into the design process. The Hughes article clearly and concisely describes what is involved in ethnographic studies and how they can give insight into the design process that would otherwise be ignored. The ATC case study shows us that ethnography can make a huge difference in the success of a design, as technology must adapt to the user, not the other way round.
The Dourish paper, on the other hand, is not written in a reader friendly style. With convoluted long sentences one after another, the authors would certainly fail the GRE writing test for ineffective communication. Nevertheless, the ideas presented are not at all hard to understand. Similar but subtly different to ethnography, technomethodology could potentially find its role in the design process. In particular, the OI model is an interesting proposal. Think about the kind of troubles that most computer users run into on a daily basis - such as attempting to copy on one computer and paste on another - stem from the lack of a basic mental model of how a computer works. Rather than hiding all the implementation details as common design guidelines suggest, it may be helpful to give the user some clue as to what is happening below the abstraction barrier. Granted, this runs the risk of exposing too much information and, as a result, complicate the task. This reflects the fundamental tradeoffs inherent in the design of complex products, and as a designer, one should strive for balance rather than worshiping one principle over another.
Samantha Paras 16:47, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I wish that the articles had better examples of using ethnomethodology -- they were a bit vague, and I feel like I still don't have a good understanding of exactly how an ethnography study is done. However, I can see how it's important to inspect the user/software's environment and social setting. It seems like an important aspect of UI design that should be accounted for. Overall, it seems like this field is still being developed and studied.
Mark Wei 17:28, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I was also a bit confused on the articles. The first article on ethnography kept on repeating that ethnography is about the social context of the tasks. It gives an interesting example, that when prototyping for the ATC interfaces, they spent 18 months on ethnography, to find insights on the "subtleties" surrounding the work and interactions. This seems to imply that ethnography fills in the gaps left by other task analysis methods, and that although it plays a small role, it gives greater detail.
Bichen Wang 17:31, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Task analysis feels like stepping into the shoes of an ethnologist. We have to see what the user sees from his or her point of view. Ethnography seems to be the core of qualitative human information-gathering, especially when dealing with humans and products. Hughes notes that generally, the user is put into a closed system with just enough inputs to have the product working but not the entire world. This seems like a cost-effective approach to an incredibly difficult problem. Ethnomethodology seems to be more of the practical-use part of this equation. If ethnography is “science,” then ethnomethodology would certainly be classified as “engineering.” Although the article is not really clear about the distinction and Wikipedia only really makes it more confusing, apparently there is a huge difference between ethnomethodology and ethnography. Apparently a programmer would use ethnography to see what a user would do in certain situations and then use ethnomethodology to determine what the user would do given some other situation and how the user would go about arriving at this conclusion. Either way, this seems incredibly complex and something that is important yet overlooked fairly often.
Courtney Wang 17:43, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethnography and Ethnomethodology both attack the problem of understanding the user. The jump between a simple functioning program and an interactive program introduces many factors into the software development equation, the most complicated one being humans. While reading the first article on ethnography, I was first skeptical because of the huge time commitment that must be given to proper fieldwork and research. I certainly understand the desire for such a project to be integrated into HCI development; a task analysis or contextual inquiry like what we've studied in this class is probably not sufficient enough to address all the needs of a target user. At the same time however, developing software is greatly about doing the best we can with the resources we have. A long time spent doing fieldwork seemed counterintuitive to the short iteration cycle that we've talked about in user interface design. I was more satisfied with the idea of quick ethnography, the kind that's done in a controlled room. The use of ethnography to better user interactions with computers should be limited to a controlled, small setting. Anything larger would be a waste of time and detrimental to development, at least in its current stage. I think with more focus on ethnomethodology, specifically technomethodology, we can eventually develop processes to better understand and evaluate social interaction as it pertains to system design, thus making this a worthwhile endeavor.
Avery Gee 18:38, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I think that the difference between ethnography and ethnomethodology is that ethnomethodology studies specifically the methods people undergo in their work whereas ethnography is a more holistic observation of people in their environments. In terms of UI I think both are important for different reasons. I can see how ethnomethodology would be useful because looking at a person's methods for doing everyday tasks is something that you want to take into account when designing an interface. I think it is also useful to look at the whole picture to see how the tasks a person performs fits in with their everyday life. Perhaps the tasks themselves could be changed or improved by a completely different interface.
Alan.choi 19:10, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethnography seems to go back to an idea that we read about a few weeks ago comparing an interview to a full on observational study. However, in these articles it sounds like they want us to do weeks or months of study and observation to be able to fully understand how our users will use our product. I feel that in terms of software development, this bogs down the process if we focus on it too much and go all out. I feel like we should do this, but in moderation, probably still in a more controlled environment, so that we can get to the meat of the issues, essentially the "quick and dirty" ethnography.
Edmundo Martinez 19:47, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Like many of my classmates, I too have been left a bit confused by this week's reading, although the first article was far easier to grasp. From what I understood, it seems like these articles are advocating the use of ethnography and ethnomethodology in the process of HCI design. The argument for ethnography seems to be that it provides a better way of obtaining information that would otherwise be lost and that it does not necessarily need to take too much time. The second article seemed to be a bit of a stretch, I find it hard to imagine integrating all of the material from this reading into the general process of developing UI.It sounds like they are proposing that computer scientists become sociologists...
Terrance Ng 19:58, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The Dourish reading was pretty vague; however, I can see how useful to look at the user's work and social settings when designing. I can see how ethnography can be used to study how users would interact with an interface. It was surprising to see the long development cycle, considering our use of lo-fi prototyping and more rapid cycling. Nevertheless, it is easy to see how a programmer could overlook these seemingly simple human interactions when designing something.
James Butkovic 19:59, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
If the context in which the software system is being used should influence the design, then ethnography should be part of the analysis. I agree with the author of the first article on that point. I respect the author for asserting that ethnography isn't the end-all method to interactive system design, but should be included in the design tool box. I could understand why engineers would have a problem with this: what's gain from this type of analysis isn't necessarily scientifically quantifiable. Empathetic, intuitive leaps are needed to make any use of the data. The authors of the second article seems to believe that ethnography should have a central role in systems design. They take the reader through an array of the basic components of ethnomethodology. I thought that the example at the end of the second article was unnecessarily long-winded.
Soroosh Izadian 20:00, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethnography seems like a good method of research for developing user-centered designs. One can come up with a lot of ideas by observing how potential users go about doing different tasks and interact with each other. But quantifying or extracting useful information from ethnographic data is one of the hard parts of the process because this data is so abstract. Ethnography is also slow since it's based on research and spending time on the field. The design process can benefit from ethnography if faster and more focused methods are used to conduct the research and apply the data to the deign.
Albert Tseng 20:17, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The information on ethnomethodology let me realize that there are in fact many different aspects and approaches to conducting design processes. I had not thought about the potential of the users' cultural background and sociological aspects in influencing the way they behave and use particular products. However, the extent to which a designer should research using this methodology may become a considerable cost on the development team. Nevertheless, this aspect is something to consider.
Karthik Jagadeesh 20:39, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
An ethnographic enquiry is one that respects the sociality of the work, and using observations you make conclusions about the event. This is a very hands off approach to designing, and has both its positives and its negatives.
The positive is that people do what they normally do, and don't really talk to the observer. This means that the observer will be able to see what is actually going on rather than a biased version of the events. Many times people might feel embarrassed to tell the true events because of the social implications and the context, and using this approach you wont be affected by that. Also the observer might need to know about what is going on in the context and surroundings, and people don't generally remember everything that is happening around them, so the only way to capture all this information is to observe them.
The major problem with this approach is that it takes more time than say a master-apprentice type interview, and it is much more indirect. The observer cannot get straight to the point and the question that they are looking to answer, but rather they just follow the person and observe them.
Melissa Lim 20:45, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Depending on the product and expertise of the researchers, ethnography can yield very helpful suggestions. However, for companies with a tighter budget, there are less expensive methods (in terms of money and time) that can also contribute; interviews provide a good insight on user needs but they are only as good as a researcher's ability to understand the target user group. I liked Hughes' "Quick and Dirty" approach of less time-consuming ethnography. This way, researchers can still learn about cultural and societal values of their users on a broader scale but can also follow-up more in depth with interviews if they choose to later on.
Seng Heng 20:50, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
To be completely honest, I'm not sure if a complete ethnographic or ethnomethodological inquiry is all that useful in the context of rapid prototyping and fast development cycles. Ethnographers want to understand the entirety of the HCI relationship, but UI engineering simply requires that the UI works and works well. The amount of work put into understanding how the social background of the user and their work environment helps you form a fully fleshed HCI profile, but this requires a long-duration observational study and contextual/cultural interpretation on the part of the researcher, which seems to be outside the scope of simple and rapid UI development.
Asa Zernik 20:57, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
This kind of made me realize how reminiscent our earlier methods (in particular contextual inquiry and the master-apprentice model) are of certain types of sociological and anthropological research. In all of these situations, we are trying to understand the user or the social and organizational environment in which they work, and so have to work in a social science paradigm.
One difficulty with this, as the first reading points out, is that we must then translate our social science research into something that is useful for an engineering stage - a project with clearly defined goals and tasks.
Geobio Boo 20:58, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Being that this class is based on UI, it's not surprising that we as developers need to understand more about the user. These articles point out that our designs should focus on the users existing interactions, behaviors, and social structure. In user studies, it will help to look deeply at the existing methods and practices and interactions that will make our designs more natrual, therefore matching the users needs.
Robert Connick 21:11, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I thought the "Open Implementation" was a very interesting concept. It provided good explanation for design decision like making our UI in IPA 4 display "Searching for Wiimotes..." instead of just stopping. (In a way one could say that "On 'Technomethodology'" provides an "account" for IPA 4 and the lectures by stating what could be going on in our users' minds.) For many commandline tools there is a "verbose" setting that I think does this. It seems that a major difficulty in OI will be giving the user an account that is still understandable, but letting the user choose his own level of detail somewhat solves this.
Yue Chang Hu 21:15, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
After reading the articles, although it does mention that there are various benefits of the ethnography approach to designing user interface such as better understanding the user needs due to intense study of their social interactions or better detail of the task analysis. However, there are also disadvantages such as too long of time to construct those ethnography studies because it usually takes years like 2-3 years. Unlike the master apprentice model, designers using the ethnography model will have less chances to iterate and improve their design model(in a sense this model seems kind of inefficient and sometimes can be unproductive).
Aaron Loessberg-Zahl 21:28, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Hughes, King, Rodden, and Anderson, while at first seeming to be on to something, in the end come off as trying overly hard to sell their idea of "Ethnography." After reading this article, while I will concede that it appears useful, Ethnography does not in any way feel novel. If I had to rename it, I would perhaps call it "contextual inquiry with an emphasis on interpersonal interactions." They should also hire a new copy editor.
The second reading much more thoroughly examines this concept, instead calling it "ethnomethodology" and similarly elaborating on its interactions with HCI. As it is more adequately explained than the first, I feel more inclined to take them seriously. Also, their hiring of a competent copy editor helps.
Benjamin Carpenter 21:28, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ironically perhaps, if you are going to be selling a mass market consumer product, these ethno HCI issues should probably be put on the backburner to focus on marketing and advertising issues. Many people who buy (cheap) software will not necessarily evaluate its usability aspects for themselves in great detail before purchasing. I would say that word of mouth, strong brand name, and price make a bigger difference for the consumer market. Every day, people manage to use very confusing and unintuitive software, and take this difficulty-of-use for granted in computer programs. It would be nice if people were more demanding, but in many ways, this aspect of the consumer software market isn't especially competitive.
Oppositely, it seems most important to consider these HCI "ethno" issues in the case of creating software (or a model of software) for technically inclined or heavy-use customers. These are the companies that will pay large amounts of money for highly specialized, highly productive software. In fact, these issues probably end up as expensive R&D costs for the software maker. If you have a system that depends on reliability, heavy usage, and perhaps something like real-time demands, then you will need to get these HCI issues correct to avoid a disaster. These factor into many software products, such as those for high-volume customer support, air traffic control, baggage handling, assembly line operation, nuclear reactors, etc.
Tiago Bandeira 21:31, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Ethnography can take years to achieve usable results because it was developed by researchers for researching not by companies for designing a product that has to ship on a specific date. Ethnography attempts to understand the users and their tasks through the context of the “social real world.” It’s most common use is in sociology not engineering. Due to the amount of time it can take I find it hard to believe that firms would switch to this model when a master apprentice model seems perfectly adequate. The engineers are not trying to learn everything about the users instead they only need to know what the users do to perform the tasks they currently do in order to make these tasks more efficient. An approach using Ethnography would most likely yield better results, however, how many firms can afford to allocate the amount of resources it takes to complete Ethnography? The free market will always choose the most efficient method.
Richard Laroue 21:32, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
It is very interesting to think about the sociological, anthropological and qualitative way. Usually, as engineering students we are taught to think quantitatively. Our last lecture taught us about quantitative ways of reasoning about people and human capacities. Now we're think qualitatively. Thinking about like "what would the user like" or "what would the user do" are just as important as figuring out how many chunks of information a person can remember. This is useful information that will drive great design.
Andy Lin 21:33, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The articles do point out many benefits of using ethnography approach in order to understand the users’ needs better and have better user interface design. I fully agree on the purpose of this approach; however, this method is too time-consuming. There is no question that it takes time to really understand users’ need with their social interactions, but I feel like it violates the reason why we need to put a tight time constrain on designing process. I also believe that we can use another approach, such as what we did for Contextual Inquiry, and run the design cycle.
Sung Ma 21:34, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The ethnography mentioned in first reading seems too vague and I don't really get the connection with computer science. I agree that understanding the user is an important factor in developing. It just seems that there are so many methods and different ways to learn human behavior and to study user interactions but the author put too much gravity to a one small part of the whole picture. The second article deals with the same topic dealt in the first reading; however, it was much more thorough. After finishing the two articles, one part of me ask why so much work devoted to a small part of the whole development while another part of me is glad to here that its not just sitting in front of computer everyday.
James Yu 21:47, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
Overall ethnography seemed very similar to the master-apprentice model, but I don't think the article did a very good job of explaining why it was a good/better approach. It seems ethnography would give you more a general direction, which is useful, but the master-apprentice model also can provide the same thing, while also giving you specific details to improve on. They also failed to provide many examples of ethnography working well in design. It seems the interface between design and ethnography isn't that clear and may not be good enough yet for it to be completely useful. The article on technomethodology was more detailed and did show how open implementation can be a useful way to make interfaces better (the file copying example was a good example). Technomethodology does seem like it could also be a good way to guide design general. It may help designers understand what guides people to specific actions. However, again, the article doesn't go into enough example to show being used very effectively in design. Overall the article was very wordy/jargon-filled, and the except for the part about open implementation, failed to really convince me about using technomethodlogy as a good design method.
Kyle Gorlick 21:47, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I initially had trouble seeing the value of ethnography. I think a lot of its benefits can be received by doing contextual inquiries. I am still unsure of how essential it is to know the social context of situations, because I think that will come through the contextual inquiries and task analyses. However, being able to perceive how the user may act as a result of person interactions like having the accountability of a social action, seems like it may be beneficial for defining features and how to present them.
Daniel Yoo 21:50, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
In the first article, it talks about the ethnography is necessary when designing an interactive system because then any method must respect the nature of this phenomenon (stated on the article). Ethnography is fashionable in many areas of interactive systems development but still there has not been enough data and not ready to use it on software design. The second article talks about the same topic that dealt in the first one. It is more thorough and explains more about its history and importance of its discussion.
Theron Ji 21:51, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The first article doesn't strike me as anything special. It tries to describe the uses of ethanography in a roundabout way, without any real purpose or strong motivation for it. Also, it seems very similar to the contextual analysis that we learned about and did, so it seems to me that these two fields are very similar. The second article goes into a much longer discussion on this field, trying to motivate its importance. Personally, I think the importance is overcomplicated in this article, as it seems like the aspects it covered seems pretty common sense, but isn't done more regularly for much more practical purposes (e.g. time, money, effort, payoff), which the author doesn't really address.
Arthur Huang 21:53, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I still feel like the ethnography model is inferior to many of the other techniques we already talked about in class, such as the master & apprentice model, or contextual inquiries. It simply takes too long to get a result, and is difficult to refine the product and retest multiple times with ethnography. I can see its value in user interface design, however, because it's important to see the environment and social context of the users, but still I think it is too expensive of a commitment compared to the other techniques.
Robin Liu 21:57, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
The ethnographic approach to studying the use of technology is an innovative and potentially useful idea, but ultimately leaves one questioning its effectiveness. The suggested approach to studying users is similar to that of an anthropologist; the designer should seek to understand the cultural environment in which the technology is used. However, this approach seems unfitting for practical uses, considering that a typical ethnographic study takes years. It could be used as a part of an ongoing project or research effort, but as a matter of practicality, its use seems to be limited. These different methodologies are nonetheless still useful for the engineering community at large, as they bring to light previously ignored design considerations.
Vincent Rodriguez 22:17, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I'm a little confused about what the second article is trying to say. Though I can kind of see how they use the word ethnomethodology in their piece, it seems as if they just gloss over what they truly mean. Though from what I can glean from both articles, this is another form of contextualy inquiry, except without the actual inquiry.
Don Arboleda 22:19, 13 October 2010 (CEST)
I'm a little confused as to what ethnomethodology is exactly. From what I can gather it has to do with using the experiences (and/or the genesis) of the user to study how these affect their choices. Unfortunately, the relevant section, labeled "What is Ethnomethodology?" is peppered with use of derivative terms such as "ethnomethodologist" which do little to clarify the already vague definition of the term. This furthers debilitates my ability to read the article because instead of just one word I don't know the meaning for, I have several. I can't really absorb much information with this obstacle.
Alexander Wong 00:32, 15 October 2010 (CEST)
I found it very difficult to decipher what exactly Ethnomethodology is from the reading. Even the section titled "What is Ethnomethodology?" from Dourish and Button did not help to understand the term. From what I can tell, Ethnomethodology involves a more passive means to HCI design than the Master-Apprentice model. I certainly am one to value having many tools at my disposal, but some tools are better for a job than others.
With the help of Wikipedia, I believe Ethnomethodology involves understanding the social interaction of users via "analyzing their accounts and descriptions of their day-to-day activities". This seems problematic. First, accounts are summaries and we've already learned in class that summaries are lacking in detail. Secondly, it seems Ethnomethodology is a much more indirect means of obtaining the information needed to design a system around a task. Personally, I would rather go with Master-Apprentice and spend my extra time iterating on design.
Perhaps the use of Ethnomethodology could be a high-level introduction to the task being modeled, which will later be examined in more detail.
I thought the most interesting part was the distinction between ethnomethodology and ethnography: Ethnomethodology - analytical orientation to the problem of social order that includes a variety of techniques (accountability, etc). Ethnography - form of investigative fiedlwork (qual rather than quantitiative like anthropology). the former CAN USE the latter, and they have an emphasis on observing social action, and immersing the observer in the social system. A contextual inquiry, on the other hand, feels more like you're an outsider, constantly asking questions about why something is in a certain way, coming up with possible solutions, and asking the user about your ideas.