Design in Ethnography / Ethnography in Design
Both design and ethnography situate their practices in the social. What aptitudes do these practices have that are mutually supportive and/or beneficial? What can ethnographers teach designers, and what can designers teach ethnographers?
Both design and ethnography accept the subjective, and a rich relationship between the researcher and the researched, as a welcome and generative aspect of research and practice. Neither practice aims for–or makes claims to achieve–positivist truth or scientific knowledge.
In many ways the two practices operate in similar territories with similar understandings of agency, responsibility and individual accountability. Yet they are not the same, what are the important, mutually beneficial, differences? and what might these differences in understanding and practice tell us about nascent future practices like Design Ethnography?
For this special panel discussion members from both DERC (Digital Ethnograpy Research Centre) and DFL (Design Futures Lab Research Group) have gathered to probe the above questions–questions which are quickly becoming fundamental to the future of research inquiry within the school of media and communication at RMIT University.
Related to this topic is a talk by Paul Dourish (UC Irvine, California) for the first Digital Intervention Seminar Series on ‘Ethnographic investigation of robotic deep space exploration’ at RMIT Design Hub on 27th March 2013.