Participatory Design Ethnography

14. Nancy Fried Foster (Ithaka S+R): Participatory Design for the Common Good

This chapter considers the practice and value of participatory design through case studies of two academic libraries, one that provided opportunities for participation by students and library staff, producing architectural designs, and another that engaged a wide range of students, staff and faculty in addressing the need to consolidate campus libraries in conjunction with the implementation of an active-learning pedagogy. Both projects used visual methods to formulate and express information in the design process. The chapter distinguishes the potential shared benefits of participatory design projects from commercial projects of “co-creation” in which the engagement of people is limited or constrained.

15. Elizabeth Chin, Morgan Marzec, Cayla McCrae, and Tina Zeng (Art Center College of Design): Caminemos Juntos: Collaboration, Ethnography and Design in Northeast Los Angeles 

Abstract: The project Caminemos Juntos (Let's Walk Together) was a research collaboration between MFA students from Art Center College of Design and Jovenes, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides support and housing for homeless youth in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Using participatory digital methods, participants reimagined how to engage in a social context through 1) focusing on process, 2) embracing “fabulous failures,” and 3) using digital technology to create and mediate relationships. The result was a suite of interactive design research tools and experiences, culminating in a multimedia installation. Our work engaged the youths' talents through a carefully constructed, participatory design process that sought to privilege youth voices. In discovering that the label “homeless” provides little understanding of the people it identifies, we also learned that as designers, we must seek to dismantle those systems of power that dehumanize those we engage. 

16. Matthew Durington and Samuel Collins (Towson University): Games Without Frontiers: App Design as Networked Anthropology

Abstract: Like many anthropologists today, our fieldwork results in a large archive of collaboratively produced multimedia, together with media strewn across multiple online platforms: Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. Faced wit this complexity, we have begun to utilize app design as not only a form of ethnographic production, but as a tool to introduce students to structured fieldwork experiences in Baltimore. In many ways, apps are the ideal platform for networked data; they allow groups of people to bring together collaborative work and display it to an engaged, networked public that can interact with that data in ways that are simultaneously a source of a new data. The chapter here develops that last point.  In summer of 2014, we tasked students with developing an app to introduce diverse publics to their field sites. We then analyzed their prototypes for the way they conceived connections (and disconnections) between different media and different platforms. We conclude the chapter with thoughts on app design as the practice of multimedia anthropology: the place where ethnography (literally) hits the road. 

Photo Credit: Matthew Durington