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Fueling the ethnographic imagination by design

Frohlich, David M.; Prabhu, Girish


Keyword(s): contextual invention; innovation; ethnographic; user studies; design research; India; design ethnography; anthropology; culture

Abstract: Contextual invention is defined as the process of using ethnographic data to generate new technology and business ideas in an interdisciplinary team. Ethnographic imagination is described as the essential ingredient within this process. An ethnographic study of media use in India is used as an example of how to collect and use ethnographic findings imaginatively. Techniques used in the study include the collection of inspirational materials, the explicit discussion of new product concepts, the feedforward of new concept ideas, and the circulation of user need and concept sheets. The paper concludes with some lessons for design ethnography and its role in invention. Notes: Girish Prabhu, User and Business Studies, HP Labs Bangalore, India.

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