Friday 8 April 2005

Techno-ethnography at Intel

Today's AFR BOSS magazine has a 2 page article on anthropologist Genevieve Bell who works for Intel and is helping them to understand better how people use technology. The article is particularly revealing in providing some examples of how national culture and lifestyle influences how we utilise technology, for example:

"What constitutes the home was one important finding from her recent fieldwork. People from Asia, Australia and Britain spend more time socialising outside the home than most Americans, who prefer to 'pull up the metaphoric drawbridge' once inside their climate-controlled houses. 'All of which has big implications for the way you use technology,' says Bell.

'Mobile phones make really good sense when a lot of your social life happens outside your home.' This could explain why 85 per cent of Australians have mobile phones compared with 60 per cent of Americans, and why they’re growing at the rate of 10 million a month in China. The Chinese send more text messages to each other in a month than Americans do in a year."

While Bell's primary interest appears to be in consumer use of technology, the same approaches can be applied to the use of technology in the workplace. If you are regular reader of my blog you'll know I have a long standing interest in this area so you might find this post about Melanie Kan's research work at UTS of interest. Earlier in the year the NSW KM Forum also heard from Dr Theresa Anderson (also from UTS) on the topic of using ethnography and storytelling in the workplace as she has an interest in how people interact and deal with electronic information.

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