Posts tagged “definition”

Grant McCracken’s brilliant “Ethnography, a brief description”

Eloquent awesomeness by Grant McCracken

The object of ethnography is to determine how the consumer sees the product, the service, the innovation. Often, this is obscure to us. We can’t see into the consumer’s (customer’s, viewer’s, user’s) head and heart because we are, in a sense, captive of our own heads and hearts. We have our way of seeing and experiencing the world. This becomes our barrier to entry. Ethnography is designed to give us a kind of helicopter experience. It takes up out of what we know and lowers us into the world of the consumer.
Ethnography is a messy method. In the beginning stages, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what we need to ask. We are walking around the consumer’s world looking for a way in. Eventually, as we ask a series of questions, we begin to see which ones work. We begin to collect the language and the logic the consumer uses. And eventually, we begin to see how they see the world.

The method is designed not to impose a set of questions and terms on the discussion, but to allow these to emerge over the course of the conversation. We are allowing the consumer to choose a path for the interview. We are endowing them with a sense that they are the expert. We are honoring the fact that they know and we don’t. (Because they do!)

Eventually, we end up with a great mass of data and it is now time to stop the ethnography and start the anthropology. Now we will use what we know about our culture, this industry, these consumers, this part of America to spot the essential patterns that make these data make sense. ”Slap your head” insights begin to emerge. ”Oh, that’s what their world looks like!” “That’w what they care about!” ”This is what they want!”

And now we begin to look for strategic and tactical recommendations. Now we can help close the gap between what the consumer wants and what the client makes.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Virtual Seminar: Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets by Steve Portigal [IxDA Munich] – “Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets: Making Sure You Don’t Leave Key Information Behind”, Steve Portigal’s virtual seminar will be shown in our next meeting. The seminar lasts 90 minutes and it will be followed by a discussion. June 30th 7 p.m., IDEO, Hochbrückenstraße 6, 80331 Munich
  • IndieReader – For Self-Published Books and the Readers Who Love Them – IndieReader is a venue for you to find and purchase books published and produced by the people who wrote them. Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a super store. And every book on the IndieReader site is reviewed prior to acceptance, guaranteeing that you'll find the "cream-of-the-indie crop". Why is this so important? Because today more than ever, almost everything we produce gets co-opted by corporate culture, turned into a business model, reformulated and churned out like soap with the simple intent to appeal to as many people as possible. In a world where almost everything is packaged by committee, IndieReader offers you books with a single voice: the writer's own.
  • The Expanding Definition of Craft Beer [] – In a world where Nabisco sells “artisan” Wheat Thins, the designation of Samuel Adams as a craft beer seems perfectly fair. But the Boston Beer Company, the brewery that was founded in 1984 and makes Sam Adams, is on the verge of outgrowing its coveted craft status — at least according to the Brewers Association, a national trade group that defines craft brewers in part as producing fewer than two million barrels a year. The federal government defines small brewers similarly, imposing a lower excise tax on those that stay under the two-million-barrel threshold. Mr. Koch predicted that Boston Beer would surpass the two-million mark by 2012. But help may be on the way: John Kerry introduced a bill last month that would increase the yearly production limit for small brewers to six million barrels.
  • Icing, a meme drinking game with Smirnoff Ice [] – The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles. Amid suspicion that the trend is an elaborate viral marketing campaign by Smirnoff, which the company has denied, new icing photos are posted daily on various blogs, Twitter and Facebook — including scenes from graduations and weddings — and sent directly to a Web site, The game has exposed the mercurial line between guerrilla advertising and genuine social media trends, raising questions about how young consumers can know when they have co-opted a brand for their own purposes, and when that brand has co-opted them.
  • Rethink the Book project from Berlin University of the Art – In cooperation with the schoolbook publisher Cornelsen Verlag a student group of the „New Media Studio Class” experimented with the digital possibilities to think anew the book as media. They linked the book by visual codes with methods of "Augmented Reality". They embeded sensor technology for new forms of interaction and used new methods of production engineering like "laser cutting" to model the book as an object or to publish personalized schoolbooks. In the exhibition they show several prototypes like electronic origami paper or an interactive periodic table.
    (via @cora_l)

The Google cliche

It used to be that you could take notice at the outset of a poor essay or speech when it began with the dictionary definition for the central topic. The Simpsons referenced this at least once

Homer: “What is a wedding? Websters defines it as a process of removing weeds from ones garden.”

But now lazy bloggers and NPR journalists are pretending to channel the zeitgeist by using the number of Google hits for their term as a proxy for cultural relevance. When the numbers are over 1,000,000, how meaningful is this? It’s simply a cheap cliche.

Full disclosure: I’ve probably done both of these and will probably do them both again. In the interest of always trying to tell better stories, I will attempt not to, however.

Grasping the Slender Thread of Emergence

I’ve noticed recently that many of my peers speak casually of emergence, or describe something as being emergent. I can usually process their comments by context, even if I can’t use the word myself. At one point, I explored the word, but it didn’t stick more than loosely (supporting that context I’d been skating by with), so I decided today after the Nth encounter to seek some clarity. It’s not an easy term to sort out; even Wikipedia was not a lot of help (at one point the entry acknowledges the difficult in providing a definition).

But let me try and offer some sort of definition myself. This will help me “own” the word and may be of use to the three other people out there that don’t have emergence in their vocab!

Something is emergent when it is the seemingly unexpected and unpredictable outcome of a large number of smaller and simpler things (actions, items). If you put one brick on top of another, those small steps lead eventually to a tower. This is not emergence, because those small actions (one brick atop another) are intended to and obviously linked to the final result. But if everyone who is reading this right now takes their arms and goes like this (imagine a gesture) and a humming sound fills the earth, that is emergence.

The result of all that gesturing is unexpected. The collective gestures are a complex system with unintended consequences and side-effects (that’s the jargon money shot).

Animal behaviors are oft-cited examples. Each bird in a flock isn’t creating a flock, they are just doing their individual activity and it leads, somehow, to a flock. The Internet is another example where we can see weird things happen from a million small behaviors (putting up a site, establishing a node on a network).

Hey, if you’ve got more or can correct any of this, please go for it. That’s just my take on it!


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