These thematic sessions include three kinds of presentations:

  • PechaKucha—short visual narratives that provoke or reflect on ethnographic practice
  • Case Studies—lessons from ethnographic work that demonstrate impact on business challenges
  • Catalysts—deep dives that synthesize, debate, and catalyze new frameworks and practices

Submissions are anonymously peer reviewed and selected by our independent program committee. Each session occurrs twice to enable global access to the program—find your region.

Challenging Bigger, Faster, Easier, Broader

In this session, we consider how ethnographic perspectives illuminate the importance of goals beside or alongside ‘bigger, faster, easier, broader’ and how we re-orient stakeholders to new goals while still creating business value. We’ll discuss shared challenges and strategies for building corporate models of scale that can speak to and learn from alternative goals and metrics.

The Repurposing of Risograph Machines (PechaKucha)
Joyce Lee, Atlassian

Who Gets to Define Success? Listening to Stories of User Value to Redefine Metrics and Revive a Decommissioned Product (Case Study)
Gemma Petrie & Jennifer Davidson, Mozilla

Everybody’s a Winner: A Study on How Scaling up as an Entrepreneurial Rite of Passage Is Beginning to Be Resisted in India’s Startup Capital (Catalyst)
Gitika Saksena & Abhishek Mohanty, LagomWorks Consulting

Trees and Forests

When should systems know us as people and not as just data? Who watches the watcher when abstractions and aggregated data are used to make decisions about our lives? The flow of information and data between human and machine systems are a source of both progress and anxiety. In this session, we consider how a change in perspective (scale) leads to shifts in how data is contextualized and understood. Implications are presented on the ethnographer’s role within these systems and as the watcher of them.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Surveillance (PechaKucha)
Susan Faulkner, Intel Corporation

Scale and the Gaze of a Machine (Catalyst)
Richard Beckwith and John Sherry, Intel Corporation

Built to Scale: Space is Different from Place

Architecture isn’t just art; it physically shapes the ways in which we live and work. This session explores the intersections of vision and concrete building materials, thinking through the ways in which people and populations are affected by the built environment. In these ways, spaces are different from places. These works address the importance/centrality of different types of buildings (edifices) and the practices that they make possible.

Ten People Thick: Change by Design(PechaKucha)
Sue Wittenoom, The Soft Build

How to Go from Global to Local and Back Again: The Case of a Walking Drive Model in France (Case Study)
Marc Antoine Morier, unknowns consultancy

Who Cares Where? Ethnographic Research for Medical-Device Design for Hospital-Home Care in an Italian Hospital (Case Study)
Isabel Farina, Michele Visciola, Elena Guidorzi, Elena Messina & Chiara Agamennone, Experientia

Humanizing Scale

In this session, we challenge assumptions of scale and explore what happens when we reject the notion that bigger is better and instead redefine scale to serve human values rather than corporate demands. How can scale be reconceptualized to address and meet community and human needs, first and foremost? We explore not only what scale is, but what should be scaled.

Scaling Dignity (PechaKucha)
Lorenn Ruster, 3A Institute

Growing Communities: How Social Platforms Can Help Community Groups Achieve the Right Scale at the Right Time (Case Study)
Calen Cole, Stripe Partners; Carolyn Wei, Facebook

Where Can We Find an Ethics for Scale?: How to Define an Ethical Infrastructure for the Development of Future Technologies at Global Scale (Catalyst)
Thomas Hughes, Ian Dull & Fani Ntavelou-Baum, ReD Associates

Scaling Ethnography

In this session, we consider how ethnography takes root and grows in organizations. We’ll investigate the many models, meanings, and uses of ethnography developed and deployed, addressing their successes, failures, and ethical implications. This session focuses on the struggles we experience as we attempt to scale our practice in our organizations and industries.

Enacting Scales: Reflections from an Anthropologist Working in Asia’s Ad World (PechaKucha)
Tiffany Tivasuradej, Ogilvy

Scaling Experience Measurement: Capturing and Quantifying User Experiences across the Real Estate Journey (Case Study)
Rebecca Hazen, Genny Mangum & Tom Souhlas, Zillow Group

One Small Step for Ethnography, One Giant Leap for Banking and Insurance (PechaKucha)
Sara Kluckhohn & Jennifer Roth, USAA

Transcending Time and Space

In this session we consider how ethnography and ethnographers journey across scales. We’ll consider how ethnography (and ethnographers) can escape the present to explore futures, and examine different ways of dealing with distance.

The City as Organization: Ethnography for Alternative Futures (Case Study)
Hal Wuertz & Jordan Shade, IBM

Scaling Out (not only up): Distributed Models of Collaboration to Get Work Done (Catalyst)
Alicia Dornadic, Nikki Lavoie, Elvin Tuygan & Sheila Suarez de Flores, MindSpark Research International

Post-Human Scale

In this session we examine the interfaces of humans, software, data, and machines. We’ll consider how ethnography helps us understand beyond the human scale, how we need to adapt our practices to explore these relationships, and how ethnographic insights can be fed back into the more-than-human systems we build.

Software Quality and Its Entanglements in Practice (Case Study)
Julia Prior & John Leaney, University of Technology Sydney

Ghost in the Machine: How Taxonomic Metadata Allows for Scaling Ethnographic Insights into Search Algorithms (Case Study)
Amanda Krauss, Duo Security; Alexandra Teodorescu & Leora Yardenay, Indeed

Scaling Research

In this session we’ll play with scale in multiple senses. We’ll look at value and evaluation, sample size and team size, and consider how the impact of ethnography scales in different ways.

Researching the Researcher: How I Used Data Analysis to Understand My Reading Habits (PechaKucha)
Stephen Ó Mathúna, Workday

Beyond User Needs: A Meaning-Oriented Approach to Recommender Systems (Case Study)
Iveta Hajdakova, Stripe Partners; Sohit Karol and Debra McDonald, Spotify

Leveling Up Your Research and Operations: Strategies for Scale (Catalyst)
Brigette Metzler, Services Australia

Empathy Writ Small & Large

Ethnography as a tool to evoke empathy is often denoted as a good in itself. How might the process of building empathy at scale work for (or even against!) the impact of ethnography in organizations?

How Tragic Flaws Resonate at Scale—Just Ask Shakespeare (PechaKucha)
Megan Davis, Spendlove and Lamb

Harnessing “Mass Empathy” to Scale a Healthtech Start-Up during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Communication Tool for Critical Care Contexts (Case Study)
Nadya Pohran, University of Cambridge; Simon Pulman-Jones, Emergence Now; Amy Weatherup, AJM Enterprises; Tim Baker, Symptech Ltd

Empathy, More or Less: Scaling Intermediary Experiences of Emotion and Affect in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Catalyst)
Lora Koycheva, Technical University of Munich

Dissent at Scale

Dissent assumes a common ground, a common purpose. How do we push back against scaled-up discrimination and disinformation when they come from different cultural logics?

I’m not Scaling, the World Is Really Scaling against Me (PechaKucha)
Smriti Kaul, Convo Research and Strategy

Fighting Conspiracy Theories Online at Scale (Case Study)
Rebekah Park and David Hollander Zax, ReD Associates; Beth Goldberg Jigsaw, Jigsaw/Google

Toxicity v. toxicity: How Ethnography Can Inform Scalable Technical Solutions (Catalyst)
Jamie Sherman, Intel Corporation; Anne Page McClard

Impact at Human Scale

Enacting change in the world is fraught with obstacles. How can individuals have a meaningful impact at a global scale? How do institutions, with their own decision-making logics and biases, impact individuals?

Scaling through Meaning to Action: What the Australian Bushfires Taught Me about Ethnography (PechaKucha)
Charlie Cochrane, Jump the Fence

Sustainability: Addressing Global Issues at a Human Scale (Catalyst)
Lee Ryan, Springboard Ideas; Louisa Wood, MostlyDandy

Isolation and Connection

This session draws on experiences ranging from early ethnographic accounts of life on islands, COVID-19 hospital wards, and the International Space Station to explore how we work and live in a period of enforced distancing and isolation.

Postcards from Isolation: Digital Artefacts from the Lockdown Time (PechaKucha)
Anna Aurelia Wojnarowska, Google

Architecture Can Heal: Spatial Literacy to Protect COVID-19 Healthcare Workers (Case Study)
Ashley Marsh, Mass Design Group

From the Space Station to the Sofa: Scales of Isolation at Work (Catalyst)
Jo Aiken, University College London; Angela Ramer, HKS

Overcoming Scale

This session identifies three scale-related challenges for applying ethnography in business and distills practical lessons for overcoming these challenges.  First is the challenge of initializing and sustaining ethnographic practice in large scale organizations. Second are the organizational and cultural barriers to scaling ethnographic research within firms. Third is the challenge of resolving the scale differences between qualitative and quantitative research when trying to integrate the two methodologies.

Scaling is Like Making Sourdough (PechaKucha)
Karyn Georgilis, Continuum Innovation

DIYing along with DIYers: Juggling with Scales During Home-Improvement Research (Case Study)
Guillaume Montagu, unknowns consultancy

There’s No Playbook for Praxis: Translating Scholarship into Action to Build a More Ethical Bank (Catalyst)
Jeffrey Greger, Varo