Humans, Machines and Conversations: How AI is optimizing Ethnography

Humans, Machines and Conversations: How AI is optimizing Ethnography

Defining Ethnography:

An effective technique for market analysts is mobile ethnography, if correctly applied. That can become one of our great accomplishments. It requires harnessing technology to get closer to the objective of gathering true insight into behaviour. But by using it to define something that helps you to upload a picture from a smartphone, let's not devalue it. Ethnography is something more than just an image. There's more to mobile research than just uploading.

Ethnography is an entire research area. It is itself relatively recent, with the most common type first identified as a subset of anthropology in 1988. Approximately ten years later, it was introduced relatively quickly in the commercial market research industry. Ethnography is the study of culture and the people. It is intended to investigate cultural phenomena where, from the point of view of the topic of the study, the researcher observes society.

It is a tool entirely devoted to fieldwork, in which the researcher attempts to clarify patterns of behaviour, principles, beliefs, language and culture that are shared and popular across a community of people. This description alone helps to unpick the reasons why it's so much more than being able to upload an in-situ photograph.

The phrase ethnography on the mobile continues to enter the lexicon of the corporate researcher. And that makes me think. Not that I think either mobile market analysis or ethnography is bad stuff, or that the two can't work together either. On the contrary, both research areas are a particular passion of mine and have greatly shaped my career. Everyone has a core attribute which is their ability to provide useful insight into the human behaviour context.

My concern is not about the word itself but about the simplicity and carelessness with which both are used and misused. It begins creeping into marketing campaigns, sales pitches and collateral for agencies. History proves to us that a word can be devalued by such a crawl. Only look at how widely the word culture is applied in such a wide way. Or even, the most severe example, how to readily use the word insight to describe the mere act of data collection.

How does Mobile play a huge part in Ethnography in the current age?

For ethnographers, smartphones are a fantastically useful tool because they enable a researcher to collect data directly from the field of study while also reducing their direct impact on the subject. Mobile devices will theoretically reduce the study's cost and increase the sample 's size. Now you can almost hear the sales pitch-the latest unholy market research marketing trinity: make ethnography easier, cheaper, bigger!

But there is more to mobile ethnography than simply allowing a participant to upload a photo from their smartphone. It's more than just asking them to capture a video from their phone or making them respond to a survey from a particular location.

Reducing ethnography to a simple technique of collecting data is disingenuous. It is a technique in its own right and one that is actually based on a multi-faceted strategy that incorporates multiple elements to capture and explain the actions of a group.

Some Characteristics of Ethnographic Approach:

We should look at the functional elements of an ethnographic analysis, taking this claim one step further. To better understand this, we need to understand what makes an ethnographic piece of research in nature:

·         Ethnography is based on a field. Rather than in controlled settings such as a focus group facility or hall evaluation, it is performed in the atmosphere in which real people currently live.

·         The researcher serves as an observer for the participants. The study involves comprehensive fieldwork where researchers who are in day-to-day communication with the individuals, they are researching primarily collect data, making them both participants and observers in the lives under study.

·         It appears to have tiny (often only one or a handful) samples. Sample sizes tend to be very small, usually less than 10, due to the in-depth nature of the analysis.

·         The researcher has to have a minimal effect on the environment. Since the researcher is personally involved, the goal is to reduce the effect exerted by the researcher, ensuring that the observation is as normal as possible.

·         Multi-method:  Ethnography is not only related to field observation, contrary to common opinion, it is a multi-faceted method that can incorporate many ways of explaining the culture being studied, including secondary selection, interviews with related people, transcription of elements of an existence or collection of objects from it.

Autonomous System and Ethnographic Research:

When considering use cases for ethnography, robots and autonomous cars may not be the first thin one you think about. The interpretation of both research and this technique will lead us to believe that only the softer or 'more human' aspects of services are cantered. Yet, at the forefront of technical progress, it still plays a critical role.

In this fascinating essay, Data & Society's Madeleine Clare Elisha makes a strong case for the importance of not neglecting human components in the design and monitoring of automated systems. I have encountered similar frustrations with Uber drivers and at a time when quality thinking is needed more than ever, we are at risk of abdicating human obligations to Apps.

As she points out, the newly evolving human-machine-systems need to carefully think about the human components as well as computers, considering some of the risks involved. Ethnographic research & analysis is required for both legal and CX reasons in order to recognize new responsibilities and education needed for all of us to be able to work effectively with AI

Ethnographic Research applied to improve UX Design:

Digital UX design is one use case for ethnographic methods, which is probably applicable for any organization. Far too many organizations have launched (at least in the past) websites or applications with inadequate analysis or human usability or knowledge testing. The work with clients shows that this is changing, with more UX laboratories being built within their offices, but many still do not know how to get started.