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  Design Anthropology  
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This area is an extension of the user cooperative design approach established in Scandinavia for the development of computer systems. It aims at engaging people in creating technology support in respect of their work practice and culture.

The goal of this research is to expand our understanding of the user driven innovation process and to support it with tools and methodology.

For designers, pervasive computing requires new forms of engagement with users and use contexts. The ethnographic approach to studying users and their work practices, pioneered at Xerox PARC, has proven extremely powerful when designing complex machinery and computer support. In previous work the MCI group has shown how participatory design techniques (design games, scenario enactment, movie making) unleash a huge innovative potential, when used in the user’s work context.

Yet much needs to be learned about combining (visual) anthropology with design activities and interventions in use context.

Research themes
1. Patterns of work practice:
In traditional computer systems development, designers typically search for information processes in real life to automate. With pervasive computing, this concept breaks down. We have to look for different patterns in use context.

2. Beyond work:
Designers need to move beyond ‘merely’ understanding work practices. Users are real people with feelings, dreams: Experience modelling, cultural probes

3. User’s systems perceptions:
Moving from discrete components to webs of functionality in large systems means that users’ perceptions will change. To what?

4. Bringing together use culture and design culture:
When establishing design partnerships with users, there is a potential tension between the practices of design and use. A cultural approach will help us understand and act in respect.

Partnership activities
Activities in the newly established network for Design Anthropologists in Denmark.

The establishment of the new IT Product Development graduate course (IT-Vest, from September 2001 at MCI) is closely linked to this research activity. It has modules on both Ethnographic Fieldstudies & User Collaboration and on Video as Design Material.

Projects
The project family Pervasive Computing in Industrial Plants serves as a primary empirical test bed for this research.

Partners
This research area is located at the Mads Clausen Institute in Sønderborg:
University of Southern Denmark
Danfoss User Centred Design Group

Researchers
Responsible: Jacob Buur, professor, mechatronic engineer PhD, SDU
Mette Kjærsgaard, anthropologist, Danfoss
Kirsten Bagger, HCI scientist, Danfoss
Brendon Clark, applied anthropologist, SDU

 

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Related projects
Pervasive Computing in Industrial Plants
Area Site
MCI - Mads Clausen Institute
www.sdu.dk/Nat/MCI
Area Manager
Jacob Buur

University of Southern Denmark
Mads Clausen Institute
Grundtvigs Allé 150, Blok 2
DK-6400  Sønderborg

Phone: +45 6550 1661
Fax: +45 6550 1660
E-mail: buur@mci.sdu.dk

   CfPC©, updated: 14-nov-05