In this presentation, Dr. Wasson will describe an approach to user research termed “design anthropology.” She has used this approach over the last twenty years to contribute to the design and development of numerous technologies, from mobile devices to databases to self-driving cars. Most often she has worked at the “fuzzy front end” of product development, investigating the culturally shaped needs and practices that determine how users will engage with a product. Drawing on examples from her work with cars and language archives, she will explain the steps in her research methodology, and how findings can be applied to many kinds of design questions.
Christina Wasson has conducted anthropological research on technology use for over twenty years. After finishing her Ph.D. at Yale, she worked for E-Lab, a design firm that used anthropological research to develop new product ideas. Here she developed an interest in the emergent field of design anthropology. She was a founding member of the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) steering committee. Recent research topics have included language archives, data warehousing, and participatory decision-making for environmental governance. Clients and collaborators include Motorola, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Nissan, and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. For more information, visit www.christinawasson.com.