Ethnography - Frameworks

9 May 2006 - 1:45pm
8 years ago
4 replies
3430 reads
AlokJain
2006

Dear All,

I am looking for resources around frameworks for data collection and data
analysis during ethnographic studies.

For e.g. one such framework is POSTA:

P - Person
O - Objects
S - Situations
T - Time
A - Activity

So "Person" for e.g. in POSTA means follow a person around understanding
what are they doing, why etc. Looking for more...

Cheers
Alok Jain
-------------------------------------
http://www.iprincipia.com

Comments

9 May 2006 - 2:31pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Alok,

eLab's AEIOU framework was along those lines, but with a different mnemonic.

Activities
Environments
Interactions
Objects
Users

Here's a good article on the background of the framework, on eLab and on design
ethnography in general:
http://tinyurl.com/rfowo

The author also discusses some limitations of the framework:

"AEIOU framework suffers from a number of obvious limitations; it has no place to identify
broad cultural patterns and ignores questions of change, history, and political economy. Such
an overly exclusive focus on the microlevel was particularly characteristic of ELab's earliest
days. By the time I worked there, researchers were developing various ways to incorporate
macrolevel issues into their analyses. The AEIOU framework was still used for certain
purposes, but its limitations were recognized. -- Christina Worsing"

( www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3800/is_200001/ai_n8895749/print )

9 May 2006 - 2:25pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 02:45 PM 5/9/2006, Alok Jain wrote:
>I am looking for resources around frameworks for data collection and data
>analysis during ethnographic studies.
>
>For e.g. one such framework is POSTA:
>
>P - Person
>O - Objects
>S - Situations
>T - Time
>A - Activity
>
>So "Person" for e.g. in POSTA means follow a person around understanding
>what are they doing, why etc. Looking for more...

I don't have a fancy acronym, but we've been using the framework talked
about in this article:

Putting Context into Context
http://www.uie.com/articles/putting_context_into_context/

Just yesterday, I put together these starter questions for one of my
clients. Feel free to customize to your needs. :)

Goals:
What is the user trying to accomplish?
How will the user know when they are done? What will be different?
How does the user describe their goals?
How do the user's actions fit into the objectives of the organization?
Who established the goals for the user? Were they self anointed or were
they assigned by someone else?
Are the user's immediate goals part of a larger scope? (For example, the
new point-of-sale application is one piece of delivering an entire new line
of business.)

Process:
What are the steps the user will follow?
Who defined the steps?
How prepared is the user for each step? (Do they have it all laid out or
does it seem to be ad-hoc?)
How does information flow from one step to the next?
What are the various roles (such as creator, contributor, editor, or
approver) that are involved?
How long does the process take?
What artifacts (such as design documents, emails, or whiteboard drawings)
are used?
How do the various team members communicate with each other?
What other tools are used during the process?

Inputs & Outputs:
What materials and information will the user need to successfully use the
interface?
Who will they get that information from?
What do they do when the information isn't complete?
What will they need from the interface to continue with their overarching
goals?
Who do they give those results to?
What happens after they've turned them over? (Does the user move on to
something else or do they have more interactions?)

Experience:
What similar things has the user done in their past?
Is this something that repeats itself or is the use a first-time occasion?
What journals or magazines do they read?
What kind of "organizational memory" helps the user avoid mistakes of the past?
How has the organization survived without this design in the past?
What competitors systems have users taken advantage of?
How will the user learn how to use the tool?
What training has the user received?
What conferences has the user attended?

Constraints:
What physical, temporal, or financial constraints are likely to impose
themselves on the user's work?
What ideals are subverted by reality as the work progresses?
What constraints can the user predict in advance? What can't be predicted?

Physical Environment:
How much room does the user have to work?
Do they have a place to store the documentation?
What materials on their desk?
What access do they have to necessary information (such as user manuals)?
What is taped to their monitor?

Tools In use:
What hardware and software does the user currently use?
Do they participate in online forums?

Relationships:
What are the interactions between the primary user and other people who are
affected by the tool?
Does the user interact with other people who use the tool?

Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
978 327-5561 jspool at uie.com http://www.uie.com
Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks

9 May 2006 - 2:40pm
Dan Saffer
2003

There's also Richard Saul Wurman's LATCH for data analysis/sorting:

Location
Alphabetical
Time
Category
Hierachy

Dan

9 May 2006 - 2:47pm
Jeff Howard
2004

The full URL is:
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3800/is_200001/ai_n8895749/print
And the author is Christina Wasson.

Sorry about that.

// jeff

> Here's a good article on the background of the framework, on eLab and on design
> ethnography in general:
> http://tinyurl.com/rfowo
>
> The author also discusses some limitations of the framework...

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