The Role of the Ritual

When we build insights, we are trying
 to elevate something that has been observed during anthropological fieldwork into something that has profound meaning for the design process and allows us to identify problems that can be addressed as we build a product or service. This is not always easy, because people are often looking for…

Bizglish: Designed to Disappear

The language of business today is constantly invaded by made-up terms or catchphrases that live and die in newsfeeds, blogs, keynotes, and serious business press like so many semantic mayflies. One minute they’re not there, the next we’re swarmed by them, and – just as suddenly – they disappear. One form of linguistic expression stands…

On the Origins of Progress

What do we mean when we use the word “progress”? How do we track progress? What drives progress? What is it that actually progresses? We all know what the word means, but I challenge you to answer these questions to your own satisfaction, let alone anyone else’s. Our collective inability to do so demonstrates the…

A Human History of IoT

A basic procedure in thinking about the future is to look back into our shared history and understand how people did something in the past. This hindsight allows us to learn from the way humans have approached change and apply this knowledge to future situations. Not only does it allow us to avoid the problem…

A Reason to Cross the Final Boundary of Skin: What Can Healthcare Learn From a Cyborg Professor?

Dr. Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at The University of Reading, England, is a researcher and experimenter working at the limits of our tolerance for adapting our bodies and breeching the boundary of the skin. Initially trained as an engineer, Dr. Warwick has conducted research at the cutting edge of the integration of technology into…

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is not just a subject in university, or a field of study, it is a way of understanding the world around us. At the most basic level anthropology is the study of humankind. Humans and their actions are the object of study, it is true. But anthropology is more than that. It is a…

Maker Subculture

There is a revolution brewing in dark warehouse spaces, basements, garages, and converted loft apartments. These small industrial spaces are the epicenters of a community-based subculture built around making things. The inhabitants of these dark corners are called ‘makers,’ and they are the driving force behind a new way of looking at technology. In a…

Experience = Insights

Ethnography is the study of people. But it is not as simple as just asking people what they think or do. It’s about trying to explain why they think a certain way and how they came to think or behave that way. So ethnography is about explaining the experience of being people. Unfortunately, this means…

Greatest Gadgets Ever

What happens when we think of technology as central to what
it means to be human? It is often thought material and machines obscure our relationship to our selves and the natural world. But philosopher Martin Heidegger suggested that technology is a path to fulfillment and greater clarity of being. In treating human life as a…