Work, Ethnography and System Design
A number of trends in the design of interactive and collaborative systems have resulted in significant attention
being paid to the results of "ethnographic fieldwork" and related approaches. Unfortunately, much of the design
discussion proceeds with very little understanding of what ethnography is (or might be) and where it came from.
In a previous analysis, the author sets out his views on what ethnography is and what it can offer design. In the
present paper, the focus is on the antecedents of ethnography and the shape which they have given current
explorations. The areas reviewed are the ethnographic traditions of Cultural Anthropology, Sociology of
Occupations and Work Practice Analysis. The paper concludes by relating the general themes explored to the
previous discussion of the import of ethnography for the design of interactive and collaborative systems.
The Encyclopedia of Microcomputers, Vol. 20 (A. Kent and J. G. Williams, eds.), Marcel Dekker, New York, 1997, pp. 159-183.
EPC-1996-103.pdf (152.04 kB)
EPC-1996-103.ps (1.37 MB)