Discussing Ethnography in Developing Regions

Monday, June 20, 2011

During CHI 2011 I had the opportunity to present a paper to the international CHI community. The talk and paper describe adaptations made to more conventional usability methods to conduct a formal usability test with oral users in Ghana. The paper was a result of collaborative work between Beth Kolko's Design for Digital Inclusion research group and Literacy Bridge, a company that developed the tested device, the Talking Book. The talk was directed to an audience interested in user studies/ethnography in developing regions. Other presenters in this session included Indrani Medhi of Microsoft Research India, and various scholars from the UC Berkeley School of Information who work with Jeanna Burell. People from both industry and academia attended the session.

In addition to presenting at CHI, I was accepted to participate in a pre-conference workshop on "Transnational HCI—Humans, Computers, and Interactions in a Transnational Context." The workshop attracted scholars and researchers from industry from various parts of the world, including Mexico and France. The workshop was organized around four themes and we spend most of the morning in small groups to define and build common understandings within those themes. This was very effective and result driven; it also allowed us to get to know each other better. We spend the afternoon discussing the different papers submitted to the workshop. We also split up in smaller groups for lunch, which allowed for in-depth conversations with other researchers.

Overall, I was surprised how approachable attendees of the conference were and the many interesting conversation that happened during the many breaks and social event. Also, in addition to the many excellent research sessions I was able to attend, I enjoyed the panel presentations and discussions throughout the conference. The panels allowed me to gain insight in current controversies and through the paper presentations I gained a good understanding on what other people are working on.