Some of the paper presentations in the morning session of the conference were a bit disappointing. Despite the good stories they had about the people and practices that were the topic of their research, the insights they took from this were often quite thin. Where is the ‘thick description’ that this community appreciates so much, following their hero anthropologist Clifford Geertz? And what lacks at all is how the insights were put to use in the organisations and companies that commissioned the research. This is the ethnographic practice in industry conference, and I understand that much of the stuff these people work on is confidential, but everyone is allowed to talk about methods, how they did research, and how it was used, if the content is left out. I think this should be one of the main goals of this conference: sharing methods and approaches. Unfortunately that didn’t happen on the firs morning.
In the afternoon we had the workshops. That was a lot better actually. Many workshops did focus on exchanging techniques, tools, methods and approaches. Adaptive Path did a successful (my friends tell me) workshop on using sketching throughout field research, insight creation and idea generation. Several workshops looked at how video could be used in new ways. I missed all of that, despite my interest in video, and instead ended up in a workshop on Climate Change. Some 20 people who do research into energy use and how people deal with worries about climate change on a day to day level got together to discuss possible ways to influence the Climate Council with our research before they meet in Copenhagen next year for the follow-up to the Kyoto conference years ago. Can we bring bottom-up stories into policy making? Can the tactics people use in everyday life influence the strategy of world meetings like these?A hard one to crack, obviously. Immersing the people who make these strategies and advise about them is most important was one conclusion we got at. Our grand scheme is on the sticky notes above, feel free to decipher it ;-). The workshop promise for the future was to somewhere bring together the research we all do on climate related issues. If that happens, I’ll post a link on this blog.. So the workshops were most successful until now.¬†Perhaps EPIC should have more workshops and less paper presentations next time?