During the EPIC conference I attended several presentations on using video in the field. Jonathan Bean, an architect, did research on ‘hygge’ in Danish homes. Hygge is something beyond cosy and comfortable, untranslatable in English but similar to ‘gezellig’ in Dutch I understand after the presentation. He involved his participants during home visits in documenting their home. The way he kicked off that collaboration is quite nice: he literally put a photocamera, a video camera, a sketch book, and an audio recorder on the table and asked them to pick one to auto-document their tour around the house. He would then take another tool himself. This obviously helped people to feel comfortable and really part of the exercise, feeling in control of it even, which greatly helped to elicit stories.
Meg Cramer, of Intel, presented a paper about using video to study the use of a student laptop in classrooms, to inform its second version. Stories have to be short is the main thing that came out of using video for many years at Intel. It is not part of engineers’ jobs to watch jobs. So even downloading from the server is not fast enough. Video needs to be either in emails or should stream from the server. Performance turns out to be a good tool as well. For instance engineers wanted to see instances of kids in school dropping their laptops to explore how rugged they need to be. ‘A 30cm drop’ just was to technical to describe possible impacts. In all the video the team had taken only one badly visible instance of dropping a laptop had been recorded so they decided to stage with kids a range of possible ways to drop a laptop in the classroom. That proved to be much more useful for the engineers, and more efficient for recording too: easy and fast to do, and good video quality because you can decide on the angle beforehand.