Category Archives: Anthropology & Ethnography

Goodbye…Hello (2005)

Some thoughtful commentary on job hunting by Amy Santee, a UX researcher based in USA provoked me to dig out this blog post from 2005. I wrote it when shutting down Ideas Bazaar – a company I ran for about … Continue reading

Squeaky Dolphin

From an article about the anxieties of big data by Microsoft researcher Kate Crawford. 2014 is the year we learned about Squeaky Dolphin. That’s the Pynchon-worthy code name for a secret program created by British intelligence agency GCHQ to monitor … Continue reading


“Nowadays being an explorer is a trade, which consists not, as one may think, in discovering hitherto unknown facts after years of study, but in covering a great many miles and assembling lantern-slides or motion pictures, preferably in colour, so … Continue reading

Chips and kinships

Anthropology & design

“Anthropology provides a kind of thick description that contextualises design processes and products, and design offers anthropology creative means of exploring and representing what it means to be human” anne galloway


“Material thing are often like that. They have a certain humility. They jump up and down and confronts you as a critical symbols of yourself or your relationships. They don’t theorise themselves or abstract themselves. Often one only really pays … Continue reading

‘That full complement of riches’

For those who attended the “Why the world needs anthropologists” symposium in Amsterdam yesterday here are the slides. For those that didn’t attend I hope the notes with the slides help provide a bit of context to the more visual … Continue reading

Culture and utility

Re-reading a chapter in Marshall Sahlins’ Culture and Practical Reason, Le Penseé Bourgoisie today I could have cited multiple chunks of though-provoking writing. Instead, here’s a simple passage outlining, in brief, the argument of the book.

Why the world needs anthropologists.

I’m looking forward to speaking at this event in Amsterdam this autumn. The outline of my talk is below. ‘That full complement of riches’: the future role of anthropology in business and society ‘That full complement of riches’ is a phrase coined by … Continue reading

Writing as a kind of observation

This is a piece of writing about writing. The original aim was simply to explore the thought that writing diaries, writing anthropological fieldnotes and maintaining blogs are  activities that share some important characteristics. My interest in all three genres, if … Continue reading

Big data, asymmetry and business

[This post is a little longer than initially planned – it’s about a 15 minutes read] It was of little surprise that big data figured as a major presence at EPIC 2013 in London last week. In a session devoted … Continue reading

The said and the unsaid

When the FT Magazine did a special issue on visual design anthropologist Gillian Tett opted to highlight the influential thinking of Pierre Bourdieu and his concept of doxa as a way of showing how what is left unsaid is a … Continue reading

EPIC 2013

EPIC 2013 is coming. The Call is out and can be found here. Tickets will be going on sale in March.

What are traditional societies for?

From a great review of Jared Diamond’s book The World until Yesterday, by Wade Davis in The Guardian “Traditional societies do not exist to help us tweak our lives as we emulate a few of their cultural practices. They remind … Continue reading

EPIC – a few pictures

Some pictures of EPIC 2012 which was held in Savannah and which, as co-chair, I am too fatigued to write about but here are just a few of the pictures I took.

Relations and Relatedness

Thanks to the Wayback machine I found an old post I wrote on kinship and social networks from Ideas Bazaar (2004 vintage). I’m in the midst of writing something about big data, and I’m struck by what, at the time of … Continue reading

Why study consumption?

There’s probably no one better placed that Danny Miller to answer this question:

Silence and silos

Couple of years old now but well worth watching in full – Gillian Tett, Managing Editor of the FT in the US addresses the 2010 AAA on “Silence and Silos: The Problems of Fractured Thought in Finance”. 2010 AAA Inno-vent: … Continue reading

Anthropology and the abduction of strategy

I gave a talk last week at a UK UPA event on ethnography in design and innovation. I somewhat subverted the intent of the session by not talking about ethnography but instead focused on anthropology. My argument being that the … Continue reading

Embedded Anthropology: My Talk from the RSA Design Society Event

On Monday I spoke at an RSA event on Embedding Design organised by Emily Campbell as part of the . As I said at the time, saying anything valuable in ten minutes is far beyond my abilities. So here's something you … Continue reading

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