Category Archives: Anthropology & Ethnography

Technology Metabolism

There may be no Moore's Law for culture but some countries adopt technology quicker than others. That simple observation provided the germ of a super interesting project run by colleagues at Intel, which was showcased recently at Research at Intel in Mountain … Continue reading


I've done a couple of talks recently about my work as an anthropologist since finishing my PhD. Both have essentially been 'career path' type talks in which some brow-beaten PhD students, progressing through what can often be the drudgery of … Continue reading


  1. a. Originally (in form Mentor): a person who acts as guide and adviser to another person, esp. one who is younger and less experienced. Later, more generally: a person who offers support and guidance to another; an experienced … Continue reading

Religious Views?

If Maurice Bloch was on Facebook, on his profile, under Religious View, it would probably read: "Humans alone practice religion because they’re the only creatures to have evolved imagination" Well, that’s my take having read this article in the New … Continue reading

Spies like us

Will Davies, on his blog Potlatch, talks about the ‘performative contradictions’ of ‘sole author’ books about mass creativity, crowds and collaboration – noting that their form and claims are in direct tension with each other. This is a simple but … Continue reading

Defining a Role

A nice articulation of a role for anthropology: "I think there is a role for anthropology along all of the steps of the design process. But of course I would say that. Anthropology can help inspire new designs by providing … Continue reading

Culture Bank

Gillian Tett is a senior journalist at the FT. She also has a PhD in anthropology. Her fieldwork was on Tajik goat herders in the Himalaya. She recently reflected on what that background add to attempts to understand the varying … Continue reading

Mass Observation Movement in Yellow Fat Shocker

“Mass Observation is a business venture somewhat on the lines of the Gallop [sic] Poll.” So commented a member of Winston Churchill’s inner circle during the 2nd Word War, expressing serious doubts as to the intentions of the movement set … Continue reading

Historians amongst the policy makers?

First anthropologists were hired into government departments (MoD, Cabinet Office, Home Office to name those where I know individuals who describe themselves as such)…then a call from a prominent British historian (of colonialism and Orientalism) that historians should advise Civil … Continue reading

Ten Things: Mobility in Later Life

For me, much of this year has been spent understanding the impact of mobility on the lives of older people. My team and I wrote a report on our ethnography with five rural transport projects in Ireland – contact me … Continue reading

Ethnographic Implications (Revisited)

Photo Cred In a recent paper at DUX 2007 which engages with an earlier essay on “Implications for Design”, Paul Dourish extends and augment his argument. Responsibilities and Implications: Further Thoughts on Ethnography and Design. It is well worth reading. … Continue reading

Ten Things: Corporate Ethnography

Picture Credit I like the 10 things format. I try to use it when appropriate to sum up big or complex projects into bite size gobbets. Jane Fulton Suri, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, deploys it to some effect in … Continue reading

The 12th of the Month – A Borrowed Idea

The everyday is what we never see for a first time, but only see again. Maurice Blanchot Today I started reading Queuing for Beginners today, a book that takes an anthropological and cultural studies approach to various unnoticed aspects of … Continue reading

Poets, Managers and Ethnographers

“I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as manager. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand” – Sidney Harman, … Continue reading

Ethnography, Transportation and Older People

With ethnography so in vogue nowadays there is barely a domain, particularly one where commercial opportunity might present itself, that does not have an ‘ethnographic’ study conducted on it. When my team at Intel started to conduct some work examining … Continue reading

The ‘Ethnography in Business’ Canon

Barely a week goes by without the rediscovery of anthropologists working in the corporate world. You would indeed have to be an undiscovered tribe living thick in a jungle following a way of life “untouched for hundreds of years” [sic] … Continue reading


I read with interest via Anthrodesign that Hormel, makers of Spam and other gastronomic delicacies, are seeking to employ a cultural anthropologist. Thus goes the job description "As a Cultural Anthropologist, you will be responsible for developing insights and points … Continue reading

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