Disruptive Interventions with Mobile Media Through Design + Ethnography + Futures

Authored by: Yoko Akama , Katherine Moline , Sarah Pink

The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138940918
eBook ISBN: 9781315673974
Adobe ISBN: 9781317377788


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This chapter brings together digital ethnography with experimental art, speculative and participatory design research to consider what might be possible when they are blended together, and how this could provide insights into change-making initiatives. In entwining various disciplinary practices, we are interested in creating forms of research that surpass definitions. This exploration is undertaken through a research initiative, Design+Ethnography+Futures, where the not-yet-made is at the center of inquiry (Akama et al. 2015). For us, uncertainty is a welcome ingredient. By putting this at the forefront of our research process, we explore two issues to consider how contemporary societies approach the ubiquity and possibilities of digital technologies for change-making. These are (1) the growth of digital maker cultures and the human capacity for digital improvisation that is evident through their activity, and (2) the need to recognize uncertainties that pervade our knowledge about how digital futures will emerge. In doing so, we attempt to confront and undermine a techno-deterministic worldview where design is often synonymous with technological innovation, framed as a panacea for solving problems. Our approach is not just to critique these assumptions but also to carve out ways to investigate how we can remake new understandings together.

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