In this work, we develop a vision for entangled ethnography, where constellations of people, artefacts, algorithms and data come together to collectively make sense of the relations between people and objects. This is grounded in New Materialism's picture of a world understood through entanglement, through resonant constellations, through a multiplicity of unique individual viewpoints and their relationships. These perspectives are especially relevant for design ethnography, in particular for research around smart connected products, which collect data about their environment, the networks they are a part of, and the ways they are used. However, we are concerned about the current trend of many connected systems towards surveillance capitalism, as data is colonised, machinations are hidden, and a narrow definition of value is extracted. There is a key tension that while design, particularly of networked objects, attempts to go beyond human centeredness, the infrastructures that support it are moving towards a less than human perspective in their race to accumulate and dispossess. Our work tries to imagine the situations where participants in networked systems are richly engaged, rather than exploited. We hope for a future where human agency is central to a respectful and acceptable collaborative development of understanding.
Dave Murray-Rust, Katerina Gorkovenko, Dan Burnett, and Daniel Richards. 2019. Entangled Ethnography: Towards a collective future understanding. In Proceedings of the Halfway to the Future Symposium 2019 (HTTF 2019), November 19–20, 2019, Nottingham, United Kingdom. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 10 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3363384.3363405