Kate Saunderson has done a great summary of good career advice article.

Originally posted on interested and interesting?:

Source: Career rocket rule: Whether you’re a millennial or eyeing retirements, heres what you really need to get right about work a blog post by Brian Fetherstonhaugh sent to me by Alicia Dudek to put things in perspective.

Thoughts: The article begins with you undertaking some simple arithmetic, it asks you to subtract your current age from the number 62. This sets the scene for the rest of the article, namely, how many years do you have left to work. I have, at least, another 35 years, all going well. So what do you do with that time and how, if you are near the beginning, do you comprehend what that means and act strategically?

Fetherstonhaugh references the work of Malcolm Gladwells work in outliers, the concept that it takes 10,00 hours to become excellent at something. So in my dream scenario where I only work a 32 hour week…

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Play nice: design ethnographer meets management consultant, an interview with Alicia Dudek from Deloitte Digital.

I met Trisha Wang at EPIC 2013 last year and our discussion turned into an interview which has been put up on Ethnomatters, one of the the premier ethnographic community blogs.

Check out a new blogpost for the Deloitte Digital blog.

In this post I discuss customer centricity & big data based on Trisha Wang’s Keynote address from EPIC 2013 (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference)

You can read it here:

or click on the picture:

deloitte digital blogpost - Alicia Dudek


Rachel Shadoan, my research partner and alma gemela (soul twin), once wrote this beyond amazing post about how to live with uncertainty in a field as constantly uncertain as ethnography. I rediscovered it today and it really helped me cope with some of the stress I have been under lately.

Originally posted on Rachel Shadoan Muses:

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche that the world isn’t black and white. This is true. And if you want to be a design ethnographer, you’d best get accustomed to living in the gray.

Living in the gray is a balancing act, which involves, among many other things:

  • standing with one foot in the world of a social scientist and one in the world of a designer
  • balancing a client’s agenda while protecting the interests of participants
  • staying true to the richness and variety of ethnographic results while distilling actionable insights
  • switching from hyper-analytical meta-cognitive work to the hyper-aware meditative zen in-the-moment mindset of fieldwork
  • constantly convincing people that what you do is valuable
  • empathizing without becoming emotionally invested
  • distilling without oversimplifying or overgeneralizing

And that is completely outside of the very normal student worries such as

  • how to pay off student loans
  • where to find a job post-graduation in…

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People who get into the business of design ethnography and qualitative customer insight research do it because they love it.  We have studied and worked in this field because we truly believe that this kind of work  can eventually make someone’s life better. Some days I help improve and redesign error messages and swipe interactions, but these little poorly designed cognitive burdens add up and make your life harder than it needs to be.  Other days I conduct in-depth research with customers on touchy personal topics of great social importance. Having such love for your domain sometimes makes it hard to step back and get perspective. I am  *almost* a passionate explorer, but I could use some work and I will always keep learning. I found some good tools to help re-frame how I thought about work and my passion and I am going to share them with you here.

This year Deloitte published an interesting report out of the Centre for the Edge, a future focused think tank based in the USA, Europe, and Australia. John Hagel and John Seely Brown head it up, you should Google these fine folks to see their fabulous careers and awesome research cred. John Seely Brown was at Xerox’s PARC for years, that is where ethnography and UX collided in the early days of people who did things like design ethnography, but didn’t call it that yet. John Hagel is a strategist and innovator, who not so secretly  has a bit of a passion for passion? I’ll explain.

My point is that the Centre for the Edge has put forth some interesting ideas regarding the difference between the standard (read antiquated) employee engagement measures and the new world of the passionate worker.  The passion of the explorer is a set of characteristics that are displayed by a category of workers that are more likely to be employed at successful companies. By reverse logic, if you employ these people, your company will increase the probability of healthy dividends.  Passion of the explorer can be identified by 3 core concepts: commitment to the domain, questing and connecting. You can watch John Hagel’s video explaining the core concepts of the report.

What impacted me is that, we can become even more passionate explorers, and what’s more is that others can be uplifted into this realm even if they had no interest in it before. The caveat is that I am assuming being a passionate explorer is awesome and that many people in the UX, design, and design research industries are already obsessed with being one. We can now identify and measure our own individual progress as passionate explorers and make plans to work on the parts crucial to our way of working. I really enjoyed this report and the way it laid out a very simple way of understanding the difference between passionate at work and miserable at work.

Additional resources to keep exploring the topic of a passionate workforce

Full Report:  Unlocking the passion  of the Explorer:  Report 1 of the 2013 Shift  Index series From the Deloitte Center for the Edge

A Blogpost from John Hagel about what passionate workers want: John Hagel’s blog on the Manifesto of the Creative Passionate Worker:

Report on the way we need to redesign our work environments physically and experientially in order to move towards more creative and passionate work: Work Environment Redesign Case Studies

DISCLAIMER: I work at Deloitte Digital, but I posted this because I really liked this stuff and it helped me in understanding my own goals ;-)

Check out this simple poster designed to communicate the workshop process used to help people imagine the future of government with out technology constraints.

“The Designing Policy Toolkit is the result of a research project conducted over one year by Laura Forlano and Anijo Mathew, assistant professors at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology, and funded by the Urban Communication Foundation.”


Medical anthropology fascinates me. I hope to do more work in this space in the near future. I think that health, wellness, and the treatment of disease merits significant ethnographic investigations because often the person in the think of it is not even aware of the machinery of the health industry the drives what treatment they are on and how it affects their lives. Brand name medications are of particular interest as they are truly entering mythical status such as the xanex, oxy, and loritabs of the world. “I just pop a xany and it all becomes so much more manageable…”

Originally posted on Ethnography Matters:

headshot of Tazin Karim

Tazin Karim

Editor’s Note:  Tazin Karim (@PharmaCulture) is a medical anthropologist who studies pharmaceutical culture in the US and contexts of prescription stimulant use.  She is also active in the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. In this post for our Virtual Identity edition, Taz examines the ways in which people use Twitter to construct virtual identities centered on the brand name stimulant Adderall.


In today’s digital world, choosing the right Twitter username is an important decision. It’s the first thing people notice and immediately signals to a potential follower who you are and why they should be interested in what you have to say. Although many stick to their given names, others use the opportunity to highlight their best qualities and brand themselves as an expert academic, baseball fanatic, or mother of the year. So when I found out there were over a hundred people…

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This is what I am talking about!

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

An 11-hour flight, 150 techies, and one problem: How do we educate more engineers? This was the premise for the British Airways UnGrounded “Innovation Lab In The Sky.” While heavy on ideas with few to execute them, the flight forced Silicon Valley elite to stop and think about education. How? It took away their Wi-Fi.

Something crazy happens when you cram brainy people in a flying fuselage with no Internet. They actually talk to each other. No work could be done and there was nowhere to hide. Andreessen Horowitz partner Todd Lutwak, Google(x) VP Megan Smith, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and an army of startup founders didn’t have a choice. They had to brainstorm, productize, and pitch their solutions to the world’s shortage of great programmers.

Shaky Takeoff

From March when British Airways announced the flight, a marketing stunt appealing to entrepreneurs but with a social good angle, it…

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Jonas Pfeil made this 360 degree camera, which will be a great tool one day for 3D mapping.

See video here: 


Hey c’mon everybody! And READ! Rachel wrote this about our badass project from back in the Masters day! Hooray!

Originally posted on Ethnography Matters:


Rachel Shadoan

Editor’s note: This post for the April ‘Ethnomining‘ edition comes from Rachel Shadoan and Alicia Dudek. Following on the past posts about hybridmethods, this one features another interesting case study involving an on-line role-playing game. Their work correspond to a different approach, based on visualizations, than what we saw in the twoprevious posts.

Rachel Shadoan @RachelShadoan likes to find answers to interesting questions, and build interesting things using those answers. Currently she is answering interesting questions in the Intel Labs using a combination of data visualization, data mining, and ethnographic techniques.


Alicia Dudek

Alicia Dudek@aliciadudek is a design ethnographer and user experience consultant
. Her passion is  finding unusual solutions to the usual problems. Currently, she is finding unusual solutions for Deloitte Digital, where she specializes in engaging stakeholders in research insights through participatory design workshops.


This is one of the visualizations we created for the research. The horizontal axis is date; the vertical axis is time of day as recorded by the Plant Wars server. Each mark on the chart represents a single instance of in-game training. In Plant Wars, a player can train their plant in one of three areas--speed, defense, or attack. The different colors of the marks corresponds to the characteristic being trained, while the radius of the mark encodes the number of stat points received from the training. The time shift can be seen clearly in this visualization: prior to June, this player starts playing in earnest around 16:00 server time. By October, the player has somewhat settled on starting play around 10:00 am. This is one of the visualizations we…

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Alicia Dudek

Design Ethnographer
User Experience Consultant
Design Thinker
Play Advocate
Post-it Note Junkie

p.s. These are all my own words, not my employer's.

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