The future of work is…PLAY!

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How exciting! Not only are workplaces going to be more flexible in terms of time and location of work but also more playful! We’ll be releasing our inner child and getting serious about bringing play into the workplace to get breakthrough ideas and beat robots. Project Play, a training provider of purposeful play, say that play improves ability to learn, increases openness to change and provides a sense of purpose and mastery. Sounds good to me.

 

What will it mean to be human in the future?

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In my thesis I researched moral panics regarding technological advancements in human communication. The concerns around changes caused by technology’s encroachment into everyday life is a pattern repeated through human history (a great book about this is Carolyn Marvin’s When Old Technology Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century). Artificial Intelligence is the newest form.

“…even if computers will outsmart us, we can still be the most creative act in town, if we embrace creativity as one of the defining values of humanness. Like funnily irrational ideas, or grand emotions”

This BBC article is a different take on what the workforce of the future needs in the world of AI, and what ‘human’ qualities machines can’t emulate are in fact our opportunities. We may be surpassed by machines in logic and rational thinking and processing power, but we excel at things I think we currently don’t value as much such as creative thinking. Even irrationality, the article argues, is a distinct human quality that machines will not possess but that will be a distinctly human quality we can use to our advantage. Another article on what our role will be in the AI world of the future suggests that AI will be relatively easily fooled and humans will be needed to be kept in the loop as a quality control and point of verification.

What biases are influencing the recruitment and working arrangements of working mums?

In this era of espousing workplace diversity and providing equality for women, this open letter to adland is so refreshing and gets far more real than most discussions on the topic. It’s so worth a read to get a different perspective on those well meaning strategies to ‘help’ women return to the workforce. Plus it’s a good laugh!

What is ethnographic research and what are its defining characteristics?

A great interview with Gordon Milne on this podcast about what ethnography is, (and what it isn’t), and tips on how to do it. Gordon Milne is IPSOS Asia Pacific’s head of qualitative research and the podcast is part of a series of market research techniques, trends and practices. There are a couple of things mentioned in it that I completely agree with and are worth calling out, especially for those who don’t have the time to listen to the whole podcast (44mins in total).

He distinguishes between three types of qualitative research using ethnography: i) 5-7hrs of participant observation which he terns as “pure ethnography”; ii)”immersions” as 2-3hrs with participants, and ; iii) more traditional qual research incorporating ethnographic elements.

Some key points:

  • Ethnography is about seeing things and being there in the moment – not just talking about them (as it is in a question and answer format).
  • In ethnographic research you are looking for the unarticulated, and not merely describing what people report that they do.
  • Participant-led – This is such an important distinction between ethnographic research and more traditional qualitative methods such as interviews or focus groups. It’s far less about following a discussion guide and much more about being in the moment and taking cues from the research participant, such as matching the participant’s mood and energy levels. Make it a conversation, not a Q&A interview, and follow the order of their day, not them fitting to the order of your topics/questions. Be naiive – let the participant guide you.
  • Pre-field preparation – Get clear at the start about what you’re trying to achieve (i.e. the research question); recruit the right people; help prepare the participant so they know what to expect
  • “Pure ethnography” requires a trained ethnographer or a senior, experienced qualitative researcher (~15min into the interview)

Courses in ethnographic and design research

EPIC have announced great new learning initiatives for its members. A series of courses and talks will be offered throughout the year in order to deliver on EPIC’s purpose to advance ethnography in industry. Some of the courses look to be taken from popular seminars from the 2016 conference. The only downside is the timezone issue if you happen to be based in incompatible timezones with the US, like Oz…

You can find out what courses and talks are offered here

What is anthropology?

Here’s a nice brief article on what anthropology is, why study it and what it offers the world in the Huffington Post.

In summary, anthropology has 4 main areas to the discipline: cultural, biological, linguistic and applied. Some of the reasons to the article highlights to study it: understanding the rules that govern what it means to be a member of a society, understanding difference across cultures, effectively negotiating workplaces with their particular norms and human diversity and ethical conduct.