In honor of World Anthropology Day (Feb. 18, 2016), I wanted to illustrate what a day of work is like when I’m employed as an anthropologist, so I took some fieldnotes on my experiences during the day. Sometimes, when I talk with prospective anthropologists, they want to know what an average day is like for me as an anthropologist. Taking World Anthropology Day as a sample, here is what a day in my life is like.
I was contracted to work on a user research project by my client, an information architecture consultancy of about 15 people. Occasionally, the employees at this organization gather for “brown bag” sessions over lunch, where someone would present something on a topic of general interest.
As a freelancer, I spend the majority of my time working from my home office, but I am happy to go to client sites or field sites as needed. For this project, the team was spread out: one team member commuted between Grand Rapids and Chicago, one team member was based in Ann Arbor and one was based in Indianapolis. Though I am close enough to Ann Arbor to be located in that office for the project, the team determined that we would all work remotely and collaborate using tools like Slack and Google Hangout, Docs and Sheets to get our work done. However, I was going to be in my client’s office on World Anthropology Day conducting remote user research sessions with the project team, so I volunteered to give a short presentation over lunch on the relationship of anthropology to information architecture.
The following notes are what I captured at various points throughout the day, documenting what I was doing and what I was thinking about, to be able to show people what a day in the life of anthropologist is like.
One of my personal and academic interests still is the professionalization of anthropologists. To that end, I volunteer on the Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA) in the American Anthropological Association (AAA). The mission of CoPAPIA is to:
"explore and engage the range of issues emerging as a result of the increasing number of anthropologists in and outside the academy doing practicing, applied and public interest work" - http://www.americananthro.org/ParticipateAndAdvocate/CommitteeDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=2224
To help AAA to better serve its anthropologists, CoPAPIA wanted to understand some of the challenges that faculty face as they prepare anthropology students. Capitalizing on the annual AAA meeting in late November 2015 and knowing that faculty attend the Careers Expo at the Annual Meeting to learn more about what careers are available to graduates, a few of us on the CoPAPIA committee organized a data collection and analysis effort, seeking faculty recommendations for how the AAA can support student career preparation.
A report on that mini-project is here: http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2016/05/13/helping-faculty-prepare-students-for-the-job-market/
One of the key findings is that the variety of career options for those who graduate with a degree in anthropology needs to be made available to professors, who in turn introduce those options to students while in school.
How can we provide example career options to anthropology students? I'm looking for suggestions.
World Anthropology Day, February 18, is a day for anthropologists to celebrate our discipline and share it with the public around us. I'm cooking up a couple of ways of celebrating and will be sharing next week! Stay tuned!
Welcome to the new AmyGoldmacher.com!
Thanks Weebly for a truly user-friendly user experience.
I’d like to announce the release of a special issue of the journal of Practicing Anthropology dedicated specifically to the practice and application of anthropology in business settings. The special issue, which can be found online here, was co-guest-edited by me and Amy Santee.
The authors who contributed to the issue are Jo Aiken, Greg Cabrera, Jen Cardew Kersey, Alicia Dornadic, Giles Harrison-Conwill, Marc Hébert, Allison Hennie, Marlo Rencher, Beth Schill, and Amy Santee.
The theme of this issue focuses on what it means to be a practitioner of anthropological theory and methods in a business context – specifically from the perspectives of newer practitioners (to complement the existing literature produced by veteran practitioners.) It provides a glimpse into the work lives of 10 professionals with anthropology training (BA, MA and PhD levels) and how they made their way from academia to business.
The issue’s main topics of discussion include:
We are very interested in any feedback or thoughts on the issue as a whole or on individual articles. Please use the contact form to reach me, or comment!
The ability to create insights from understanding how people engage with the world is:
"a capacity for integrating a vast amalgam of constantly changing, multicoloured, evanescent, perpetually overlapping data, too many, too swift, too intermingled to be caught and pinned down and labeled like so many individual butterflies."
- Isaiah Berlin, Political Judgement
How Intel uses anthropology: to understand how people interact with electronics to design new technological experiences:
Prototype and test, prototype and test: part of a healthy iterative product development cycle:
I like this definition and description by IDEO's Tim Brown:
“Design thinking” — a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centered design ethos. By this I mean that innovation is powered by a thorough understanding, through direct observation, of what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold, and supported.
A little design researcher humor for the day:
Q: How many design researchers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Does it have to be a lightbulb?
Always question the question to make sure you're in pursuit of the right solution.
Hi, I'm Amy Goldmacher. I'm an anthropologist who works with individuals, teams, businesses and organizations, providing human-centered design and user experience research that drives product, service and experience innovation.