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Title Goes Here

We live in a Google world. Information/answers/solutions await us. We want to search, and so other people want to label, categorize, classify. New (and horrific) words like folksonomy emerge to describe the schemes by which we can sort and label the world around us.

I don't disagree that there is power in being able to give something a name, and then a definition, to ensure that groups of people can converse together. Of course, creating common language can have the opposite effect - a shibboleth being a word that establishes membership in a group (if you know it, you're in, if not, you are out) - obviously shibboleth is itself a shibboleth.

I grew up, professionally, as an interface/usability/interaction person. But I resisted classification, no doubt to the detriment of my own skill development and employment prospects. People wanted to know if I was designer, a tester, a visual person, a graphic person, a programmer, or what? I was none of those things, but I still had skills. I just didn't know how to package them and describe them within the terms that were in use. Ironically, as I moved away from that field during the early days of the web (when the field boomed enormously) the definitions and roles exploded - but it has only become worse. Now we see terms like IA (information architecture), UE (user experience), UX (also user experience), UCD (user-centered design) (and many more) and then all the groups (here, here, here) that emerge to try to fix all the cultural problems that result. And guess what many of the discussions inevitably end up focusing on? What is {IA/UE/UX/UCD/etc.}? It seems a painful cycle of self-definition and then regrouping.

This obviously holds appeal for some and enables them to work with words and ideas to really nail down what is important, in order to best define, and then implement, the key offerings.

Personally, it makes me twitch. I just can't deal with it.

I recently posted details of an upcoming webcast about ethnography to the Discovery mailing list and received the following reply

After reading the info on it - it reminded me of how frequently the terms "ethnographic research" and "in-context research" (and other variations) are used interchangeably .  I've tried to distinguish ethnography from in-context interviewing by explaining that in-context interviewing tends to include more direct questions and directed behavior than ethnography.

I have tried to sidestep these details in my conversations with people because I'm not sure how it helps to debate what is "ethnography" and what isn't? I try to focus on the overall process which I'm involved in:

Examine users (consumers or other) in their own context

  • What are they doing (“usage”)
  • What does it mean

Infer (interpret/synthesize/etc.)

  • Find the connections
  • The ethnographer is the “apparatus”

Apply to business or design problems

  • Use products, services, packaging, design to tell the right story

And what about us here? Seems like we're establishing a common vocabularly, common sources, interests, disciplines, passions, and inspirations, without worrying too much about design management, innovation, strategy, business, design thinking, or whatever. I'll point to About, With, and For (Hi Brianna!) as a conference that has been successful while deliberately staying away from the navel-gazing self-definition and getting on with the business of what it is we're about. I like the forward momentum of this community and I'm happy without too much definition, as long as there's alignment. And I believe there is.

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CPH127 is a sense-making initiative. We aim to create a open dialogue around the profound understanding of the leadership, organization and strategy of creative business functions with the aim to create new value (for customers, employers and stakeholders.

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