Reading Ahead … ethnography on evolution of books and reading

by Dina on September 6, 2009 · 2 comments

in Ethnography,Frameworks & Models,Qualitative Research Perspectives

Is a good series from Portigal Consulting on an exploratory study using an ethnographic approach to explore the evolution of books and reading habits, and is intended to inspire conversations and innovations around the future of reading, an issue that’s quite a meme these days in the digital space! The series takes us on a journey through the research process that leads to the generation of insights for innovation and product design.

Apart from the findings which are interesting, and worth a separate dialogue in themselves, I find that sharing the process of research, as Steve and his team have done, really demonstrates the use of different methods and techniques you can use in qualitative research and ethnography during the different stages of a project. You might have heard these terms being thrown around, and wondered what they mean – the team, with this series of blog posts, situates them in a real project, gives them meaning and brings them alive. Ethnography, secondary research, recruitment and screening of participants, contextual inquiry and show-and-tell methods of interviewing, visual and video diaries, kits and materials for participatory design, interview guides, props that help inspire imagination around future designs and that get participants to create artifacts themselves, analysis and reporting formats, are just some.

I think researchers and ethnographers worldwide use many of these tools and techniques but we rarely get the opportunity to share them with other researchers, as most are Client specific and are bound by confidentiality issues.

Thank you Steve and your team for sharing these so openly – we can all benefit! It’s also a great collection and a primer for those interested in understanding the process of research for participatory design and future directions across product categories.

“A month ago, we announced the launch of Reading Ahead, our self-funded exploratory study on the evolution of reading and books.  We’re excited to report that we’ve finished synthesizing our field data, and have published our findings. You’ll find the narrated presentation on our blog, along with numerous posts detailing our process throughout the project. It’s been great to work on a project we can discuss so openly, and we hope to hear from folks and continue the dialogue around this work.”

Check it out the full series: Reading Ahead

And slides which form the final output:


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September 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

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1 Steve Portigal September 7, 2009 at 7:09 am

Thanks, Dina. The project has been really enjoyable because we can share and because we’ve got great encouragement. I appreciate your perspective and glad that we hit the mark with this!

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