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Auto-ethnography: problems, pitfalls and promise

Sobolewska, Emilia; Smith, Colin F; Turner, Phil


Phil Turner


The teaching and perhaps more importantly the practice of ethnographic techniques has become increasing important within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). But ethnography is also synonymous with in situ data collection over extended periods of time making it difficult to teach. This paper reports a study of the use of auto-ethnography by a group of undergraduate interaction design students. Auto-ethnography has the potential to expose these students to ethnographic concepts in a manageable fashion. The auto-ethnography required them to create a ‘video-diary’ of their use of an item of everyday interactive technology and then to write an analysis of their behaviour and their thoughts on how this might be used (while having fun). We identify problems and pitfalls, and offer advice for those who wish to repeat our endeavour.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name HCI Educators 2009
Start Date Apr 22, 2009
End Date Apr 24, 2009
Deposit Date Nov 20, 2009
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords ethnography; human-computer interaction; data collection; auto-ethnography; interactive technology; video-diary;
Public URL
Contract Date Nov 20, 2009


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