NOTE: Register your interest through Meetup. We will have a separate registration process for the conference. Registration may include a small fee to cover catering and incidentals.
EthnoBorrel and the University of Amsterdam are running a one-day event in Amsterdam, parallel to the annual conference of the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community (EPIC). The purpose of the conference is to build connections with our fellow ethnographers on both sides of the pond and explore issues specific to the European context.
Today, the profile of ethnography in European industry is growing rapidly. Here in the Netherlands, EthnoBorrel, AbV, and the Interbuilding Applied Anthropology Meetup are some of the fora where ethnographic practitioners discuss their work. These developments provide an excellent opportunity for us to work together to strengthen our profession and demonstrate our value to industry. We can learn a lot from our North American counterparts, especially the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community (EPIC) who have been successful in promoting the use of ethnographic principles to create business value across different domains of industry.
The theme of EPIC2019 focuses on human agency in the new age of automation. We have interpreted the theme in our own way:
Agency, in the social sciences, is often seen as the amount of space, freedom and choice an individual experiences in the context of their life. The right to agency can be viewed as the right to self-determination. When agency meets technology it can be problematic in three ways.
First, technology (just like any other tool) is often designed according to the principle that in order to serve the customer's needs, some choices are already made for them. Are the ways in which technologies are making choices for us changing over time? Is the agency of the user diminishing or expanding?
Second, the agency of engaging with technology rests on the premise of transparency (are the 'why', 'how' and the implications of engaging with technology clear to those accessing it?), fairness (who has access to the technology and to the data produced?) and choice (is there a possibility to enter a dialogue with the technology where choice can be expressed?).
Third, many of today's technologies are built within one geography (with specific economic, social, geopolitical dynamics) to affect the geographies of the entire world. How does this affect the agency of (users in) these different geographies? How can the practice of ethnography help us see how agency and technology intersect in our contexts?