Monday, July 2, 2012

User Anthropology and you

I had the pleasure of seeing Sharon Lockhart's film "Lunch Break" at SF MOMA while friends were in town. It was amazing.

The centerpiece of Lunch Break is a sort of documentary video in one continuous shot, tracking straight through a 1,200-foot factory corridor while workers go about their lunch-hour routines. What's crucial is that it's in slow motion: 10 minutes' worth of footage digitally elongated into an 80-minute revelation. - Jonathan Kiefer | KQED

Kiefer described it better technically than I could. So many things made this amazing but here's my short list:

  • Construction sounds, usually grating, when slowed, is amazingly meditative
  • Watching people is always fascinating but watching people at work is an opportunity you don't get every day unless you make it happen (hint hint).
  • Her accompanying photos showed cute kitchenette area with snacks and neat signs like "Coffee 50 cents" and a box to collect money. These are things we idly look at when visiting a new place. While in such a setting we take for granted systems of trust and effort. Someone has to replenish the snacks and coffee.  

She has an anthropologist's keen eye for social settings and details. It made me wonder how often do we, as UX designers, spend quality time observing users in their natural habitat. I don't mean user testing. I mean observing without the structure of a task-based test. Empathy sometimes just means being there, listening, and observing.

See more at Contemporary Art Links

In the video below, Sharon talks about embedding herself in a small town in order to film "Pine Flats" and how she created a community space in the process.


No comments: