A Personal Perspective On The Value Of Cross-Cultural Fieldwork

With the ongoing turn from the lab to the field, HCI research is steadily moving from evaluating hypotheses to understanding the real-life circumstances of those for whom we strive to design. Complementing the workshop schedule at INTERACT 2017 in Mumbai, India, a group of 10 researchers set out on a two-day excursion. The goal: to meet older adults to understand how they experience aging. How do they cope with the growing need for support? How do they reciprocate? To investigate, we used a mixed-method approach of narrative, open-ended interviews, group discussions, collaborative photography, and in-action ethnographic sketching. The trip also helped us reflect on more general questions: What is the impact of seeing, feeling, and understanding people’s real-life situations? How can deliberate reflection on different cultural backgrounds inform our repertoire as HCI researchers? We experienced once more that doing fieldwork is an excellent remedy for bias and hope to motivate future conference chairs to add field trips to the repertoire of HCI conferences.

Arne Berger and Dhaval Vyas. 2018. A personal perspective on the value of cross-cultural fieldwork. interactions 25, 3 (May-June 2018), 61–65. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3194335