Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) blog by Tony Salvador

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One of the keynote speakers at the EPIC conference in October was Tony Salvador. Apparently, many people had questions for Tony after his talk (which was great!) so he has started a blog called ‘Ask Tony!‘ over at the EPIC website. It seems that readers will have an opportunity to post questions for Tony which he will answer in a blog post.

EPIC publishes the conference proceedings on their website. The 2007 proceedings have not been finalized on the site yet, but I received a paper copy yesterday so I’m sure they are making progress online as well.

Met someone in my del.icio.us network in face-to-face life!

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I’m a big fan of del.icio.us and while I don’t use it as actively as I used to, it’s still one of my favorite sites. Well, a couple of years ago I wrote a post about “Mavens Hanging out on Del.icio.us“, when I went to del.icio.us the post myself, I found that someone had beaten me to it (by the way, I remember that because it was one of the most flattering things to me- someone else read it and bookmarked it!). I added the person to my network, Danafu, he reciprocated that, and throughout the years we’ve received many links from each other.

While I was at EPIC, someone came up to me and introduced himself as “Danafu.” Sure enough, it was Danafu from my del.icio.us network! We had never met face-to-face before, and I didn’t even know he would be at the conference. We had lunch together, and much like I’d expect given our shared interest in links, we had a very good conversation and had many similar interests. Hi Dana!!

It really was a neat coincidence!

I noticed that someone else in my del.icio.us network added “met her at EPIC” in the notes field of one of their bookmarks (a company’s website “about us” page). I didn’t meet him at EPIC, but it’s neat that he was there too!

This conference habit is getting expensive!!

SfAA

I’m not going to get into the fact that conferences are expensive, nor will spend anytime on the irrelevance of conferences, the rise of “unconferences,” or any other critique of them. I have my opinions of conferences, and for the most part it seems a bit contradictory that I’ll be attending so many… but I’m a student, I get discounts (I’ll take advantage while I can ;)

Today, Tim and I registered for the Future of Web Apps (FOWA) in Miami, Florida. Part of our discussion to go was simply because it’s so close to home for us (home is Tampa, FL) and the affordable cost of the trip (early registration is only $150 for non-students, $50 for students). But, I’m looking forward to FOWA because it’s not anthropology – it’ll help me to expand my horizons a bit. Plus, it’s neat that Tim (total geek) and me (totally awesome) can go to the same events and enjoy them (we went to BarCamp Orlando and had a lot of fun). BarCamp Miami is during FOWA, so we’ll be there too :)

Two weeks after FOWA, Tim and I will be headed to Austin, TX for SXSW. We’ll be there for the Interactive part, so again, it’s cool we can go together (we’ll get totally different things from the sessions) and I’ll be expanding my horizons. Really excited about SXSW.

Two weeks after SXSW, I’ll be in Memphis, TN for the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Meeting. I always have a good time at the SfAA Meetings, and I’ll be doing the SfAA Podcasts again in Memphis (much news about that project – I’ll post about it soon!).

Late February – early April is going to be super busy! EPIC is in Denmark next year… I hope to be there – but who knows! I’m currently taking a break from working on our paper for the American Anthropological Assoc. conference (AAA) this year in DC – that takes place at the end of November.

I’m really not looking forward to being busy or being away from home that much – BUT, like I said, I’ll take advantage of the student discounts and University funding while it lasts :)

Last notes about the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC)

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On Monday, I wrote about my experience at EPIC back in October, but I have a few last thoughts.

I mentioned the Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions, this was a break out done on Friday afternoon. Attendees started to propose topics for the sessions and others voted on the ones they were most interested. On Friday after lunch the topics were finalized and we met in groups for about 2 hours (or something like that). I went into a group with Amy Goldmacher, Chris Miller, Mark Dawson, and many other folks. Our topic was ‘what students need in order to be able to actually practice once they graduate.’ The majority of the group were anthropologists and thus we focused on what anthropology students need to learn in terms of experience, skills, knowledge, etc. in order to be employable after they graduate. The session was very informative and Amy is working on setting up a listserv for us to continue the conversation. We’ll also be using Student Anthropology to continue the discussion.

The BoF part of the conference was probably my favorite portion. Our particular group was super productive and we had a good mix of practitioners, academics, students, and other disciplines to complement the view points. I’d never done a BoF before, it’s something that you’d never see at the AAA or SfAA, except for the informal ad hoc meetings in the hallway. Ugh, I just used ‘ad hoc’ in a sentence =P

Here is a link to photos from EPIC2007 on Flickr. LINK

Here’s a picture of me that is in the photo set, I’m the one standing up on the left. LINK

Here is a link to the EPIC2007 website; abstracts, notes, papers, etc. should be uploaded (or will be coming soon if they’re not there now). LINK

Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC)

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This post is so late that I questioned the value of writing it all together, and obviously decided to go a head and do it. I went out to Keystone Resort in Colorado back in early October for the EPIC conference. I had the great honor of attending the conference on an Intel sponsored student scholarship. For those poor souls that had to pay, the cost of attendance was actually quite reasonable; a little more than the SfAA or AAA cost, but significantly lower than most other conferences. I’d say it’s affordable for students, and I would absolutely say that it’s worth it to students.

I registered for the conference and went out to Colorado thinking that it would be a “business anthropology” conference; many of the organizers have a background in the discipline, many business anthropologists that I know were going to be there, and “ethnography” is typically thought of as being anthropology’s baby within the academy. It’s true that many conference goers were anthropologists and that many sessions were “anthropological,” but post-conference, I don’t really feel like it was a “business anthropology” conference. If anything, I’d call it and applied ethnography conference. There was a heavy tech presence in the conference, but there were also medical professionals, designers of all sorts, and other people from other fields.

I’d actually recommend anyone planning on working in the private sector within the realm of applied social science research to go to the conference next year – and not only because it will be in Copenhagen, Denmark ;) Many, many of the presenters focused on the ways in which they use “rapid” versions of traditional ethnographic methods, and they did so in a very understandable way. After all, these are researchers that work in the business world, they are much more simple and to the point than our academic counterparts. I came home feeling like I understood how practitioners use ethnography in the fast-paced world of business and that really isn’t something you are likely to learn in school.

I really had a good time at the conference (aside from the altitude sickness!), it was a completely different vibe than either the SfAA or the AAA. Each morning the day started off with breakfast, then a keynote speaker. After a half hour break a panel of speakers started- everyone continued to be in one large room, there was no deciding what to attend (which is a hassle at the anthropology conferences because there are 15 sessions going on at the same time). Each day there was a catered lunch (they fed us well :) and in the afternoon there were a few breaks also. There was a lot of free time (but not too much) where people could socialize, or network, with each other (another nice aspect of the event). One afternoon there were two tracks and the second afternoon there was just the one panel. Saturday was full of free workshops, I heard they went well, but I actually left early to come home because of the altitude sickness.

Friday night there was a dinner for everyone. Everyone hung out (read open bar) for quite a few hours, ate, talked, and had an overall excellent time. This is really what set EPIC apart from other conferences in my mind, everyone was together, in one group, most of the time and there was plenty of fun time.

My favorite part of EPIC were the Birds of a Feather sessions, but more to come about that in a future post.