“Ethnographers are a kind of somewhat exotic breed of scientists” – Victoria Bellotti

May 17, 2011

Tech Evangelist, Blogger and Social Media Master Robert Scoble had a chance to visit what he referred to as the “first church of technology“, PARC, the innovative lab behind much of the technology that we use every day.  He conducted four great interviews in his signature style.  I was most interested in his talk with Victoria Bellotti.

Ethnographers are a kind of somewhat exotic breed of scientists, we study people.” – Victoria Bellotti.

Bellotti, who manages PARC’s Socio-Technical and Interaction Research team at PARC, studies people to understand their practices, problems, and requirements for future technology, and designs and analyzes human-centered systems, focusing on user experience.

She explains how ethnographers analyze data to determine how technology can help, or get in the way, of tasks being studied. The research helps to build successful products and services or address problems. This sounds particularly useful for technology-centered business ventures that are clients of PARC’s Opportunity Discovery research and strategic investment targeting program.

Scoble mentions that this practice is missing from most start-ups, but notes that it is part of larger companies such Microsoft Research and Facebook. Bellotti agreed, adding that most startups learn as they go along and some entrepreneurs do [this] by nature – look at people and ask lots of questions.

Below is Scoble’s video interview with Bellotti. You can see additional interview topics: “Future of Networking“, “Ubiquitous Computing Research” and “Keeping our Cloud Computing Safe” and read about the rest of his PARC visit on his blog.