What is a Design Ethnographer?

Interesting blog article describing the Design Ethnographer, as Alicia Dudek describes:

'We are trained to extract the voices of stakeholders, the people that will be affected by the decisions derived from our work. Fundamentally, we are people centric, story based, opinion-o-meters. We want to know what others see, feel, or think when they look at the world. We spend a lot of time discovering and looking through the lenses that our participants use to understand their world.'

And when working with participants three distinct stages are identified:

'Realizing -We begin by making the problem space real for ourselves. We need an understanding of the landscape of a problem space and a way to render it, in order to find ways to study it. We lay the ground work for creating tools  to facilitate the flow of information from our participants  into our research. Our work always begins with a deep understanding of the surrounding environments, constraints, and social structures, within which the problem space resides. When working with people, you cannot go in guns-a-blazing and demand their opinions; you have to know whats going on and begin by dipping in a little toe.

Sympathizing – In this phase we begin to feel for our participants. We know what their lives are like and what their daily woes and glories are. We begin to see where our participants are coming from and we use this to begin our analysis.  We begin to synthesize insights about how the problem space can affect our participants. We create frameworks and methods to understand the complex systems in which each person lives. These frameworks are the beginnings of how we will communicate our findings. Our clients are the people trying to understand a problem space, and with time to improve it.

Empathizing – Here we arrive at the dangerous moment of glory for an ethnographer; we are so familiar and in tune with our participants world, that we feel with them. This is precarious territory for an ethnographer. Many tales are told of ethnographers in the field “going native,” being unable to find their true selves again after extended time immersed in the cultures they study. Empathy is necessary for us to be able to derive representative insights about our participant groups, but we must carefully temper it with our own expertise and filters. It is much harder to do this than it is to describe it.'