Honolulu, Hawai‘i October 9-12

Announcing a new, participatory process for building the EPIC2018 Salons program!

What Are Salons?

In Salons, conference attendees gather in an intimate setting with an inspiring host for lively discussion of pressing topics. Commonly associated with French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries, Salons were initiated at EPIC to make room for discussion across subdisciplines, experience levels, and institutional differences. The spontaneity of interactions and serendipitous connections participants create at Salons make these events a conference favorite.

This year we have a new process for curating and registering for Salons. First, we’ve more than doubled the number of Salons on offer to meet increased demand. Second, we’ve developed a more participatory system to get input from attendees about the topics you want Salons to address.

When you register for EPIC2018 you’ll be asked to select three choices from a list of proposed topics and/or suggest your own. The final Salons program will be curated based on the priorities designated by attendees. The topics we are proposing (below) invite conversation and debate around the EPIC2018 theme Evidence, support the unique effort of our program chairs to bridge data science and ethnography, and address core issues in ethnographic practice that are of interest to the EPIC community at large.

Finally, as an alternative to the curated Salons on designated topics, we’ll host one or two “unconference-style” Salons. There is no pre-registration for these sessions; participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

How to Participate

  • When you register for EPIC2018, you’ll have the opportunity to choose three Salon topics in order of preference. You may also suggest a topic. If you do not want to participate in Salons, or if you want to participate in the “unconference” Salon, you may skip this portion of registration.
  • Salons registration will close August 9.
  • The Salons program will be finalized based on community input, and you will be assigned to one of the topics you’ve chosen. You will be notified of your Salon assignment by email by August 16.
  • After August 16, your Salon hosts will contact you with all the information you need to prepare for and participate in your the Salon. Salon hosts may assign light reading to be completed before the session.


  • Abusing Evidence
    Where do we draw boundaries for the ethical use of evidence in our work? In this Salon we’ll discuss the causes and remedies for prominent examples of data misuse—ethnographic and otherwise.
  • Bias and its Consequences
    What biases are inherent in data sets? How do we ensure a focus on fairness? In this Salon, we’ll discuss examples and some of the ways that practitioners have approached these challenges.
  • Career Transitions
    Are you interested in transitioning into a new career space? This Salon will provide a forum to discuss the various paths of ethnographic practitioners and how we navigate opportunities in today’s business world.
  • Communicating the Value of Small-n Research
    Stakeholders and clients are often skeptical of qualitative research because of its small sample size. How do we communicate the value of a single case, or a few deeply researched cases, in a business environment? This Salon will dive into strategies to increase stakeholder understanding and argue for the value and validity of small-n research.
  • Data-Driven Design
    The world of design is increasingly being informed by analytics, A/B testing, large-scale surveys, crowdwork, etc. In this Salon, we’ll discuss the collisions and the evolutions where data and design intersect.
  • Datafication in Society
    What are the impacts of the proliferation of “machine-produced” data throughout organizations and societal structures? This Salon will be a space for debate around these changes and their broader impacts—both positive and negative.
  • Distilling Research into Deliverables
    How many times have you sighed at the sight of a static, stale persona or market segmentation? A perennial issue in our work is how the complexity of the field gets reduced and reified into deliverables. This Salon will be a space to share perspectives and best practices from a variety of positions and industries.
  • Ethnographic Film—Art or Science?
    What is evidence and what is art in ethnographic film? Is video a source of data or a deliverable—and can it authentically be both? This Salon will debate the roles of film in ethnographic practice.
  • Ethnography + AI
    We are moving into a world in which artificial intelligence and machine learning are shaping the spaces we engage with and through and changing our prosthetic capabilities. What does this mean for ethnographic praxis? In this Salon, we’ll discuss the implications of this dynamic space on methods, objects of study, and more.
  • What is Evidence?
    What does evidence mean to an ethnographer? And what does it mean to a data scientist? This Salon will be a conversation around what sorts of data generate meaningful questions, and how we go about answering those questions.

Unconference Salon

You can attend this session as an alternative to registering for our programmed salons. The unconference salon does not have a pre-established topic. It will provide facilitated spaces for attendees to debate ‘live’ ideas and questions have emerged across the conference. Topics will be attendee-generated and facilitators will be on hand to structure the conversations and provide minutes post-discussion. Prior to the session, potential topics and questions will be gathered through a twitter hashtag and on a board outside the main conference hall.

There is no pre-registration for the unconference salon event. Access will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.