EPIC2018 will explore what it means to make claims, to demonstrate, and to create new knowledge in a world where it seems like evidence itself has come under fire. Join us as we explore the richness of research methods, tools, and approaches that are rapidly proliferating in contemporary ethnographic practice. We’ll discuss new methods as well as those that have stood the test of time, and we’ll consider the methodological innovations possible by combining low tech with high. What kinds of evidence scratch a research itch? Create value for stakeholders? Make a connection with others? We will discuss ways of mobilizing evidence in humanistic exploration, in decision-making, and in everyday life. We’ll also share our strategies for creating value through evidence in an increasingly tricky social environment.
Evidence will also be an experiment in how EPIC can accelerate new areas of growth. In keeping with the theme, we’ll have an entire day focused on one form of evidence—data made with machines. In ethnographic traditions, “data” can be anything from an experience in the field, to a diary, to an ongoing social tie. With increased digitization, many other disciplines have come to define data as “that which is machine readable.” This development sets up a certain amount of tension about what “data” really means, but it also creates a set of opportunities and challenges that lie at the intersection of data science and ethnography.
Whether it’s helping companies acknowledge and address biases in their datasets, designing for a more humane data-saturated world, or developing new methods for both the ethnographic and data science toolkit, there is a large set of urgent practical and conceptual problems that are best tackled with cross-disciplinary collaboration. To take them on, we’ll need to find some common ground and more ways of working together. Therefore, in 2018 we invite ethnographers, data scientists, and people from all backgrounds seeking fairness and humanity in a data-rich environment to join us as we create new connections in this important new area.