Digital Ethnographer's Workbench

The cognitive processes of humans and animals are manifest in the negotiation of complex biological, social, and cultural worlds. Researchers and students in the Distributed Cognition and Human Computer Interaction Laboratory work to capture and describe these processes as they occur in situ. For us and for many other scientists, the advent of digital video has allowed us to capture such real world processes as they occur, and to examine the details of these events through detailed (often frame-by-frame) analyses. But digital recording spans beyond video: multiple HD digital video and still cameras, directional audio microphones, depth cameras, wearable eye-tracking devices, GPS or other mobile sensors, and digital pens are now typical tools for researchers in many disciplines. Data collection is being extended into real-world settings that have not typically been accessible. Just as availiblity of audio tape recording supported the development of conversation analysis and the ethnography of speaking, the advent of a range of inexpensive digital recording devices and sensors promises to have a fundamental impact on a broad range of science and engineering activities. However exciting, the influx of these rich datasets has left researchers overwhelmed by an integration problem. To truly harness the scientific power of the digital revolution we need methods and tools that facilitate working with these rich datasets.

In the Digital Ethnographer's Workbench (DEW) project, we are combining our strengths in research and design to develop tools and methods to facilitate the capture and analysis of real world cognition in action.