Current and Recent Research

User-Centered Design of Language Archives

 

2015-present

 

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More than half of the world’s 7,000 or so languages are at risk of no longer being spoken by the end of this century. Most belong to small indigenous groups. The United Nations has highlighted this issue by declaring 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Online language archives can potentially play a valuable role in language preservation and revitalization. I have initiated a dialogue between the fields of language archives and user-centered design to improve users’ experiences with language archives and make them more accessible and useful. The planned outcome is a set of guidelines or leading practices for future archive developers

The first step in this research trajectory was a 2016 workshop that brought together representatives of key stakeholder groups (funded by NSF grants 1543763 and 1543828). Outcomes included 1) mapping the diverse perspectives of different stakeholder groups, 2) creating a typology of language archives and their varying relationships with user groups, and 3) identifying current access issues.

The second step in this research trajectory is to collaborate on the development of language archives, to learn what user-centered design involves in specific contexts. Two projects are described below.

Collaborators: Gary HoltonHeather Roth

Publications:

Wasson, C. Conducting User Research to Inform the Design of Language Archives. 2017. Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation (CELP) Blog, Linguistic Society of America. 31 August.

Wasson, C., G. Holton and H. Roth. 2016. Bringing User-Centered Design to the Field of Language Archives. Language Documentation and Conservation 10:641-681.

Wasson, C., G. Holton and H. Roth. 2016. Findings from the Workshop on User-Centered Design of Language Archives: White Paper.


User-Centered Design of CoRSAL

 

2016-present

Boro students performing traditional cultural practices and displaying artifacts, Bishmuri village, January 2018; teacher: Keshab Mashahary

Boro students performing traditional cultural practices and displaying artifacts, Bishmuri village, January 2018; teacher: Keshab Mashahary

 

CoRSAL (Computational Resource for South Asian Languages) is planned to be an online repository of linguistic and cultural information from communities in Northeast India that speak Tibeto-Burman languages. In such communities, children still learn the traditional language at home. However, schools are mainly taught in English or a state language. Many linguistic and cultural practices are not being transmitted to children, as modernization and globalization change their worlds.

Targeted user groups for CoRSAL include the language communities, linguists, computational linguists, and other social scientists. These user groups have diverse and contrasting needs, which creates interesting user-centered design (UCD) challenges.

UCD activities for CoRSAL so far:

  • User research with four contrasting user groups conducted by my Fall 2016 Design Anthropology class at UNT

  • Prototype interfaces for CoRSAL developed by Santosh Basapur's User Experience Design class at Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design in Spring 2017, based on findings from my class

  • Interviews with eleven Lamkang people living in Hyderabad, Summer 2017, conducted by Janette Klein and analyzed by M. Nicholas Orzech

  • User research in Northeast India with four communities that speak Tibeto-Burman languages, January 2018, supported by UNT India Venture Fund

Collaborators: Shobhana Chelliah, students in my 2016 Design Anthropology classSantosh Basapur, students in Basapur's 2017 User Experience Design class, Janette Klein, Emma Nalin, Sumshot Khular, Prafulla Basumatary, Dhrubajit Langthasa, Bihung Brahma, Jyotiprakash Tamuli, Jodi Williams, K.D. Bell, Sue McRae StoverAlexis PalmerOksana Zavalina, M. Nicholas Orzech

Publications:

Orzech, M. Nicholas, Janette Klein and Christina Wasson. 2019. The Lamkang Diaspora in Hyderabad: 2017 User Research for CoRSAL. Report. 21 April.

Wasson, C., M. Medina, M. Chong, B. LeMay, E. Nalin and K. Saintonge. 2018. Designing for Diverse User Groups: Case Study of a Language Archive. Journal of Business Anthropology 7(2):235-267.

Wasson, C., S. Chelliah, S. Khular, and S. Basapur. 2017. Ensuring the Usefulness of a Language Archive for Indigenous Communities. Poster presented at the 2017 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM). October, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM.

Al Smadi, D., S. Barnes, M. Blair, M. Chong, R. Cole-Jett, A. Davis, S. Hardisty, J. Hooker, C. Jackson, T. Kennedy, J. Klein, B. LeMay, M. Medina, K. Saintonge, A. Vu, and C. Wasson. 2016. Exploratory User Research for CoRSAL. Report prepared by students of UNT Design Anthropology class for S. Chelliah, Director of the Computational Resource for South Asian Languages (CoRSAL)S


Hereditary chiefs conducting welcome ceremony for elders and youth visiting the traditional homeland of the ‘Nakwaxda’xw, April 2018

Hereditary chiefs conducting welcome ceremony for elders and youth visiting the traditional homeland of the ‘Nakwaxda’xw, April 2018

User-Centered Design of Language and Culture Archive for Gwa’sala- ‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations

 

2017-present

 

The Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations are a small community of people who mainly live on the Tsulquate Reserve at the northern end of Vancouver Island. Prior to 1964, they lived as two separate tribes in traditional homelands along the coast of British Columbia. They are considered part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations.  

Like many other First Nations, generations of this community suffered significant loss of linguistic and cultural knowledge through Canada’s forced assimilation policies, including relocation and residential schools. The community is now engaged in efforts to reclaim their language, culture and territory.

As part of these efforts, the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw School, along with other collaborators, is planning to develop an online resource that will make linguistic and cultural materials easily available and useful to the community.  Materials include both pre-existing and new recordings and documents.  My role is to contribute a user-centered design approach to this process.

Collaborators: Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, Daisy Rosenblum, Lucy Hemphill-Haché, Melissa Marsh, Reed Allen


Meetings + Networks:

A New Approach to the Analysis of Participatory Decision-Making

 

2013-2015, tbc

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http://meetingsandnetworks.wordpress.com/

Julia Gluesing and I combined our areas of expertise to develop a novel approach to the analysis of participatory decision-making that integrates methods for analyzing the meetings where decisions get made with methods for analyzing interactions among the broader social networks that influence what happens in the meetings. (Funded by NSF grant 1408169.)

Collaborators: Julia GluesingElizabeth Sidler, Molly ShadeKen Riopelle

Publications:

Gluesing, J., C. Wasson and K. Riopelle. 2017. Environmental Governance in Multi-Stakeholder Contexts: Integrating the Analysis of Decision-Making in Meetings with the Analysis of Network Interactions. In Networked Governance: New Research Perspectives, ed. Betina Hollstein, Wenzel Matiaske, and Kai-Uwe Schnapp. Berlin: Springer, 211-245.

Wasson, C. 2016. Integrating Conversation Analysis and Issue Framing to Illuminate Collaborative Decision-Making Activities. Discourse and Communication 10(4):378-411. 

Wasson, C. and J. Gluesing. 2015. A Wicked Methodology for the Analysis of Wicked Problems: Integrating the Analysis of Meetings and Networks.  Proceedings of the 59th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences


Ethnographic Research for Self-Driving Cars

 

2014-2018

 
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I have led two studies on how people understand their cars and what their experience is with various types of road users. The client for both studies was the Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley, which develops autonomous vehicles. The projects were conducted by the outstanding students in my Design Anthropology classes.

Road User Experience. In 2018, we examined how bicyclists, solid waste workers, and crossing guards experience other people’s driving behaviors, and what the implications are for self-driving cars. We also examined how a self-driving shuttle was experienced by its users, people who shared the road with the shuttle, and other stakeholders. Our findings took the form of five videos, available on the RoadUX Vimeo Channel identified below.

The Social Life of the Car. The goal of the 2014 study was to generate a foundational understanding of how people in the U.S. understand and drive their cars. This study laid the groundwork for future ethnographic research projects that would take a deeper look at more narrowly defined topics.

Collaborators: Melissa Cefkin, Laura Cesafsky, Brigitte Jordan, students in 2018 and 2014 Design Anthropology classes

Publications:

Road User Experience Vimeo Channel

Saintonge, Kenneth, Kingston Smartt-Nalli, Nick Jordan, Sarah Stutts, and Dazore Bradford. 2019. Navigating Roadways: An Ethnographic Exploration of Three Types of Road Users. Paper presented at Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting. March 20, Portland, OR.

Brandt, Kelsey. 2019. Navigating Roadways: An Ethnographic Exploration of Community Interactions with a Self-Driving Shuttle. Paper presented at Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting. March 20, Portland, OR.

Saintonge, Kenneth, Kingston Smartt-Nalli, Nick Jordan, Sarah Stutts, and Christina Wasson. n.d. Navigating Roadways: An Ethnographic Exploration of Three Types of Road Users. To be published in the Journal of Business Anthropology. Special Issue: From Water Buffaloes to Self-Driving Cars: Turbulent Times for Road Use, ed. Christina Wasson, Dazore Bradford, and Heather Fernandez.

Brandt, Kelsey and Christina Wasson. n.d. Navigating Roadways: An Ethnographic Exploration of Community Interactions with a Self-Driving Shuttle. To be published in the Journal of Business Anthropology. Special Issue: From Water Buffaloes to Self-Driving Cars: Turbulent Times for Road Use, ed. Christina Wasson, Dazore Bradford, and Heather Fernandez.

Jordan, B. and C. Wasson. 2015. Autonomous Vehicle Study Builds Bridges between Industry and Academia. Proceedings of the 2015 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, 24-35.

Jordan, B., C. Wasson, and H. Roth. 2015. Ethnographic Study Lifts the Hood on What REALLY Goes On Inside That Car. Blog post on EPICpeople

Wasson, C., T. Brickle, C. Ferman, C. Ferrell, S. Gonzalez, M. Halwani, H. Hasan, A. Hartt, A. Hickling, J. Kim, L. Machado, L. McLaughlin, A. Pottkotter, H. S. Roth, M Shade, T. Smith, and A. Whatley. 2014.  The Social Life of the Car. Report Prepared for Nissan Research Center-Silicon Valley. December 10, 2014.

UNT News Release: How Would Drivers’ Habits Change in Self-Driving Cars?


User Research for the UNT Data Warehousing/ Analytics/ Dashboards Initiative 

 

2015

The goal of this study was identification of the key decision-making data needs of UNT’s Chancellor and Presidents, Cabinet Members, and Vice Chancellors, to inform the development of a complete redesign of UNT’s data warehousing system. 

Collaborators: William MoenHeather RothRama Dhuwaraha, UNT Data Warehousing/Analytics/Dashboards (D.A.D.) Initiative Team, now renamed the Insights Program  

Publication:

Wasson, C. and H. Roth. 2015. Final Report: Phase One User Research for Data Warehousing/Analytics/Dashboards Initiative. Prepared for the D.A.D. Core Team, University of North Texas, 17 September. 


For earlier research, see Publications