I’m sure this article from PC Magazine is making the rounds through the blogosphere. It is a new account, however, of the use of ethnographic research techniques by Intel and other technology companies.
Here’s what Intel says they do:
Intel’s anthropological researchers immerse themselves in the “natural environments of real people” – including hospitals, elder hostels, schools for hearing impaired children, remote villages in emerging nations, and more – and utilize different tools and techniques to collect data which, in turn, is used to help make future business decisions.
Surely not real people! (Intel has even discovered one of my favorite methodological phrases: Geertz’s ‘deep hanging out.’)
Towards the end of the article, an Intel researcher says that he has spoken with the American Anthropological Association about the employment of people trained in anthropology outside of the academy. The response, he reports, from the AAA is generally positive, although curious: “… [the AAA hasn't] fully thought through the ramifications for that yet.”
There’s a little of the history of corporate anthropology in the article too.