4 Ted Talks that illustrate what anthropology can do for your business

Norah Walsh Antropologa social business anthropology

It’s no secret that here in Hipopotesis we enjoy getting lost in Ted’s universe. In our last recommended Ted Talks list we said Ted was sometimes even more useful that university and we chose five talks that could inspire anyone with a business idea.

This is our second recommended Ted Talks list and this time it hits closer to home: this is four Ted Talks to help understand anthropology’s potential in business.

We are always talking about anthropology and how its particular vision of the world is incredibly useful to help companies understand in depth what consumers do or wish to do, but we know it can be challenging to imagine the potential of business anthropology and translate it to real results.

We hope these Ted Talks show and illustrate how far anthropology can go and how its result can be very promising and beneficial.

1- The human insights missing from Big Data | Tricia Wang

Tricia Wang is an ethnographer specialised in human-tech interaction. In this brilliant talk she starts a debate around Big Data: how is it possible that companies keep making critical mistakes when they have access to the largest amount of information in history?

Wang hit the nail on the head: the information we acquire and call Big Data is out of context. Generating complex and contextualised information is key to avoid making bad decisions and increase companies development. This rich information is called Thick Data: hello Thick Data, hello contexts.

2- The anthropology of mobile phones | Jan Chipchase

Jan Chipchase, worked with Nokia to understand in detail how mobile phone users felt, how and when they used them, with what purpose and with what results. The goal of this global research was to inspire next generation mobile design, adapting them to the real use consumers expected.

Studying in depth how humans interact with mobile phones and their environments, Chipchase mapped usage and requirement reality of communities with mobile phones access, in a global and precise way.

3- What I discovered in New York City trash | Robin Nagle

Doctor Robin Nagle is an Anthropology professor in New York University. And, also, she picks up trash. She has been studying the organization and infrastructure of New York’s cleaning services for over ten years, getting to work for the Department of Sanitation.

Her research is incredibly rich in details and nounces on garbage collection and it’s social or economic implications in the city. Can you imagine how this research could help understand, better and transform how New York city manages waste, recycling and trash?

4- Design for people, not awards | Timothy Prestero

Thimothy Prestero repeats again and again that there are no dumb users, just dumb products. And this motto is the essence of his Ted Talk: when designing a good product awards don’t matter, it’s only important that they help and make user’s life easier in their environment and circumstances.

Prestero summarizes in an excellent way the value of focusing on humans and creating products that are based on social research that can comprehend the requirements of every actor involved in the product.

We hope you enjoyed these Ted Talks! If you have a Ted Talk recommendation that can help explain anthropology’s potential, leave a comment!


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