- Hardcover: 524 pages
- Publisher: Field Institute; 2nd edition (2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 193972709X
- ISBN-13: 978-1939727091
- ASIN: 1939727065
- Package Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Field Study Handbook Hardcover – 2017
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Travel anywhere, make sense of the world, and make a difference. The how-to, why-to guide to running international field research to inform and inspire product, brand, strategy, policy and communications. Described as "The canonical classic reference for cross-cultural research" and "A blueprint of the future".
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If you are running a research/design studio or team, this book will help you to design, sell, staff and execute studies that push organizations to search far beyond the "low hanging fruit", towards deep and long-lasting insights.
There are few researcher/designers on earth with anything close to the breadth and depth of experience Jan brings to the subject, and he has been very generous in materializing his guiding principles, methods and stories in such detail.
Physically, it's *massive* — the sticker price may be high, but you're getting most of it back in beautiful materials.
But what are you really buying besides a giant book? You're buying all of Jan's brain.
This is a systematic transfer of his twenty+ years researching, running field studies, being out in the thick of it — in the fields of Myanmar, the villages of Nigeria, the slums of India, the markets of Afghanistan — being a full-time curious, empathetic, design focused, information hungry researcher. Decades of sitting in the background, watching, having as little presence as possible, respecting those people and places he visited, finding nuggets of insight and turning those nuggets into full-fledged design responses.
Really, though, this is a book that teaches you how to be a global citizen. It teaches you how to move through the world with a deep admiration for the differences between people and places that make life feel valuable, and — at least before the AI and robots take over — represent the patchwork beauty that is being a human.
“Data is noise. The ability to turn data into something valued requires contextual understanding, nuanced conversations, and reflection.” P 426. To me, a cognitive scientist by training and an educational designer by trade, the Handbook also serves as a bulwark against the crusade of unreflective quantitive data-driven design. We live in an age where engineers can immediately perform quantitative A/B testing of designs without regard to hypotheses or frameworks. This kind of testing is fine when it is informed by theory, when it actually tests hypotheses. But how do you generate those hypotheses, how do you find out what to measure and test? This book answers those questions at the ground level: “Quantitative data is good at showing *what* is happening and can reveal a degree of *how*. However, it’s less effective at revealing *why*. The value of the *Handbook* is built on the premise that there are significant advantages to understanding why.” P 44. “The difference between an able research who can subtly shape social dynamics and a con artists, or even worse, a sociopath, is intent.” P 331. The Handbook is not Creswell's Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design, and it doesn't try to be; it's a far more practical approach to running research programs in the field.
The book is not a perfect abstract work of the academy nor a ghostwritten romp through developing countries. It's a meditative exploration of what it means to do meaningful work throughout the world. The Handbook is very much a product of how it was written, in the morning, with middle-distance views and a cup of good coffee, before a day of solid, meaningful work.
This handbook is a (quite literally) a massive collection of reflections, tips, and tricks of the trade; each chapter imparting its wisdom and practical guidance for the benefit of aspiring and established field researchers. The sheer amount of information gathered in one place makes it all worthwhile, as the book overflows with the type of insights one would hope to collect through years of experience working in the field, attending workshops, or scouring blogs and publications.
It is a massive 'handbook' and yet each page is light enough to consume with a sense of contemplation.
Too often books of this nature, attempting to provide coverage of a large topic, are densely packed and reading them is an unpleasant chore. This book is both informative and delightful - it expresses the principles of design that it discusses - it is harmonious.
And of course its damn useful - were you to be engaging in the type of work that Studio D undertakes - this provides the right frame of mind for approaching that work.