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Situation Modelling


Design, Presenting Ethnography, Modelling


Situation Modelling is a process used to present information about any socio-technical situation to designers and other stakeholders. Here is an introduction to Situation Modelling but more information, in cluding guidance for using Situaion Information can be found by following the 'more infomration' link below. This information contains rich detail about any given situation that would not otherwise be included in the usual documents that are available to designers. The source of the information is primarily ethnographic studies which are carried out in order to observe the relationships, interactions, social influences and many other qualitative aspects of any given socio-technical situation.

Ethnographic studies produce vast amounts of data often of various formats including text, audio, video, pictures and artifact examples, which are predominantly summarised in a report. The information that is collected has proven to be extremely useful when making design decisions that relate to social interactions and outside relationships in particular.

The main research challenge that this proposal raises is how to present situation information to designers in a way in which they are familiar with but without loosing any of the rich content of the vignettes of data. A report would not be a particularly useful way to present this information to designers as it would be neither useful nor a format in which designers would be prepared to wade through to find certain bits of useful information.
Situation Modelling can be used to loosely group this information so that it can be presented to designers using a multi-media database, it’s based on three primary models that are derived from the three main viewpoints of ethnographic studies:

Task aspect
Role aspect
Artifact aspect

These three models contain entities that have loose relationships and a loose hierarchy with other entities in the model. By defining these entities and relationships as XML schemas it is possible to create templates into which raw ethnographic data can be inputted (Scavenger is a suitable tool to aid with this task) and then displayed through any format that is convenient. The most obvious presentation method is to use a browser through which to display the information held within the newly created XML documents.


More information about Situation Modelling

Scavenger ethnographic harvester

Strider configuration modelling

Ethongraphy and Design


Mackie, J. “Situation Modelling Ethnography and Design” - DIRC/AMASE workshop April 2002, Lancaster.

Mackie, J., Lock, S., "Supporting the Development of Healthcare Systems Through Situation Modelling", 3rd International Conference on The Management of Healthcare & Medical Technology, Warwick, September 2003


Jo Mackie (j dot mackie at comp dot lancs dot ac dot uk)


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