Dr Andrew Quitmeyer, who recently starred in the groundbreaking Discovery Channel documentary “Hacking the Wild”, has been on a lifelong quest to investigate the boundless potential that digital media can play in biological field work. Now a faculty member of NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media, Andrew will present at Creativity and Cognition 2017, detailing his exciting collaboration with field biologists. The outcome of the research seeks not only to create, but also evaluate a design framework for inventing digital devices that help to explore animal behaviours in their natural habitat.
Andrew’s paper quickly shares the main concepts and theories from the fields that form Digital Naturalism’s foundation, and describes the key challenges emerging from these critical intersections between field biology and computational media. It then reviews the development of this research’s hybrid methodology that was designed specifically for its multi-year series of Qualitative Action Research fieldwork carried out at a rainforest field station.
This paper analyses the resulting on-site ethnographies, workshops, design projects, and interactive performances, whose takeaways are synthesised into design guidelines for digital-natural media. The framework, itself, is then evaluated via an extra iteration of fieldwork and the results discussed. Finally, the paper identifies targets for continued research development. Further areas of interest, which will promote Digital Naturalism’s progression into its own topic of study, will also be explored.
With Andrew’s seminal work, designers now possess a reliable set of guidelines to develop digital tools for field biologists. The framework is important precisely because they strive to support their scientific process from the ground up. This can lead to better tools allowing the scientists to pose new questions about the natural world.