Cultural Probes

What

Cultural probes are a data-collection tool in which users are given the resources to document personal experience. Probes are typically kits or materials issued for an extended time to people in a target environment so that they may return their documentations later as dynamic consumer insight. The central principle is self-documentation by the participants.

How

Select participants with unique access/perspective

Determine objectives/desired outcomes and strategy

Provide materials for documentation (ei. journal, camera, digital materials etc.)

Open lines of communication for monitoring probes and guiding the process

Why

This research tool is inconspicuous and often generates the most authentic insights from an environment or stakeholder group. Cultural vulnerabilities are still respected using such probes, but the willing participants provide access and perspectives to some experiences that are traditionally unreachable.