User Experience Whiz Traverses Technological Valleys, Gives Fast Company the Lowdown

Genevieve Bell knows your digital habits better than you do.

Genevieve Bell

Genevieve Bell, Thinker in Residence at Intel, Stanford PhD in Anthropology, and all-around bad-ass technology-in-society expert, released her much-anticipated report, Getting Connected, Staying Connected: Exploring South Australia’s Digital Futures, earlier this week. Fast Company has had its eye on Dr. Bell for some time now; we chose her as one of our 100 Most Creative People in Business while she was still hard at work on the report.


Key findings from the report suggest that, as Bell told, “New information and communication technologies are deeply embedded in many people’s everyday lives, but they are sharing space and attention with older, stubborn technologies like TV, radio, and newspaper.”

Bell is kind of like a female version of Jan Chipchase, but for Intel. (Chipchase was formerly at Nokia and is now at Frog Design in Shanghai). She travels the world observing and recording user experience across a range of platforms. And what surprised her the most in the research of the Getting Connected report was the “fact that technology has grown far ahead of the larger eco-system needed to support it–people to repair, maintain and upgrade all forms of technology (including infrastructure), those who will help teach, coach and guide us through the complexities of a digital world, and those who will help shape and regulate the world in which all that happens.”

Internet access sign

With the final release of her ethnographic investigation into the uses of technology in South Australia, one has to wonder: Can these results be applied elsewhere? Bell told, “Yes, I firmly believe the report has applicability elsewhere. Certainly in the rest of Australia, but I would argue there are some important insights/recommendations that are relevant in other countries, especially those who are in the midst of developing new high-speed broadband infrastructure networks, or transitioning to ‘information societies,’ ‘digital societies,’ etc.”

And something she said that we at Fast Company especially like, since we generate all of the following (if I don’t say so myself): “Creativity, communication, and community/personal engagement are just as important as drivers of technology use and adoption as content consumption.”

[Top image courtesy of Intel, center image courtesy of Genevieve Bell]


About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.