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Field note—

A label is a limit

Daniela Cuaron

16 January 2018

Labels are increasingly present in our lives, with more rules around how and when a specific label can be used. It makes me wonder about the way people use labels.

A label is really just a word. And we all know words matter. So, sometimes I feel like I’m preaching to the choir. That’s certainly how I felt when I presented a Pecha Kucha about labels at EPIC 2017 in Montréal.

To a room full of researchers I said: “words matter.” I said it because I believe — even though we know words, and specifically labels, can make a difference — we’re not always mindful of how and when we use labels. And I fear if we don’t fully recognise the impact labels have on us, then we’re not fully aware of the impact they have on our work or the people we have or have not designed for.

At the end of my presentation I was approached by people who told me they agreed, and had been thinking about this too. And, to my surprise, many of them told me they weren’t sure what to do about it.

This Pecha Kucha is a reflection on what we’ve learned at Empathy so far, and what we’re going to make sure we stay mindful of.

The presentation, written in collaboration with my coworker Nik, was created for EPIC 2017.

Cuaron, Daniela, and Jarvie-Waldrom, Nik
2017 Place Label Here: Our use of labels at work. In Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, Montréal.