Caitlin McDonald

Digital Anthropologist

Main focus: Creative Industries

Twitter handle: @cmcd_phd

Websites/blogs: , ,

Languages: English

City: Edinburgh

Country: United Kingdom

Topics: creative industries, innovation, research methodologies, future of work, ethnography, ai ethics, ux research

Services: Talk, Moderation, Workshop management, Consulting, Coaching, Interview

  Willing to travel for an event.

  Willing to talk for nonprofit.

Personal note:

My current research focuses on academic-industry partnerships for driving innovation in the creative industries, including design, the arts, architecture, online games, publishing and more, through data for improving new modalities of experience and novel business models.


Caitlin is an award-winning researcher, a strategist with 10+ years’ experience across the private and public sectors researching and advising on sociotechnical impacts, and an artist whose work exploring the personal through the digital has been featured in several international art exhibitions. Her current research focuses on the power of the creative industries to act as an innovation catalyst across the whole of the economy, and on the role of arts and culture as key indicators of a thriving society.

Examples of previous talks / appearances:

Imagine if banking were the next frontier in space: what would it feel like and what would it inspire?

This talk at the closing session of the Innotribe track at Sibos, a financial services conference with 10,000 global attendees, discussed imagined futures of banking. Respondents from several different disciplines and business sectors were asked to respond to a series of provocations imagining the future of banking. Caitlin’s prompt was, “Imagine if banking were the next frontier in space: what would it feel like and what would it inspire?”

This talk is in: English
Contrast and connect: looking ahead to the future for the Museum of London

Speakers for the Museum of London's 'Big Gathering' were asked to imagine the museum of the near future. Caitlin imagined a scenario where an energy crisis forced regular infrastructural power losses, causing far-reaching impacts like only being able to access email during set hours each day and causing difficult decisions for the required climate controls to keep collections safe.

This talk is in: English
Ethical Digital: A Learning Journey

We’re not fighting a battle on tech ethics: we’re fighting a battle on ethics, period. Ethics is a hot-button of discussion for the tech industry right now, including rapidly developing fields around artificial intelligence, machine learning and automated decision systems. Why is this important and what are the key risks on the battlefield for tech ethics? At a time when conversations about what is right and wrong are becoming increasingly heated, both within the tech sector and outside it, the worst thing we can do is abdicate our responsibility to shape our ethical future.

This talk is in: English
Reconfiguring the Collaborative Workspace: Making the Most of Time, Space and Attitude

working environments are changing faster than we can adapt and that’s becoming the new normal. We are caught up in the acceleration, trying to fit ourselves to the tools and team situations, knowing at some level that things could be so much better, but lacking the mental models, evidence, and approaches to reflect on and shift patterns which seem to be getting in the way of a better workplace. Amid this current of change there are still moments that can give organizations the space to gain a more nuanced understanding of their communication and collaboration challenges, enabling them to find new (or return to old) ways of getting things done.

This year-long research enquiry digs into the background hum of unquestioned norms which are governing our habits and practices in different workspaces. Using a rich corpus of primary ethnographic research, this report offers new insight into how we can all have more agency in our working environments, and how organizations or teams can seize those transformational moments of pivoting from one state to another, using them as opportunities to establish fruitful and satisfying working conditions.

This talk is in: English