Etic Lab

About the lab

Founded April 2017, by Tom Barrington, Alex Hogan, Kevin Hogan & Christian Tilt

Etic: of, relating to, or involving analysis of cultural phenomena from the perspective of one who does not participate in the culture being studied.

Etic Lab is a research and design consultancy operating at the forefront of the digital technologies that are transforming our culture, our politics and our daily lives. We work alongside partners from business, academia and civil society to conduct research, build applications and execute projects which use radical new ideas to create meaningful results. For us, it’s not enough just to have an original thought – we try to use what we know to alter our given reality, and ultimately it is this sense of expanded possibility which we hope to share with our clients and collaborators.

We begin all our work from an outsider’s perspective, which gives us distance from the sedimented assumptions, habits and prejudices which accrue over time within organisations and sectors. However, we proceed by building partnerships which allow us to learn from the lived experience and domain-specific knowledge of people in daily contact with the matter at hand, and the tools and strategies we offer are always shaped by their goals and priorities. This methodology provides us with what we hope is an ideal combination: the freedom to think differently integrated with the responsibility to act in the service of other people’s needs.

We live in a period of complexly intersecting, infinitely ramifying crises, and we see it as inevitable and necessary that our future work will revolve largely around finding ways to respond constructively to a chaotic future. From this perspective, we are guided by one simple principle: our ends will be to serve the social good through the means of facilitating cooperative and collective action. Digital technologies offer us the capacity to observe, predict, plan and act in the face of great uncertainty, and the fact that the power to wield these capacities has hitherto been concentrated in the hands of unaccountable corporate or state interests does not mean that this is how things must always remain. We hope to do what we can to see that the ability to access and use the knowledge generated by these technologies is distributed more evenly throughout our society.

Since our foundation we’ve designed and implemented a variety of different technical interventions, involving digital strategy, automated communications, data analytics and machine learning, in a range of different fields, from debt management to tenants organising, and interspecies communication to the provision of free and confidential legal advice. Our expertise runs the gamut from data science and programming to organisational psychology via cybersecurity, graphic design, contemporary art and critical media theory, but we set no predefined limits on the kinds of projects we engage with. If you have an idea that everyone around you keeps telling you is impossible, please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team – redrawing the bounds of the feasible is all in day’s work at Etic Lab.

Interested in finding out more?