Posts Tagged ‘Ethnography’
My first week of 3rd year proved to be a demanding one which surprised me. Before I started 3rd year I made a promise to myself that I would be more influential in group work and that was tested straight away. A one week pressure project in groups kicked the year off and I found it very enlightening. It got me involved with all year groups and showed me how positively DIxD can work together with Product Design. I half stuck to my promise by giving some opinions and ideas to the group but I was not very influential in putting my ideas across. I noticed me agreeing with everyone in the group even though deep down I had issues with a couple of ideas. This was a great breaking in week and I was now ready to embrace 3rd year.
The new brief, called 21st Century Barometer, was fresh, innovative and allowed us to be creative. A barometer would give information about the weather when people where leaving their houses. Using this concept we had to design a “domestic, dedicated, daily data-driven digital device” meaning an internet-enabled information appliance that gives a householder a specific and appropriate piece of information as they leave their home at the beginning of their day. On first impressions I thought this sounded like a great brief until I read on and noticed an arduino was compulsory in this digital device. I have used arduino once previously and I did not have a very positive experience with it. I found the coding difficult to understand. However I wanted to have a really good attempt at this. I had many ideas after the first day of class including: a device that gave the users reminders, travel information and a more complicated prototype that involves finding out how much cereal you have left in the cupboard.
I was quite impressed by the Design Ethnography led tutorial which was reading up on reports and breaking them down to find problems from peoples’ lives. From initial assumptions to actual evidence from reports, I noticed there was problems highlighted that I did not think of. I felt really involved in this task partly due to the fact the reading was so heavy but you really got an idea of what people needed and wanted. This inspired me to want to design my prototype around the busy cities/busy families side to the brief. However when the visually impaired Amar Latif came to visit he inspired me to want to design my prototype around him. He showed the class that he can use his iPhone’s VoiceOver to let him use the device which was very impressive. Amar had a great attitude which kind of surprised me a little because even though he was blind he did not let that stop him from having a fantastic personality. Now I had two routes to follow, design ethnography or disability led design. I further researched both and I came across this site www.closeupresearch.com. This shows how creating videos can really communicate how people live and how we can design for them. This video is also interesting and raised some ethnography ideas.
After being influenced I had to think of a concept and join groups of three, with people whose concepts were similar to mine. I had so many ideas and couldn’t pick one. I felt influenced by all the information I received in the previous weeks. One of my ideas was horoscope readings. For example, if Happiness’ percentage was 89% an led would shine bright and if Romance was 5% the led light would nearly be out. This concept was to help people who where dyslexic or couldn’t read. My chosen idea was having media bestseller charts from Amazon.com to be printed out for a busy worker who didn’t have time to look for this information and browse the list on their way to work. This would create time for hobbies and gave them a way to relax while having a stressful morning. I liked this because of the interaction between the printer and user. I wanted to have digital data become physical as this idea interests me a lot. I joined with Pauline(DIxD) and Finnian(PD).
We were to create a printer that would print out tweets about weather in New York City whenever it was sunrise or sunset, we went the ethnography route to this project instead of designing for disabilities. What surprised me most about the start of the group work was how vocal I was. I really stuck to my target for this semester by being more vocal and expressing my opinions in team meetings. I liked how the group was just three people and that brought out the best in me. After the first meeting you knew that I was the organiser in the group, the leader, and that job never normally falls to me. I also felt more important because of this and I did not want to let the group down.
This prototype had to include arduino and that was the biggest challenge for me. I used this a little in 1st year but that just went over my head. I started of by talking to my group about what we wanted printed and in conclusion we wanted to print tweets because the layout of the 140 characters looked neater than weather information from a rss feed. I searched online and in books to find similar examples on how to tackle this problem. Ali, the tech specialist at University, talked about how to get the information from the internet to the arduino. This was extremely useful to me. I looked at how PHP could send data to processing and then to arduino. I achieved this until the processing to arduino step. I got extremely close but I looked at other ways I could get this project started without doing it this way. I found out an ethernet shield attached to the arduino would work so I purchased one and I also bought a thermal printer for the project. I was lucky enough to finally find similar examples online and after many hours of tweaking code I finally got it printing. I felt extremely happy and the many days of struggle already felt worth it. I learned so much from this and I am now already thinking about using arduino again in my own time and possible including it in my 4th year project. Either way I now feel comfortable with arduino and I am looking forward to embracing it with a positive attitude next time.
Other things I learned this semester was soldering which is a great skill to have. I believe my design skills improved as I moved further on with the project. I filmed and edited a video. I also learnt how to turn my dull cv into a fantastic cv which is very useful. One thing I would change if I did this project again is to not let all the work fall onto me. My group seemed happy for me to figure out all the code, make the video and organise meetings(even though sometimes they did not turn up). At the time I just accepted this because I wanted to learn as much as possible from this semester but in the future I will be more aware of this. Probably the greatest thing I learnt this semester is to have confidence in showing and talking about your own work. You have to believe in what our doing is good and convey this to your group and tutors. Confidence is key and I hope to keep improving on this area. Overall I have enjoyed this semester and now I feel like an improved confident designer.
When designers look to create something innovative or to add a new feature to a product etc. it is crucial for them to observe peoples behaviour around that object. Sometimes designers focus all their attention on the design of object but it is necessary not to neglect the affect they have on people and how they are used. This is where Design Ethnography comes in. You need to understand what is actually done and not what people tell you. For example if you asked someone, “how much did you pay for that shirt?” Then they answered “£65 its a designer label”. However if you observed this you would get the honest answer, it is a designer label but the shirt was on sale for £25. The person neglected to tell you this, why? Is it because they wanted to show how much money they have to spend on shirts, or how fashionable they are or just to simply show off. However if we observed this we get a different picture. Would this person ever buy this shirt if it was not on sale, shows that they are money conscious or simply they can not afford to buy the latest releases so buy last year’s trends. People filter their actions when asked questions, like this person did tell the truth to an extent but let the sale topic not come into the conversation. Therefore to get the truth about something you are designing, you need to know how it would fit in and work for people in real life situations.
Using this technique of observing, I was asked for this assignment to go to a place I have never been before. This was supposed to make you feel uncomfortable and be like a fish out of the water. This was to get us thinking about questions on why people do certain things and the “rules” of these places. I observed three places a football match (primary site), bus stop/bus and a shopping centre (secondary sites). In this blog entry I will discuss the primary site and move on to the secondary ones in my next entry.
I traveled to Glasgow for the football match between Celtic vs Motherwell. I took with me my sketchbook for some life drawing and note taking. I entered the stadium which was buzzing full of people shouting and singing, majority of men making the most noise. This made me feel rather uncomfortable as I am a quiet person so 60,000 people screaming in a packed stadium was going to cause some fear. I soon got settled but I noticed that when amongst the crowd of strangers they did not act like strangers. People who they have never met before had discussions throughout the game and even embraced in arm over shoulders or even hugged each other. This seemed strange to me because you would never show that affection to someone you just met in another environment. It was like if you are a fan of the same team you already had this strong bond like friendship and treated each other with warmth just on this one common trait. I found that quite astounding. I also noticed that most people were wearing green and white hoops because that is the colours of Celtic and it is there stadium so they had the majority of the fans there. Most people sported the same top with matching scarves and so it was very similar tastes everybody had. I felt like an outcast as I was very quiet compared to the noisy crowd.
Just before half time supporters of both teams started going away, some heading for the toilets others heading for snacks. It all seemed very routinized, they all clearly knowing where everything was like they have done this lots of times. It was odd seeing people leave their seats before the game stopped but I figured they have done this many times as they probably have all suffered waiting in long queues and missing the start of the 2nd half. When a goal was scored the crowd went insane, all cheering and acting like a huge family with even more embraces. It seemed compulsory to celebrate with everyone beside you. Opposition fans started fleeing the grounds when there was about 5 minutes left as they had giving up hope of a comeback to go catch an early, less busy, train home whereas the home fans stayed till the end basking in there glory.
I went to the megastore after the game and I noticed someone like me, a newbie to this crazy atmosphere. I could spot straight away he was out of his comfort zone as he looked nervous and studied everything intently. One other thing that gave him away was that he was not wearing anything green! He was checking out some T Shirts and he was looking at the price tag for a while. I tried not to seem like I was staring so I was just pretending to look at something close by. Then I heard one of his friends say something to him in another language. Then it clicked, he was staring at the price tag for a while because he could not understand what it was communicating. After they both talked for a few seconds the man picked up the T Shirt and took out his wallet and went to the checkout. I guessed the label was badly designed and did not include a Euro price on it or he just simply did not know English very well. I went over to that section of T Shirts and observed the labels, I noticed a problem straight away. It only said “Extra Lge” for sizing and did not include in measurements or European measurements. This is badly designed as not everyone will know what extra large measurements are as different clothing lines have different sizes. Roland Barthes the writer of The Rhetoric of the Image talks about polysemy, meaning images have more than one meaning. This was similar to this situation as I had many opinions on why this person was staring at the label.
Visiting Celtic Park was an experience and I may not have been too keen to begin with but I got more engrossed by it when each minute went on. It was exciting especially to see so many reactions and emotions the stadium had filled inside of it for the 90 minutes the game lasted.
On Thursday I went on a trip to the zoo. Like I said in my previous blogs we weren’t there to look at the animals, well maybe a little, but to observe the people there. I had a few questions in my head while watching people such as:
- What were people doing?
- What were they wearing?
- What were there reactions?
- How did they observe the animals?
- How did all this make me feel?
Here is just a few questions that got me thinking about this task of people watching.
While observing I noticed that children loved looking at the animals but they also loved the environment of it all. They were climbing on the trees and pressed on the glass to get as close as possible to the animals. They soaked up the place by frantically tracking down all of the animals and this was backed up by the gazing expressions on there faces. However elderly people were a lot slower as they took there time watching the behaviors of the different animals and took the time to read the information boards. Whereas me and my age group were in between these patterns. For example I took my time looking at each animal but I neglected the information boards. Some times I rushed but it just depends on what animal I was looking at. I noticed that other people in my class did the same as me.
Before going on this trip I read the Ethnography Primer. This mentioned that people say things like they have only had 5 hours sleep but really had 8. People exaggerate things to make them more suitable to the conversation but if you were actually there you would get real results. You can use the real results to create a more useful and accurate design by observing people. The Ethnography Primer really backed up my experiment at the zoo as when the day went on people got a little tired and bored. However when they got on the bus to go home they said they enjoyed themselves but that was not the opinion I got when I saw there faces when they were at the zoo.
Therefore I believe more strongly that observing peoples behaviour is crucial when designing so you can create a more accurate and beneficial design.
- Assignment 1
- Assignment 2
- Assignment 3
- Assignment 4
- DJ21012 – Screen Based Interactive Media 2 (11/12)
- DJ22006 – The 21st Century Designer (11/12)
- DJ22011 – Interaction Design (media products) (11/12)
- DJ31035 – Interaction Design – Physical Digital Products
- DJ32005 – Design & The Market Part 1 (12/13)
- DJ32013 – Social Mobile Apps (12/13)
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