The Stories of Mundane Technologies
I543 Interaction Design Methods
Subject - 00 (Discarded)
• Method: Diary Study
• Date & Time: Feb. 12 Wednesday- Feb. 14 Friday, 2014
• Participant: Male, 18 years old, American. He works in Collins Dining Hall where I
know him. He is a early graduate high school student.
• Procedure: I talked to him before I instructed him how to write the diary. I asked him
to introduce his daily routine, and I got the impression that he has a pretty regular daily
life: wake up in the morning, work(12pm-9pm), go to the bed. Before and after the
work, he usually plays games and watch movies. Then I decided to study the “home
entertainment”. I printed a booklet notebook, and instruct him to write about the
entertainment at home, twice a day.
• Reason for discarding his diary: I checked his diary on Thursday. I found that
basically he wrote one sentence for each entry. He was not willing to talk about the
details of Friday…(maybe it is because the V-day?) Considering the limited information
he could offer, I decided to discard his data.
Subject - 01
• Method: Diary Study
• Date & Time: Feb. 13 Thursday- Feb. 16 Sunday, 2014
• Participant: Female, 23 years old, Chinese. I met her at a party few weeks ago. It was
the only time that we talked, but we had a good conversation, so she agreed to
participant in the research.
• Procedure: After I checked subject 00’s diary, I decided to recruited another subject to
do the diary in case 00’s data can't work. Due to the time constraint, I asked a friend to
do the research. I instructed her to bring the diary with her. I also pulled data from her
Path(1), Moments (2) and Facebook posts to enrich the database.
(1)Path: A social network app for “your personal life.”
Support text post, image post, location check in, sleep/wake up time check in.
(2)Moments: A feature from a Chinese social network app “Wechat”. Support text and image post. http://www.wechat.com/en/.
•Wake up early in the morning.
•Seldom stay up late.
•Eat healthy food.
•Single. [RN: So she didn’t has any plan
on 2.14 (Friday). ]
Activities & Habits:
•Go to SRSC (Gym) twice a day.
One in the morning and one in the
•Love anime and anime movie. [RN:
Mentioned 6 times on Fri. and 5 times
on Sat. in diary and other data
•Love delicious foods. [RN: Mentioned
4 times. including both text and image
•Strict with herself and others.
•Always get a plan.
•Not satisﬁed with her shape.
•Responsible and conscientious.
•Has been angry with her roommate
for a long time because her
roommate never do housework.
[RN: She “cursed” her roommate on
three different sources: diary, Moments,
and Path. She complained about her
roommate on Moments several time
before(beyond the research period)]
•“Velvet hand in a iron glove”. [RN:
She looks like a independent girl who
always do things alone but she cares
about her friends and family.
Mentioned friends 4 times, parents 3
Figure: Purple post-it s are the note of the
user’s post on Facebook, Path, and
• Main Activities: During these four days, top three important activities in her life are: work out, watch
anime, complained about her roommate because of the housework issue. I will focus on the artifacts
that related those three activities.
• In addition, when I analyze her diaries on social network, I realize that she really loves to express her
feeling and share what is happening in her life on social network. So I think “posting” - the way she
keeps diary can also be another important activities of her life.
• Artifacts mentioned: She told me she is not the person who is into “drawing” when I gave her the
notebook, so she didn't draw any pictures in the diary. Instead, here I list all artifacts she mentioned in
her diary and analyze the photos she posted on other data sources that related to the main activities:
Watch Anime Do Housework
• How Artifact Mediate Life: (cont.)
Working out: She does cardio exercise in the morning and does strength training in the evening.
She uses elliptical machine rather than running machine because she has slight problems in her
knees and elliptical machine is known for not hurting knees. After she works out in the evening,
she is frizzed to death waiting for the bus at the bus stop when wind is blowing during these
• How Artifact Mediate Life:
Watching Anime: She watched anime frequently these days. She told me it was not what she
usual do. The peak of the entries of anime related posts was on Friday, which was the
Valentines Day. She shared her experience of going to CVS to buy snakes at that night. She
had the feeling that the cashier looked at her with “a pathetic look” because she was single at
V-Day. [RN:She didn't write this story on any social network. ] She “Watched Konna OVA (1) for
the whole evening :-D” from 5 pm - 1am using her laptop. During this time, she had picked-up
meals and ice cream.
Doing Housework: According to the interview and histories on social network posts, she has
been angry with her roommate (X) for a long time because X never wash cookwares. She
posted the dirty pans, silverwares on Path and Moments (not on Facebook because X will
Posting: It’s her ﬁrst year in IU, so she doesn't have many really close friends. When she needs
someone to talk about her life or her worries, she prefers to post them on social network to
destress. Facebook is a more public platform to her, almost all the friends she met in
American is “friends” on Facebook. But friends on Path and Moment are more close to her.
“Konna” should be “Conan”. “Detective Conan” is a famous anime worldwide. OVA means Original video animation or anime movie.
Detective Conan has 16 OVA now. http://detectiveconan.wikia.com/wiki/Detective_Conan_Wiki
In the interview, she told me she ﬁnished all 16 OVA during this weekend.
Mundane Technologies: In response to the artifacts mentioned before, the subject
uses Bloomington transit bus system, training machines, anime websites, food
ordering website, cooking utensils, and mobile social network Apps.
• Some of the technologies act as the necessary of life, like the bus system or
• Some act as entertainment like the anime websites or as helper like the food
• Some also have a social meaning behind: you need to anime movies to kill time
and you don't want to cook or eat in the restaurant because you are all alone
on Valentines Day; you share the cooking utensils with your roommate so you
will be out of rage if (s)he doesn't wash them after use all the time.
• Some help you to express yourself and your emotion.
Sense of Community:
Relationships between technologies and notions of space/ place:
Sense of Community:
• When using the Bloomington Transit system, we have to show student ID card
to bus drive —sense of IU student
• When order and pick up food to eat at home alone, we have the feeling of “not
belonging” to community
• When we watch anime, we try to immerse ourselves in the anime world to get
rid of the sense of not belong
• When we use shared cooking utensils, we have the feeling of being roommate.
• When choosing Facebook/Path/Moments to post the life events, we go through
what communities we belong to and which social network is the best place to
post the events.
Relationships between technologies and notions of space / place: bus system and
bus stops are ﬁxed, while all the websites go with our computer. Mobile apps go
with us all the time—mobile phone is like another hand of us.
In all those mundane technologies,
the mobile social networks App
interests me the most.
In this speciﬁc assignment, it
occurs to me that we use those
apps to record our lives, however
we spend most of our time on
the content of the record while
ignoring the tools themselves.
They are REAL mundane
technologies that are simple and
unremarkable but powerful.
When we have some smart
words or anything that want to
share with others, or at least
write it down—the ﬁrst thing we
do it, pull out the phone, open up
the appropriate App, and type
Figure: (a). Facebook. (b). Path. (c). Moments.
If we jump out of the box and look back on the appliances,
we can come up with many different questions about the
sense of community and social interaction:
• Why we post this particular thing on Path rather than
Facebook? Who are your “friends” on Facebook or Path?
Why someone is your friend on Facebook but not friend on
Design Implications - Internet of Things
When using the mobile social network App, the biggest challenge is to choose the
appropriate social network App which represents different communities.
• When related to Internet of Things
• Exam the event, and recommend the appropriate social network community.
• Exam if the actors involved in the event are “friends” on the social network
automatically when the user is going to post the event to prevent any
embarrassed posts. (For example, if the subject want to compliant her
roommate, the system will exam if her roommate is her friend on Facebook.)
Social network is good for connecting people, so it would be great if it could
connect user when they need company
• When related to Internet of Things
• Recommend user to have a chat with people after a amount of same posts
on different social networks(For example, subject posted many same post on
Facebook, Path, and Moments during a particular time “tired and don't want to
work”) (which means you are bored right now).