Monument to Homelessness


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"How can HCI alleviate homelessness?" This was a question I and two cohorts addressed. We reasoned that the 'most likely' approach most others would take would be to develop a social network for the homeless (or caretakers of the homeless) or volunteers. We looked instead to create empathy by giving our users a 'virtual' experience of homelessness. As we approached this idea through games, we could achieve an intellectual appreciation of homelessness, but not necessarily the 'feeling.' We ended up moving way "outside the box" to create a 'monument' to the homeless, that took users through a narrative of shame, fear, confusion, and finally, resolution, kindness, and support for fellow humankind.

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  • 1. 2. And by “people” we mean, both homeless and homeful people. 3. You see then the problem.
  • 1.The pain of the homeless is shame. Yes, the pain of the homeless is being without shelter. Without food. Without love. But that pain is magnified when someone observes you. When someone observes your suffering, it multiplies the shame. As shame increases, the human becomes less able to act. The less they act, the less control they have over their environment. The less control they have over their environment, the more entropy spreads. The more entropy overtakes, the more times the human loses her house, or goes hungry, or goes unloved. And when someone sees this, the cycle of shame gets enacted again.
  • 1. And by social network, we don’t mean facebook. We mean the old school version of it. We mean in the lower fidelity model of a social network. We mean people! We mean friends! Shelters. Churches. It’s a community!
  • Imagine. You’re in New York City. Manhattan. Busiest time of the year. It’s Christmas. You’re bundled up in your woolen winter coat, your scarf, your cap. Your nose hairs are freezing. You are almost happy you have to take the subway, because the temperature’s warmer down there. You descend down the steps at 17th and Park. It’s yellowish, inside, and it has a unique smell. You hurry. There’s a crowd, you see, it’s Christmas, and you hurry through - pushing slightly - pulling your coat ever tighter. You pass the turnstyle. You descend now to the platform. You can hear the subways. You hear them screech. You pull your bag of Christmas gifts closer, instinctively, as you approach a huddled mass of hobos lying on the ground. You angle off too - to feel safe - so that when you start passing them by you’re a full 12 inches away even though this has you now bumping into the Christmas crowd. It annoys you. You’re angry. The Christmas crowd is pushing back. You look down on the huddled hobos and curse them. You curse their little dog, too. What’s that? It’s a cute dog, poking right out from under those dirty blankets. And for a moment you almost smile until you see - that this dog is not alive. This dog is an artificial dog. It’s a plastic dog. You wonder what the big idea is so you look up and, you see…
  • Monument to Homelessness

    1. 1. Team H Hyewon Kim Adam Williams Chandra Dyson Sean Connolly
    2. 2. Aims We aim to assist communication between those who are displaced by homelessness
    3. 3. LOST IN ISOLATION Mantra
    4. 4. Goals <ul><li>Our goal is to stimulate a meaningful awareness in the public of the homeless </li></ul>
    5. 5. Predispostions <ul><li>Homelessness is as much an emotional issue as a material </li></ul><ul><li>All people have emotions </li></ul><ul><li>Shame causes isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Maya Lin would “go into the pain.” </li></ul>
    6. 6. Insight <ul><li>The pain is shame </li></ul>
    7. 7. Research <ul><li>A community’s social networks are highly effective tools for preventing recurring homelessness </li></ul><ul><li>Friends! Shelters! People! </li></ul>
    8. 8. Insight <ul><li>Encouraging more public interaction with homeless will increase support networks of homeless </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging human interaction with homelessness decreases homelessness </li></ul>
    9. 9. So…
    10. 10. You
    11. 11. Seeing yourself homeless <ul><li>Enacts mental model of “in proximity to homeless person” </li></ul><ul><li>Puts one in context of ‘avoiding the homeless’ </li></ul><ul><li>Too subtle to attract everyone </li></ul><ul><li>It is the attention of one person on the homeless which starts the group experience </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>You approach </li></ul>
    13. 13. 2. You look down
    14. 14. <ul><li>The floor blinks HOMELESS </li></ul>
    15. 15. 4. Pictures of you start to appear
    16. 16. 5. Pictures of you rise up the wall
    17. 17. 6. Once at eye level, pictures of just your eyes (blinking back at you) rise up the wall - accelerating
    18. 18. 7. Your eyes race up to and *across the ceiling*
    19. 19. 8. Pictures of your eyes race back down wall, turning back into pictures of you (face) looking at you (note the reflection of the dog)
    20. 20. 9. You follow reflection of dog back to original screen
    21. 21. 10. See yourself in hobo clothes
    22. 22. Consequences <ul><li>Your clothes are tattered </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone is looking at you, wondering what you did </li></ul><ul><li>All of your own eyes are looking at you </li></ul><ul><li>You are unconfident / uncomfortable </li></ul>,
    23. 23. Consequences <ul><li>While you linger in your spot, the outer parts of the board/wall solicits volunteers for homeless programs (food banks, shelters, missions) </li></ul><ul><li>But, these portals are only active when a person endures the whole experience of becoming homeless </li></ul>
    24. 24. Meaning It’s only after individuals begin to look at the context of homelessness, that the community network can begin to grow.
    25. 25. Conclusions <ul><li>Facilitating empathy with the homeless, enables interaction with the homeless </li></ul><ul><li>If human interaction increases, community’s social networks gain strength </li></ul><ul><li>The stronger the community’s social-networks, the less homelessness will persist </li></ul>
    26. 26. Thank you