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Field research and interaction design: course #3


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Third deck of slides from the Field Research and Interaction Design, a Master course at the Geneva University of Art and Design, in the Media Design program taught in 2009-2010

Published in: Design, Technology, Business

Field research and interaction design: course #3

  1. 1. Course #3: observations and photographic investigations nicolas nova | liftlab Head, Geneva | December, 3th 2009
  2. 2. The camera + the observer as a research tool pictures taken by the obsever OR by the informants inspired by visual anthropology viewing and recording behavior, usages and context employed in formative research as a complement to observations
  3. 3. Textbook for this course (all the quotes in these slides come from this book that I highly recommend)
  4. 4. Photography in design UX research? • Complement notebook, allows to capture a situation • Allows reliable comparisons • Help to preserve the "vivid first impressions" • Allows first to get a "wide view" of the situation under study and then, to focus on specific and selective aspects in search of particular evidence • Should go beyond illustration • Can be articulated with interviews (based on pictures: projective interview, self-confrontation), survey, etc.
  5. 5. “Rapport” • Photography can facilitate the entry process in the field • “When you (or another person) mentions that you're the photographer, you've be assigned a role by the informants you observe... a role that is easier than the one of a designer or an ethnographer... you get the ability to observe without asking... and people are generally interested in seeing the pictures... which is a great opportunity to build trust with informants” + know more about the situation under study • "photograph first what natives are the most proud of"
  6. 6. Photography as a way to get the "global picture" • A tool for mapping/get the overview: settings (land usage, street grid, road patterns, shop/house size...), aerial views, long vistas, 180-panorama ... can be translated into diagrammatic maps. • Access cultural data: political/cultural/ commercial representations: "record the outer face of the community"
  7. 7. Shooting guide for research • For example, a shooting guide for urban photography: • Where is the situation at hand? Take shots of signs, location indications, landmarks and any sign that defines location. • How does it look like? Collect cue about the appearance of the environment (street width, building height, neighborhood type, shop types...). • How does this space is organized? Record the different components of the environment (private/public boundaries, different institutions...) • How does this space is used by people? Identify the different functions of the space and the activities which takes place, as well as the type of people they serve. You can for instance photography a place (vending machine at bus stop) every 30 minutes for one day to capture this. • Who inhabits this space? Take shots of who lives or work there (+age/ethnic distribution) • How do people move around? • Are there different patterns depending on moments of the day? Identify cycles and activity peaks. Are there any cycles that extend to weeks/months? • Are there any signs of change? Future constructions? Closings? Openings?
  8. 8. "Wait patiently, and all the forest life will pass before you" malcolm collier Remember to take wide shot to get an overview (plus understand the relationships) and closer shots for details.
  9. 9. Photography and objects Photography as a great way to capture the "cultural inventory" (the range of things at home, their relationships and placement) Inventories of objects in a situation (home, office...) • Take shots of every part of the setting/room (wall, floor, ceiling), identify artifacts, can be complemented with a census. • The observer OR the informant can do it (might be useful to reveal artifacts that look insignificant at first to the observer) • Describe the arrangement and use of space • What's the proportion of utilitarian to non-utilitarian objects • What is the style?
  10. 10. Photography is also great to get Photography and objects 2 information about things and (technical) objects... especially when they are used... Photography is also great to get information about things an indirect way to understand people's and (technical) objects... motivation, problem,are used... an life, especially when they needs or indirect way to understand people's life, motivation, interests. problem, needs or interests. Purpose: record the step-by-step operation, how the use of a certain object (a map, a mobile phone, a computer, a vending machine, a tram door) is used
  11. 11. Purpose: record the step-by-step operation, how the use of a certain object (a map, a mobile phone, a computer, a vending machine, a tram door) is used
  12. 12. Purpose: record the step-by-step operation, how the use of a certain object (a map, a mobile phone, a computer, a vending machine, a tram door) is used
  13. 13. Purpose: record the step-by-step operation, how the use of a certain object (a map, a mobile phone, a computer, a vending machine, a tram door) is used
  14. 14. Shooting guides for object photography What you are looking for, through pictures AND your notes: • Where does the use of this object happen? • When does the use of this object happen? • Who uses the object? One or more "participants" • Which objects are used? (sometimes there is more than one artifact) what are the role of each tools? Capture elements about the context! • What's the process? make a saturated and sequential record of all the phases, isolate steps, analyze the various peaks of activity • How long did it last? • What happened before the object was used? • What happens after the object is used? • What's the conclusion of using the object (is there a physical output?) • Has the object changed during use? • Was an object repurposed from its initial use? • Document problems, troubles, failures. What happened before, after. How the problem was fixed, by whom. • If there are more than one person, what's the division of labor? is it symmetrical? assymetrical? How did people communicate? Did people talk? Did people rely on non-verbal communication to coordinate? Document the spatial relationship of people (colocated? distant?)? What about proxemics (distance between people)?
  15. 15. Photography and interviews • A way to build trust in an interview • The informant is no longer the subject, the photography is • Can serve as a reference points for discussion or allow informant to be reminded of specific aspects • Allows the information to stay focused on the situation observed: structured interview • Invite the informant to make use of his/her expertise (and sometimes lead the interview) • Allows to "explore the photographs together" • Allows to structure the different photographs and make connections between them • Unlike interview without photography, group interviews with pictures can be insightful • Tip: you can ask informant to draw/make notes directly on the print- outs
  16. 16. Risks, problems • There are people and places you won't be able to photograph • I personally don't like taking secretive and hurried shots (except crowds), there is more to gain in dealing with a potential informant • There MUST be a consent deal between informants and the observer, the picture should not be made public (except the informant agreed on it). This is even more important for picture taken in private settings. • Total documentation is impossible! Fieldwork is about selectivity.
  17. 17. *Field notes better off with paper notepads (compared to PDA/ phone) during observations, after interviews always indicate dates+location+informant name two parts: notes (descriptions, quotes, sketches) + first analysis, thoughts and ideas
  18. 18. Project discussion
  19. 19. Menu for next courses ➡ Course’s blog: ➡ Next course will be about interviewing techniques
  20. 20. Assignement ➡ Each student will have to read a research paper and present it to the class: • 10 minutes, no slides • Outline: summary + why is it relevant for design + personal opinion • Humphreys, L. (2007). Mobile social networks and social practice: A case study of Dodgeball. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 17. •Forlizzi, J. (2007). How Robotic Products Become Social Products: An Ethnographic Study of Robotic Products in the Home, Proceedings of HRI07. New York, NY: ACM Press, 129-136 forlizziRoomba.pdf ➡ Project: • Develop a shooting guide based on your research question, justify your choice • Go on the “field” you are interested in and collect visual findings that would help to tackle your research queston. • Prepare a 5 minutes presentations (with slides) of the main findings (= 5 pictures), we will discuss the results in class at the next course
  21. 21. Let’s discuss your question
  22. 22. thanks