Participants Needed!

VOLUNTEER PARTICIPANTS NEEDED
for my Master’s thesis!

New Research Study:
Perceptions of Older Adults Toward iPhones

As a graduate student interested in accessibility, my Master’s thesis is focused on understanding the perceptions of older adults towards iPhones. Therefore, I am currently looking for participants over the age of 60 that would be willing to sit with me – via in person, Skype, or phone – and answer questions I have on their opinion of the iPhone.

Interviews should take about 30 minutes, and I will ensure that your personal information and answers to the interview questions remain confidential. Participation is completely voluntary and you may skip any questions you feel that are not comfortable to answer. Unfortunately, at this time I will not be able to offer compensation other than my sincere gratitude.

If you are interested or think you know someone that may be interested, please contact me at williale@purdue.edu or (408).800.1539 (my Google Voice number). For more information, feel free to call/email me or consult the information sheet below:

Wikipedia

For my Entrepreneurship class, we were required to present on a fairly recent company that ended up being a “hit” and identify how they were “Different in What Matters” (DWM). I nominated Twitter, but my group wanted to do it on Wikipedia, so I conceded, we split up the parts and I designed the powerpoint below:

 
From the Wikipedia page about Wikipedia, it is a “free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation”. For those who don’t know (because I didn’t) the Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages several collaborative wikis, including WikiBooks, WikiSource, WikiNews, Wikiversity, etc. There are millions of articles that are all written by volunteers.

At this point, I shared WikipediaVision, a tracker of Wikipedia edits across the globe in (almost) real-time, to illustrate that anyone, anywhere, edits Wikipedia articles:

I thought it was somewhat amusing that I had tweeted this website just a couple of days beforehand, so you may have already heard, but I was told of WikipediaVision by a teacher that said he would just sit and watch it when he was bored.

Anyway, I mentioned that Wikipedia was a great example of crowdsourcing, which is outsourcing to a community of people, or in this case, the world. Anyone with access can edit this information and aid in the compilation of knowledge. I also said that research shows that the wisdom of crowds will come up with the best possible solution or answer. However, it is a double-edged sword, because while Wikipedia is an open call to information, it also means it is susceptible to possible vandalism.

From here I passed it over to my classmates, who went over trends and gaps that Wikipedia filled in the market industry, leading to its success. They talked about target audiences, competitors, and how Wikipedia was DWM. From there we each discussed what we would do as CEO of Wikipedia to further promote it’s success.

Personally, as CEO, I would promote the benefits of crowdsourcing. The Wikimedia Foundation currently takes a neutral stance on the accuracy of it’s information, which I agree is a smart idea. However, I don’t think it would be detrimental to push to others how amazing this service is and what it is doing. Knowledge from the masses, all over the globe, is being compiled into a singe resource for others to use. I think that alone is quite an amazing feat! Maybe it would awe others enough to donate more. 🙂

After our presentation, the class discussed other ways the Wikimedia Foundation could make money. One possible solution that was mentioned was to charge the public to use or edit Wikipedia. This obviously wouldn’t facilitate the same amount of crowdsourcing being accomplished but leaves an interesting point: How much would you pay if you could edit something and maybe, get credit for it on the website? Do you think the Wikimedia Foundation could earn a decent profit from charging people to use it? Would you pay to use it?

So many people rely on Wikipedia for quick information already; I can’t see a small subscription charge being too horrible. In other words, as crude as this may sound, it’s already captured its user base. Why not exploit it?

Literature Review Writing

After writing my literature review for TECH621, there are several items I would like to mention. Some comments, some questions, and probably some excuses.

First, in class today, it was asked if anyone had compiled a Research Question yet. I was somewhat surprised of the uncertainty of hands. I can’t imagine how anyone could ever write a literature review without one. I had a tremendous struggle trying to decide what to do. I read articles, came up with a research question, read more articles, scrapped my research question, lather, rinse, repeat. I must have done away with fully-formed research questions at least four times, each one causing me more stress than the last. I went from wanting to discover the way changes in design affected user participation in SNS, to exploring which Facebook features attracted which specific demographic the most. But I knew I didn’t have time to conduct surveys for that knowledge, and I knew my time was dwindling.

My cat providing moral support through this stressful endeavor. ❤

Second, I’m ultimately unsure if the research topic I chose was a good one. I wanted to focus on the design of social network sites because I’m interested in it, and I knew I had to use Radian 6, so I tried to come up with ways I could come up with data from that. With help, I came up with the idea of using the comments and complaints of Facebook users on the design changes of their website. But if that was my answer, what was my question?

After more tossing of possible research questions, I finally decided that I wanted to contribute to future designs of SNS, and came up with the topic of discovering what features of SNS do Facebook users value most. I felt pretty confident about it. One of the first article we read in class were about SNS, and I was able to find that same article referenced in many related papers. That is, I felt confident until last Sunday, when I discovered a single detailed article on users and their gratifications toward using Facebook and it’s features. It was a 2008 study, and truth be told, I’m a little scared that it’s too recent to say that it’s not timely enough.

Granted, Facebook has gone through two redesigns since 2008, bringing about new features such as the “Like” button, Usernames, Places, and Questions. But is that enough to say that another experiment is in order? Could I possibly leverage my point with the innovative methodology of using Radian 6 to acquire data? I’m not exactly sure how I would go about that though.

Ultimately, I tried what I could, but I feel that my finished review was not as strong as I had hoped. Perhaps it’s because it is my first time writing one on my one. Perhaps it’s because I couldn’t read effectively enough despite the tips I received. Regardless, what I’m hoping for most is feedback on how to get better. I focused on making my topic transitions smooth and logical, hoping that I was making a point that was getting across, but I feel that there are other topics I should have touched on, without really knowing what those topics were.

I talked about SNS and their definition, the popularity of Facebook and its many design changes, how changes in design alters user perception and use, and then the findings from the 2008 study that was most related to my own topic. I stressed that technology changes quickly and the importance of keeping up with that trend. I mentioned the value of users’ comments and the benefit of the study for designers.

But what other topics should I have covered to support my point? Which part of the topics I did cover should I have provided sources on? Or should I focus on tweaking the research question I have now to go a different direction?

I’m taking away a lot from this class but not without struggles, so if you have input please share. 🙂 Thanks in advance.

How Twitter Enriched My PAXEast Experience

@XPlay says that Adam Sessler is doing autograph signing at 2:45PM!” I said excitedly to my boyfriend this weekend. “We HAVE to go.”

Who is Adam Sessler you may ask? Only the hilarious host of X-Play, a gaming show with reviews, previews, and tips for all your favorite (and hated) video games. But this post isn’t about my X-Play obsession, nor how I practically stalked Adam Sessler this weekend; it’s about how Twitter allowed me to do it! Well, to an extent. 🙂

I may have only started to see the benefit of Twitter with the introduction of this semester’s TECH621 class on Social Media, but it wasn’t until I spent this past weekend at the PAX East game convention in Boston, MA, that I truly was glad to have it access to it.

Welcome to PAX East!

Being connected to game companies, creators, reporters, and others, such as @InsideGaming, @G4tv, @Official_PAX, @PAX_lines, etc. gave me the when and where for any events during my stay in Boston. I would be cruising the Exhibition Hall, checking my Tweet feed, when someone would post about a panel I knew I had to attend.

X-Play's Feedback Panel

Because of Twitter, I was able to stay informed with any events, lines, and games that were of interest to me. I checked it often and was not only able to make it to panels of game creators, but attended a cosplay gathering for some great pictures!

Bioshock Cosplayers

I also attended a Meet-Up with some 4PlayerPodcast fans, where I was able to make some new friends as we walked from the convention center to downtown Boston – something that I would not have had the opportunity to do if I hadn’t seen their last-minute tweet.

The City of Boston

I had a great time at PAX East, and I truly believe that Twitter had a help in enriching that experience. I really have a different view of it now and have also found that instead of asking if someone uses Facebook, I’ve taken to asking for Twitter accounts… Seems a bit less personal and therefore, more accessible. But I’ve learned that just because you make a friend in reality and follow them on Twitter, it doesn’t mean that they will do the same to you. I guess that quality of Facebook was sort of nice – having a mutual “friendship” instead of a one-sided “follower” leaves me feeling less rejected.

On another note, due to my new-found appreciation for Twitter, I have decided to spread it’s advantages to others. I encouraged my younger sister @anwrooty to get an account, focusing how easy it has been to spread the word about events, which she could possibly utilize for her Cooking Club meetings. Plus, I persuaded my boyfriend @jjasicki to get one, who, as a soon-to-be Purdue graduate, has needed aid in finding a job. I told him stories how one of the students in the class received a possible grant offer after making contacts through Twitter, and how my TECH621 class has free access to Radian 6 for the semester through my professor’s contact. Networking does has it’s benefits!

Research Focus

Due to my interest in Interactive Design, I hope to focus on applying concepts to that of this class. Mainly, I am interested in learning more about the design process in the creation of social media, including theories of social presence that may help me further understand the social behavior of the public in CMC. I would like to understand what design traits are currently used in social media sites, and possibly what social affordances should also be included. This then leads me to wonder what is in store for social media in the future, and if we can predict the way in which new social environments and interfaces will be created, using what we know now about user behavior and design standards.

When it comes to Interactive Design, I plan on looking for related areas within that topic. To get an idea of what this may entail, I looked toward Wikipedia to get an idea of similar ones. These interest areas may reveal keywords I could use during my search.

Industrial Design: The core principles of Industrial Design overlap with those of interaction design, and vice versa.These include Physical form of an object, Aesthetics, Human perception & desire, and usability.

Human factors & Ergonomics: Certain basic principles of Ergonomics provide grounding for interaction design. These include anthropometry, biomechanics, kinesiology, physiology and psychology as they relate to human behavior in the built environment.

Cognitive psychology: Certain basic principles of cognitive psychology provide grounding for interaction design. These include mental models, mapping, interface metaphors, and affordances. Many of these are laid out in Donald Norman’s influential book The Design of Everyday Things.

Human computer interaction: Academic research in human-computer interaction (HCI) includes methods for describing and testing the usability of interacting with an interface, such as cognitive dimensions and the cognitive walkthrough.

Design research: Interaction designers are typically informed through iterative cycles of user research. User research is used to identify the needs, motivations and behaviour of end users. They design with an emphasis on user goals and experience, and evaluate designs in terms of usability and affective influence.

User interface design: Like User Interface design and Experience design, Interaction Design is often associated with the design of system interfaces in a variety of media but concentrates on the aspects of the interface that define and present its behavior over time, with a focus on developing the system to respond to the user’s experience and not the other way around.

Below are some previous research links that may help me in my study:

  • Community in the new epoch: the social ergonomics of community design
  • Toward a More Robust Theory and Measure of Social Presence: Review and Suggested Criteria
  • Designing social presence of social actors in human computer interaction