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User-Testing Experiment – Results & Documentation

November 1, 2008

I created a new prototype and showed it to 4 people who are in the DT program at Parsons.

The first group was two second-year DT students and the second group was two first-year DT students: CLICK FOR TWO VIDEOS

During the testing with the second group, my camera ran out of memory so I had to write down the rest of their response.

Overall, this group felt that the presentation of the content was busy, overwhelming, and confusing. The interesting part of the repetitive language is missed because the emphasis is on the repeated quarried words (carbon footprint, offshore drilling, etc) and not the language around it as much. It wasn’t interesting enough and they wanted to see different and NEW information – not the same things we keep hearing. Visually, the movement of the typography was not appealing and was more distracting.

Overall, the feedback from the groups was very helpful and was a good way for me to identify the direction in which I need to progress. The initial reaction to my prototype was that the repetitive key phrases provided little new information to the viewer. There was more of a “so what?” than a “that’s interesting and unique” reaction to my visualization. One viewer mentioned that we have been in the in a phase now for so long with the direct communication we keep hearing about these crisis that people are “getting it” and just want to hear something new. They wanted more from the information that was being revealed, and at the moment it’s just appearing and that’s it. Just using the key “go to” phrases gets to the point where the viewer doesn’t understand the message and isn’t taking anything away from the project. The word “desensitized” was used to refer to the way that these issues are being communicated and I found that that was a GREAT way to describe it – I want to do something that is sensitizing, so I’m very glad for that response. It very much clarified what I should NOT do for my visualization.

The question about what the visualization was doing was “is this everything that’s being said and look at what we’re doing” . It was obvious to the viewers that I’m not trying to push the “green” idea, and that I’m just saying look at all of the plethora of stuff out there. It was mentioned that what I’m pulling has something to do with the media, but the view wasn’t getting that concept from the visualization.

Because we have already seen packages of things to make you feel something and the idea to create something poetic in the form of a haiku, for example, takes package, reworks the language, and puts responsibility on the viewer to decipher what is happening in the visualization so that they’re not forced to see something that’s already out there.

About midway through the critique, the participants brought up the idea of recreating the words and language to create something new, like a haiku, which was ironic because that’s what I had done (as a very low fidelity sketch) for an earlier prototype. I told this to the participants and they mentioned that they loved the idea of taking something threatening and putting it into a delicate and element format of a haiku. This direction is completely unique and it could make something funny and would be the true hook to my project. It would be beneficial to explore what I can do with the language in order to put it into a prose format. It was also asked if there was imagery that needed to be presented in addition to the text, but if not, the visualization could be effective just as text.

The participants stated that at the moment the cloud of language being presented doesn’t become obscured, so they asked if I wanted the truth to become obscured because of the language or is all of the language building something else? Does it fall into a wall the metaphorically obscures the truth? These are questions for which I am really grateful for the ideas that they bring up in my project.

Another question that came up was that of the risk that happens with it being too random may come up when generating an expression without me having to be part of it. However, the magic is in the challenge of making this happen dynamically.

Additionally, I met with a professor in the Anthropology department, Janet Roitman, who teaches a class called The Analytics of Crisis. It was suggested to me from Colleen that she would be a good contact for my project. At the time when I met with her I had not completed my prototype, but I discussed my thesis concept and showed her my midterm presentation which included my earlier experiments and low-fidelity prototypes. According to Professor Roitman, I have been taking the right approach in my experiments and am on a good track – capturing the crisis narratives that are being produced by us and by the media, and the mechanisms that are creating the problems. It actually happened to be something that some of her students were trying to do, but on a more an academic platform. Coincidentally, she said that what I’m trying to achieve with the crisis concept is what she is trying to get her students to achieve as well. She was interested in keeping up with my project and having me present my thesis to her class, which I plan on doing closer to the end of the semester when I have a prototype that is more visually and conceptually complete. She also responded well to the haiku experiment (I showed her the static results that I showed in my presentation), just as my first user-testing group did. This also went over well in my midterm presentation, so it’s apparently clear that taking this approach is the best way for me to go with my output – let there be a level of randomness that creates the interest in the language.

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