Since we from team Crosslink are the inventors of the “UP” project, we know all its in's and out’s, we know everything about the system and thereby tend to forget that the actual users of this system in daily life may not be this well aware of its capabilities and opportunities. In order to check whether everything is clear, even to those who never heared about “UP”, we confront potential users/visitors with our concept and interview them about the subject.
We decided to visit the people of the Spoorsingel and went door-to-door asking whether we could buy some minutes of their time in order to ask a few questions.
Through a short interview we expected to gain enough knowledge and perhaps filter unforeseen faults or flaws in the system noticed by bystanders.
At the start of a new interview we first introduced them to “UP” and gave them a brief summary of the idea and the intentions mentioned below:
We would like to trigger interaction between visitors of the building site, residents of Delft, and the elderly through several technologies and media sources, in order to emphasize a sense of togetherness.
A small group of pre-selected elderly (65+) will serve as “reporters” (color i.d)
They’ll use an interface called: “the updater” to report their discoveries or a regular basis. On this updater they'll write a small story and pin-point the location (by touch-screen). “The uploader” will on his turn present a numbered balloon in the right color
The “reporter” will than walk back to the pin-pointed position and mark it using the balloon.
Visitors and people who pass by the spoorzone (building site) on a regular basis will notice these colored balloons and get curious. Several information screens placed around the project will inform and trigger visitors to read and or respond either by sending “text messages” to the addressed reporter or through the “web interface”. Visitors response will on their turn be placed next to the mentioned discovery in wait of more responses by that particular reporter or others
After the introduction and explaining the system we asked some in depth questions on the idea we just mentioned. We cleverly asked the questions in such a way that the questionnaire had to answer it with more than a simple “yes or no”. For this reason we'd asked them upfront to respond as honest and elaborate as possible in order to gain realistic feedback:
What's your opinion on this concept (I’ve just introduced you to) and the idea of “enjoying the chaos” (making the best of the situation by embellishment and entertainment)?
Do you expect many people will attend to this project and do expect to participate yourself, if so how often would you take some time to wander around?
Which media source would you prefer using in order to respond to “reported discoveries”?
Would you expect your neighbors to attend the project and how often would they participate?
The questionnaire turned out to be a great success; we got a lot of positive and helpful feedback. Our fear for “face to face” sympathy was overestimated and everyone responded in pure honesty and kept it real. We got some tips, ideas and or solutions to issues mentioned.
As planned we visited some neighbors down at the spoorsingel, the street that runs parallel to the spoorzone project. We'd expected the most empathy and interest from these people since the building site now took a place in their daily life.
Most interviewees had some concern regarding the balloon, they don't really know whether it’s going to survive vandalism and bare all types of weather. We did already take these factors in account and have possible solutions for both but will keep those a side and (maybe return to that subject later) continue on further remarks.
D. Hamakers (63) expects it won't be too hard finding elderly who're willing to control electronic devices in order to report discoveries, and do this on a weekly basis. “They might need some brief instructions up front, but, the elderly of nowadays are growing along with technology quite well”. Mr. Hamakers sees a bright future and excellent solution for those elderly who're now bored and walk/wander around into nothing. “People can now get out, go for a walk, look for remarkable things and do this with an actual goal/purpose in mind”
However Mr. Hamakers also foresees a potential thread when allowing elderly to talk about their experiences “there is a possible risk they'll never stop, knowing for a fact that old people are known for their wordiness” In order to make sure they won't exaggerate and write book-long stories, we might want to embed a maximum to the amount of characters allowed in each story.
On the question whether the respondents would participate themselves, everyone responded very excited, some even asked whether they could already enroll upfront. On the other hand, Ms. Vervoort (43) said she would be way to busy to participate in this project as a reporter (she missed the picture there for a moment) but would love to visit the project with her kids throughout the weekends. She would prefer sending short text messages to the information screens in stead of going online to respond.
Ms. Vervoort was a very friendly interviewee who came up with some eye-openers and emphasized here idea of the UP project. Living across the spoorzone she has experienced some ignorance with residents from further away (in Delft) who don't really get confronted/involved in the project, however they do show interest when talking with them about it. Ms. Vervoort said “When I tell people about the project they're all very curious but barely anyone actually visits the spoorzone info centre (across the station) in order to gain more knowledge. I think this is because there still remains this invisible barrier to go there and people nowadays are too lazy to undertake real actions in order to gain knowledge. However by placing the UP info screens cleverly on busy points, and crossroads, near the project, you might draw their attention and you can very easily lure them into participation. Especially when it's just a matter of sending a text message or something”
People experienced a positive change in the usual “grimm-grey” atmosphere around the building sites into “new-reviving” progress due to the use of colorful balloons. Apart from the possible incapabilities many people found the idea of floating balloon around the spoorzone quite cheerful.
One other rather interesting idea mentioned is to ability to report using video messages. Someone came up with this idea when doubting the capabilities to write a full report on a display using a keyboard/stylus, and said: “why not integrate a webcam in the interface” making it possible to simply record your report and spread the word. We all agreed on this point as to be quite handy and far from impossible to integrate in our upload stations.
Coming back on a point practical point mentioned earlier. It might not be a bad idea to assign some people to the UP project who can function as a helpdesk for visitors/reporters with questions and or needs. Until now, the UP project was a stand alone solution that ran purely on electronic interfaces without any help of human power (except for the inevitable web editor) But since the spoorzone already has a “home” it might as well implement this project and serve the people who have questions or show interest in the UP project.. Besides this informative aspect, when looking to a more realistic realization of this concept, the balloons might have to be replaced for e.g. Colored poles (due to building hindrance, vandalism or physical impossibilities) In that case some one has to e.g. Check the interface for updates and place a pole (or other type of pin point object) on the marked/reported location. However, at this point we are still talking about a concept and don't want to go to much into detail/depth due to the simple reason that realism is just boring ;)
* Perhaps mention the possibly to work with stronger, more weather balloon like, materials for the balloons. And in the case of vandalism make sure they can't reach the cord or harm the project in any way by keeping it at a certain distance.