Project 2: Fieldwork

Due Tuesday January 11 and Thursday January 13

This project will let you engage potential users in interviews and synthesize observation into design ideas through brainstorming. The overall topic for the course is lifelogging: mobile and online sensing for public/private good. In this assignment, you will begin the process of exploring this topic with an eye towards informing your final project.

First, pick a lifelogging application of interest to you. What compelling information needs might be addressed through mobile or online sensing? Example areas include (but are by no means limited to) fitness, health, remembrance, and environmental monitoring.

Second, find a relevant stakeholder to interview. Stakeholders consist of the people directly involved or implicated in the information collected. If you are interested in elder care, potential interviewees include the elderly being cared for, family members, and health care professionals (attending nurses or doctors). Alternatively, if you are interested in monitoring neighborhood pollution levels, you might interview a concerned resident (who might carry sensors), a scientist who specializes in pollution studies, or a civic policy maker. Conduct a semi-structured interview using the principles discussed in class and in the assigned readings. Aspects to explore include people's current practices; their familiarity, comfort, and access to existing technologies; and what forms of information are important and how they effect people's actions or decision making.

Third, brainstorm new applications from your interview results and develop a 3-5 minute skit that communicates an envisioned usage scenario.

Pay attention to the many distinct people and the settings, things, and other people that engage them. What works and what does not? Your challenge is to go out and uncover the journey people take in acquiring and making sense of important information. What are the practices and goals of the various participants? How are they different? How are they similar? How do they succeed or fail? Can you find and engage any "extreme participants" who can provide deeper design insight?

The skills we will learn in this project are:

Observation and Interviewing
We're investigating the practices of people that may not be exactly like us, which means that we must work more critically and more actively. Bring your idea log and a camera! Take pictures, write notes, sketch. Talk to your interviewee about why they do what they do, have them reflect on concrete lived experiences, and try to get at the deeper meanings.

How to turn observations into design possibilities. Be creative in thinking of unexpected possibilities!

Show how users might interact with your envisioned technology by performing a skit. This skit should demonstrate both the motivation for your idea and an interaction scenario, integrating pictures, costumes, and props.

This project will be done in teams of 4; each team is responsible for choosing a single application area and conducting two interviews. The interviewees should be chosen to get different perspectives on the application area – try to avoid interviewing two highly similar people. Conducting interviews as a pair allows you to get multiple perspectives and point things out to each other; it also allows one person to take rich notes while the other may be more engaged with the respondent. The four of you should then synthesize the results of your interviews and prepare and present the skit together.

The project has the following deliverables:

  1. Interview materials - Bring to class on Tuesday 1/11
    Conduct your interviews prior to class on Tuesday. At this first stage you aren't trying to come up with specific problems and solutions, but instead are assembling a wide variety of materials that can inspire design. Take pictures, make notes, draw sketches and bring them all in. Read the notes on observation and interviews, including the "Empathize" mode from the d.school bootcamp document. In observing and interviewing don't just look at the specific activities, but also look behind them to the underlying cognitive, emotional, and social meanings.

  2. Demonstration skit - In class Thursday 1/13
    Each team will present a short (3-5 minutes) skit illustrating a vision of a new design. Be prepared to say a few words about the process that led you to the design, including other ideas you considered and what you learned. You will need to meet between Tuesday and Thursday to prepare and rehearse it. If you have storyboards, written scenarios, etc. for preparing the script, hand them in as well.

  3. Reflection - After the presentation
    In your individual idea log, write/draw a reflection on your own experience working on the project: creative process, team process, design-development process, and what you might do next time.


Other criteria, such as breadth of ideation, will be graded as part of the Idea Log.


Please feel free to e-mail us at cs247@cs.stanford.edu if you have any questions.