New media design to augment social networks of city residents
This poster reports on the plan for a three-year study underway to advance design knowledge of how residents in urban environments can be assisted to communicate and interact through the use of new media to bridge the physical and digital city. A central focus is to challenge the notion of the mobile phone as a personal artefact and explore ways in which the device can be used in conjunction with other technologies and interfaces such as urban screens. One of the desired outcomes is that co-located residents involved in content sharing activities gain a greater sense of belonging within their physical community. We explore which thematic approaches to content sharing, such as the collective enhancement of the environment, might galvanise people to engage in the sort of interactions normally reserved for members of their prefabricated social networks. Finally, we report on our informal pilot study where it is already becoming evident that the integration of shared displays in residential spaces provokes a diverse series of opinions from residents. Reactions become more pronounced when the displays depict data that was a simulation or reproduction of the specific residential experience as opposed to generic content such as a sporting match. A series of ‘resident archetypes’ emerged from the pilot study that presented highly complex and often contradictory user needs. Although this project is just beginning and more research is about to commence, a set of design challenges is already hinting that technologies integrated in residential spaces must address two binary dichotomies. The first is the users’ desire for reproduction and representation versus the users’ who crave anonymity. The second is need for the form factor of the technology to be visible and interactive without becoming an invasive presence.
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