— SUMMARY OF PRODUCT EXPERIENCE —
As a team, we all participated in the initial concept development stage, defining the problem space, goals and strategies together. In the second stage, Rae and I were more involved in the SWOT analysis of the strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T), designing the interfaces of the wall product, as well as developing the interactions and activities carried out at the wall. Meanwhile, Jeff and Kate took responsibility with the mobile interfaces and designing the entry point into the product. We then all took part in filming of the video, but Kate and I specifically took charge in the animation of the interfaces and designing the interactions.
— THE FULL STORY —
Framing the problem
Clicktivism is a term that surfaced recently describing situations where activism is reduced to online petitions — a “like” on Facebook, a hashtag on Twitter, etc — especially among today’s tech-savvy Millennials. We believe that some of the reasons why clicktivism is not meaningful is that there is no follow-up actions pertaining to online activities most of the time, that within the vast network of World Wide Web, it is easy to be lost, anonymous, and thus hard to harness real ties with fellow supporters of the same cause.
Our group aims to facilitate more meaningful activism among Millennials through designing a product that would intercept clicktivist behaviours and bring together people physically to inspire interactions and collaborations. How do we move past clicktivism? Our group believes that the first step to any realization of effort or collaboration comes from the presence of strong ties due to common goals. Thus our goal is to build a tool that connects people, namely college students, based on place and common cause, that allows them to build stronger ties with each other beyond the digital space.
Some findings and considerations
We began our case study at Carnegie Mellon University. Tied together by place, how do we start to pick up signs of activism by CMU students and connect them physically? To understand the problem space more, we did an online survey to understand more about the collaboration habits of CMU students and their attitude towards activism on social media. In addition, we looked for indicators and analysed CMU students’ behaviors on designated Facebook pages for public postings of campus sightings and happenings, or observed activist behaviours at central locations on campus.
We also read a little into Benedict Anderson’s theory of imagined future to understand the motivation that brings collective identity and connections. Some other things we considered include the questions of what constitutes a meaningful experience, what prompts collaboration, what is essential in the building of strong ties, etc. As written in one of the papers by J.P. Bigham, M.S. Bernstein and E. Adar that we referenced, "collective intelligence involves the co-design of technical infrastructure and human-human interaction: a socio-technical system." We begin to explore the possibilities of such a socio-technical system, jumpstarting from platforms that already exist.
Product concept and design
Entry point: the purple hashtag
One main strategy we employed was to intercept clicktivist behaviour as it is happening. When users demonstrate activist behaviours on social media, we hope to direct them to our product, where they can more tangibly and physically exchange ideas with one another, and hopefully through this a stronger connection among users can be built and this further leads to follow-up actions. We believe the most direct way of leading the users to the product will be through the entry in social media. We propose a supplementary Facebook product that allows engagement and interaction both online and in a physical location — an interactive physical Facebook wall on college campuses.
There are two entry ways into this wall. The first will be through a new feature of #purplehashtag on Facebook, which users receive notifications about. Facebook will pick up the top trending hashtags of people on the specific campus, and all of those hashtags will turn purple. When users hover above or click into these purple hashtags, a map leading them to the physical wall will pop up. Another entry way is through a notification on the Facebook mobile app, when the users stumble upon the wall and are within the close radius of the wall’s location.
When the users are at the campus wall, they are prompted to check-in to the wall by tapping their phone onto the wall. Once they are checked-in, users cannot perform any activity on their mobile Facebook app, so they are motivated to physically interact with the wall This campus wall in a lot of the way mirrors the Facebook interface. The wall registered the person who goes “live” at the specific wall, and a notification feed on the side shows activities happening on the current wall as well as those on other campuses. There are various interactions users can perform at the wall:
Users can scroll through a feed that is a huge database of materials (images, videos, statuses, articles) posted by everyone who used the specific hashtag. Tap to pause the item, and drag to zoom in. Swipe to exit from the item. This allows users to get access to a large quantity of data and pull out materials of interest at their own pace.
This is perhaps the most important feature of the wall. With a pen tool, users can annotate images and videos live. It provides a laid-back but informative entry into discussions and collaboration among users at the wall, since users can annotate together, comment on previous and each other’s annotation, which facilitate actual human interactions. The annotated materials eventually aggregate into a crowdsourced database that may be updated constantly. The annotation also adds live feedback for the next user viewing the same material at the wall, which strengthen the sense of connection among users who are active about the same cause in the same location.
Throughout the whole process of interaction, if users find interesting materials, they can choose to save them into their own profile by clicking save and tapping on their names, which are registered when they check in. After annotating a material, a video for example, users can choose to save the video along with everyone’s annotation on it for reference later. This calls for and facilitates follow-up actions and evaluation.
4. Join an event
On the side, campus happenings related to the specific cause will be broadcasted. Users can scroll through them, and choose the ones they are interested in to join by clicking their names next to the events and add them to their synchronized calendars on their own Facebook profiles.
Although the experience at the wall will not immediately bring about any significant activist behaviours, by providing a platform that allows users advocating for the same cause around their own campus to physically build connection and interact will definitely achieve the goal of building stronger ties based on a common cause, which is the precursor to any realisation of meaningful efforts. It changes the mode of activist behaviors as well from just online to a mix of both through social media and physical interactions and conversations.
Closing the loop: the purple profile
When users are ready to leave the wall, they can tap their phones and check out of the wall. They can immediately navigate to a summary page, where their activities on the wall are recorded. If they had joined any events, it will be added to their Facebook events; if they had annotated anything and saved it, they will also get a record of it. Each user get his own profile dedicated to this cause, and all activities related to it. The goal of this purple profile is to render the wall experience more meaningful by integrating it into everyday life after the interaction, and to complete the experience by leaving another more accessible touchpoint.
- Identifying a problem, understanding and synthesizing the problem space
- Analysing strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) of the current problem
- Collecting data indirectly through using indicators and surveys
- Developing goals, strategies and tactics, as well as designing user-experience flow for a product
- Connecting entry, experience, and post-experience touchpoints in a product system
- Applying product system across different platforms of varying scales (wall, mobile, desktop)
- Creating a cohesive brand language for the product