Week 10: Assignment 2 idea

The government guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything about our lives. Staying inside our homes has altered the way we experience the space around us, and the nature of the space between us and other people. Our ability to be mobile, encouraged by the growing technology of smart-enabled devices, has ended abruptly and so how we use these features has also made an about-turn.

Many of the readings for the literature review explore and make judgements of how these devices enable us to interact with the spaces and infrastructure outside of our homes. Applications such as Actionbound, bus and transport apps, Pokémon GO! – all feature in the changing landscapes that are Smart Cities, changing the way we experience the space around us, increasing our mobility as people and even how, as consumers and citizens, we interact with businesses, corporations and local councils.

During the ‘lockdown’, applications such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and House Party have increased in popularity as people are relying on internet and telecom connected devices and saved contacts to interact with those outside of the household.

To focus this assignment, I am going to interview some users of the House Party app, as it has seen a dramatic rise in use. I am using it instead of Zoom as I want to focus on socialising outside of work rather than working from home. I want to ask:

  1. Are there certain features about the app which makes it preferable to other video calling apps?

This question aims to explore the following:

  • How the user interface is different from other video calling apps
  • How the app is designed to foster activities beyond video calls
  • How the app feels to use, and how this changes how the user feels

There will also be a short semiotic and linguistic analysis of the app’s user interface to explore these concepts further.

  1. Do you feel closer to your friends and family when using the app?

This question aims to explore the following:

  • How the feeling of space between users is increased or decreased when using the app
  • Does the user ‘notice’ that they are using an app, or does it blend seamlessly into their conversation
  • To what extent does the app mimic a ‘real’ house party?

 

The final point will also reference the UX and linguistics of the app itself, but these questions are designed to explore how effective the app is at closing that space between friends and family members.

 

  1. What do you feel about the immediate space around you[r body] when using the app?
  • This is a more direct question asking the user to think explicitly about the space around them, which they may not have done previously
  • Hopefully this will encourage the user to talk more about the difference between their mobility pre-lockdown and how it has changed during lockdown (although the question may be re-worded to address this, or another question added)

These questions will have overlapping answers and themes and I expect the questions to change before I ask them, they are not currently set in stone.

I want the conclusion to give some evidence as to how the themes explored previously in the literature review, about the expansion of our mobility, the alteration of space around us by digital technologies and ‘smart cities’ is being turned on its head by the measures implemented during the pandemic. I want to challenge some of the pre-conceived notions of concepts such as net locality and the embedding of technologies, but also expand on some of their uses in ways which writers and academics would previously not have considered.

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