Day 21 @ ITP: Phys Comp

Week 3
Assignment #3

Pick a piece of interactive technology in public, used by multiple people. Write down your assumptions as to how it’s used, and describe the context in which it’s being used. Watch people use it, preferably without them knowing they’re being observed. Take notes on how they use it, what they do differently, what appear to be the difficulties, what appear to be the easiest parts. Record what takes the longest, what takes the least amount of time, and how long the whole transaction takes. Consider how the readings from Norman and Crawford reflect on what you see.

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My immediate thought for this assignment was to write about the new LinkNYC "help" stations, which are these interactive towers that beam WiFi, have a free phone function and also offer various other services for anyone to use apparently for free. So far I have only witnessed people using it for its telephone function, usually standing by it with their own phone plugged into the USB port for power or to to charge it while talking on it. Sometimes talking for a long time, or not just for a short phone call to pass on pertinent information, but a full-on conversation.

Upon arriving home to Greenpoint the other night I also saw one with a big PSA on the side advertising how to donate money to those affected by Hurricane Irma with a large photo of a mother and daughter on it sitting in a devastated environment. It seemed like an effective way to get the word out. It was very bright and in my face. So far I haven't witnessed anybody using it to look for jobs or to ask for help which it also advertises that it does, but I wonder how many people have done that and found the help they needed.

Just for fun I am going to guess which each part of the LinkNYC station does. 

1) Wifi (or symbol that it provides wifi)

2) Touch screen where you can look up help (finding jobs, assistance for substance abuse, other problems)

3) Menu?

4) Emergency alert and phone function

5) Charging station

6) External speaker for...announcements? Emergencies?

7) "Advertisements or PSAs go here"

To reflect on the readings from last week also, it does seem like the design of every function here is pretty basic and useful-seeming. There isn't anything about the design that seems superfluous to me. I have yet to actually use the touch screen on one myself but everything else at least seems easy and intuitive for anyone to find or figure out how to use on their own. The only thing is that apparently to use their built in phone function or call 911 you need headphones. Or 911 just comes to the location of that tower when you press that button?