Updated thesis statement

On Monday we officially started our thesis at CIID, so over the past few days i have been re-writing my thesis statemant of intent for my topic. Here it is!

What is my thesis to me
As someone who is still in the early stages of their career I see my thesis as my golden ticket to learn who I am as a designer and to prepare myself for my future after CIID. It is an opportunity for me to explore a new area that I am extremely excited about, yet have no pre-conceived ideas about what the outcome will be. I feel the area I have chosen will challenge me intellectually and technically as a designer. I want my thesis to allow me to use my natural strengths of product design, service design and prototyping, but also allow room for me to keep building on the technical skills that I have been gradually developing.

Thesis Topic

Area: Personal Informatics

Personal Informatics is an emerging field that can be characterized as the monitoring and displaying of information about our daily lives through products, services and systems. I believe this new realm has huge potential to redefine the way in which we interact with the physical world and gain insights about our actions that make up our daily routines. I am excited that this greater awareness has the potential to help us adjust and moderate our behaviour in a number of positive ways.

Currently in our everyday lives we are often engulfed in specific contexts, which makes it often difficult
to see the bigger picture. Personal informatics can enable us to see relationships or pinpoint actions in our behaviours we would otherwise miss.

There are two challenging areas that I see within Personal Informatics that really interest me. The first is how can these personal insights and data behind your lifestyle be delivered in such a way that it will impact someone on an emotional level. How can you motivate people so they will actually change their behaviour rather than turning a blind eye to reality? In our world “there are already lots of useless devices, tracking consumption behaviour” (Robert Fabricant) The majority of these devices contain some graphical display, which works fine for things we are not so aware of, but areas that we are already very conscious of (i.e. how many calories) need to be delivered within something that is more motivating then a bar chart. The information needs to be transformed into something meaningful and understandable for the user.

The second area is that our lives are already infiltrated with huge amounts of information everyday from emails to RSS feeds. So how can the interface for these products, services or software be designed in such a way that the information you receive does not add to the information overload that currently exists. Plus it should not result in people compulsively checking their ‘data’ as also many people currently do with email.

Context: Life Balance

The context I want to explore personal informatics in is how can it be used to help people balance their lives and help them meet their personal priorities. I will use research to pinpoint either a more specific value that is important to people that personal informatics could be applied to or a set of values that could be subjective to each user.

A theme that I am really interested in and I see as an underlying thread throughout the project is addressing the issue of ‘time poverty’ People need to feel connected to people, places they live, even the food they eat. Traditionally this was much easier to achieve, as family all lived together, you new all your relatives and you new that your food had come from your back garden. These connections have been weakened because of a fast pace of life. The advance of new labour saving technologies has allowed us to achieve more in a shorter space of time, yet instead of using the time we save to ‘slow’ down we are prone to making ourselves even busier. How can we ‘slow’ down our pace of life whilst still meet important responsibilities?

Outcome

At the moment I have no pre-defined outcome of what form I would like the idea to take (TUI, GUI etc) However idealistically I would love to make a working tangible product and design a service that was attached to it to further the experience, and within the service a community would exist. I strongly believe that being part of a community makes people’s feel more responsible for their actions and more valued.

During my thesis I would like to challenge myself in

I want to challenge my design thinking, to a deeper and more emotional level. I want to continue my learning on the correct use of metaphors, affordances and appropriate use of technology that is appropriate and makes sense to non-expert users. I will push myself to gain a more practical knowledge of electronics and programming. Where it is possible I will leave my comfort zone If it will have a positive effect on my learning and project experience. I will also work at becoming more articulate and confident at presenting my work.

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