After much preparation, Mary Trombley and I are in the field this week traveling all over the bay area. We will be visiting 14 people’s homes for an exploratory project looking at how people experience and manage their lives both in the real world and online. We’ll be talking with a variety of people in different locations, a range of ages, and who use multiple types of devices.
The study is open ended and will help us better understand where online life and offline life intersect for different people, how they fragment or consolidate parts of their life, and how technology is being used as part of this. During our interviews, participants will be creating “maps” using markers, stickies, photos, and words. The maps help us ask more targeted questions and reveal tacit information that the participant may not have considered. In addition, we find the visual nature of these maps a useful tool once in the analysis phase.
In our first visit we got a very clear understanding of how the participant views himself, how his online life connects to his offline life, and what some of his ideas for the future are. We are looking forward to meeting the other participants and are curious to see how their maps compare. Stay tuned for an update from Mary in a few weeks!