Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dancing and Traveling

During the past several weeks I have been devoting less time to my interaction and experience design journal for two reasons: Lauren and I have been planning an around the world the trip for this summer; and we have been rehearsing for a dance performance that we delivered at a friend's wedding this past weekend.

The good news is that these preparations are coming to an end. The not so good news is that I won't be able to get back to my curriculum because I've decided to take a detour and focus on considering what aspects of technology, culture, design, and experiences I can explore during our trip around to world.

There are two main perspectives on digital communication technologies that I want to explore: first, I want to leverage technology to capture and share my and Lauren's experiences; second, I want to investigate how different cultures relate to technology and are designing and adopting technology to support local endeavors.

From a personal perspective I am looking for a mobile/portable solution that will enable me to capture and publish experiences from this trip. This solution will include multiple hardware and software products. Here is a brief overview of the tools currently under consideration:
  • Personal communication hub: the main contender for my personal communication hub is my first generation (aka 2G) jailbroken iPhone. This device would enable me to capture quick snapshots, lo-res video, audio, and journal entries. The main downside of selecting the iPhone as my platform is that I will not be able to publish directly from the iPhone, even in a wifi area, as I have not found any acceptable blogging apps. A secondary drawback is that the 2G iPhone has lower quality audio and video capabilities (available on jailbroken phones only), and no GPS. I am not willing to take a laptop due to considerations related to portability (we'll be on a 34-day trip) and theft.
  • Additional devices: I will also definitely take a camera for higher quality photos and video. I am uncertain about whether I will be willing to invest in a new Canon G10 - the temptation is strong, it is hard to resist. We will likely take our existing camera as well, a Canon SD950.
  • Publishing tools: to publish all of the content that we capture and create I plan to use several platforms including a blog (on blogger), my existing flickr account, google calendar and maps, daytum, and youtube; I'm still considering if and how to integrate twitter and facebook without driving myself crazy.
From an observer's perspective (with no real claim of being objective) I want to explore how people from different cultures leverage familiar technologies in different ways; and what different technologies they have developed that are specific to local contexts.

For example, how are mobile phones used differently based on local cultural, and economic contexts; what different services are available, and how have they adapted other services to meet their needs; what meaning does the society ascribe to cell phones.

Over the next three weeks I will share more about the technology-related aspects of the planning for this trip. Once we are off I will also document how technology ultimately enhanced, or totally screwed up, our trip (after all I do believe that technology can be both a force of good and evil).

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