Cultural probes refer to a self-documentation method where users can reflect on their everyday lives and experiences, followed by documenting them. Originally developed by Bill Gaver, Tony Dunne, and Elena Pacenti in the late 90s. Designers design probes to fit the project aim, package them and deliver them to the users. Probes can motivate users to think about their life which in the past, the present, and the future, as well as their concerns and values. Users will be able to express themselves through the given probes. Also, this process allows designers to have access to users’ subjective interpretations of their lives; areas that designers cannot enter.
This is a digital probe designed for my peer, Ege. The goal is to get my peer’s subjective interpretations on his social media online, in order to study the subject, here are some questions:
- What social media do you use the most on your phone?
- Why do you think that’s good social media? At which point that attracts you?
- How long will you spend on one specific social media for a day?
- Do you think is useful and necessary for you to use this social media? What do you gain message from it? What do you use for?
- What are some improvements or things that you, as a designer can do better?
To address these questions from subjective interpretations, the digital probe includes different digital platforms for my peer which:
- Funny tests on social media — By doing tests, the subject will be asked to screenshot the result and upload them.
- Social media posts — The subject will be asked to post a question, collecting the result from the user’s followers.
- Screen use time — Screenshots the screen time per day
- Digital dairy — The subject will be asked to choose one news or story from social media.
- A song — Choose a song from social media that can represent your daily online experience.
The purpose of these tasks is to get users to consider their spending time on social media and how social media affect users in daily life. Through one week record, users will be able to express self-observations and provides precise results to researchers for further uses.
Rationale and Design Process:
During the period of the pandemic, people are focused to stay at home, the social media has become the main platform for people to interact with each other. My peer and I are in the same situation, we both stay at home. So a question comes to my mind, ‘How the social media affect my peer’s life now? Is that different from when is not pandemic?’ I look up online and found out during this special time, there are lots of interesting programs and funny tests pop up online, such as personality tests, what is your other side in deep down, etc. Also, these tests provide results immediately so users can know right away. The message becomes more often used than usual. All these tasks only take 10–15 minutes per day to respond which can provide pieces of better information and develops a better understanding of the peer’s identity/life, which can let me know about something that not on the surface but even more meaningful.