After the empirical research, I decided it was time to try and get some first hand research from possible stakeholders, which, luckily for me, consisted of pretty much everyone who owns a mobile phone. I was interested in the isolation caused by loss of a sense of place, and also interested in Goldberger’s accusation that the mobile phone was to blame for this.
We now consider the mobile phone a completely essential piece of technology, but I still remember the first mobile phone that was in our house. Despite widespread usage this technology is only in its relative infancy, we now see it as an indispensable piece of our modern lives. There is certain sympathy towards the mobile phone, most likely spreading from its convenience. However, people very rarely concentrate on the pervasive and invasive nature of the mobile phone, as Goldberger mentioned in his essay.
I wanted to bring peoples focus back onto these issues, to challenge people to look at the negative aspects of mobile communication as well as the positives; like a far lamer version of one of Ballard’s heroes, I wanted to force people to confront the inconvenience aspect of this technology.
I was also interested in looking at the relationship between people, place and technology. The very nature of mobile communications means they are a variety of situations and contexts for use, less appropriate than others.
It was through wanting explore this that I began planning Dare you to...
I recruited 6 participants through the IMD mailing list. The participants were both sexes, from across all years in IMD. Despite not recruiting a range of ages, I feel that as our generation are the first to properly take mobile communication for granted, that it would still be appropriate to look at a small age range.
They were also the easiest to recruit, which was a benefit as this was merely a piece of research rather than a final project.
Each participant was issued a small booklet that I asked them to keep around with them for the duration of the week.
The book contained a short introduction to the project, which I kept deliberately vague in order to have an element of surprise for the participant.
I compiled a list of just under 40 challenges, which were designed to both provoke the user into feeling a certain way about their phones, and challenge them to use their phones in ways that were unfamiliar. For instance, challenge number 2 was aimed at making people feel guilty whenever they checked their phone, and challenge 11 aimed to make what is usually a private object more public.
From my perspective, the week was far more work intensive than I had intended it to be. My phone, and the schedule of tasks became a constant reminder of the work I had on, even when I was working my part time job, or spending time with my girlfriend, or spending an evening at the pub etc. It was a reminder of what I was intending to put the participants through, and it left me feeling more than a little resentful of my phone.
There was a variety of responses from the participants which gave me a number of avenues to follow. Generally, the attitude was that people either viewed their phone in a new light, or understood a little better about their own attitudes towards the true nature of carrying a contact device all the time, so in this sense, the research was a success.
As far as my project went, I feel I could have further analysed the material in the books. Due to time constraints imposed by the impending dissertation hand in, I never had chance to properly speak to each of the participants to work out their feelings towards the test, or whether their attitudes to their phone changed.
Here is a summary of the best of the responses to the research: