Day 321: Computers and Books

by Claire, Claire@TrippingOnWords.com

Today, I went to participate in a user interface activity. This is what my friend Jess, who is a graduate student in Information Systems/Technology, said in the subject line of the email about it all, so that's what I'll call it. I have no idea what that means, of course.

Here is what really happened:

I walked into the student lounge of the aforementioned long-named department at Berkeley. Jess and three of her teammates were sitting there, and they gave me a chocolate chip bagel with cream cheese and a nice msngo orange juice drink. Then Jess told me to sit down at the head of the table, and I signed some forms saying that I was doing this of my own volition, and that I could run out of the room angry and screaming and stop whenever I wanted to. Jess then said that if I was angry, it would be more helpful if I spoke to them about what I was angry about than ran out, which I thought was a pretty good idea. Then the team expained that I was supposed to pretend that all these elaborately crafted tiny pieces of labeled paper and things were a computer, and that I was interacting with a website. They gave me a red pen, which was my mouse, and then told me to talk to them as I tried to complete my task.

This was my task:

To use iNaturalist (their site - which is currently not real and was the pieces of paper, as I said above), and act as a bird/mushroom/nature lover and input the birds and mushrooms I had seen that day so that all my naturalist ebuddies and the rest of the web could see. This would also give me an online record of how my nature walks were going, since nature walk lovers like recording what they see in little notebooks. (Note: I do not know if naturalists go on "nature walks" per say, but it seems a good guess.)

The things I "saw" according to the study were the following:

1. A Turkey Vulture
2. An Anna Hummingbird
3. And Some Kind of Mushroom I forget the name of.

As I "used" iNaturalist, putting my red pen on the scraps of paper, I gave Jess's team verbal feedback on what I thought of how the site was set up. There was no one else participating when I did (the other person had come earlier in the day) so all my idiotic comments were given a lot of worth by the four team members. One talked to me, one acted as the "computer" moving around the slips of paper when I clicked on things, and Jess and another of the team members took notes.

It was all very official. In the end, I would say that the major problem with the entire exercise was that many of my "issues" with the site centered around my inability to use a computer, and not the particular programming of iNaturalist. For this I am deeply sorry. However, I had fun, and if I were a bird watcher, or a bug watcher, or a something like that, I think that this site would be really cool. And there aren't any out there apparently, so that makes it even cooler.

I'll end, though, with a HUGE thanks: Tonight I went to church at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, and was amazed to be given several hundred amazing books for the Tumaini Children's Center in Kenya. This was above and beyond and was simply one more in the list of amazing feats that the HOPE RUNS Project as been making of late. Which we'll write about later in the week.

Sometime before Lara gets to Kenya on Wednesday with our friend Jonathan, and Claire gets there Saturday.

4 comments:

Biby Cletus said...

good blog ,interesting stuff you have got here keep up the good work.be in touch


regards Biby - Blog

Ken-ichi said...

Hi Claire, this is Ken-ichi, the "talking guy" on Jess's team. I'm really sorry you felt any difficulties you experienced were your fault, because they absolutely weren't. If you felt confused by certain components of the interface, those were problems with the interface, not you. In fact, the areas that seemed to give you the most trouble were exactly the same ones that troubled our previous participant, and are the subjects of most debate among our team. The tests yesterday really helped us highlight the area we need to focus on, so confusion actually helped us a lot.

Anyway, sorry we didn't do a better job emphasizing that the interface is always to blame (at least for our purposes)! Thanks again for helping us out, and have fun in Africa.

Lara said...

I'm positive some of it was Claire's fault...I appreciate the effort, though ken-ichi.

Claire and Lara said...

sometimes i think of lara as like my child, and i think about how anything she does can be funny, even when it's not. like when i was doing the user interface stuff and i was thinking, "it'd be really funny to watch how lara did this."

it reminds me of when we were i beijing, in Google spencer's hotel room, and I videotaped her finding the hair dryer attached to the desk drawer. which was really weird.

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