Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Every App. needs a cloud. What do you think?

Before we even started working on the App. We were thinking about a Twitter service for ethnographic researchers. A service that would allow clients and colleagues to ‘follow’ and to collaborate with a researcher in the field as he or she posted text, audio, video and photo updates. Quickly we realized there was no way of efficiently collecting such data on one device and sending it to an online ethnographic Twitter service. So before we build the service, we thought, let’s build the App.

Now that the App. is nearly ready, we have turned our attention to the web based service. And here is what we have in mind.

1) Even though clients can ‘follow’ a researcher in the field, we figured the last thing they would want are updates every few minutes. Which might include spelling mistakes or half baked thoughts and observations. So we experimented with a ‘digester’. This is someone who follows up to 6 ethnographers in the field collecting their posts and organizing them on a web based service (we have yet to build). A digest of the very best of the rest can then be sent to client side followers every few hours for them to comment on and collaborate with the thinking percolating through.

2) From a UI perspective, the digester/client/follower would see a tree (growing with time across the day) grow branches as its trunk stretches across the screen. Each trunk would represent a captured event and each leaf on the branch would represent a clip, photo or text post and a fruit would represent an insight referencing the event. And the digester/follower/client would be able to pick their favourite leaves/fruit into buckets and review/analyse/add meaning to data which has is easy to overlay, compare and view the same events across numerous households

3) My big idea, however, was a client/respondent matchmaking service. When a consumer downloads the App. they are given the choice of registering to make themselves available for video diary studies. Once registered, their relevant information will appear on the site for clients to view and choose which to select to participate in their study. Incentives can even be paid directly through the site using PayPal.

4) A skinnable site so clients can personalise their own pages with their branding or panel name

These are basic specifications. I know the matchmaking service, for example, won’t be as simple as I have set out above. So my question to you, gorgeous reader, is: what do you think? Have I missed anything? Would you tackle the web based service any differently? Are there similar service out there we could use without having to build one from scratch? And remember if there is, it will need to talk to my App.

Would love to hear from you.


1 comment:

  1. It's a beautiful concept Siamack. The tree metaphor is a good one, it's organic and emergent as ethnographic work always is. I have not seen an interface like this for productivity work; it's fresh! I would add another feature #5 Search by tag and/or theme and/or event or person feature. This would essentially scope the tree in a different way, for example, a search on a food tag, theme, event or person would show only those data/media.

    Then, the on-line app will need analysis and reporting features for the researchers, you could think of that set of features as # 6, 7, 8. I can forsee the need to capture the trees and cut and paste them into documents while retaining their active states. This may be one way to bring in Google Wave. The tree structures could become waves and be shared among stakeholders.

    Lots of good work going on there Siamack and the world awaits the fruition of your vision!

    Great Work!