Field Research Report – Marquis C.

Describe the space:

The space I decided to investigate was a club called “Story” in Miami located on Collins street. Story was a huge club, it had a bar area to the left where the drinks were super expensive I recall $10 being spent on a glass of water. In the center of the club were the VIP couches and all around the perimeter were upper VIP sections you could sit down at and purchase drinks. I think music videos are advertisements, as songs played the DJ would play the corresponding video for the song. If there was a situation where there was no video for the song they would display ads for liquor such as Ciroc or the name of the club.  The fact that the VIP sections cut those people off from the main party crowd created a situation where they were separate, most of those people would be on their phones taking pictures or just staring into them doing whatever. To my knowledge there was no wifi access or any other particular features that the club provided to boost mobile device usage.

Who is there?

There were various people at Story. Some were college students such as myself on Spring Break, there were party promoters, models, random guys, “ballers”, and various other people. “Ballers” are the people who show up to the club with a lot of jewelry and usually buy out a VIP section to have a spot to bring a lot of women, while they buy bottles of alcohol and basically look cool in the club. People in Miami are superficially beautiful, everyone was in shape and dressed extremely well, the age range I would say would be between 21-28. The races varied there was a good mix between Asians, Hispanics, Whites and Blacks. I also noticed a lot of people in Miami had tattoos, none in particular stuck out to me as being more prevalent than others. I would say that most people had custom tattoos and they were all really nice looking and detailed. The bouncers in the club kind of either forced people to be in the center of the dance floor or over by the bar, walking around you could see different groups of people socializing within their friend groups. To my surprise 80~85% of the people in the club were on the phone, including myself. The most common phone I saw was the iPhone, not any particular model though.

Something I thought was extremely interesting was that I met a Miami Promoter that basically got me into every party over the course of Spring Break for half price. Her main point of contact was Instagram, that’s where she would promote parties at each club. I think its unique that your social network status can directly effect what happens in real life.

How do people interact with one another and with the mobile devices?

It’s strange to me that people would go out just to be on their mobile devices. However most people in the club were recording themselves and their friends having fun or taking instagram pictures. I would have to say I saw at least 50 people on instagram just checking out their timelines. The culture behind social networks, especially within hip-hop culture is that the more followers you have the more important you are. Another thing to note is that people follow celebrities on social networks so they try to imitate their lifestyles. With this in mind people would kill for the opportunity to take pictures in the VIP section of a club to seem important. The social interaction in my opinion was to reflect the social hierarchy people strive to be apart of. Don’t get me wrong there were people there that genuinely wanted to capture the moment and I was happy because of that, but there were a lot of people who just wanted to look cool. Me and my friends specifically would take pictures together and post them to show we were having a good time.

The flow of all of the clubs in Miami I went to is sort of like this:

Say there is a large square where the party is, the clubs cut out a smaller square inside that square and place the VIP section. Within the smaller square the people in that section party amongst themselves while the people in the larger square watch the VIPs have a good time.

How does the site connect to the social justice issue you are designing an app for? What ideas for your design project do your observations lead to?

Personally I think people in the United States have a standard of living a lot of other human beings could never experience because of the nature of the world. My social justice issue is Human Inequality, the site connects to this because in a larger sense, Americans have so much we can have clubs where people spend a lot of money on an experience. While there are people who can barely eat. It also extends into the VIP experience where as a person in the club you can clearly see who’s “better” than you. I think that if people get a kick out of imitating what they see on social networks, maybe I can create an app where people from the third world could share their experiences with others. Where people could see what’s really going on in the world and donate some of their money to help those people out. If people want to live like celebrities, say maybe if instagram pictures of celebrities were of those people helping charitable causes it would make people think that’s more important than flashy cars and alcohol in excess. The mobile app could showcase and highlight people that participate in philanthropy, similar to linked-in, but for people who battle income inequality. They could collaborate with each other more easily by having an app that connected them. It’s highly likely there could be a social network for people to help others with and record their projects or take pictures of their projects, it would be for every major smart phone.

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One thought on “Field Research Report – Marquis C.”

  1. Given the context of your field research it might be worth considering if you can somehow connect clubbing experiences to social justice. Many bars, for instance, have events that focus specifically on fund raising for various cause. Perhaps that is something you could incorporate into your app design.

    The danger in designing an app that is merely another way to connect people already doing this work is that it doesn’t raise awareness for those people not already involved in aid projects. Is there a way you might envision a tool that could be used by someone like the party promoter friend you mention to promote activities to battle social inequality. There is quite a bit of research on non-profit organizing, around income inequality specifically, that will probably prove useful. Research on the effects of income inequality will be particularly important in framing the importance of the project (the list here is a good start).

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