Julian Castillo – Field Research


March 14th



Describing the Space
Howard Student Gittis Center (SAC) at Temple University. The space is large and reverberant. Big, open space with levels and columns leading up to a high ceiling. Advertisements for Temple affiliated merchandise and groups are on the walls. Student banking services are advertised on the walls too. On the second level is an eating area where students talk, share ideas, and eat. Some QSR codes are listed on informational postings. Wi-Fi is available for everyone in the SAC. “Follow Us On..” advertisements are seen. Lower level houses the student store. In front of the store, students are reading, talking, and studying. Charging stations are available for mobile devices and laptops.

Describing the People

Most people in the SAC seem to be Temple students and staff. The median range goes from 18-25. There is an eclectic variety in clothing and styles. There is no prominent status quo or gender. Some students are alone eating or on their laptop. Groups of 2-3 are eating and talking. Most of the students going into the school store are by themselves and purchasing something. Some students seem to be buying books although books purchases are less frequent than clothing and other merchandise. St. Patrick’s Day attire is being sold from the school store.

Students on the second level are studying alone. Some students seem to check their laptop for something briefly and then enter the school store as to purchase or pick up an item.

Race and gender is random and the prominent group is constantly changing.

Observing Interaction
Very relaxing environment with many different conversations. People are taking pictures in St. Patrick’s day clothing and uploading to social networking site. Selfies run rampant. Periods of brief conversation happen by one-person accidently running into someone they know. These conversations are awkward and end quickly with both parties resuming their initial task. People can be heard talking about what they’re going to buy at the school store.


A: “I forgot to buy one of the books for our class”

B: “Oh man, I have that one. I’ll let you borrow it for the chapter.”

A: “It’s all good. I should probably just buy it and get over it.”


Everyone is on his or her mobile phone. A lot of phone conversations are happening. At the main entrance, students hold the door open for each other. Occasionally, someone fails to hold the door open, but no one gets mad. Many student are at the information desk asking various questions. Loud conversation and laughter from upstairs as the day goes on. A group of students, probably freshman, meet up and start deciding the nighttime activities. They refer to it as “making moves,” before one-student leaves to the school store to buy a shirt and “see if they have a sequel to this really good book [he’s] reading.”


Today is pie day. Everyone wants pie. I’ve heard many jokes regarding pie and people looking up the number of pi. 3.145927… Students purchasing books at the student center browse through the pages while they wait out front. The occasional “holla,” from one friend to another silences the area, but usual buzz and conversation starts back up.

Relating to Social Justice

My first app idea through researching the SAC space was an app to support each other through positive action. A daily reminder to “hold the door open for someone,” or “did you recycle today?” I initially tried to incorporate a point system. That lead to an issue of credibility and certainty in someone deserving points for their good deeds. Integrity is something that cannot be monitored from the mobile device, so I quickly thought of a different approach. Many students at the SAC were eating or relaxing by themselves while browsing the web/apps on laptop and cellphone.  A large portion of the student went into the school store to purchase merchandise or books. Books, for college students and anyone in general, can be a little expensive. If books were more accessible and cheaper (or free), people would be more likely to educate themselves. An app designed to help each other by providing book services would ultimately help circulate books and provide a small economic system. The app, intended to allow for opportunity to educate through reading, will allow student to post for books they are looking to trade, buy, or sell. Some student may post their books for free or offer trades for similar authors. Student may have the option to sell their book, but no more than a $20 limit. Students for courses can trade books with student from different courses at the beginning of each semester. The app could eventually become widespread, but security would be an issue when two strangers meet to exchange books. Students can self-rate and share their opinions of the book or it’s course. Every successful exchange should have an affirmation from each party; both people get a point and rise through the ranks to boost interest in reading.  My definition of social justice is obviously a little less “justice,” but provides for a good cause in educating and furthering our knowledge. The main premise of the app would be to encourage others to want to be more knowledge, because ultimately we are competing with other countries in terms of success and money. Even if this app makes books that students need more accessible, it is a positive step towards a brighter and more educated generation.


2 thoughts on “Julian Castillo – Field Research”

  1. I think there is more justice in your app than you think. Textbook companies especially tend to sell their wares at exorbitant prices (though they argue in part it is because of piracy and declining books sales). For such a project it would be important to research the many critiques of the academic publishing industry (and the industry’s response to that). Given the soaring prices of higher education in the U.S. an app that helps students spend a little less somewhere is certainly valuable. There were actually systems like that back when campuses were a little more closely knit, particularly on intrawebs. Half.com, now owned by Ebay, allowed students to buy and sell discounted books around the country. There are probably many book sharing systems informally organized at various campuses. I am certain that publishers and book stores will not be happy with the design, but social justice does not require making industries feel safe.

    The security issue could be addressed by having exchanges happen in public locations (like the SAC). The idea of sharing information about the book and course is helpful as well (there are certainly some courses where the textbook is not necessary, or so I have been told…). I would also recommend including graduate students (who have to buy many more books) and perhaps other local universities in the plan. It would also be interesting to connect the book sharing and selling app to the library catalogue as well. Many people check out books for the semester from the library, via interlibrary loan, or even by searching the local library. Related to that, perhaps adding a “share” option for people who want the book back but are willing to lend it out for a week or even semester.

  2. I think this would be a very useful app for students who have issues obtaining all their needed class materials at the beginning of the semester, and even towards the end. It’s a great idea of social justice in the effort to help college students save money via a system that hopefully regulates itself. While I like the user inclusivity of this app with features that enable students to rate, share opinions of books, and even exchange. However, I’m concerned about what actions book publishers would take against such an app. It seems universities, as well as book publishers, have a tight grip on this business of keeping every dollar coming back into their establishments. It would take one incident for the app to have a bad rep, and in turn could have some sort of ‘craiglist’ effect on weary buyers; speaking hypothetically. But it would be interesting to see how this could empower students.

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