Category Archives: Field Research Report

Affirming the Future, App for Kids

Vanessa Fuller

Mobile Media

Field Research

March 17, 2014


Children and Mobile Media


                Having both theoretical and practical knowledge of media consumption and production, I often am more analytical of its effects and potentials. I see how new technology sweeps the nation for both children and adults, especially in terms of cellular technology.  I’ve seen changes in who owns cellular devices primarily that the age of individuals owning these devices is lower than it was when I was growing up. So on this past Saturday at work, I observed students from ages 10-13, and how they interacted with mobile media.


                A few fundamental acknowledgements include the types of phones these children possessed, the types of apps they knew of and used, and how these gadgets effected their behavior and perception of others.  I work with Interfaith Social Change Movement as a mentor and a tutor for 6th graders. I am assigned one child in particular to mentor, but at any given time from 12pm-2pm I can observe the children. As a general rule, students as well as student-teachers are not allowed to engage in their mobile devices. This is to ensure that the children and the teachers/mentors bond and do not neglect one another. Occasionally of course a mentor can be spotted using their phones, or a child, usually when left alone, will engage in theirs well.


                I did quantify the number of iPhone or androids in the possession of children. I did not specify their ages, but I know they’re between the aforementioned ages. With a new influx of students I do not know presently how many of them there are in total, but I noted 27 to be smartphone holders. I came to work early that day to sit in on a classroom session; otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see so many kids in one setting or sneaking to look at their phones. I would guess by way of cultural climate, that the majority of them had smartphones. I’ve watched children take out their phones to share information or things they thought were cool to their mentors, or to find and play music. They also took them out to take pictures because that increasingly popular among cellphone holders.


                Basically, these kids used phones like people twice their age group in terms of their features and popular apps. The most childlike behavior they displayed was their slight teasing, or mild bewilderment, or the comic relief they found when the topic of not-so-smartphones arose. I could hear snippets of conversation about which apps their friends should use, or giggles about whose phone was outdated, or “Played,” as the phrase particularly came up. Really the features of these technologies were common in their conversation; it almost started to bore me. Deciding to broaden my observation I remembered why we were all there. Almost every Saturday for about 9 months, we assemble to encourage, uplift, and befriend one another, children and mentors alike.


                As a mentor my job is to observe behavioral patterns and abnormalities amongst the children. I listen to them; I laugh with them, teach them, and of course correct them. Mostly, I learn about them! I watch them avoid social situations, initiate them, and observe them. I watch them tease and correct each other. I see them. I’ve worked with children from babysitting to other gigs similar to this one, and I see how fragile they are. So in terms of inner-city kids and mobile technologies, I think instead of an entertainment app, they could use one that meets them where their social injustices lie.


                I would love to develop an app of affirmations for those children, where they can access and utilize in their day-to-day lives. Initially I thought about developing an app for young women of color that allows them to access or an introduction at least, to positive historical women of their race(s) or other relative area of life. The app would have been interactive in that they can touch and discover information about these women, and input their similarities/differences in a celebratory manor, and have a place where they can flourish in the area of self-esteem. In a culture where negative archetypes of women of color are so prevalent, many of our daughters are falling into the mold and losing themselves. It’s tragic.


                After observing the children I broadened my thoughts of the app. I’m thinking that this demographic may benefit from having a social media aspect to this affirmation-based app, and it would spread the positivity within their networks. Picture and fact sharing is popular among my age group, an age group that the demographic mimics so heavily. I think with a few prompts of kindness and positive thought provocation, that students and children in general, would benefit greatly from this sort of application. 


Field Research, Amongst the Elderly

Vanessa Fuller

Mobile Media

Field Research

March 17, 2014


Elderly Application


                On Friday February 28th 2014, AARP delivered a package containing a cellular phone to my home. It was my duty to take said device to my Great Aunt Thelma, a Brooklyn Native, and to teach her how to use her phone. My Great Aunt is in her early 70s. AARP designed this flip phone for elderly customers as an easy-to-use mobile technology.  My site was actually her home, where I stayed for over two-hours trying to teach her how to use and navigate through the device.


                Bearing in mind that I want to design an app for elderly persons that make it easier for them to use mobile devices such as cellular phones, I thought my focus would be on how she received and  retained the information I was giving her, as well as her ability to demonstrate that she could manipulate the device independently. I discovered the devices most useful features, discarded the ones I felt did not matter, and taught her what I remedied as, “The Basics.” This means teaching her how to dial, access contacts, how to answer calls, how to hang up the phone, and how to charge the device. I did not show her how to input contacts, nor how to access the camera options.


                We spent almost 3 hours going over the phone’s features, and I also wrote down all the information I had verbalized to her in our time together. Surprisingly during my observation, I realized that a major aspect of elderly usage of cellular devices is patience. It takes patience to learn and patience to teach. Secondly I had to take into account not my own prior feelings and thoughts, but hers. She approached learning the new technology with a disheartened attitude, so a primary tool for me as an instructor, was to acknowledge that this technology is intimidating, and her esteem was not at its fullest confidence. She often said, “I’m not going to get this,” or, “I’m not going to learn how to use it.”


                Other forms of electronic mobile media in her apartment was a cable remote control, her house phone which has caller ID, a television set, and I believe a DVD player. Often times my sister and I get calls about, “How do you work this,” or “What to do if,” from my Aunt Thelma and other elderly persons we have in our lives. I didn’t think I could make it plain or relay the connection with these devices as all being a part of the mobile media family. Instead, I had to take a patient and relative approach. I had to make comparisons where necessary (or possible), really had to drive home certain points about the phone’s features, and constantly reassure her that not only can she “do it,” but she doesn’t have to do so alone.


                She was able to catch the gist of how to operate the phone, which was an improvement on her prior perception that it was too complicated a contraption for her to use. We joked to ease that tension; however I was serious about her being able to demonstrate conversationally, and physically, her understanding of its functions. This experience led me to a fork in the road in terms of research and app design. Would an app that taught elderly people how to use these sorts of devices respectfully, be more beneficial than an app that taught their families, how to teach them? I had to think about how plausible these apps would be, how applicable they would be, and what the limitations for them would be as well.


I think a familial app that optimized the elderly’s usage of cellular devices would be beneficial in an assortment of ways. If the app could boost the esteem of the elder, and give teaching tips to the individual responsible for teaching them, it could be very beneficial. My experiences with elderly persons are extensive as I have a lot of elderly loved ones, and even the strangers that take to me in the streets. The other day a mentor of mine told me, “You guys have Star Trek! Right now! Anything you can think of…” she went on to press imaginary buttons in the palm of her hand. (She is a spry young woman in her 50s and cannot send a text message in less than an hour!) 


I’ve observed elderly persons with cellular phones and not all of them are disadvantaged in usage, and not all of them have “dated” or specialized devices. I’ve also seen some struggle with how to use them just the same. I’ve held conversation with them and have crossed multiple attitudes of their take on this form of modern technology. (Some express wonder, amazement, disdain, and apprehension.) So I understand the gap, its intimidation, and its need to be bridged.  Not all senior citizens are home bodies, and the ones that are mobile need to have their cellular experience optimized. 

Philadelphia’s Skate Plaza

I decided to do my field research at Franklin Paine’s skate park in Philadelphia on Saturday March 15th around 2 in the afternoon. It is located at the intersection of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Martin Luther King Drive on the Schuykill River, right across from the Philadelphia Art Museum. It looks like a giant square that has a kind of slope with 4 distinct regions that flow into each other. At the lowest end is a path that hugs the Schuykill River, which gets a lot of use from people exercising. It is a decent size skate park and is also a public plaza where anyone is invited to express him or herself however they please. The design of the place is a mixture of “street” type features; concrete benches taken from City Hall, and some “park” features; vertical transitions. As far as advertisements go, there really aren’t any besides stickers that people have slapped on different objects like benches, light poles, or randomly on the concrete.

The park is specifically designed for people who are into action sports, i.e. skateboarder, bikers, etc. Because of the location of the plaza, there are a lot of joggers and other pedestrians that walk along the edges of the feasible action areas. The first group of people I chose to observe were some skateboarders who looked to be about my age (20-25). In this particular group of friends or skate buddies, there were 2 black guys and 4 white guys. Most of them had tighter pants on and hoodies or long sleeve shirts. Some would roll up their sleeves and I could see multiple tattoos. Two of the white guys smoked cigarettes and all of them had cell phones, and I’m pretty sure they all had IPhones; the one guy might have had an Android. They’re interactions seemed to repeat: take a run on their skateboards around the park, each going their own way, come back to the top section of the skate park, converse with each other while in between taking turns skating the quarter pipe in front of them, and occasionally check their phones or make calls. There were much more skaters than just this group and there were many groups coming and going and growing or diminishing. The lone skaters were of different age groups ranging from 13-year-olds to what seemed to be 35-year-olds. Most of the younger kids seemed to stay in groups but the ones who didn’t looked like they weren’t as advanced in their skills and seemed to be timid of the kids who were more comfortable on their boards. Surprisingly the kids who had smart phones weren’t on them as much as the older skateboarders. They kids were only using their phones to make calls or what looked like texting, not prolonged use. There weren’t nearly as many bikers there at that time of day as there were skaters. The bikers seemed to keep to themselves and a lot of them had headphones on. There were 2 black bikers; one looked about 19-22, the other 21-24. The rest were white bikers who I would say were all about 21-25. When the bikers would come to a stop after taking a run they all did the same thing: sit down on their seat with their heads down looking at their phones.

I’ve been to this skate park plenty of times and the scene is pretty familiar. I knew what to look for when it came to how friends congregate there. I kept my eyes open every time someone made a call, I would try to remember what they looked like and whom they were with, I would pay attention to who showed up and went to greet those people. Obviously a lot of them were calling their friends and telling them to come down and ride with them and groups grew and also split. Some things that I noticed and implied about the situation were the kids to parents ratio. What I noticed was there were a lot of little kids about 13-15 and no noticeable parents sitting on the benches on the left side of the plaza where they usually sit. My inference was that these kids come there often and kids who might be that age or younger are brought there earlier in the day by their parents before the park gets packed. The day and hour are pretty good indicators of what types of people you might see there. That could have been why there weren’t a lot of bikers and more skaters. I was there on a Saturday from 2 till 4 and the place was packed with mostly skaters and people jogging and riding road bikes along the path next to the river.


From my observation of Paine’s Park, it looked like most of the people that went there were teenagers and young adults who all had mobile devices and a majority of them had smartphones. The idea I have is to create an app that can give either a live feed of the skate park or create some kind of estimable ratio of skaters to bikers, and even scooterers and roller bladers if need be. For the ratio idea to work, people with smartphones can “sign in” every time they enter the skate park, their profile would indicate if they were a skater or biker. Someone who wants to go to the skate park but doesn’t want to get hasseled by the other group can see if there are less skaters there then bikers and feel more comfortable to go. There has been a long line of bad blood between skaters and bikers in Philadelphia that has its roots coming from a DIY skate park in FDR park under the bridge where bikers know the only time they can ride there is early in the morning. Because Paine’s is a plaza open to anyone though, it isn’t as much of a problem, but still there exists a level of discomfort at times. Also sometimes there are ‘Skate Jams’ where sponsored companies bring their pros and have mini contests with prizes. A biker coming to Paine’s on a day like that would be no fun because they wouldn’t be able to get a run in with out crashing into someone, especially because most bikers there on Saturday were riding without brakes.

The live feed idea is pretty self-explanatory, someone can download an app that allows him or her to see if the park is packed or not. This could be used for the same reasons as above. A parent can get the app and check if it is a suitable time to bring their child up there so they can learn how to get better without getting in peoples way. The only downside would be if no one was there and then suddenly the place got flooded with people thinking they’re going to be the only ones riding.

Field Research: AEPi Frat Party+Mobile Devices

For my field research I found myself unsure of where exactly I wanted to “people watch”, for lack of a better term. I found myself on Thursday night being dragged out by my friends to the Fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi or AEPi. As we began to get dressed and ready I thought, “watching people interact at a frat house might be quite interesting”, so the people watching began.

The first interaction with media I noticed was my roommate Melissa* deciding to leave her phone at home because “drunk texting/tweeting has just gotten me in way too much trouble these past few weeks”. I find it really interesting how much of a problem a phone can become to someone who is intoxicated, we say things we shouldn’t, text/call those we really should not, and sometimes take photos of things that cannot be erased (I will get to this later).

AEPi was full of Temple students and brothers of the Fraternity; sometimes it is difficult to get into these parties if you don’t know anyone. I had to call a friend to come let me inside, than had others yell because they were not allowed. The AEPi house is actually one of the old Philadelphia houses, kind of ancient from when Philly was thriving and Gatsby’s walked the streets. It’s a house with a large kitchen, two living room areas, a huge basement, hidden staircase, other hidden passageways, a second floor with six bedrooms on it, and a third floor with seven bedrooms. It’s a huge house, filled of brothers who live there all year and multiple times a year they give up their personal space for the sake of the party.

On the walk to the AEPi we pass some girls who have decided they were going to take selfies as they walk, nearly bumping into multiple people as they do so. This was the first of many, many, many, selfies I would see me taken. People took photos while on the dance floor, while waiting in line for a drink, while talking to friends and when the “Let Me Take A Selfie” song by The Chainsmokers came on, the people on the dance floor went nuts. On the dance floor itself, you saw the typical group of young girls dancing around with each other and then in a circle bordering the edges of the room are guys, some young freshman and even some football players all just watching. They stand and watch, play on their phones, and sometimes get up enough courage to try and dance with one of the girls.  As the DJ in a booth over looking the dance floor plays out the songs everyone knows you see him never look up from his computer screen for more then a minuet, he is constantly moving mixing songs and playing the crowd favorites.

We then go upstairs to the first floor to observe another group of students. Some sit on the couches in the living room, others stand in groups and talk. Surprisingly not many are on their phones, they are engaged in conversation…oh wait someone just took a phone out. She’s in a group of three and it seems the other two are more into the conversation then her.  Then I get asked “hey! I don’t know you but…can you take a picture of my friends and I?” I say yes because its something we have all done and will forever do, we take these photo’s to help document the nights and bring back the memories we may not at all remember.

Up to the second floor we go see one of my friends in the frat. In his room there are four of us just sitting and talking about our weeks. As the girl next to me goes to check the time I notice her phone is in military time, reading 22:45. I mention it to her and my friend Julian* says his phone is also in military time. They both have them set that way for different reasons but I found it interesting how many people I know who have their phones set that way. We begin to start talking about the music that is playing when I realize that the boy’s are watching a basketball game on the TV, while we also have music playing from a computer, Facebook is also up of course, and then we are also there having conversations and learning how to speak Russian. We have so many different forms of media to look at and be distracted by, but they’re really just background noise to the conversations being had.

Then we head into another brothers room and the first thing I see is someone is taking a Snapchat. Further into the room we can see that there is an individual asleep on the couch and everyone has taken this as an opportunity to take photo’s making funny faces in front of them and snapchatting them to all their friends. In this day of social media it is hard to keep anything private anymore. No matter what you do it seems like someone can have it up on to Snapchat/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Tumbler/Reddit in a matter of seconds. And this becomes dangerous for the individuals that sometimes make bad choices, the person on the couch may have not meant to fall asleep but forever now there will be a photo on this random person’s phone of you. Your social media imprint is forever, the Internet is really forever.

We go back down to the living room and I overhear someone discussing a problem with her friend. “I just can’t deal with my phone anymore. My roommate is texting me with a dilemma, I’m out at a party I don’t wanna deal with you right now!” She then clicks her phone off and returns it to her pocket. Sometimes we just don’t wanna have to be constantly looking at our phones.  As the night begins to come to a close I see a lot more phones being used, a lot more pictures being taken and a lot more just standing around. On the dance floor girls just stand while their friends dance and sing along to a song. Or they will dance, dance, dance, stop, look at their phone, text back, put phone in pocket, dance, dance, dance.  People, including myself suddenly stop everything we are doing to reply to someone’s text message.

Overall from doing this field research I noticed how much more we depend on our phones and how sometimes it’s just easier to leave them behind and not worry. We also surround ourselves with media, all different kinds of technology and all different kinds of distractions. We take photos of people we don’t even know and post them for the world to see just to get a laugh. These photos live on the Internet and can come back to haunt someone.



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.

Field Research Report

By: Ryan Counihan

For my field research I went to a local restaurant and bar right behind my house called the Village Tavern. It is located in North Wales, Pennsylvania on Stump road. It is a fairly large restaurant with both indoor and outdoor dining (outdoor seating is closed) with two separate bar areas inside, and one bar area outside (also closed). As soon as you walk into the building the walls are filled with advertisements for different beers and liquors, as well as advertisements for events ran by the Village Tavern. Their most recent event was a St. Patty’s run, which helped raise money for cancer. They called it the Shock Run. The Village Tavern has free wifi, and strongly encourages their patrons to add them on Facebook and Twitter. They are constantly updating and adding information about upcoming events and upcoming drink and dinner specials on both Facebook and Twitter.

The restaurant is filled with mostly older people. I would say from the looks of it that most people were between the ages 30-50. A few older couples I recognize from my neighborhood. There are a few younger people in the bar area, probably close to my age, but they are separated from the older crowd and at a table of their own. There are more men than women at the bar, but not by much. I can’t get an exact number, but just by looking around you can tell the bar is geared more towards the middle-aged male crowd. There are 3 males that look as though they just got out of work sitting at the bar. They are wearing suit and ties and seem to be discussing work related issues while occasionally glancing at the television that has the USA male hockey Paralympics game on. They are wearing suit and ties and seem to be discussing work related issues. There is a young couple also sitting at the bar, they are dressed very casually, and are ordering food together. As the couple talks they both have their phones in hand. There is a group of 4 older gentlemen who are the most rowdy in the building, they are very loud when talking to one another, they seem to be very good friends. Behind the 4 gentlemen are 4 women seated at a table. I believe they are the spouses of the 4 rowdy gentlemen at the bar. They are also conversing over beer and wine. There are 2 younger girls sitting at the side bar, one girl is trying to get the attention of the bartender, while the other girl is on her cell phone, and appears to be texting someone. There are also 2 guys that appear to be at the bar alone. On is sitting silently with a beer while he is perusing his phone, and they other’s face is glued to the television watching the Sportscenter highlights and occasionally glancing at the USA Paralympics hockey game on a television right next to the television with Sportscenter on. There are about 15 televisions that I see in both of the bar areas inside the building. All are on and most of the screens feature the same 4 television stations. There is a baseball game, a hockey game, the Paralympics hockey game, and Sportscenter on the different screens. The side bar seems to be the place to sit and watch the sports events on television, while the main bar is where more people seem to be in conversation with one another.

The most common mobile media form is cell phones being used for either texting or searching the web. People are also glued to the sporting events on television. People watching the sporting events would sometimes converse with a stranger (or at least I think they are strangers to one another) about the game they were watching. I saw an older man converse with a younger man sitting next to each other at the bar about the hockey game that was on. It seems that the mobile media forms being used would for the most part hinder casual conversations between strangers, but then again on a few occasions I noticed people using the media forms, especially the television as a starting point to a conversation, most very short and brief though. A little later on in the night a local musician started to play an acoustic set in the building which captivated many individuals in the main bar area. The local musician plays weekly in the bar, and many people know who he is, and genuinely enjoy his music. As the musician continued his set the bar began to get more and more crowded, more and more people were gathering around the bar and finding a seat to hear the gentlemen play guitar. On a few songs people actually began to sing along with him, which is always fun in my opinion. He covered Lorde- Royals, which a bunch of younger people sang along with him. It is always cool seeing music bring people together. A little later on a few women (maybe in their 30s?) got up and started to dance along to the gentleman playing guitar. The App I am designing is an app for live music performances in local suburban areas. Music brings people together and allows for great live entertainment. But in my area of North Wales there is never a large crowd that goes to see local acts. The app I am designing will allow local musicians to market themselves better and to be able to draw a much larger crowd to see their shows. This will also help local restaurants and bars where these musicians will play because the bigger the crowd the larger the revenue for both musician and bar/restaurant alike.