Category Archives: Final Projects

Tour Guide App

While project managers are working on designing mobile applications for nearly everything that could be imagined, some areas are being left out in the mobile apps design world. One niche area that has been overlooked is the horse drawn carriage tour guide industry. The main objective of the “Tour Guide Mobile App” is to serve this small target community. The idea for this mobile app is drawn from the field research of two case studies, specifically two of Philadelphia’s carriage companies, and the treatment of their horse drawn carriage drivers. This “Tour Guide Mobile App”, is really a Horse Carriage Drivers System which aims to analyze the effects of injustices that tour guides experience; ultimately to create a community that shares knowledge and tries to rectify these injustices. In the future this app could expand to encompass all of the tourism industry, for now it will concentrate on the results of the field research. If the reader will think of websites like “RateMyProfessors.com” or “Glassdoor.com”, which provides an inside look at jobs and companies, as examples of how this app will work, it will help to understand the main objectives. This “Tour Guide Mobile App” consists of customary systems used to collect georeferenced data: photos, videos, sensitive information and descriptive information, and also store and generate reports on incidents involving tour guides and animals.

It is estimated from the field research that all tour guides have some complaints about their jobs in the United States. Therefore, this paper will broaden the discourse needed to design a mobile app for carriage drivers to create a social network. It will address the topics of social justice, exploitation and advocate solutions to rectify such injustices. The main objective is to design a labor mobile app through “information pooling” (Ling & Donner, 2009, p.122), that addresses the issues that horse carriage tour guides experience everyday: 1) social injustice towards carriage drivers, 2) networking and education, 3) solutions for better working conditions.

Some of the Issues

The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan has been quoted as saying, “I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” (brainyquote.com.). Many horse people can declare this statement is so true. Reasons why people enjoy working as a carriage tour guide is working with horses, talking to tourists, meeting new people, opportunities for women and minorities, learning the history of the area. However, there are many negatives to working as a horse drawn carriage driver, such as, low wages, no health benefits unless you pay for them yourself-yet susceptible to dangerous conditions, pay for supplies through the company store and not reimbursed, working in the rain, snow and heat when there is very little chance of finding customers, long exhausting hours, back to back shifts and sometimes with short turn-around, no pay for work, general exploitation of the wage earner, plus constant condescending verbal interaction from senior management. With no human resources department it causes unprofessional relations and treatment.

Some of these injustices mentioned are drawn from the field research. The field research involved two case studies of the two horse carriage companies, driver interviews, watching and reporting on how they used their mobile phones. In order to keep these businesses anonymous, this discussion will refer to the largest as company (A); drivers are required to clean the harness and carriages to collect their 40% commission, if any of these are not done the management subtract the pay to 35%. If the driver doesn’t work 5 shifts and does not clean harness or carriage the management subtract the pay to 30% or even as low as 25%. Not all carriage companies use a pay arrangement like this at company (A). Another issue that drivers dislike is during the summer months workdays are extended to 12 hour days, and a driver that works four twelve hour days is putting in a 48 hour week, but is considered a part time employee. This subtraction of commission affects a large portion of your pay as a tour guide. The smaller company (B) uses a similar pay scheme just like company (A), but other carriage companies like the one in Cape May New Jersey pay their drivers hourly.

Mobility

     Mobile phones have certainly changed society by making it easier to communicate with many people for whatever reasons. Horse carriage drivers are no different. Fifteen years ago a tour guide in any emergency situation would need to walk down to the corner public pay phone. Some years ago, mobile phones may have been considered an overpriced business necessity, but today the mobile phones have “become a personal technology, integrated into our bodies and fashion sense, and thus domesticated” (Katz & Sugiyama, 2006, p.322). Horse carriage drivers are always mobile, moving about the city giving tours, the most important reason they need the cell phones are for emergencies. From the field research, one female driver from company (B) told the story of how she called 911 on a man because he was beating his wife right next to the carriage stand. Every carriage driver has a cell phone. Also, from the field research every driver uses their cell phones while on their tour routes.

The three most important issues that this app will concentrate on addressing: 1) Working as a horse carriage tour guide is a high risk job, with a lack of human respect from management regarding issues like personal time off, sick time, grievances. 2) Weather conditions for the human beings and the company doesn’t supply proper fowl-weather gear. Drivers are required to buy their own company shirts, jackets, because the company does not want to supply them. 3) Through the use of mobile phones, they’re already used by every tour guide, the networked community will have access to information that can help them find better companies to work for, by supplying access to the names, websites and contact information of every carriage company in the United States. Here would be a good time to introduce the importance of the story of the live-in-maids from Singapore, and how they valued their mobile phones, against the wishes of their employers. The idea for this app came from this story that Ling and Donner told, of creating an informal community of “information pooling” just like the Singapore housekeepers (Ling, & Donner, 2009, pp.121-122).

Connecting Marx, Ling & Donner

Society is altered by new technology into a new social image, or a modern self- realization. This is what Karl Marx’s notion of technology determining the form of society is basically speaking to (Marx, 1867). As the speed of production has increased in the capitalist modern world so has our need for faster signal processing. Now tourist and tour guides email digital receipts back and forth between office and the street. The mobile phone has become what Ling and Donner point out is called the “Swiss Army knife” (Ling, et al., 2009, p.11). These authors go on to say that because the mobile phone is used as a camera, a Rolodex, a logbook and a text reader; that going forward new uses will be invented (Ling, et Al., 2009). This “Tour Guide App”, which is grounding the functional design in social justice, will utilize GPS mapping, group SMS messaging and pre-programed tour resources in html links. Back to the Ling and Donner story of the Singapore house keepers that were discouraged by their employers of using mobile telephones. The maids felt they needed the phone to keep in touch with love ones, family and friends. According to their account, the employers did not approve of this “information pooling”; the maids would compare notes on working conditions, pay, shifts labored, sleeping periods, and when they relate they became unhappy (Ling, Et Al., 2009). This “Tour Guide app” will need to caution the end-users and suggest they use their mobiles in the same method in which the maids needed to use their mobile phones and use them stealthily. The objective of the app is not for the wage earner to experience any hardships by having discussion about work.

Target Audience

Employment law in tourism is big business and the drivers need to know what their rights are under the law. According to Soile Veijola in the article “Introduction: Tourism as Work,” she describes how most scholarly discourse use the tourist experience, not the perspective of the workers. She even mentions about Michel Foucault, and how he explored the points of capitalist types of new work (Veijola, 2009). This explanation ties into the “Tour Guides App” because to write about the whole tour guide industry would be beyond the scope of this paper. Tour guide work is valuable to the future studies of tourism, especially in this paper where the target audience for the app is the niche audience of the drivers themselves. Even with the lack of employment data on this small group of tourism employees, the significance of its likely impact to tourist studies, and the emerging research themes help wrap our heads around the complexities of this type of work (Ladkin, 2011; Veijola, 2009). Really we can just agree to limit this discussion to horse carriage drivers because there are too many different aspects of tour guides, for example; there are guides that work indoors, guides that work in corporate buildings, guides that work in theme amusement parks, but here in this paper we are specifically discussing the outdoor horse drawn carriage tour guide business.

Connecting Metadata in Metaspace

Lee Humphrey’s borrowed the term “metaspace” from Bunschoten’s (2003) narrative and relates the concept that social mobile networks can collect information over time on a temporary basis. I’m drawing parallels to Humphrey’s article titled “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks”, where this app design can utilize some of Humphrey’s ideas, for example, the information can be collected and then become accessible back to the manipulators of the network by the use of end user reports, earlier posts or pictures and videos (Humphrey, 2012, p.497-498). This “Tour Guide App” will collect information to be used like diagnostic tools to evaluate the injustices that drivers draw attention toward. Then the drivers will have the metadata-ammunition or a better term would be the evidence to approach groups like the Better Business Bureau, National Labor Relations Board and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The ASPCA states that it is not opposed to the use of carriage-horses for hire as long as their physical and behavioral needs are fully met, housing and stable conditions are humane, and that their working hours and conditions are carefully regulated as to temperature, humidity, proximity to traffic, rest periods, etc. Working equines should receive regular veterinary and farrier care and be provided a humane retirement when no longer able to work.

(Mendell, 2006, p.144)

This is all a wonderful notion that the horses are taken care of in this humane manner, but that is not always the case, sometimes carriage company operators care more about profits and the bottom line. From the field research, one male driver told of how the company treats their horses better than the humans.

The Revolution of Control of the Power

The pendulum has been shifting back in favor of the employer since the recession of 2008 started in the U.S.A. and this app will help even the playing field. Janet Dickinson and Paul Peeters wrote in “Time, Tourism Consumption and Sustainable Development,” 2012, that working hours in tourism have blurred and intensified the workers’ lives and that overtime hours have increased between 1991 to 2010, in favor of the employers (Dickinson, & Peeters, 2012). Now we can fold this next bit of information into the argument to support the design of this app. Other topics that will need to be addressed by the content collected from the “information pooling”: pay schemes, insurance, working conditions, unprofessional management, also poor training and finally co-workers’ politics.

“Proper driving includes looking well in advance to where you are driving and calculating the proper strategy for the circumstances and terrain ahead” (Edgell, 2008, p.121). This quote is from Jennifer Edgell and her article “Driving Horse and Carriage: So Old, It’s New Again” is important to my argument, because drivers need to anticipate the tough times ahead and plan appropriately. During the summer months drivers need to save as much money as possible to weather the tough times during the winter months, when the business slows down by 80%. Companies do not teach everything that is needed in their training; a driver learns many dirty little secrets from the veteran drivers. These veteran drivers are nick named and are affectionately called ‘the island of misfit toys.’

In related news, the American Association Equine Practitioners or the AAEP has a website and publishes guidelines for commercial city carriage companies. They also publish these guidelines in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Some companies follow these guidelines and some just obviously neglect them. When the guidelines refer to standardization of rules for safety, health and welfare for all participants, there are not indicating the carriage drivers (AAEP news, 1995). There is an update on the AAEP website which is titled, “Position Statement on the Use of Horses in Urban Environments (2014)”. All the carriage drivers that participated in the field research for this project have no idea that these guidelines exist. This “Tour Guide app” will offer educational publications like this example given above.

How it works

     Thismobile app would be designed for Android, iOS and Microsoft mobile devices.

From the Splash screen (main options screen) the end user can choose to upload new or existing digital photos or video. Requirements to blur the faces of people who appear in these postings will be left to the discretion of the person uploading the content. If the user chooses to take a new digital picture, the camera feature opens. If the user chooses to upload existing photos, he/she must validate (create a new user, or sign in as an existing user) and then choose which photos/video to upload.

The pages we need designed are: 1) Splash Screen with Logo and 5 to 6 navigational buttons, 2) Sign In – New User: Accessibility and Privacy Forms, 3) Social Justice navigation: The user chooses to take photos, video or upload previous photos, or video. The user can post text messages, similar to Twitter, the content could be attached via MMS or SMS in an attempt to rectify some of the injustices of the tour guides, 4) Listing of all carriage companies in the U.S.A. – Connect with other Tour Companies and educate yourself for better conditions, the main objective is to help tour guides find other companies to work for, thus to improve their working situation. This data would be retrieved from the carriage association websites that already exists, 5) weather links and alerts, 6) Statistics Page: knowledge base articles, books, website links, laws pertaining to the carriage industry

Privacy/Surveillance

     First, privacy is important andthe biggest challenge to this mobile app design is the privacy/surveillance issues. Because this app will act like a closed circuit, the meaning of closed circuit is that members only get to access the app. Due to the sensitive information and the plan to keep managers from stalking employees the app needs to be private. Therefore, a sponsorship scheme will be required. Each new user will be required to enter an existing carriage driver’s identification code to gain access. If the rules of privacy are broken then access will be revoked. Encryption coding and technology will be used extensively to protect undesirable access. Each member would be given a username and a sponsorship ID code. Secondly, the new user section of the app would require the end user to supply a fictitious name and email to access the community. The plan is not to allow people to log in with their LinkedIn or Facebook accounts or other social media sites because of possible security breach. This app is designed for drivers not the employers. We don’t want management stalking the app so they can retaliate against the worker. No information would be giving to or sold to third parties. Also, there would be a report system to the app administration in case any problems accrue. The end user’s postings would need to be monitored and taken down if any conflicts of interest surfaced.    

Accessibility

Accessibility is extremely important because to actually become a horse carriage driver people need to be able-bodied. Of all the participants in this field research everyone was able-bodied. Therefore, at this time there are no plans to make this app accessible to all persons. Remember this is a closed circuit social group. There are approximately 13,640 lawyers working in the Philadelphia area (findthedata.org), and there are only 50 carriage drivers. One more reminder, this app is designed for an extremely small target audience.

Conclusion

     Regarding mobile communication technologies, Rich Donner and Jonathan Donner wrote about a revolution of power in the social orb, they were examining the unlimited social forces at work (Ling & Donner, 2009). The power of the carriage drivers is not realized by themselves, or they would have used solidarity and fought with management on the injustices. When the tour guides distribute their images, video, stories of incidents without the filtering from the company management it will be a step to rectify the injustices (Snowden, 2012, p.124). Therefore, the app will help educate tour guide employees on the law, for example, Philadelphia Code 10-108. Also, to help protect them from unfair work environments, supervisors and management taking advantage of their employees. Similar to glassdoor.com, mentioned earlier, creating ratings on horse drawn carriage tour guide companies in the United States. In this section of the app the end user can enter PROs and CONs about each company. By creating a social network mobile app we could affect positive change, it would force managers of these companies to modify and become even more careful of how they treat their wage earners. We can’t expect that every tour company will unionize like the Central Park carriage drivers have (Horse Carriage Driver’s Union Backs Compromise To Keep Horses In Central Park, April 30, 2014, 1). By organizing as a national group, we have more power, thus through this “Tour Guide App” we can use our own version of carriage driver Sousveillance.

Works Cited:

American Association Equine Practitioners. (1995). AAEP National Guidelines for

Commercial City Carriage Horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science,

ISSN 0737-0806, 1995, Volume 15, Issue 2, 70,

Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com

 

Dickinson, J. E. & Peeters, P. (2012). Time, Tourism Consumption and Sustainable

Development. International Journal of Tourism Research, 16:1, 11-21.

Retrieved from http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com

 

Edgell, J. (2008) Driving Horse and Carriage: So Old, It’s New Again. Journal of

     Agricultural & Food Information, 8:1, 113-124.

Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com

 

Horse carriage drivers union backs compromise to keep horses in central park,

Retrieved May 7, 2014, from http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/04/30/horse-carriage-

drivers-union-backs-compromise-to-keep-horses-in-central-park, May 7, 2014

 

How many lawyers work in Philadelphia?

Retrieved May 7, 2014, from http://www.findthedata.org

 

Humphreys, L. (2012). Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices

on Mobile Social Networks. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media,

56:4, 494-510

 

Katz, J.E., & Sugiyama, S. (2006). Mobile phones as fashion statements: evidence from

student surveys in the US and Japan. New Media & Society. 8(2): 322.

     Retrieved from http://nms.sagepub.com

 

Ladkin, A. (2011). Exploring Tourism Labor.

     Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 38, No. 3, 1135-1155.

Retrieved from http://www.elsevier.com

 

Ling, R. & Donner, J. (2009). Debates surrounding mobile communication.

     Mobile Communication. Malden, MA: Polity Press. pp.107-163

 

Marx, K. (1867). Capital: A new abridgement.

New York: Oxford University Press

 

Mendall, C. (2006). Alexis Stewart wants New York Horse-drawn carriages Banned.

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 26, Issue 4, 144

Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania City Laws for Rental and Carriage Horse Licenses.

Retrieved May 8, 2014 from

https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/city/pa/Philadelphia/title10.pdf

 

Snowden, C. (2012). As it Happens: Mobile Communications Technology, Journalists

and Breaking News in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader.

New York: Peter Lang. pp. 120-134.

 

Reagan, R. (1987) “I’ve often said there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the

outside of a horse”. Retrieved from

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/ronaldreag

 

Veijola, S. (2009) Introduction: Tourism as Work.

Tourist Studies, 9:83. Retrieved from http://tou.sagepub.com

Recommended Wed Sites

 

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/horse-drawn-carriage-driver-fears-end-tradition

 

http://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/employee-rights

 

cards FOR humanity- Bringing Sociability Back to the Physical Space

Social Justice

The concept of justice is typically thought of in the sense of legal restitution for an individual’s crime against another. The concept of justice is much more broad than this. An injustice doesn’t need to be an individual act it could be a set norms that affect a segment of a population. Take telecommunications for instance before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Things taken for granted by the majority like telephones and television shows were proved inaccessible and practically useless certain people with hearing and speech difficulties. The injustice here is providing unbalanced access to specific forms of communication, the implementation of closed captioning and the Teletype machine rectified these injustices. This is what is known as social justice and is commonly referred to “as a means of bringing about social change, fighting inequality or campaigning for human rights” (Light Lukin 2008). Social Justice comes in many forms, ranging anywhere from policy making to education. Despite popular belief, those who enact social justice don’t have to be philanthropists or government agencies, they can be individual citizens. All that is required to bring about social change is the desire to do so. There is a plethora of media for one to perform a social justice. Many have turned to the burgeoning world of mobile media and other information communication technologies (ICTs). Applications with a social agenda tend to be effective through the ubiquity of mobile technology use and ownership.

Field Research

I decided to try my hand at social justice to prove the concept that any individual can perform social justice. Unfortunately, I could not think of a social injustice to attempt to rectify so I first had to find one. I couldn’t think of a better way to do so than to sit in some of my favorite Philadelphia locales and observe people, how they interact with their environments, those around them, and their mobile devices. I went to two bars in the city found a decent vantage point where I could observe many individuals and groups at once. What I found while there did not shock me much but merely confirmed a belief that I had already held, that mobile technology is affecting the way in which people interact in physical spaces. I noticed young groups of friends often failing to carry conversations for very long, and when they did the conversation was of little to no importance to the world as a whole.  Those few conversations that did discuss big picture subjects such as world news, politics, or science were generally ill informed and presented in very weak arguments. I also observed that when these groups of friends would run out of things to talk about nearly every single person sitting in the group would turn on their smart phone and connect to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites. This phenomenon seemed to be localized to younger people which seems to have back up Rich Ling and Jonathan Donner’s argument that younger people seem to be more accepting of social interactions being interrupted by mobile phones than older people (Ling Donner 2009). This at first confused me, I was in an inherently social space yet its inhabitants resorted to a secondary social space when their conversations hit a low point. I myself rarely use social media and do not poses a mobile device capable of connecting to the internet, so I had a hard time understanding the compulsion to revert to a digital social space while in a physically social space.

Many others have observed this behavior in social spaces some on much more grand of a scale. In an article published in 2010 by Keith N. HamptonLauren F. Sessions, and Eun Ja Herb, it was shown that people are becoming increasingly more socially isolated through extrapolated data from US General Social Survey conducted in 1985 and 2008 (Hampton). Some postulate that this could be because of the prevalence and increasing use of smart-phones and the Internet. What this theory and the General Social Survey fail to realize is that the nature and definition of being social may be changing. Consider the Internet, perhaps it is making people more socially isolated in the traditional sense. I prefer to think of sociability currently transitioning from one space to another. Socializing historically took place in a physical space such as the bars I visited, however today access to social networking through the Internet is becoming more prevalent. Thus I argue that people are in fact not becoming more socially isolated they are just moving to different social spaces ones that aren’t physical but digital. A Pew Internet study on how social networking sites affect peoples lives, concludes “the findings suggests that there is little validity to concerns that people who use SNS [social networking sites] experience smaller social networks, less closeness, or are exposed to less diversity” (Hampton 2011). From my observations while in the bars I can also draw the conclusion that many people rely on these digital spaces to be social when physical spaces fail to provide the social properties they desire. The social issue in this situation is that the art of discussion is losing out to a world where entire opinions and worldviews are being expressed in 140 characters or less. It has taken me 854 words just to describe how this would be a problem.

The App

            Alas, I have identified a social justice issue. Then the challenge became how to create a form of social justice using the very technology that is identified as the issue. At a 2002 Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) conference an early experiment in crossing physical and digital spaces was implemented a plasma touch screen that allowed people to interact in a face-to-face setting through a digital social space. Researchers state, “in bringing the content of online, digital community spaces directly into physical places, we intentionally invert the logic of the virtual environment construction, which historically has involved representing real physical objects within digital spaces” (Churchill).  This was done with mild success and was arguably one of the first uses of a digital social space being used in a physical space. Just like this experiment I chose to use a mobile application to aid in my goal to promote informed discussion in physical social spaces.

The best way I saw to do this was through a social game that can be played on a mobile device. Unlike most mobile games this game would need to involve physical interaction so I decided to adapt a few games that already existed. Cards Against Humanity is a game of wits in which players are charged with the task of creating the funniest statement by filling in the blank on a drawn community card with a statement card held in their hand. This game has a viral following and has informed other games similar to it like The Metagame created to promote discussion and arguments about some of the silliest subjects imaginable. I combined the two of these games to come up with Cards For Humanity. The game functions by first determining a moderator, which changes ever round played. The duty of the moderator is to determine the best argument for the subject being discussed. Once the moderator is chosen a topic card is drawn and the rest of the players are dealt a hand of argument cards that pertain to that particular topic. The other players then choose the argument they would like to make and are given 5 minutes within the app to use a search engine to quickly research their argument and the topic in general. Once the five minutes has passed players then take 2 minutes presenting their argument for the topic. Once all the arguments have been presented the moderator then votes for the winner.

I chose a mobile app for this game unlike its physical card based counterparts so the topics and arguments can remain up to date. The application would require a staff and algorithmic search engines to disseminate trending news stories and issues from hundreds of sources. Players also would have the opportunity to create their own decks so the conversations they have are specific to their interests. For the lazier players out there the app would also allow them to choose premade decks based on certain broad subjects such as sports, science, music, etc. The game would allow winning players to summarize their arguments and post them to social networking sites so as to allow those not present in the physical space to participate indirectly through a digital space.

This game if played often could change the social dynamics of the physical space. Imagine going to a bar or a restaurant with a group of friends, and instead of discussing the latest drama between such and such on Facebook you can discuss the ongoing conflict in Crimea or the affects the media had on the Rwandan Genocide. Menial conversation will be replaced by thought provoking discussions both in the physical and digital social spaces. Not only does this app promote informed debate but it also promotes the importance of research and what it entails. It will train players in what to look for in a reliable source of information and how to present that information in the most convincing manner. It could also aid those like myself who have difficulties articulating thoughts to groups of people, and help them overcome their stage fright.

Accessibility/ Privacy

            Accessibility as mentioned before can bring up social justice issues entirely on its own so it goes without saying that it would be an important consideration in the conceptualization of Cards FOR Humanity. The app would be distributed for free and the on the applications website the source code would be made available to programmers so the game can be changed and improved in an open source community. The app would of course have to be approved and checked for bugs by the Cards FOR Humanity staff before an open sourced update was redistributed. This will allow for a safer more secure application of which players could trust. Granted the application would be difficult for those with poor eyesight to play, but that would be more of an accessibility hurdle for mobile devices in general. I chose an opt in design for the linking of the game to players social network accounts because I believe that some conversations are better left to the ears of those present to hear it. Many employers are involved in their employee’s online social networks. If say, the game took an opt out model a player could not fully realize this and accidentally post an opinion that some would disagree with creating a tough situation for that individual. The app will collect data from players however that data will not be linked to any identifiable information of the individual. The data would include arguments made, winning arguments, sites visited to inform arguments, popular player made topics, and the most and least used arguments. This data will better inform the programmers and staff in choosing topic and argument cards and will also allow the application to make suggestions to helpful websites in the research portion of the game.

Conclusion

            Through my observations in the field I noticed a tendency for groups of friends who are in an inherently social space to abandon face-to-face socialization for the comfort and familiarity of an online social networking site. At first glance I considered the idea that people are becoming less social because of their mobile technologies but I soon realized that simply was not the case. People aren’t becoming less social, they are just becoming social in different ways moving from physical to digital sociability. I believe Cards FOR Humanity could effectively merge the two spaces in a fun and informative environment. It will also promote educated conversation about topics and issues that are relevant to the world. It will also train players how to effectively research and make an argument, two practices that are imperative to the advancement of society. If sociability is allowed to move entirely to the digital sphere vast groups of people run the risk of losing touch with communicative practices.

 Visual Design

Home Screen Moderator Screen Player Screen Research Screen Winners Screen    

Works Cited

Zimmerman, E. (2014, January 1). The Metagame. . Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://ericzimmerman.com/portfolio/the-metagame/

What is Cards Against Humanity?. (n.d.). Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/

Elizabeth Churchill, Andreas Girgensohn, Les Nelson, and Alison Lee. 2004. Blending digital and physical spaces for ubiquitous community participation. Commun. ACM 47, 2 (February 2004), 38-44. DOI=10.1145/966389.966413 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/966389.966413

Hampton, K., Goulet, L., Rainie, L., & Purcell, K. Social Networking Sites and Our Lives. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 42. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media//Files/Reports/2011/PIP%20-%20Social%20networking%20sites%20and%20our%20lives.pdf

Hampton, K., Sessions, L., & Her, E. J. Core Networks, Social Isolation, and New Media. Information, Communication & Society, 14, 130- 155. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from the Taylor & Francis Online database.

Ling, R. S., & Donner, J. (2009). Debates surrounding mobile communication. Mobile communication (). Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Light, A., & Luckin, R. Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology, Learning. Open Education. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from http://www.futurelab.org.uk/openingeducation

 

EpiAlert Final Project

EpiAlert

            I choose this particular issue due to epilepsy being very close to home. I have grown up knowing my aunt had an issue and never fully understood everything that goes on in her life. She cannot do average things most people do. At the age of 31, she cannot drive, she cannot attend a concert, she is overly sensitive to lights and certain things cannot over stimulate her senses. I see this a social justice due to the inequalities in the world today.

When I conducting my field research, the thought of a classroom setting seemed ideal. Someone in my lecture hall could have epilepsy. What would happen to that person if they had one in a big classroom? Being in room full of students engrossed in notebooks and laptops. A person towards the back of the room may not be noticed while a seizure is happening. I thought of various scenarios of how the app would alert someone’s attention and am helpful in everyday life.

EpiAlert is a tool for people with epilepsy that need a little bit of extra help in day-to-day activities. People who use the application can set up distinct times for taking medicine. This would provide them with a daily habit to take it around the same time. A list of anti-seizure medicines will be available and will list each food conflict. The police alerts will use a GPS feature that tracks when police will be within a four-block radius of the user. This will show up as an alert and tell them that police are in action. When going out of town the neurologist will be able to be looked up just in case of an emergency. The chat room will be combined by with the online chat with people discussing epileptic issues and everyday life. The seizure alarm will be forcefully awakened with hard shakes. This will cause a high-pitched noise within 50 feet radius.

This app would not be accessible to people that are hard of seeing. It would not benefit them due to the app being mostly on a smartphone and needing to see what is going on within the app itself. The app lacks a voice dictation, which would serve as a problem.

The issues with GPS are that most people don’t want to be found and have where they are on record. To solve that problem people can put in any zip code to search local places for help. Another concern would be the information used in the chat room. All information from the users phone will not be accessible through the app.

iTextShare – Envision Education Differently

Throughout the course of history and its never-ending questions regarding life, humanity has definitely determined one thing: we are always capable of learning something new. Learning could be argued as instinctive and necessary for survival. Generations of storytellers, writings on papyrus, and now electronics have been the means to learning and claiming a seat in a world of life. Humans are constantly challenging themselves to grow larger and think harder. We think and learn the benefits associated with money, but what happens when a capitalist system gets too business oriented and greedy? Where is the line in placing a price on our education and ability to learn? Learning is a human goal and practiced daily. Our society demands thinkers while raising the price of our most simple mediums to gaining a higher education, like books and technology. College students, in particular, are in their prime of learning and determining how they want to affect the world. As tuition and textbook rates get higher, the college student falls more commonly short of affording the proper tools to learn. Learning is survival in today’s age, and with help from social thinkers and technology users, people can strive to work together to help each other learn and conquer similar obstacles. An app promoting a community of textbook sharers and resources is useful in spreading knowledge and interest to further our minds.

Social Justice, in terms for this essay, is any act that promotes good for humanity in a peaceful, affordable, and accessible manner. Development of an app, iTextShare, can help achieve those goals by providing necessary communication between users to actively share textbooks primarily for college classroom use, and other books for personal interest.

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 10.10.25 PM

The chart above from The Required Textbook – Friend or Foe?, shows a large number of pros as to why a textbook is necessary for a better learning experience. From personal confidence to showing long term value and encouraging student involvement and understanding. With iTextShare, the student is able to get more involved in his thinking on any imaginable course!

 Leonard Gaston and Ben Williams make clear how the price of the textbook is on the rise. Together, they analyze why it costs so much and just how feasible it is for a student to afford the required material while acknowledging the economic system within book marketing and publishing.

“The fact remains however that a university student enrolled for five courses in a given semester, assuming that each required an equivalent text, would shell out $945 just for textbooks. If we assume a six percent sales tax jurisdiction, the cost comes out to a bit over a thousand dollars” (Gaston & Williams).

Both Gaston and Williams address the serious issue that interests me the most. Early in their research, they question the ideas and priorities of society.

“If the situation has reached the point where students may avoid courses they would otherwise prefer to take, simply because of textbook cost, it is a serious question” (Gaston & Williams).

Developments in writing systems were found as early as 3,500 B.C.E. Since then, humanity has been learning and sharing stories through language, including word, writings, and drawings. As early as the 16th century, humans have studied the brain and been fascinated by it’s ability. Through writing and text, they share their ideas to future generations. Formal institutions encouraging the academics can be traced as far back as the 10th century. It’s not secret that humanity has been on a search for knowledge since the beginning. Through this mobile application, learning and knowledge will hopefully be more accessible and used as a tool to motivate a student to learn more!

After shortly studying Temple University’s student center, I over-heard the same complaint from many: books are too expensive. Why should the most basic medium of learning be inaccessible to the students that want to learn and need them to achieve greater accomplishments? Statistics found through The College Board have found that,

“As of 2009, the average published tuition, fee, and room and board at a public four-year school was $14,333. Ten years ago, it was $10,471, which represents a 36.9 percent increase in costs” (Cooper, Mary Ann).

Students, or their families, are expected to pay for their tuition and books if not offered funding from the government. Funding that is not easily obtainable. If funding for a higher education is up to the students, resources should be in place in high school teaching students how to manage their college experience. Dr. Tracey Espinosa agrees that more accessible learning is necessary to a flourishing future. She states,

America and many other countries around the world… realize that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; public education ha[s] to do more to reach all of the members of society.” (Espinosa, Tracey.)

The United States is no longer a leader in academics and more must be done to continue challenging other countries in an extremely crucial time of technology development. Many websites and apps aim at making education more affordable, but ultimately they all are based off business models and are interested in making money.

Research at other universities can offer insight into the student mindset in purchasing textbooks. If students are interested in paying for textbooks, what is the limit? Do they keep books or return them for cash? Through modern technology and research these questions can be answered. According to a Johns Hopkins study, students were polled on how they value their textbooks.

When asked where they purchase their textbooks, a majority of OSU students (58 percent, 142/246) reported they always purchase their textbooks from the centrally located campus bookstore. Another 40 percent of responding students (41 percent, 101/246) reported that they sometimes purchase from the OSU bookstore. Seventy percent (160/229) never buy their books from any other ‘bricks and mortar’ bookstore.”(Anne, Christie).

With mobile technology, users can connect more consistently based on similar interests. Searching for an item has never been easier. These two simple ideas result in an app designed to promote books that users want to get rid of and receive in return. Instead of a business model, the app is balanced off a credit system. The way to receive credit is by posting books that are available to students in your college community. The credits, in return, are used in swapping or receiving textbooks with other university students. Some believe that humans are natural givers and want to help, so why dissuade that idea. Encourage the user to help others in a safe mobile application.

This app idea would not have worked in the past because it is entirely based off of mobility. The app requires a mobile phone and profile registered through your school email address. As people offer books to the public, swaps are arranged through date and time settings. Locations for exchanges are pre-determined during daylight hours in public spaces. Communication is available through a list of programmed messages ranging from, “I’ll Be Late,” to “I Must Cancel.” Although the app design is based off human interaction and a sense of trust, there is not much room for rudeness or prejudices.

Primarily the app is designed to assist those who have education at the forefront of their priorities: students. There is no personal information available to the public, just a user picture and username. The app would require email confirmation and access to GPS capabilities for safety and confirmation of transaction.  Mainly established through a picture interface, based of textbook ISBN code, illiterate users could manage to access the app services. Fortunately for the hearing impaired, sound is not an issue. However, developing an app for eyesight impaired is more difficult. The addition of sounds and text reader services could help execute actions, but still might stall functionality and ease of use. By offering an option to turn off profile and GPS settings, the user is allowed to move freely through the app, but not commit to any text shares without turning those settings back “on.” So long as a user is able to manage the app and reach the location specified through the application, the app is accessible. Other concerns regarding privacy include safety and confirmation of transaction. By limiting the hours available to text share and locations, users are pushed to safer environments.

Theoretically, the app could be expanded to other universities based on proximity. The app could also be expanded to public use, but ensuring safety would become more of an issue. How users utilize mobile technology is entirely up to the community and is never 100% predictable by the developer. Part of developing mobile technologies is to further how we learn and answer questions to why we learn.

The ability to learn is one that we should not take for granted. Accessible learning is necessary for anyone to survive in a society of increasing competition and success determined by how much money is in your bank account. With simple and small steps to helping each other with the technologies that are already available to us for free, humans can promote social justice and a better future.

Visual Component
Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.00.49 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.01.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.01.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.01.17 PM
Julian Castillo

Works Cited

Espinosa, Tracey, Dr. “History of Human Learning, Mind, Brain, and Education Science, Brain-based Teaching, Progress of Teaching.”History of Human Learning, Mind, Brain, and Education Science, Brain-based Teaching, Progress of Teaching. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.

Cooper, M. A. (2012, May 07). High school students not prepared to face tuition hikes. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education,22, 50-51. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1020128437?accountid=14270

Gaston, L., & Williams, B. (2010). In search of a low cost textbook. Southern Business Review, 35(2), 41-44. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/754722421?accountid=14270

Christie, A., Pollitz, J. H., & Middleton, C. (2009). Student strategies for coping with textbook costs and the role of library course reserves. Portal : Libraries and the Academy, 9(4), 491-510. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216172975?accountid=14270

Skinner, D., & Howes, B. (2013). The required textbook – friend or foe? dealing with the dilemma. Journal of College Teaching & Learning (Online), 10(2), 133. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1418715945?accountid=14270

Future Verse, Words Last Lifetimes

Vanessa Fuller

Mobile Media

Final Paper

May 9, 2014

 

Why Future Verse Works: What Scholars, Educators, and Parents Need to Know About Millenials and Media Literacy

 

The toughest part about being a scholar may be in how one sifts through decades or centuries of studies, statistics, and views of other scholars, reporters, and educators. Often times it is difficult for a scholar to be able to say how their research is a part of a larger field, be it conceptually, temporally, but most of all accurately. In researching social justice, preteen usage of mobile media and digital technology, how said usage informs user behavior as well as how human performance informs communicative technologies, this paper shows how such research has aided in the development of a new social justice app for preteen users.

Initially the Future Verse app was an app consisting of quotes and aspirations for preteens who at such a fragile age, are subject to self-esteem issues. However as the research began to unfold it became evident that a larger social justice bout was happening around this demographic. Further assessment of these scholarly reports indicate that scholars, educators, and parents, are constantly debating and gauging the way preteens utilize mobile media and digital technology with a very narrow scope. These three stake holding groups have further informed and often confirms many hunches that were at the basis for the development of Future Verse in terms of preteens and privacy, their mobile media usage (specifically smart phone, app, and web users…), and most importantly their literacy.

 

To inform the design of Future Verse the following documents were reviewed. A 2013 dissertation for a proposed Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, from the University of California Los Angeles, by Yalda Tehranian entitled, “Social Media, Social Kids: Sociocultural Implications of 21st Century Media for Development in the Preteen Period. The second is an article published in The Washington Post in May 2013, by Cecilia Kang entitled, “Preteens on Instagram Raise Privacy Concerns.” “The next is Tip of the Iceberg: Meaning, Identity, and Literacy in the Preteen Virtual Worlds,” by Eric M. Meyers, and an article from Young Consumers by May O. Lwin, “Online Usage, Motivate, and Information Disclosure for Preteen Children.” These articles have informed Future Verse as a response to the way scholars, educators, and parents are currently writing off this demographic and their ability to behave in traditional face-to-face contact and to read and perform outside of their digitally oriented communities, by adding to the demographic artillery of mobile technologies that can be used to combat these negative generalizations.

While scholars, educators, and parents have various informed opinions about the implications of preteen indulgence in shared virtual environments, analysis of these texts show that the conversation is meant to give either of these groups an edge over the other in, “Who gets to be right about our children’s future with their new ubiquitous technologies,” with some level of scholarly, primary, or otherwise informed research. A brief overview of what each author is supposing or arguing will be given, followed by an analysis of each, and finally how they have all influenced not only the goals of Future Verse as an app but how their sorts of thinking has shaped the potential effects of the app’s result as a SVE’s impact on the socialization of preteens.

The issue of privacy as it pertains to online and mobile media usage is a conversation thoroughly investigated by media critics and scholars. For The Washington Post to publish as article on preteen usage of a popular photo-sharing site is not far removed from being a public concern. The article follows one young boy’s journey on the Instagram site, his parental guidance/interference with how he performed on the site and most importantly the sites failure to protect children and inform parents adequately about the sites’ means to acquire user information. It mentions that a petition being filed on Change.org requesting that Facebook, owner of Instagram, privatize underage accounts.

As means to become better informed about what motivates preteen internet usages and the circumstances in which they divulge personal information, May O. Lwin offers stellar findings and conclusions as what behaviors must be considered. The article sites information seeking, entertainment, and socializing as three common motives for internet usage. Information seeking and socializing had the most results in which time of usage informed children ages 10-12 habits of privacy concerns. The findings from this study imply that information seeking was positively associated with privacy concerns while the opposite is true for socializing. To understand the privacy behaviors of children these ages researchers took into consideration the techniques and tactics of user data collection, maturity levels of young users, and their motives and incentives that dictate how they navigate through the World Wide Web, coupled with the uses and gratification theory. The gem of this study is that while information seeking tends to involve a more informed user rather than a social seeking counterpart, the former user is less likely to divulge private information such as name, address, phone number, location, and school.

It is important to have a grasp on how preteens divulge their personal information and how scholars attribute that to their socialization. When developing Future Verse as an app privacy was heavily considered primarily because the users were not yet adults.  It was also important to develop an app that did not add to the sect of apps that involve extreme narcissism and toss users into a popularity scrimmage for the “likes,” of other users. It was once considered to add a social media environment to Future Verse in which the app’s avatars may interact as a means to popularize the app among preteens. The site that initially inspired an app that gave preteen a plethora of affirmative quotes about self-esteem, ability, image, and progress, is a weekend program in North Philadelphia that mentors and tutors junior high school children.

In an environment where cellular phones are denied to mentors, tutors, instructors, and students, it was a bit a challenge to observe the children’s use of their mobile devices. However, when recreational time occurred, and when students were interacting with mentors 10 to 13 years their senior, a conversation about how both parties engage in mobile media arose in almost no time. It became apparent that most children did have smart phones, and a lot of them had the same apps. The top app of the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders was Instagram. Students questioned why anyone would not have the app, insinuated that having a popular Instagram page was a direct indicator of one’s social status, and it became apparent that children these ages are enticed by this sort of programing.

An immediate goal for an app was to combat the noise levels of narcissistic programing, and invite preteens to a more helpful realm in which they are affirmed not by physical or material displays of popularity, but to codify and appreciate their growing up. With developing an app that encouraged and affirmed this demographic it was not difficult to design the privacy settings because a goal was to use as little information as possible. There is no need for a user of Future Verse to divulge their name, physical location, or school; however they are allowed to select a gender and age for their avatar. The next aspect of the apps design is aligned with the historicizing agenda of its creator, and research questions that were developed and explored through the remaining pieces of literature.

After deciding not to incorporate a social media aspect, even just within the app community, making the app popular was still a goal. What would make these kids use or like this thing? There is no gaming aspect to this app. Thusly the need to understand and explore preteens in the context of shared virtual environments and how user-app-interaction would result in the user embracing or utilizing any of the apps positive scriptures was quite necessary. The first stop on this creation train, involved a bit of nostalgia. Citing the popular preteen phenomena of the 1997 Tiger Electronics release of Giga Pets, and later on EA and Maxis’ 2000 release of The Sims is necessary as both were used to develop the actual design of the app.

Giga Pets was a tiny keychain that fit in the palm of one’s hand, which was also a virtual pet. Users had to feed, clean up after, bathe, and play with their Giga Pet. The mobile media was interactive, simple in terms of its four keypad design, and loved by all children who had it. It was at first regarded by parents as a means to possibly teach responsibility, it was despised by educators as a distraction in the classroom, but perhaps it was just a fun thing to do for children. The Sims is now a sage with many versions and expansion packs, means to play, and does not seem to be losing its relevancy as a SVE. Together these older forms of mobile media and digital technologies became the framework for Future Universe, and dictated the second half of the apps research.

Decidedly to gain the affection and perhaps popularity among potential users, Future Universe would take on an SVE program and feature the use of an avatar. This was also a choice made because it would be very difficult to include users of different races, gender ids, and ethnicities because persons within said categories may experience totally different social situations that other means of coping are better suited for. So the app is set “in the future,” and features a boy and a girl and an “alien,” avatar in which users can only name and age. Now the research became a matter of how to get the user to embrace and apply the affirmations given to the avatar on its journey, to their real life instances, and a gaze into how mobile media usage informs preteen behaviors.

The Meyers article and Tehranian’s dissertation are the platforms that further attributed to Future Verse’s design. Sections of either study present great facts on preteen internet behaviors, but were not suitable for direct application to the app’s design. Tip of the Iceberg: Meaning, Identity, and Literacy in Preteen Virtual Worlds may perhaps be the most useful article of them all.

Beginning with an anecdote of a librarian reading to a group 7 and 8 year olds being informed of a popular shared virtual environment, the study sites SVEs and an emergent genre in which there lies a space for New Literacy, Identity, Learning and Problem Solving, and finally Community. Meyers diffuses three categories of SVEs, insists that there is a sociocultural definition of literacy which defines expertise and socialization offhandedly, and calls a greater understanding for how preteen media literacy ought to be or may be assessed.

The study shows how SVEs are developed for specific types of children within a preteen demographic, and some of the social implications that follow. For sites that require membership or premiums, there is a pressure to maintain that premium on parents from users. Creators consider world premises, the avatar, and the point of view as well. While the “AdverWorlds,” and “Commercial Worlds,” deal will real world products or are accessed at a financial cost, and finally there is the Value Worlds are non-commercial and do not seek to entice users with advertisements or their money. It is more about the experience rather than the user’s finance. An important note about the user’s behavior is given in the article and that is most users are heavily involved with the world’s activities such as shopping and customizing, and may involve virtual currency.

This study was most impactful for Future Verse because it defined a lane for the app that wasn’t available in terms of gaming. Trying early on to liken the virtual world of Future Verse to games with story lines or avatars such as Pokémon, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, or Super Mario Brothers, worked as a model for how the apps’ world would be represented in its physical form. However, because there was no overall goal or theme to the avatar’s journey, the app has installed other features to get the user to participate in interaction. Understanding SVE as Meyer’s exhibits makes Future Verse a more relevant and feasible app.

The study sites Fisher, Marcoux, Meyers, and Landry, 2007; 2009, as recent research that, “preteen everyday life information behavior suggests that information seeking and problem solving are embedded in a wide range of social practices, including activities at home, school, public social spaces, and online. This is where the assessment of this study and the following study, became crucial in one, identifying where Future Verse fit in mobile media, digital technology, and SVE universes, two understanding that the demographic is under scrutiny.

There seems to be a discussion floating about preteens that insist they are too involved in their mobile devices, they have too much access to the world through the internet, and that they as a result of performing with, against, or apart from these mobile media, are less capable of basic or traditional human interaction. Perhaps as the famous Will Smith song goes, “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” there is some truth to that statement. The following analysis of Tehranian’s dissertation speaks to the volumes that preteens are widely misunderstood as less human, less literate, and more endangered as learned members of the species.

There is an extreme lack of support and huge asinine claims made in Tehranian’s dissertation. While it is necessary to say that the document is in defense of a Philosophy of Psychology degree, there is a use and some misuse of media studies that support many of her claims. Overall the document informs that there is a huge increase or popularity of “fame,” culture in television media over the past 50 years. (U.S.) She insists that such a widespread frenzy of individualism draws preteens away from physical and traditional forms of socialization and interaction. It is agreed that mass media entertainment are fast and effective at directly and indirectly purporting the behaviors of its audiences. However she leaves no room for accountability. She supports her hypothesis with a number of facts about how much television or online usage preteens generate. Arguably mass media cranks out ideas at large and to large audiences and incur large responses, there is hardly anything scholarly about that observation.

While doing a somewhat decent job at “proving,” this, Tehranian and the board that approved this dissertation did not consider many crucial factors to assessing this demographic and worse some extremely unfair ones.

Tehranian cites Gardner, 2013, as saying this preteen generation is, “the first generation to be defined by technology and innovation.” This cannot possibly be true. Humans have been alive for centuries, every generation encounters newer technologies, and all have been defined by such innovation. A more sensitive approach to this demographic is that they are newly adept in ways that their older influences are not. They do have wider and more expedient access to information because of their technologies, however this dissertation gives the impression that this is inherently bad. Au contraire it is older generation’s inability or unwillingness to immerse themselves in preteen culture, to make an attempt to understand the generation’s usage of such technologies, and to open up their own understandings that frame preteens as a hopeless stretch of DNA that cannot function without a screen.

Tehranian elimintated “screens,” for five days among a group of 6th graders to see if they could recognize and understand human emotion. This implies that preteens are detached, and that there is a detachment happening from using mobile media. Perhaps if Disney’s Belle would have entertained the singing provincial town that she lived in, as opposed to reading a book, she too would have been less of an individual? In reading this document it serves one little to find examples of programming that projected individualism over collectivism, unless one sites how popular Hannah Montana was as a preteen TV program. The document is poorly organized onward; nonetheless, the stats and the theories in place in this dissertation were disheartening.

After mulling over the new studies and theories found on preteen interaction with avatars and SVEs, it became apparent that Future Verse does more than encourage preteens. It allows them to embrace timelessness and character in an age where their predecessors make little effort to understand them, but make large claims against them as productive members of human society. So in efforts to further confuse, confine, and condemn scholars, parents, and educators, and really empower preteens, Future Verse takes place in outer space. It’s futuristic, the avatars are just as tech savvy as the preteens they are designed after, and nobody using this app should feel bad about going on this journey.

 

Works Cited

Tehranian, Y. Social Media, Social Kids: Sociocultural Implications of 21st Century Media for Development in the Preteen Period.

Meyers, E. M. Tip of the Iceberg: Meaning, Identity, and Literacy in Preteen Virtual Worlds. J. of Education for Library and Information Science50. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.temple.edu/stable/40732585

Kang, C. (2013, May 15). Preteens on Instagram Raise Privacy Concerns. The Washington Post.

Lwin, M. O., Miyazaki, A. D., Stanaland, A. J., & Evonne, L. Online usage motive and information disclosure for preteen children. , 13. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from the Summon database..

Snowden, Collette. (2012). “As It Happens: Mobile communications technology, journalism, and breaking news,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. P. 120-134.


Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 8, 143-161

Since I haven't made a date to show Dr. Shaw my bonafied flip book
Since I haven’t made a date to show Dr. Shaw my bonafied flip book

Just Breathe App

In college one in every three students report prolonged periods of depression, 30% of those students reported problems with school work due to a mental health issue, and only 50% of college students received education on mental health issues prior to coming to college (picture). That means that half of the students on Temple Universities campus and other college campuses don’t know about mental health issues, who it affects, and if it may affect them. A survey was done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness where they sent a survey to college students who did suffer from some type of mental issue. The results were really interesting, 82% of the responses were from women because it seems that women are 2 times more likely to experience depression during their lifetime. The survey also brought light to problems with colleges not being aware of how many students suffer from mental health issues. “A depressive episode made it impossible for me to go to classes and I did not get help until it was too late.” (2012, pg 8). The page then went to show how colleges could help bring more attention to the issues, and what accommodations could be given to students with mental health issues.  Another student agreed that more can be done by colleges to help students stating “I think colleges should pay attention to the fact that many more students need mental health services than who actually access them. Some of the students most affected or most at risk for mental health conditions are the hardest to reach because they are secluded in their rooms” (2012, pg 5)

This in part inspired me to create my app Just Breathe. The idea behind the app is to educate individuals about mental health issues, as well as help those who may suffer from mental health issues. The app is to be split into a few different pages, an information page, emergency contact page, calming page, search engine, and lastly a “my page”.

The information page is split into two different area’s one is for the individual facing problems with mental health, the second is for those who want more information on how to help someone with mental issues. Very often those who have children, siblings, friends or significant others with a mental health disorder are very uneducated on the topic. Sometimes they are unsure of how to help, how to approach them or help them when they have a break down or panic attack. I hope that this app and the information given will help those understand more of what is going on with their loved ones or themselves, and helps them understand that its more common then they think.

The emergency contact page will have numbers for different hotlines and numbers, including suicide hotlines, numbers to call for abusive relationships, eating disorders and anxiety. This page will also have the option for the individual to import numbers of family members or friends that they can contact in a time of need.

The calming page is a section that is used by those who suffer from mental health issues. This page is mostly to help calm a person when they may be having a panic attack or upset moment. On this page there will be music that they can upload songs that they enjoy or that can help put them into a better mood. The music section will also include sounds and ambient noise that can be used to calm or distract the individual. There will be games that can be played, simple games like Tetris or puzzles that can distract them during that time, they will be a part of the phone so that Wi-Fi is not needed to access this area. Most importantly on the page there will be a breathing timer and movements section. The breathing timer will be to help a person in a panic attack catch their breath and calm down. Very often during a panic attack it is difficult to steady your breathing to get back to a normal state, the breathing timer will help to count how many breaths you should take in and how many you should exhale. It counts for you so you can just focus on it and not on numbers. It will also have lists of different positions you can lay in to help your breathing or calm your body. These movements will all be listed on the page and you will just need to find one that applies to you.

The search engine can be used by anyone. Since so many college students are unaware of how many people are affected by mental health many also don’t know where they can seek help when they do face any issues. The search engine will use your maps or GPS, with your permission, to find hospital, clinics, and centers around you that you, or someone you know can go to. On a college campus it will locate the counseling center through your schools page, find it’s location, and information of how to get in contact and schedule and appointment with the college’s center.

Lastly the area “My Page” is for the individual to put anything that they need to help them on. This page will be password protected so only they can have access to it. They can upload certain photos that they can look at to cheer them up. There is also a notepad where they can write down anything that they feel at the time, as a diary of sort. Often some who have mental health issues need to write things down or get things out of their head.

Mobility

The importance of this app being mobile is so that it is available at anytime that someone may be in need of it. A panic attack or break down can happen anywhere, you may not necessarily be near objects, medication or people that you need to help you through it. That’s where the app’s mobile function comes in handy; if you’re at school and find yourself having a panic attack you can excuse yourself to the bathroom or a quiet area and use the different sections of the app to help yourself through the attack.

Social Justice

  I really wanted to create this app for the sake of social justice. Many college students suffer from some type of mental health issue, it could be from depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those who suffer from these disorders often don’t tell many people because mental health has such a negative stigma around it. “I was concerned that the information would become part of a permanent record that could be viewed negatively. I still feel that there is a slot of stigma and the benefits of disclosing do not outweigh the risks” (2012,  pg9). You often can’t go a day without hearing the term “damn she’s crazy” or something about the way people think being wrong. Many students don’t want to be labeled as “crazy” or think that because they have these problems or disorders that they cannot function like everyone else. I faced this myself with telling anyone about my depression and anxiety, mostly because I didn’t want people to pity me or think that I could handle situations or certain actions because I could become anxious or more upset. In reality mental health affects everyone at least once in their life and if it doesn’t affect them, someone they know is most likely affected in some way. “I was scared to let anyone know about my crisis because I did not want people to worry, did not know who I could turn to and did not want to get in trouble” (2012, pg 18). I was interested in creating an app for mental health to try to show a different side of mental health. That is why I had the information page, you can go to this page and see basic information on different types on disorders, how to help someone, how to diagnose someone, or for yourself to just learn more about what you are facing in your life. I hope that this app would also help those who suffered from mental health issues to come forward and share their stories and struggles to help reduce the stigma around mental issues

History

When originally doing research for my app I looked online and on the iTunes app store to see if there were any apps that were like this. On the iTunes app store I really couldn’t find many options for an app that was available to help educate and calm people in the same place. They are a lot of apps that would give you information about different mental issues, mostly for nurses or med students. Online I found a few websites that help with calming people, these site would give you options to have a “quite space” where you would use head phones to listen to calming ambient sounds and music and get to write out any things that were troubling or bothering you at the time. As you typed the sentence and then began to type the other the worlds would disappear from the text space, making the worries disappear(Quite Place 2014). This created the idea for the “my page” section of the app, so you could get the ideas out and not have to think about them so much. Other websites also had drawing pages or quotes to help inspire or make them feel not as alone.

Privacy

This app is very private, for the sake of the individual. The only area’s that would be accessing any personal information or location is the search engine and my page. And they are both only used with permission and are password locked so you don’t have to worry about anything being released that you wouldn’t want. Privacy is important for this app because I would want those who use them to feel comfortable with using the app the way it is intended.

Field Research

My original field research was don’t done with this app in mind I did a shorter one at the Tuttleman Counseling Center waiting room. While there I noticed how many students didn’t interact with one another. No one spoke or even made eye contact. Probably because some felt awkward to be there, I know I did the first few times I went to see a counselor. This can relate back to the stigma of mental health and how it has a negative view.

Accessibility

Almost anyone would be able to use this app, except for those who have visual impairment. It would be difficult for those who are blind to use the app unless they had another app to help read it to them, all the features of the app should be fine to use though if visually impaired.

Conclusion

In conclusion I really want this app to help those who may not know much about mental health issues understand it more, as well as treat it like it should be. The stigma around mental health is one that isn’t looked at too often, “they need to publicize mental health issues more, instead of waiting until a student commits suicide to focus on problems” (2012, pg 19). I want this app to also help those who do suffer from mental issues to use the calming page to help them through panic attacks and other bad moments. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety I would find this app extremely helpful, and would love if it could be more of a reality. I really enjoyed putting this project together, finding information about mental health and the ways that they can have less of a stigma. It made me feel less alone like I hope it does for others too.

 

Visual Design

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 4.45.22 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 4.45.10 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 4.45.56 PM

Work Cited:

Taylor, D. Insomnia and mental health in college students . Behavior sleep medicine, 9, 107-116.

Nursing Standard . . Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ehost/detail?sid=78fa3d51-25fd-456f-8782-7e03b28e2be2%40sessionmgr4005&vid=1&hid=4106&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=aph&jid=4ER

The Quite Place. (n.d.). project. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://thequietplaceproject.com/

I Want You Safe: Calming Websites . (n.d.). . Retrieved April 15, 2014, from http://backonpointe.tumblr.com/post/61110192180/i-want-you-safe-calming-websites

Gruttadaro, D., & Crudo, D. (2012). College Students Speak: A Survey Report on Mental Illness. Arlington, VA: National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.

 

Live Local Music Finder

By: Ryan Counihan

On a Thursday night in my town of North Wales, Pennsylvania I was at my local bar called the Village Tavern. I try my best to make it to the bar most Thursday nights, not for the food, drinks, and friendly community, but for open mic night. Every Thursday at this small local establishment there is a gathering of musicians and fans of music alike. Some weeks the crowds are much larger, but most of the time there are only a few people who actually make it out to hear the extremely talented local artists. As I sit at the corner of the bar next to the PA system, the wonderfully talented John Valerio, who is a regular at open mic nights, serenades me with his guitar work. While John plays an incredible set the very talented local saxophonist Scott joins him. The two weave together intricate and beautiful melodies that could easily be compared to some of the best live acts out there nowadays. And all of this is taking place in a small tavern only minutes from my house in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. As I sit at the end of the bar I begin to look around at the small crowd of people who have gathered. I begin to notice that not that many people are actually focusing on the music. Rather, they are engulfed in the screens of their smart phones and the televisions that are littered around the bar. As a musician this type of thing concerns me greatly. The more I look around I start to realize that a few others and myself are the only ones in the tavern who seem to be there for the music. And I think to myself, why is this? What can be done to bring in a larger crowd, specifically a crowd who is there to hear great live music? How can these local musicians get the recognition they deserve? I wondered how many other places in the suburbs have live music, and how many other live acts are also going under the radar? After my night at the open mic night, I got the idea for a phone application that would help local musicians in the suburbs get the attention they deserve at their shows.

 

The application I designed is called the Live Local Music Finder. This app allows for fans of live local music specifically in the suburban areas of Philadelphia to find shows almost any night of the week. This app can be used by local musicians to market themselves better then say MySpace, or Facebook, and will help them draw larger crowds to see their shows. The application will also help local venues, bars, or restaurants where these musicians play because the bigger the crowd, the larger the revenue for both musicians and establishments alike. This application has the ability to strengthen social interaction and the way people connect as well. According to Lee Humphreys, “Much of public sociality through mobile social networks is about connecting with others. Connecting here means the managing one’s social distance with others. Most often communication through these systems is meant to build, strengthen, and maintain social connections” (Humphreys, 502). The more people who use this application the more relevant it will be! The community of music lovers, and musicians alike in the suburbs will come together to share in the fun at more live local shows. And the thing that will be connecting everyone will be the music!

 

To begin, this application can be used by anyone, but is geared more towards people who enjoy going out to see live music events or for people who play in a band. In the application one can look up local shows happening around the suburban areas of Philadelphia. These shows can be at actual concert venues, or halls, they can be at a bar, or restaurant, they can even be at someone’s house, or apartment. The application uses a GPS and shows you a map of your surrounding area. On the map are little guitar icons. These little guitar icons represent shows at that specific location on that day. These icons will change everyday depending on where shows are located. You can tap the guitar icon and the app brings you to another screen. On this screen you will see what bands or artists are playing the show, what the venue is called/location of the show, what time the event is being held, there will be a link to the band or artist’s website where you can listen to some of their music (if they have posted music to their webpage), there is an option to view other information (if the band/artist added anything that would be good to know about the event), and you will have the option whether or not you would like directions to the venue. If you tap the screen on “get directions”, you will be taken to another screen that has mapped out the directions to the venue through the use of GPS. The GPS is extremely important and beneficial for the Live Local Music Finder. According to Alison Gazzard, “Mobile phone technologies have evolved, allowing for the integration of global positioning systems (GPS). The inclusion of GPS in ‘smart phones’ such as the iPhone now allows users to view the spaces they are moving through in new ways “ (Gazzard, 405). I thought it would be ridiculous not to have a GPS included in this application because the app itself literally is remapping places according to whether or not there is live music being played in certain locations. It’s a different way of viewing your suburban area because you are viewing it in regards to what live music is being played around the area and where the venues that hold these live music events are located.

 

Now, if you were to go back to the opening page, with the map and little guitar icons, you would be able to slide over to the second page of the application by simply swiping your finger on the screen to the left. The second page of the application has a list of ‘venues’ you have already been to while using the application. On this page you can rate and review the venues you have already been to, you can read reviews made by other Live Local Music Finder users, you can look up more information regarding the venues such as future shows, phone numbers, etc. You can also find directions to the venues you have already been to by tapping on the name of the venue, which would bring you to the directions screen again.

 

From the second page of the application you can swipe the screen to the left again and arrive at the third page of the application. This third page includes a list of local bands and artists that you have already seen. You can rate them on a 5 star scale, and by tapping on their name you can receive a little more information about them, and a link to their website, if they have one. This page is just to keep track of whom you have seen so you know whether or not you would like to see them again. The reviews for this page are all personal; you cannot see what other users have said about the bands. This is to ensure that no one trashes a band because they “don’t like that genre of music” or because “they sound bad”. There are many reasons why a person may dislike a band or artist, but one must keep in mind, sometimes a band may just have an off night, sometimes what one person hates about a band or act another person loves. As a musician I believe it should be up to the individual to decide if he or she likes a band, whatever their reasons may be, they should decide for themselves without the influence of others. Nowadays so many people follow the crowd, especially in regards to social media, and miss out on many things they might actually enjoy. The Live Local Music Finder allows each individual to make his or her own judgments when it comes to the live acts they see. And if you love an act you will be able to give them a good review for you own reference, and the same goes for if you dislike a band or artist. There are ways around seeing a ‘bad’ band because like I mentioned earlier their will be a link to the band or artist’s website where most bands put up some of their material. But the downside is that not all bands put up their music on their website, so that is a potential problem with the application, but hopefully by people using this application, a band or artist will be encouraged to post some music or even video to their website for users to see, especially if they want to get people to come to their shows.

 

Once more, from the third page you can swipe to the left and find the fourth and final page of the application. The fourth page of this application is for creating events. Lets say a band or artist has a show in the upcoming week, there is a list of information to fill out in order for it to be posted to the Live Local Music Finder app. The list includes Band/Artist, Location/Venue, Time of Event, Website/Link, and a section for other information. The band/artist spot is specifically for the name of the act, or acts that will be playing the show. The location selection is where you would fill out the information for where the show is taking place. The website/link spot is where a band or artist can post their website or a link to their music online. And the other information space is for whatever else a person may need to know about the upcoming show, whether or not it’s 21+ to get in or whether the show is at someone’s house or in someone’s basement. Once all the information is filled out there is a complete box at the bottom of the page, tap the screen on the complete box and voila! You have created an event!

 

In cities it is easy to find live music almost any night of the week, there is always something going on in the city during both the day and night, and mostly due the amount of people living in the area. In the suburbs it’s a different story. The nightlife in the suburbs is quite dull aside from a few restaurants and local bars that remain open past 12am. According to Patrick M. Jones, “Philadelphia has a lively art scene, its is a visual art center, home to many museums, and has a performing arts community that includes professional resident theater, dance, opera and ballet, several professional ensembles that range in repertoire from early music to the most recent compositions, and is home to the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra. Professional classical music ensembles present regular concert series and produce professional marketing materials” (Jones, 8). It is easy to see why the suburbs are ignored when it comes to entertainment and arts, especially when living in the shadow of Philadelphia. But sometimes it’s hard to make it into the city especially during weeknights. This is where the Live Local Music Finder will come in handy! There is so much talent that just goes under the radar in the suburbs. It’s truly a shame. A lot of these local artists play shows in Philadelphia once in a while, especially local artist John Valerio. But the majority of the time they are playing local shows near their homes. Very few people make it out to these local shows and when they do they don’t seem to be interested in the music. According to Jones, “Broadcast music plays a major role in the musical lives of communities. This music is available 24/7 to anyone with a radio. It thus crosses geographic and socio-economic boundaries instantaneously and more easily than live music performances” (Jones, 7). This explains why some people may not be interested in seeing someone perform his or her songs in front of a live audience. Many people would rather just hear what they know, then to delve into something new. Most people would rather listen to the radio when they are out for a drink with friends rather than hear someone perform his or her songs. But those who go to concert regularly know that music on a radio does not compare to seeing a band or artist live, the live performances is what it is all about. According to Chris Gibson and Shane Homan, “Residential developers have played upon the reputation of key suburbs as sites of creativity, lifestyle and “alternative subcultures” focused around main street consumption spaces. Yet, resultant property market rises have threatened the ability of artists, musicians and others employed in the cultural industries to secure affordable housing and spaces for performance” (Gibson & Homan, 72). This reason alone is why local music must be supported! Many local artists and musicians make a majority of their living on their art and music. If people do not attend their shows, they will not have money to support themselves, and local music scene then suffer and fade away.

 

What the Live Local Music Finder does is it allows musicians and actual fans of live local music to share information about local music events. The more people who use the app and discover new artists or bands that they like, the more shows they hopefully start to attend. The more shows they attend, the larger the crowds will become over time, especially if they start to bring friends and spread the word of the app. This app will market bands and artists directly to the people who are searching for local acts, and who generally care about local music scenes. If people use this app they could potentially revamp the whole local music scene in suburban areas. They could help support local artists at shows, as well as local establishments and venues. The more people who go out and become active in supporting local music the more the community as a whole will benefit. According to Ray Hudson, of the Department of Geography and Wolfson Research Institute, “There is no doubt that music –in both its production and consumption-can be an important influence in shaping the typically hybrid identities of people and places, of engendering a sense of place and deep attachment to place. In this sense it can help contribute in important ways to the well-being of people and places and this is not without practical significance” (Hudson, 633). It may be a far stretch to some but by supporting local artists and giving them the attention they deserve a lot of good can come from it, not just for the artists themselves, but also for the community as a whole.

 

Works Cited

Gazzard, A. Location, location, location: Collecting space and place in mobile media. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 405-417.

Homan, S., & Gibson, C. Urban Redevelopment, Live Music And Public Space. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 67-84.

Hudson, R. Regions And Place: Music, Identity And Place. Progress in Human Geography, 626-634.

Humphreys, L. Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 494-510.

Jones, P. Returning Music Education to the Mainstream: Reconnecting with the Community. , 1-19.