There’s a discussion on at the anthrodesign group around how best to approach a diary project. An excerpt from the initial query:
“We’ll be fielding a diary study trying to understand people’s initial experiences with a new mobile phone, particularly understanding the set up experience and the first few days of use. We are interested in what they are doing, barriers/successes, feelings during the process. “
There have been some thoughts and ideas around using voicemail, online diaries, digital voice-recording. Voicemail and digital voice-recording may present problems in analysis I feel. Also, would the participants be comfortable with it?
Something I feel that could work, and here’s what I sent:
Have you thought of using something like Twitter for this? You could set up a private group or channel there – where you could ask participants to send in short (140 character) messages. These updates could be either via SMS from phone, IM, or web-based. Advantages – you would capture feedback in real time as it happens, if youth is your target group then you’re enabling them to utilise their own culture of use (sms/IM) and hence a more natural and spontaneous capture and flow of responses. A few times a day you could send out specific questions. Here’s a link to a hack for this.
Likewise, if you need visual representation too – a private Flickr group could be set up too – and there are tools like Shozu to upload pics straight from your phone onto Flickr with one click!
An alternative to this is an SMS/MMS to Blog option, which is more controlled – where you could set categories like cribs/delights etc. Send out short questions over the week to participants – their responses come into a blog site via SMS or MMS. You could also consider a more detailed QOD – Question of the Day – if required, where they log into the blog and post their responses.
Last year, we had set up a prototype for an SMS-Blog system for trends research – unfortunately, the client – a youth TV channel wasn’t quite ready to run with it at that point in time. I’d have loved to have used Twitter itself even then, however, we didn’t have a short code for India specifically and hence, would have been too expensive for users. Now we do, and am eager to test it out as a research tool!
Check this post by Leisa Reichelt – Guerrilla Techniques – Does inexpensive research have to be ‘quick & dirty’ where she raises a “whole lotta questions” about using tools such as Twitter for research – my favourite question there is “Are we getting to the point where, perhaps, we can do better research outside of the lab than inside it?”
Any thoughts on how we could refine our research methods and the social tools available today for more formal research? I don’t think it’s really about being ‘quick and dirty’ – the real value is in being able to use these tools to set up long-term and robust research solutions that encourage participation in real-life and real-time situations. This is one of our key areas of focus at Mosoci and we keep experimenting!