For this rapid prototyping session,  we created a a ‘critical action’ prototype that interrupts and redirects actions as it direct questioning techniques to engage in creative thinking on the topic of Stranger Bias and technology that interrupts social behaviors.

Jenny Hu, Juan Aranda, Maayan Albert, and Kyle Lee

This was a 3 hour Rapid Prototyping session.

Critical Action Prototype + our reflections &  insights
How can we introduce artifacts that stretch users’ imaginations and expectations ?
A ‘critical action’ prototype interrupts and redirects actions as it direct questioning techniques to engage in creative thinking.  It acts as a mediator for stakeholders to engage themselves in reflection by experiencing an artifact.  

Based mostly on the readings by Bowne and Crabtree, my team mates Jenny Hu, Juan Aranda, Maayan Albert, Kyle Lee, and I, wanted to explore the practice of holding the door for others.  On occasion, we've noticed that people do not hold the door for others.  Is this the norm?  Is there a layer of hidden bias behind this behavior?  Or do people simply not realize someone else is behind?  

We wanted to explore the possibility of inciting action that prompted people to hold doors for others and to learn more about general behaviors.  We decided to use verbal cue to ask people to "hold the door" using Google Speech and a bluetooth speaker placed nearby the door.  As someone opened the door, we triggered the speech and another one of us would trail behind for the held or un-held door.  

Planning our prototype.  Illustration by Kyle Lee.  

Examining our critical action prototype:  A Verbal Cue to open the door-- Many people seem to mind their own business unless prompted.  From headphones to needing to go to ones class, most people don’t have a reason to think about other things. 

Most people were surprised when their zone was interrupted. Once people realized there was another person behind them, they seemed perfectly willing to hold the door open. Seeing that other person seems to be important and that verbal command cue took people out of their own zone and extended it an extra few feet to accommodate another person.
Insights + Observations

1) Technology creates "personal" and "public" spaces 
Tools such headphones and speakers create different method of exercising autonomy over one's environment. Essentially, technology creates materiality of things that are not material.  It can create or dissolve invisible borders between people.   For instance, we observed that people with headphones create private spaces in public spaces which lead to lack of awareness or perceived care for those in public spaces.  It allows people to feel safe and alone in their own personal space.  When we added a voice command, it momentarily dissolved this space and brought attention to public space--to an request to "please, hold the door".   

2) Manners create a protocol for how people interact
Manners acknowledge another's existence and creates a protocol or an expectation for how people interact. It also eases an uncomfortable interaction so trust and openness can be built.  Though in our study, the "please hold the door" condition was slightly less successful in actually opening the door, we note that people who did tended to pause longer when the voice command started with a "please". 

Limitations & Future Work 
Like any study, this exploration with a critical prototype has many limitations.  We examined the users response to the critical prototype with a small number of participants and insights were bases mostly on observations.  Taking these insights, future research could examine the role of technology in other social constructs in which it creates private and public spaces.  I personally, find the materiality of technology to be fascinating as it creates different "zones".      
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