Social Printers

2016 is full of political activity including local political elections and the EU Referendum. This provides a perfect opportunity for further research into the behaviour and needs of people who watch political programmes, such as TV debates, and political panel shows.

The first event in the year is the Scottish Election election which is due to take place on May the 5th. The second event would be the EU Referendum on June the 23rd. This means that I can create two separate month long studies which build on the findings or issues of the previous.

The research objects were created using the Electric Imp. It allows me to connect a thermal printer to the internet and send it things to print using a web-page. To create an object which can be used for the purpose of the research I placed all components in a a wood shell which I created using a 3D printer.

The first study I have planned is for the whole month of April. I would recruit 5 households and install the thermal printer in their living room. The research object will only be active during certain political shows. I decided that 2 programmes a week would provide me with enough material for the study and would not overwhelm the participants. While watching the televised content I will curate the content which comes from the printers. The content will be generated by twitter users. Each programme I would send the participants tweets that are representative of a different theme. The themes have already been established in one of my previous studies from the UK General Election tweets of 2015. They are – opinions, informative tweets, provocative tweets, interactions, and humorous tweets.

This study is a form of intervention on the TV watching experience of the participants. I would be looking into how the different themes engaged them, how they felt about me curating the process, what was the experience of taking part in this tiny social network and finally what were the negatives and positives of having this research object in their home.

To gain insight into all these aspects of the experience I would interview each household twice one before and once after the study. In addition I would ask the households to keep a scrapbook with the most memorable and engaging prints from the study.

In the following iterations of the study I would like to decrease my involvement in the experience of the participants and allow them to just communicate with each other.

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