Thursday, 18 June 2009

UD Interviews - Maps and Schedules

The interviews are conducted towards the end of the participants tracking period. Designed as a semi structure interview they are recorded. The aim of the interview is to collect information on how the participants actually perceive the activities and how he/she would describe these routines. It is also designed to record additional information about the purpose and the destination of recorded trips. From the GPS data a schedule can be generated, but this might not reflect the intended plans of the individual. Through this personal input it is thought, that the meaning of the data analysis is improved. An additional interest is the participant's memory of their activities. Around this topic a number of questions are designed.
The interview is structured through main topics; these are demographics, routine, space, movement, map, memory, and GPS device. The demographics section is aiming to establish the participant's situation and commitments that influence his/her routines and activities. The next topic is routine, trying to establish the participants different routines set within different time frames, over a day a week and the whole year. As part of this the participants are asked to write this down on a prepared schedule. This will allow to compare the schedules participants have given themselves with the schedule generated from the recorded data. Overall schedules generated from the data will be discussed in the section graphs further below. The topics space and movement are looking into how participants use the space on a daily basis and how it is perceived in connection to the routines. It will also be interesting to see how they are able to connect the spaces they frequently visit regarding their mental map. This is especially interesting in this London setting, as for example the traveling by tube might leave the travelers unable to connect locations spatially. Movement on the other hand is directed towards how participants travel and how this is part of the routine. Here again it is interesting to hear from the participants how they see them selves and how much they think they travel. For the map the participants are asked to draw the mental map of one journey. It is the journey from home to work and back for all participants to allow to compare. To draw the map they are asked to include not only the direction they travel, but also additional elements they use for navigation, orientation or simply remind them about the route. This can be street names, buildings or urban settings. The last topic is to talk to the participants about the usage of the GPS device and their personal experience. This includes general usage, charging, downloading, comfort of wearing and so on.
During the interview interesting aspects of daily activities come up. An interesting one is that a lot of participants do feel the need to explain their activities and excuse for them. Another aspect is that there is a strong believe that more or stronger is better. In this case it is related to amount of movement, flexibility or distance. Routine seems to have a negative image, where as flexible and independent seem to be positive. This experiment has been very disappointing for a number of participants in this respect, as the recorded movement unveiled a routine that seemed to be much stronger than the participants have so far realized.

Images from UrbanDiary - participants mental map of journey to work

The participants draw these maps during the interview, without any visual help such as maps or graphics. It is only their memory they can use and therefore are said to represent the mental image the individual carries in his/her mind. In this setting the mental image of what the participants remembers of their daily trips will be provoked to be visualized. Participants are asked to draw all the same journey, the daily trip from home to their work place and back. This will provide a minimal base they all have in common to let them become comparable.

This large data set is at the moment being processed. Some first analysis of maps and schedules have featured on the blog earlier.