Tag Archives: Matt Favero

OpenNews 3D Prints


After several weeks of waiting, we finally got 3D prints in for our enclosures! We had hoped to have these ready for ICAT day; however, the prints ended up taking much longer than estimated by the library’s Design Studio. The Raspberry Pi enclosure ended up needing to be printed twice after the first 3D printer malfunctioned and printed an unusable hunk of plastic. As you can see in the photos below, the prints were still imperfect, but fit together well and would have been ideal for a quick prototype demonstration.

We modeled an enclosure for our buttons to fit in with space for LEDs and wires. We also downloaded a 3D model for our raspberry pi enclosure from thingiverse.


Ultimately, we were able to make-do with our quick cardboard version of the enclosure, which was more than sufficient for our purposes, especially considering the technical issues we encountered during our presentation that made the buttons less than functional.

In the future, it might be a better idea to allow for several weeks for printing time to account for potential 3D printer delays and malfunctions.

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Group 5 – Parts & Timeline


Final Parts List:


  • Interactive classification demo
    • Display monitor
    • Enclosure (3D print)
    • Raspberry Pi with 2 buttons
  • Website mockups
    • Create a slideshow for our demo
    • Flesh out more areas of the website
      • Home page
      • Article view
      • Article editor
      • Report page
      • Moderation/administration page
    • Write mock articles
    • Elaborate on opposing viewpoints feature
  • Depiction of the future world
    • Exaggerate existing articles
    • Design fictional future news sources
    • Create a slideshow for demo as well
  • Video trailer
    • 1m 30s (?) – need to confirm details


  • On April 14th
    • Aisling: Order parts
  • By April 19th
    • Victoria: Write future OpenNews articles for demo
      • (can grab & change articles)
      • 2 articles
      • 5 headlines
    • Ransom: Work website mockups
    • Matt: Create python interface for NLP demo
  • On April 19th
    • Get NLP demo working on Raspberry Pi
    • Design skeleton of slideshows
    • Ransom’s birthday
  • By April 21st
    • Victoria: Obtain/write current and projected future articles for presentation
    • Matt: Create images for articles
  • On April 21st
    • Plan out video trailer to film over weekend
  • By April 26th
    • Complete video trailer
    • Finalize mockups
  • On April 26th
    • Plan out final build
  • By April 28th
    • 90% done
    • Button demo working
    • 3D print enclosure for demo
  • By April 30th
    • Aiming for 100% done by this date
    • Set up slideshows
    • Test with monitors
  • By May 2nd
    • Final presentation ready to go
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Group 5 – OpenNews: Critical Response


In this update, we will discuss and address some of the concerns that were brought to our attention by various critics of our system. We have chosen to omit generally positive comments and focus on areas that need improvement and better definition.

Notable Responses

Reviewer: Kari

Process and Methods: 5 / 5. “Lots of supporting documentation/research. I wish they approached them them with a more [unknown word] eye”.
Response: That is true, during our research we may have been looking for evidence that supports trends rather than evidence that does not.

Quality of Proposed System: 3 / 5. “I’m concerned about the desire to eliminate bias from news, as we discussed during the feedback session. The aims are [unknown], just I’m not sure that the prototype will accomplish them”. Response: I think the reviewer is pointing out that we may have issues eliminating bias in our prototype or that our prototype will not be robust enough to demonstrate. I believe this is something we will address more closely in the coming weeks as we begin to flush out our presentation ideas. Ultimately, we realize that our idea is too ambitious to fully implement; however, we believe we can implement aspects (including a rudimentary classification system) that will create a compelling argument for the existence of our entire system. 

Reviewer: Ellis

Process and Methods: 4 / 5. “I was curious about related work. I saw a lot of what was wrong but not of anything with similar solution”.
Response: This comment indicates the importance of understanding our system and where it gets its roots. That is to say, we should have done and should do more research and examination of similar existing system such as Wikinews and Politifact in order to clearly demonstrate how we will address the weak points and problems with these. Generally, we believe our system gets it strength and distinction from having an intuitive and clean user experience, a robust natural language processing backend, and a strong crowd driven experience with defined checks and balances.

Reviewer: Wisnioski

Presentation and Communication: 3 / 5. “Strong desire to tackle key issue. Is objectivity possible in a media environment?”
Response: We need to research and analyze whether objectivity really
is possible in a media environment and present that in a clear manner. We believe this really comes down to better defining how we are quantifying the quality of news and preventing the introduction of slow-moving, hard-to-see algorithmic biases. We will begin to address this more closely in the coming weeks as we begin to think about our prototype more.

Process and Methods: 3.5 / 5. “Lots of exciting literature on this. What systems currently exist? (re: politifact). Response: This question was addressed two comments up. The fact that it came up again indicates that we should prioritize this discussion.

Quality of Proposed System: 3.5 / 5. “Important domain space, I suggest focusing on an element of “news” that especially fits your model”.
Response: We should identify and then focus on different elements of news. We likely do not know enough
about news itself.

Reviewer: Zach Duer

Process and Methods: 4 / 5. Also commented next to the bullet point of “is there an appropriate review of related work and existing projects?” with “not enough” then commented “I’m deeply concerned about the idea that NLP can be trained on unbiased vs biased articles, and that it wouldn’t understand bias-by-omissions for example, and would reflect the bias of the people labeling articles as biased/unbiased for training”.
Response: We need to more clearly present our solution for avoiding bias in labeling, which is crowdsourcing to people from all demographics and having each article reach a certain percent agreement on whether or not it is biased. Bias by omission is a strong concern but we are hoping that the open source aspect of OpenNews will encourage those to add details that were omitted and refine algorithms.

Quality of Proposed System: 5 / 5. “Yes, great idea… is an AI for automatic first-layer WikiNews editing, makes total sense”.
Response: Let’s ensure we continue to focus on our AI and continue defining it. This is after all what makes our system unique.

Key Notes and Details

  • We need to explore and elaborate on our NLP ideas more – how do we quantify the quality of news exactly? We don’t want to focus on eliminating bias but rather making it clear when bias exists.
    • How do we keep our NLP from getting trained improperly such that biases are introduced through less obvious avenues (bias by omission)
    • How bad is bias? Is purely factual/unbiased news worth anything? We should mock up examples of what we consider to be ideal articles and unideal articles
  • There were two comments regarding pre-existing systems, noting that we should explore and understand exactly what these systems did wrong and how we’re improving on them with ours. Notably, WikiNews and Poltifact
  • We need to better define what “news” is to OpenNews

Progress Update

We’ve started mocking up some designs for OpenNews, these were shown to critics as part of the review process this post is covering. These mockups are to help us understand what news looks like and what information is important to a reader.


Article View Mockup


Homepage View Mockup

This class we’ve also determined the materials needed for our final project. So far, this includes:

We also expect to bring some monitors and computers to display our presentation, website, and possibly our movie trailer or some slideshow.

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Group 5 – Research


Secondary Research

Demographics and News Consumption

The mediums by which individuals view news vary strongly by age, gender, education and income.  


This may not seem like a problem, but the audiences of each news source varied greatly in their knowledge when asked about current events. In addition, many of these news sources are biased. Since different demographics watch different news sources, this means different demographics are exposed to different biases and amounts of direct knowledge of current events.




Algorithms and News

Many sites, such as GreatSchools and Google use algorithms to rank pages online. One issue with ranking algorithms is that they often use metrics that only subjectively indicate quality. For instance, some communities may wish to use different factors for ranking schools and often the “most viewed” page is not necessarily the highest quality. Nick Diakopoulos urges for transparency in algorithms so that consumers can choose whether or not they agree with the metrics used by the computer.



Scholarly References

Biased news distorts facts and omits information yet it increases public engagement with the political process. However, it increases polarization and a deeper and deeper divide occurs between factions. This is bleeding into party politics and was especially obvious with Obama’s healthcare initiative.

Kelly, D. (2013). Red news, blue news: Political consequences of news bias

The news has the power to portray people of certain races, incomes or genders in certain lights. A portion of this power is in their coverage of homicides. The news coverage of homicides does, indeed, often vary by gender, race and income.

Lundman, R. J.. (2003). The Newsworthiness and Selection Bias in News about Murder: Comparative and Relative Effects of Novelty and Race and Gender Typifications on Newspaper Coverage of Homicide.Sociological Forum, 18(3), 357–386. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/stable/3648888


The majority of participants in a web-based study share news on social media to stay connected with family and friends. They also rely on this network to guide them to news articles, since they are often similar. The backs up past research cited by the paper that news consumption is becoming a social act. Individuals under 35 are now heavily relying on their social networks for alerts to news stories.


Howe, J. (2011). Social media and news consumption (Order No. 1505751). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (920121262). Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/docview/920121262?accountid=14826


Current Solutions to Journalistic Issues

In order to allow for better whistle-blowing and honest reporting, the Tor Project was created. Its goal is to develop an open security toolkit to allow journalists to avoid digital surveillance by governments and other groups.



Currently it is difficult to view the comments and annotations of others. The DocumentCloud project allows individuals to crowdsource news by adding their own notes and comments to existing news material.



During big events, like the Brussels Bombing, aggregating eyewitness accounts is a complex and relatively opaque process. In order to solve this, a web-based tool, iWitness, is being created to aggregate user generated content during big events. It will then display this information for all to see.



Wikinews currently advertises itself as, “The free news source you can write!” It instructs users that they can only post things cited from reputable sources or first hand eyewitness accounts. On the news article all of the sources are listed and users have a link to edit the page. The articles are not well categorized, however, and doesn’t appear to have lots of recent content or breadth of content like traditional sources such as CNN or Fox.



Propublica states that it is an “independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest”. Upon browsing the site one can see that it is full of investigative journalism. However, news on breaking current events is not shown.





  • Understand the demographics of our sample
  • Usage of different mediums of news
  • Identify level of bias and filtering
  • Establish the monetary value of news
  • Find survey takers’ satisfaction with news


  1. Which sources of news do you use regularly? (check all that apply)
    1. Newspaper, magazines, or other physical periodicals
    2. Radio (e.g. NPR, talk shows)
    3. Television (e.g. local news, national cable news)
    4. News websites (e.g. Yahoo! News, CNN.com)
    5. News aggregator websites (e.g. Reddit, Google News)
    6. Social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
  2. Which is your primary source of news? [Only if the responder replied to 1]
    1. Newspaper, magazines, or other physical periodicals
    2. Radio (e.g. NPR, talk shows)
    3. Television (e.g. local news, national cable news)
    4. News websites (e.g. Yahoo! News, CNN.com)
    5. News aggregator websites (e.g. Reddit, Google News)
    6. Social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
  3. Satisfaction with news (Rate with stars 1-5)
    1. Quality of reporting
    2. Advertisements
    3. Entertainment
  4. How much time per day, on average, do you spend on social media?
    1. 0-1 hours
    2. 1-2 hours
    3. 3-4 hours
    4. 5+ hours
  5. What is your age?
    1. Under 18 years old
    2. 18-24 years old
    3. 25-34 years old
    4. 35-44 years old
    5. 45-54 years old
    6. 55-64 years old
    7. 65-74 years old
    8. Prefer not to answer
  6. How much would you be willing to pay to get quality news?
    1. A great deal
    2. A lot
    3. A moderate amount
    4. A little
    5. None at all
  7. How much do you currently pay to get news? Please choose the second option to verify you are paying attention.
    1. A great deal
    2. A lot
    3. A moderate amount
    4. A little
    5. None at all


We have designed this questionnaire with Qualtrics and intend to survey a random sampling of Amazon Mechanical Turk users.

We are submitting this survey by the end of this week. Our next update will include the results and analysis of our findings.

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Open News – Group 5


  1. Goal: Our goal is to convince the class that in 5 to 10 years, most news will be obtained from social media and strongly biased news websites, influenced heavily if not solely, by profit. Websites like reddit and Facebook which attempt to democratize news today only end up furthering the issue. The quality and credibility of news will be out of check. We are suggesting a better unbiased, crowd-sourced, news distribution system.
  2. Idea: Open-source, credible, high-quality news source.
  3. Problem:
    • Lower quality of current events news
      • Many educated people get news filtered by friends on Facebook or from anonymous sources on reddit.
        • You can buy ads & likes on social media
        • You can buy “upvotes” on reddit
      • Less educated people get news from highly-opinionated Local TV news, and biased national TV shows
      • Credibility of source doesn’t matter
      • Little-to-no fact checking
    • Incentives are page views, not engagement
      • Money comes from ads and sponsors
      • Leads to clickbait
      • Opinionated articles are shared more often on social media
        • Individuals want to share articles that align with their opinion
    • Only paid subscriptions (e.g. NYT, WSJ) do not have to cater to ads
      • This bars low-income individuals from unbiased news
      • Even for those who can afford it, why pay for news when you can get it free?
    • You do not see opposing viewpoints
      • Can tune to Fox for conservative, MSNBC for liberal
      • Only subscribe to certain “subreddits”
      • Pick Facebook friends and click articles of similar viewpoints
  4. Audience
    • Initially rational, educated people with access to the Internet will want to use our product. Our hope is that we can then appeal to poorer, less-educated users through the free access and clear, easy-to-read news.
    • Those with special interests to control the news will not like this.
      • Corporations
      • Politicians
      • Interest groups
    • Those who don’t care about accurate news or are just seeking for entertainment or drama in their news may not care about this.
  5. Approach: Our general idea is to have an open-sourced, user submitted, expert checked, unbiased news-paper. Some of our feature ideas are:
    • Highlights at the top of articles and easy-to-read.
    • Have a cross-sectional view of different expert viewpoints, similar to IGM Chicago.
    • Credibility ratings. If a statement is contentious or unproven, it can be highlighted or denoted.
    • Subcategories
      • “Here is the story on Trump desiring to build a wall”
      • “Here is what our professional economists think. Here is a breakdown on their conservative/liberal bias over time.”
      • “Here is what experts in international relations think. Here is a breakdown of their conservative/liberal bias over time”
    • Categories / Tags
    • Social shareability
  6. Challenges & Unknowns:
    • How do you convince people to use it when there are more entertaining and satisfying sources available?
      • This is supposed to be a rebellion, it’s not going to be an initially favorable idea
    • Most news sources garner revenue from sponsorships, page views, or subscriptions. Without either, how do we financially support this news source
      • How do we handle the bandwidth of incoming articles?
      • Perhaps we follow the StackOverflow model, requiring a number of credibility points before an article can be posted.
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Pressure Project 3: WatchLog


Current System – Void Diary

In the current system, all those with bladder problems must use something called a “Void Log”. The patient must enter all of the their fluid intake, out put, leakage and whether or not they have urgency. They must continuously fill out the log throughout the day and often must continue to log for four or more days.

However, the current system is only a pencil and paper model. The patient must carry around a physical Voiding Log and writing utensil and add entries at least every hour. This system not only excludes those with other disabilities, but it greatly impacts quality of life for those where incontinence is their only disability.


  • Those with arthritis
    • Those with arthritis who cannot physically take out a folder and write entries every hour due to joint pain
  • Those with visual impairments or blindness
    • Cannot read the current Voiding Log headings and thus cannot write into it

Quality of Life Impact:

  • Unnecessary social embarrassment taking out a “Voiding Log” every hour and recording entries
    • Dates
    • Business Lunches
    • PTA Meetings
  • Additional activity limits
    • Must take significantly sized breaks every hour
      • Takes a solid minute to physically get out log and add an entry using pencil and paper
    • Must be able to carry a pencil and paper log everywhere
      • Swimming pool
    • Must be able to physically write entries at location
      • Movie theater
      • Play

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 1.38.04 PM

Group Interest

We decided to focus on the disability we perceived as having the most stigma: incontinence. We never hear about “breaking news” in the latest helpful technology for those with urinary problems. However, 30% of those over the age of 65 and over 16% of the general population suffer from Overactive Bladder

(SOURCE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2312344/).

One of our team members recently went to a urologist’s office. The instructions were to use a “voiding diary” to record all fluid intake and output; however several other clinics also require urgency and leakage. The only method of recording available was a pen and paper table. This is not only extremely inconvenient and embarrassing, but it excludes persons with visual impairments and writing difficulties.

For instance, imagine going out to lunch with your coworkers and suddenly whipping out a voiding diary and recording the water you’ve been drinking. Or imagine having arthritis where taking out the journal and writing is painful each time. What about those who are blind and cannot read the diary at all?

Why are we using methods from the 1600’s when there is 21st century technology that could make following doctors orders accessible to all?

System Design Documentation

1. Ideation

Voiding logs require input at least every hour, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We decided to use a wearable because they can be discreetly worn and used 24/7 without much inconvenience to the user. Our large screened wearable is also more accessible to those with physical impairments that could prevent them from writing. Pressing a button or rotating a scroll wheel is significantly less joint movement than pulling out a journal and writing.

We will also offer the Watch Log as both an Apple Watch app and an Android Wear Smart Watch app. This allows individuals who already have wearables to use our Watch Log without having to buy and wear a new piece of hardware. In addition, our Watch Log will will work with any blue tooth earpiece so the blind and visually impaired can listen to the Watch Log options instead of having to read them on a screen.

2. Sketching / Modeling

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset

Figure 1A: Watch and User Interface

The wearable intends to replace a watch. It’s main purpose is to be a void-capturing system, but will also serve as a watch. This protects the user from any kind of stigmatism by disguising the system as a regular everyday product.

It consists of 2 buttons on each side (left and right), a touchscreen display, and speakers. The buttons will be used to choose input options (refer to Figure 1A) which will be displayed on the screen. E.g. for the “Fluid Type” input field, pressing the right button will change the highlighted option from “Water” to “Coffee”, and pressing the left button again will change it back to “Water.”

Tapping the touchscreen confirms the answer and takes the user to the next question. Double tapping the touchscreen will take the user back to the previous question. To terminate and exit, the user can press both the left and the right buttons together.

Accessibility Functionality:

When the accessibility setting is turned on:

Upon arriving on a question, the label is dictated. Then, the highlighted answer will be dictated both initially and upon change.

For example:

“Please choose the type of fluid. The answer selected is water”







Tapping on the touchscreen to confirm the answer will also notify the user through dictation before moving on to the next question.

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Side-view of watch band


3D rendering of WatchLog

3. Prototyping

Our prototyping began by looking at existing watches as a base for our physical prototype. One of us had a watch that closely resembled the design sketches.


Base for physical prototype

Creating a physical prototype was very helpful to understand the dimensions of the product. We played the role of the user in two ways. First, we simulated visual impairment by having one of our members remove their glasses and try to view the screen. We quickly realized that we needed to increase the watch face size significantly.


Final physical prototype

Next, we simulated motor/visual impairment by trying to feel for the buttons on the side of the watch with our eyes closed. This led us to a larger button design that juts out from the side of the watch face.

Individual Reflection


From what I understand about designing for inclusion is that you may be focusing on including certain groups of people, but overall your design should be universal, in that even people without a disability will want your product. Our watchlog follows that in some sense. It’s not necessarily something everyone would want to buy, based on its purpose. But it could be something people will buy for style (depending on the price), like they do with glasses nowadays. We tried to make it something you wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear and something you may even enjoy wearing. Originally we thought of just something that would go around your wrist that looks just like a bracelet. That way it was more subtle than a physical log. But as we brainstormed more, we thought of adding a watch face to the bracelet. This would make it gender neutral and universal. Everyone wears watches. This also made it more functional than just a log of your bladder. Now, it’ll tell time so if you don’t want to tell people it’s real purpose, you don’t have to lie. It is a watch. It just does more than that.

From this project, I understood how important it is to research and empathize with the people you are designing for. To the best of your ability, you need to be able to experience what they experience in order to understand how to include them in the best possible way. We may not have been able to do this with the time constraint, but we had a group member that had someone close to her that experienced this. So from her close companion’s experience, we were able to understand some of what made the original system so bad. From there we designed our system. There may still be assumptions we made but I think as a group, but we understand what we would’ve done differently had we had enough time.


Initially, our project didn’t quite fit what the assignment asked for. The system we analyzed (voiding logs) was made for people with disabilities; it wasn’t the best example of design exclusion. However, we quickly realized that this system wasn’t created with much empathy for the patient. In addition to that, if a patient has multiple disabilities (which is likely with the average user, who is elderly) they will be excluded from the system altogether.

What we arrived on was an interesting solution to a potentially embarrassing problem. We tried our best to do experience prototyping and empathized with our users. What if someone asks you what’s on your wrist? Well, you might not want to say, but you also might not want to lie to others. This solution gives you an easy, honest response: “it’s a watch.”

Overall, I found this to be the most applied pressure project. While our design wasn’t too focused on the hardware, we learned by making physical prototypes and trying it out. The opportunity to market this product by designing a logo and 3D model was also enjoyable to me.


I love product and UI/UX design, and what I really strived in the WatchLog was to merge accessibility, minimalism, and aesthetics. When I first started sketching ideas, I didn’t envision it being used by certain groups of users; for example, I didn’t incorporate the experience of a blind user. So when I thought about using my initial sketch with my eyes closed, I knew I had to start over. After a few trials I sketched a bracelet style WatchLog inspired by FitBit, but with 2 buttons on each side, a touchscreen display, and a dictation feature (to include my previously excluded range of users). After we collectively discussed about our targeted audience, we concluded that the screen was too small for elderly users. This led to the big, round display with comfortably-legible fonts and a smooth user flow.

What I learned from this project is that as a designer it is crucial to empathize and step into the user’s shoes. It is very easy to design for one ideal user!


Someone very close to me had a bladder problem and had to visit the urologist. The urologist told them they needed to keep a pencil and paper voiding diary for several days, which negatively impacted their quality of life. They were embarrassed to take out the “Voiding Log” in class and avoided going to social events because they didn’t want to take out and record in a “Voiding Log” while hanging out with friends. Even taking out the log was extremely inconvenient sometimes, like when they were working out. With the voiding log, those with bladder disabilities are excluded from social situations if they want to keep their condition discreet. They are also excluded from any event where they cannot do pencil paper recording every hour. I brought up to the team that this issue is real and we should be able to use technology to solve it.

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Pressure Project 2: Cultural Probe


Description of community/rationale: After brainstorming a few communities like prisons or chef’s kitchens, we decided to go with the community of doctors working with Doctors Without Borders because it is a community we knew nothing about and seemed a great candidate community to probe. The community is made of 90% local staff and work specifically for people in a state of medical crisis. They also consider certain diseases as medical emergencies, such as HIV/AIDS, TB, and malnutrition. The community is at about a 15:1 ratio of local to international staff.


Documentation of the overall presentation of kit:

For each individual, there will be a kit comprised of a disposable camera, a mannequin, a tip book, and a journal. Additionally, there will be a box of crafting supplies provided for the whole group to use at their leisure. The participants will use our probing kit throughout the whole time they are away in order for us to gauge their initial reactions to the culture as well as how their views change over time. At the end of their trip, we will request all of the materials to be shipped back so we can go through the data they collected. The instructions for individual components are below.


Documentation of each element of the kit:

-Disposable camera/phone camera:

Instructions: Take a picture of your food before and after each meal.


We are including a disposable camera in case they don’t have their own cell phone camera and giving the option to choose. In trying to think of a pleasurable way to probe a community without making it feel forced or intrusive, we figured a lot could be gleaned from what they eat. Perhaps taking pictures of your meal is only fun in a more relaxed environment, but we hope taking before and after shots of a meal could reveal values the community holds as a whole. The pictures of food could possibly reveal their food preferences, their mood, the value of food itself, and if they are eating the same thing everyday. Another possibility would be if participants start using the picture as a vehicle for creative expression, such as taking more artistic pictures or making things with their food before taking a picture.



Instructions: Keep your mannequin with you as much as possible. Feel free to decorate the mannequin however you please. Please take a picture of it at least daily.


The mannequin serves multiple purposes. First, it gives the participants another way to use the camera. This way they get used to using the camera for multiple purposes and move on to photographing other things later on when they comfortable. Secondly, we wanted a way for the doctors to relieve their stress in an open-ended manner. The mannequin is the only component that involves creative self-expression that does so in a non-textual manner. It also does not involve any concrete rules bounding the user’s use of the item.However, it is specific enough that data can be compared between participants and that the user does not feel intimidated by it. Thirdly, since the mannequin resembles a human we get to see how the user reacts to it. We’ll get to know: whether they’ll project themselves onto the mannequin and have the mannequin mimic how they feel, how their views on the human body will change over time, whether they develop an emotional bond to it, etcetera. Fourth, this is the artifact most likely to gather the most extraneous data since the instructions aren’t concrete and allows the user to express the emotions most subtly.


-Tip book:

Instructions: Jot down any cultural tips for someone from your home country who’s moving to the area you’re working in.


Doctors in Doctors Without Borders often work in countries drastically different from their home. As we want to learn more about our doctors, we believe one of the best ways to coax this information out of participants is indirectly. This small portable book will allow doctors to write “cultural tips” for someone from their culture to understand the culture they’re working in. From this, not only do we learn what the culture they’re immersed in is like, but we also learn what the doctors value, find strange, and notice about the culture they’re in.



Instructions: Write about experiences from your day under the category that is most similar to your current emotions. Make sure you include the date with each entry.


    • Things you want to remember
    • Things you’ve learned
    • Happy
    • Relieved
    • Frustrated
    • Sad
    • Inadequate
    • Uncomfortable
    • Just write!

The journal aspect will consist of a moleskine journal and a pencil. At the end of the day, we will ask them to reflect and categorize their experiences by emotion (instead of just chronologically). Since writing about frustrations is often a form of therapy, this will give them an outlet to vent if they need to or just remember all the things they experienced. Since most people write from top to bottom, we will also have a record of how they tend to feel as their time there goes on. This is probably the most intrusive and least fun activity of the probe kit, but it will give us valuable insight about their thoughts without asking specific questions.


Individual reflections:



The design process was difficult as I’ve never attempted to design a probe kit before, or even know that probe kits were a thing. The overall experience was pleasant because the group discussions were very productive with a bunch of good ideas flowing. I think our probe kit does a good job of attempting to extract values from not only the unique environment of crisis, but also the community of doctors. Our kit lacks experienced design – mostly just guessing that our artifacts will garner some data that will help us understand the community. I think probe kits in general are an effective codesign method with willing participants. The downside is that they require long periods of time and funding to gain the trust and willingness of the participants.



This was a cool project! I had never heard of probe kits, so it was interesting to change our line of thinking to create a probe kit. Our group worked really well together since we could discuss and bounce ideas off of one another. This process allowed for more creative results than we would have if we had done the project alone! I think it would be interesting to actually try this out to get a better idea of which aspects of our design work and which don’t. Since none of us had any experience with Doctors Without Borders, our probe kit was based on speculations and may not relate to them at all!



I enjoyed this project. At our in-person group meeting, we made a lot of progress. We had a lot of ideas flowing, and I think the solutions we came to were very elegant. Unfortunately, it was difficult to think of items to place in this kit that doctors would actually want to use. These doctors will likely be very busy, emotionally and physically exhausted, and not have time for tedium outside of work. However, within the scope of the project, I think we did a good job. With some more refinement we could arrive at a kit that benefits both the researchers and doctors well.



As for the project, I liked several things about it. I liked how open ended it was. This allowed me to come up with ideas left and right without filtering myself, with a lot of them making the final product.  I really liked the hypothetical nature of this project. It allowed me to ground my ideas and come up with different scenarios. I liked the cultural aspect of this project. It naturally made me come up with ideas that are unique to the situation. I liked the non-invasive aspect as it made our ideas subtle, elegant, yet powerful.

As for the product, I like it. If I was a participant, this kit would give me some amount of joy in my day. Or at least a way to express or de-stress. As a researcher, I feel like it gives us some good information about intrapersonal and interpersonal nuances of the community.

As for my group, I liked them too. For of all, they liked most of my ideas, which is good. But also, we had respect for each other and facilitated good communication. Also, our meetings were super enjoyable yet productive. All in all, good project.


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