3.6.2020 Process Post

It has been 2 years since I entered the Interaction Design field of study. I'm now in my last year of undergrad study. Looking back, my school efforts have been about filling up my tool box as an Interaction Designer. Now the question for my last year would be: what I want to do with the education that I received?
What I want to get out of this year:
  • Enjoy what I do.
  • The ability to learn from different contexts (field trips, observations, books, etc.) and apply learnings to design experimentations.
  • A prototype library of design experimentations and articulated documentation of my thought process.
The skills I want to enhance or develop:
  • Learn to approach challenges with system thinking.
  • Use prototyping as a thinking process, rather than thinking outcome.
  • A prototype library of design experimentations and articulated documentation of my thought process.
  • Participatory design process: design with the people you are designing for.Articulation of my thoughts in writing and communicating.
A successful project means:
  • A thoughtful, deliberate process with extensive explorations, research, learnings from feedbacks and critical thinking.
  • A tangible outcome/ tangible outcomes in JUST RIGHT fidelity.
  • Something that I feel passionate to talk about and unique to me.
  • Not just an APP.
  • It should be something weird or has weird aspects.
  • I have a lot of fun with the project.
My concerns for the coming year:
  • Over-thinking; not moving forward; going in a death spiral.
  • Feel the need to rush things and not being thoughtful enough.
  • Get into the details and forget about the overarching theme.
  • Get into the mindset of getting things done, and forget to enjoy the journey.
I was sitting in A2 with Denise, my past writing teacher and now my friend.
She asked about my plan for the senior project, so I tried to explain to her:“In the information age, we are exposed to more different ideas. But somehow we are creating more echo chambers online. Political segregation is even more dramatic in the digital world. I want to know why that happens. And maybe we should advocate the willingness to understand other people.”
“That’s right. But a lot of times people won’t even realize that they are in a bubble. You need leaders who can see a fuller picture to direct them where to go. Like flies being stuck to flypaper, they wouldn’t know where to move. There needs to be a fly lifting up from the flypaper, hovering above, to direct the flies being stuck.” She said.
Intrigued by the metaphor, I half-jokingly said: “It seems like the flypaper is not of good quality if the flies get to escape.”
She laughed a bit and continued: “True. Maybe the old system does not work anymore.”
It is always intriguing talking with your favorite human beings.

Like the flies being stuck on the flypaper, we wouldn’t be able to see what’s out there.
We are stuck in our own loop without even realizing it. 
We don’t know what we don’t know. 
Perhaps that’s the problem.
To begin with, I created 5 concept sheets to get ideas out of my head. After the brain dump, I realized that the keywords for my senior year focus are: politics, information, thinking and diversity.
During class, I followed the format – “ I’m exploring how [technology] in [industry/subject area] can help [social impact] ” to brainstorm ideas. Here are a few selections of interesting directions.
Deciding a direction is similar to piecing a puzzle. There seem to be some aspects missing in each idea. To connect the puzzle pieces, I turned to my classmates and teachers for getting the second opinion. It forces me to articulate my ideas and think about what I want to prioritize learning. After conversations, I updated my concept direction.
I decide to pursue this direction because I’m interested in learning about collective thinking - willing to accept different perspectives and reason with others. We understand the world through our past experiences. But we often don’t realize that our worldview can be self-centered and shaped by different filters - cultural, ethical, religious, biological, etc. By connecting each other’s perspective, we could perhaps have a better understanding of what reality is. In regards to the practical aspect, collective thinking could be exercised to help polarized political narratives.

Reflection

Three words to summarize this week’s progress: balance, conversational, consistent.
Picking a direction is difficult. I found myself constantly battled between ambiguity and practicality. I enjoyed thinking about the ambiguous challenge and conceptual ideas. It feels more comprehensive to what I want to explore. At the same time, I felt the need to be practical and concrete. So I can bring my ideas to live and include more people in the conversation. Struggled with the balance, I seek advice from Kate. Our conversation helped me dissect and translate my concepts into possible physical manifestations. More importantly, it helped me put cluttering thoughts into a structure.Aside from the project content, dedicating a consistent chunk of time every day to think about the senior project was helpful. It prevented me from overthinking. I was also able to iterate with a fresh perspective every day.

Next Step

  • Reach out to domain experts for interviews
  • Secondary research in areas such as political science, cognitive biases, social science, cybernetics, logic, etc.
  • Think about how to measure collective thinking in tangible formats
  • Create tangible artifact for conversations

Update

After further research and reflection, I slightly pivoted my direction: change “collective thinking” to “curiosity”.
Collective thinking can be understood as a social curiosity. It refers to the information we obtain from social interactions. However, it does not encompass other information channels, such as books, the internet, newspaper,  etc.
The prototype for understanding our reality would be curiosity. Curiosity can act as a counterpart to our cognitive bias by questioning our existing theory of what the world is, and serve as a catalyst for collective thinking on wicked problems.
My weekly progress can be summarized into three themes: conversation, research, planning
Conversation
I planned to have conversations with peers, friends, and teachers about my project. What’s interesting to me is when I show people my writings or explain my thoughts verbally, people have different understandings of what I’m trying to do. 

On Tuesday, Weiwei suggested that “it seems like you’re interested in developing thinking tools” after I explained my concept to her. And she later pointed me to some inspirational resources. 
From Weiwei
Text Message from Weiwei
Some of my peers thought I’m trying to help people bridge understanding of each other by overcoming cognitive bias. Others thought is to be improving our critical thinking skills in the digital information age.

Kate’s understanding was that it is going to be a series of investigations of psychological concepts manifested in interactive forms. 

As counterintuitive as it might sound, learning how people perceive my project becomes an important part of discovering what I want to do. It is especially helpful when I’m not entirely sure what I want to do ;]
As for the different understanding of my topic, I think it is due to the ambiguity and interdisciplinarity of the project concept. And that leads to my biggest challenge of the week: putting structure and clarity to my project plan. 
Planning & Research
I started this week with a rough project summary typed up, setting the context to be the information age and the problem to be information bias. As I’m laying out the work plan, I did some exploratory research in order to layout the structure for the topic. Then I fully realized how easy it was for me to get caught in the death spiral of research: everything seems to be connected, and in order to understand one concept I need to understand another concept. As I started to compile the topic of explorations into my work timeline, the project plan become overly ambitious. (Note that I’m can be somewhat optimistic when it comes to learning, but the goal feels unrealistic even for me).
Weekly project plan
Another challenge for my project brief is the lack of practicality. From 1:1 with Kate, I realized that the project seems more like academic experimentations than resolving a real-world problem. But my intention is to have a balance between being theoretical and pragmatic.

Next Step

My upcoming challenge is to be more strategic about structuring my project. I hope to do so by learning from how teachers would structure the syllabus, as well as exploring different frameworks from secondary research.

Another upcoming challenge is to clearly identify the real-world problem that I’m trying to address. Currently, the problem that I’ve identified is information bias or information literacy. I think the work needs to be done is to elaborate on the issue being identified.

For the coming week, I’ve scheduled conversations with professors from different disciplines. Hopefully, from there, I can get pointed to people outside of the CCA community. On the side, I also planned out multiple field trips and events throughout the semester to connect with people who might share interests around the topic. 
It starts with this. 

On the 1:1 check-in for my project brief, Kate, my senior project teacher, said to me with her genuinely and warm-heartedly gaze–I don’t remember the exact quote, but here is how I understand it–

“Tara, this is an interesting concept, but I’m not sure if it is practical enough for a design project.”

In my project brief, I explained how understanding reality is the core of my senior project concept. I explained how we could better understand the complicated reality by connecting diverse mental models. I failed to explain, however, the real-world value of understanding reality. 

Kate pushed me off the cloud before I had a chance to reflect if getting into interaction design was a bad idea in the first place 😉

Thus, I began my travel to the ground–to be a practical designer.
Wind direction: Conversations
The conversation is the wind that determines where I land.

“A Google translate for perception.”
Struggling with putting structure and clarity to my project plan, I sought help from Denise, who was once my teacher for a writing class called “seeing time”. I was curious to understand how she would normally design a class syllabus for an ambiguous topic like Time. 

We first talked about a translation project–a fiction called Azorno–she worked on, which was currently nominated for National Book Award. The conversation transitioned into how translation has only recently been recognized as a form of art, how the structure of a language shapes our thinking and understanding of the world. Language could be understood as a medium for our perceptions.

I then explained to her my senior project concept, that I want to connect people’s perception and construct collectively a better understanding of reality.

“It almost feels like a translation project. Like a Google translate for people’s perceptions or point of view.”

Fascinated by her interpretation, I later drew a sketch.
Google Translate for Perception @Tara Lin
Google Translate for perception @Tara Lin
“It seems that you want to value the diverse understandings of the world?” She asked.

“Diverse but open, to be precise. Diversity is valuable when the perceptions are shared instead of segregated.” 

“So you want to shape constructive dialogues?”

“Yes.” It occurred to me that she translates my concept to a practical one.

At the end of the conversation, she also shared her methods for framing plans:
“Write down the components or aspects of reality that matters the most to you. And think about the order of how things flow into one another.”

So I gave it a try.
If senior project brief was a syllabus @Tara Lin
If senior project brief was a syllabus @Tara Lin

It was an inspiring conversation. But I still need a narrower scope and specific direction for viability. During my period of struggle, I had a conversation with Barry, my History of IxD professor who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about helping students :D

“Find a brick, and look from the other side of the telescope.”
For the bulk of the conversation, Barry and I discussed the conceptual foundation of the project and related theories: rhizome, the medium theory by Marshall McLuhan, the Cult of information by Theodore Roszak, Hayden White, information funnelist… He helped me entangle (“or at least tried to help” is how he described it) the idea mess in my head. 

Near the end, I still had a hard time finding a practical and specific topic.

We both remained silent for a while. Barry looked at the street outside of CCA while he was pondering. 

Then he turned to me and said: “What about we turn this upside down? Now we’re looking from the theoretical side of the telescope, searching for the problem. It is not working out. What if you look from the other side of the telescope? List a series of concrete problems in the world, and see how you would approach the problem through the lenses you have.”

He shared a story from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – a student who wanted to write about the United States in a 500-word essay was persuaded to write about just one brick in the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana. 

“Find a brick and write about it.” He said.

On defining the scope of the project, he advised that:
• Find a target population that I could define very well.
• The project will require tools and skills that I mostly have, but need to completely.
• Understand how I can measure success

Define the audience and the problem in depth is more convincing than defining the design.
Friday’s lesson from Gretchen was a wake-up call for me. She emphasized on the understanding of the audience and the problem. Shamefully to admit, they are the missing puzzle pieces in my project. It felt more urgent to me to consolidate on a specific topic. 

Narrowing down is a process full of indecisiveness. But things are interconnected, find a topic that I’m curious about and really look at it. I told myself.

“Pick a topic. One that is somewhat timeless.”
In Friday’s afternoon, I talked with Weiwei and expressed my struggle in defining a narrower group of the target audience. I showed her a series of sketches – different design interventions to challenge the way that people look at one news article. 

“Instead of picking an article, maybe pick a somewhat timeless topic in political debates.”

We discussed a series of heatedly debated topics, net neutrality, housing, climate change... When we started to debate about nuclear power as a solution for climate change, it occurred to me that I have found a brick to start. She later sent me some more resources.
Text message from Weiwei
Text message from Weiwei

I would like to send my thanks again to all the people who conversed with me and inspired me. This is the value of diversity of thoughts. And I would like to demonstrate this value not only through the process of design, but through the concept of design. 

Gravitational Pull: Prototype
Prototypes are the gravity that pulls me down to the earth.

Here is a series of daily prototype sketches. I did one sketch every day. I tried my best to start with a problem that I observed and list critical references for the ideas.
Parachute: Research
Research is the parachute that helps me getting grounded safely.

Throughout this week, I’ve been on a field trip to the Middle Ground installation in front of the SF public library.

I went to a political open forum on “The Future Role of Technology in Disrupting Political Power”.

A list of a secondary research topic that I could remember:
• Analogy as the core of cognition - Douglas Hofstadter
• Rhizome - Deleuze and Guattari
• The medium theory - Marshall McLuhan
• The Cult of Information - Theodore Roszak
• What can a technologist do about climate change? - Bret Victor
• Nuclear Power as a solution to climate change
• Pandora’s Promise

Next Step

• Recruit.
   • So far, I’ve made tiny progress on recruiting 🎊 A special thanks to Gretchen. 🤜
Recruiting framework @Tara Lin
Message from Gretchen
   • My recruiting framework.
Recruiting framework @Tara Lin
Recruiting framework @Tara Lin
• Create an interview guide.
• Keep conversing with people.
• Research: 
   • Deep dive into the controversies on nuclear power as a solution to climate change
   • Exploratory research
• Keep making: one idea a day keeps rabbit hole away 😎
A topic salon about Game was hosted by 4 of my classmates: Tiger, Tia, Alvin and Sherrie during the Friday class. The salon consists of two parts: the presentation and the game activity. 

For the presentation, the team started with talking about the stereotypical perception of gamers and dive deeper into what the gamer culture looks like. The salon also introduces the philosophical and conceptual aspects of gaming, how games can have cultural and historical implications. Then the presentation transitioned to the political controversies on the gaming industry. Lastly in the presentation, the team gave an overview of gamification – how interaction designers can use a game mechanism to improve user engagement. 

The team led the class to play 2 games after the presentation. The first game was having a class competition about rock paper scissors: (rules as follow)
Presentation @Tia, Tiger, Alvin and Sherrie
Presentation @Tia, Tiger, Alvin and Sherrie
The second game was called crazy lips: (rules as follow)
Presentation @Tia, Tiger, Alvin and Sherrie
Google Translate for perception @Tara Lin
My favorite quote from crazy lips:
"Slowly, painfully, cut a basketball at the park."
"Slowly, painfully, cut a basketball at the park."
I love the surprise that comes from combining random words.

I enjoy the randomness. It embraces possibilities and unreleased ideas from a linear digression.

I enjoy being silly. It defers judgments and unloads social pressure.

But how does it apply to my thesis project – a serious and complicated debate on nuclear energy and climate change?

I found myself reflecting on Kate’s question: “What should not be gamified?” I remember people's responses were serious issues, a government website, financial credit, etc.

I wonder if there is a definite answer. What’s wrong with having a little fun with seriousness, with the prerequisite that we’re thoughtful and cautious about the unintended consequences?
To reiterate my project goal: I would like to create design interventions to help online readers deal with deceptively complex information on a critical controversial political topic: nuclear energy as a solution to climate change.
“Instead of seeing an individual article as “right or wrong”, “bad or good,'' people can see it as one point in a large space of possibilities.”
– Bret Victor, What can a technologist do about climate change? (a personal view)”
Last week, I struggled with a tangible way to measure success. During a phone call conversation with one of my senior project teachers Gretchen, I was asked: “what do you want to see happen in the end with your design interventions?” I had a hard time finding an appropriate expression of success: what should I use to measure progress?
Conversation
“A data visualization project”
I continued to seek advice for thesis project from teachers in all of my classes. This week I talked with Apurva Shah, my teacher for a class called “Design for Trust”. 

After reviewing my project brief, Apurva had a unique interpretation: “What you are trying to do is a data visualization project.” My central focus is to redesign the way we perceive information. And any form of information can be seen as a visualization of data. Having this realization broaden my inspirations for prototyping.

He continued to advise that emotional vectors in our language can be potential metrics for measuring progress. I could use the strength and direction of the emotional vectors to understand the effect of my design.

He further explained that once I collect people’s emotional vectors before and after they view a piece of information, then I could start to reverse engineer and prototype the rational content that best challenges the emotional vectors.

Inspiring and extremely helpful thoughts from Apurva 🎉
Research
Juul Discussion Thread
Barry forwarded me a discussion thread about the Juul controversies in the Stanford design community. He advised me to look at a thoughtful approach to controversies by Bruce Heiman. I will post a screenshot here for any future reference. I have to keep reminding myself that my research intent is not to advocate any point of view but to help people stay open to different points of view. Regardless, this is a good framework for helping people think about critical issues that could be manifested in my design interventions.
Design thoughts on Juul @Bruce Heiman
Design thoughts on Juul @Bruce Heiman
Recruiting Progress
Based on Apurva’s suggestion, I started to post a google form to Facebook group and subreddits. The intention is to:
• Have a rough personal understanding of people’s sentiment on the topic
• Look for research participants

I’m surprised and, to be frank, slightly intimidated by people’s reactions and enthusiasm. On the bright side, it means I’m probably on the right path. On the dark side, the path is an entangled and puzzling structure. I will have to think carefully about how to communicate with people who have a strong stance and deal with the unpredictable part of human beings–emotions.
A comment from Reddit
A comment from Reddit
Survey Response @Tara Lin
Survey Response @Tara Lin
Prototype
I continued my daily sketches for prototype ideas.
information Collage @Tara LinCounter Highlighter @Tara LinExplorable Trade-off Chart @Tara LinZigzag Google @Tara Lin

Next Step

• Create an interview guide
• Reach out to interviewees and interview
• Research: 
   • Deep dive into the controversies on nuclear power as a solution to climate change
   • Research on sentiment analysis
• Prototype 1-2 ideas for interviews
This week’s topic workshop is about Education, delivered by my peers Anchi, Claire, Asher, Jay.

The team first explored the definition of education–ways to transfer knowledge. I have to admit that I’ve never thought about what education means. It’s something so deeply permeated my life, like water to fish, that I never took a step back to think about why I’m at school. 

Then we broke into groups of 3-4 and start to reflect and discuss together on the education we received in CCA.
To my surprise, system thinking is the top overlap in my discussion group. We all acknowledge that being aware of what’s below the surface fundamentally shifts the way we think and design.
Team reflection on the prompt: what's the class that you learned the most?
Team reflection on the prompt: what's the class that you learned the most?
Another insight from the group discussion is that we all acknowledged the importance of peer in our education. Being immersed in a learning environment with peers means more to us than anything else in education.
Team reflection on the prompt: what's the most important learning resource/channel?
Team reflection on the prompt: what's the most important learning resource/channel?
One last observation during the workshop is about myself.
Self-reflection on my takeaway from Education
Self-reflection on my takeaway from Education
I focused primarily on soft skills in my self-reflection sheet. What the team shared next in the workshop transferred my observation into the most important insights for me as a designer. It was the whole body learning curriculum by Kristian Simsarian, the founder of the CCA Interaction Design program. The pyramid has a fundamental emphasis on purpose, but on the top, there is making.
The whole body learning curriculum framework. Each group of learning objectives is supported by what’s below. @Kristian Simsarian
The whole body learning curriculum framework. Each group of learning objectives is supported by what’s below. @Kristian Simsarian
I realized that I’ve made a mistake in my reflection sheet. I overlooked the hard skills, focusing primarily on head and heart. Without bringing things to live, I could never bridge the gap between my ideal and reality. Thus, in a sense, I appreciate my education in CCA, not for teaching me the purpose, but for teaching me to be a maker by heart.
This week I felt stuck. I felt that I’ve put too much weight on concept developing, without talking to my audience. Thus I shift most of my effort into recruitment.
Conversation
“Journalism as a process, rather than a product.”
I talked with Cole Goins, a guest lecturer who came to my radical design class to deliver a workshop about systematic thinking in journalism two weeks ago.

Cole told me that “journalism is about collection, analysis and distribution of information.” But journalist doesn’t have to be the storyteller. Instead, he thinks that journalists should be “facilitators” rather than the “narrators”. Journalism should be considered as “a utility or service” to help connect people’s points of view in one topic rather than providing a point of view.

I felt relatable to what Cole said. The current way of reader-news relationship is a passive relationship. Online readers are not expected to participate in the development of information. They are fed with information. In analogical terms, the relationship between the online reader and the information platform is a traditional student-teacher relationship. The student raises a question. The teacher provides the answer. 

Today we are advocating a more democratized classroom environment. It puts the teacher in a facilitator position rather than a dictator position. Similarly, I think that we as designers should also put online information platforms in a facilitator position. The information presented should be seen as a process rather than an outcome, to invite people into the conversation. 

Maybe a conversational interface or interface as an information facilitator would be a proper way to describe it.

My previous ideas have focused on presenting readers different points of view. Based on this conversation, my following prototype sketches will focus on actively engaging readers in developing the contents he/she reads.

Lack of purpose
My friend Jasmine raised an important question after reviewing my prototype sketches:
“If people aren’t open to ideas, why would they even use this tool?”

The prototypes have demonstrated how to be open-minded, but not why.

It can be hard for us to even realize that we are in an information silo. If users are not even aware of the problem, how can design reveal it to users politely and encouragingly? Jasmine suggests that game mechanisms might help in giving people a purpose and a sense of progress. For example, a reward system for being open-minded might serve the goal. I will try to address this problem in my following prototype ideas.
Research
Renewable Energy Event
I attended the renewable energy event, hoping to find people who are interested in discussing about energy to interview. I was able to talk with Pete Shoemaker, the renewable energy program coordinator in PG&E for a brief moment. I was told that people often overlook the cost and the time it takes to develop nuclear power plant. He argues that the policies and cost make nuclear energy underutilized. 

What Pete said completely contradicts with the responses that I collected in my survey, where some of my participants claim nuclear energy to be “cheap” or “immediate”. I’m curious about what results in contradictory points of view. Is it a lack of internal information? Is it about different understanding of what “cheap” or “immediate” means? Or is it something else?

Recruitment
I’ve collected about 100 survey responses. Most of the participants are in favor of nuclear energy. Thus I will need to keep recruiting the other half of my target audience.
Survey responses
Survey responses
Prototype
I encounter Hugh Dubberly’s article: What is Interaction? Are There Different Types?, which led me to create a concept model of online readers' interaction with information.

As the model suggests, the current interaction is a one time information loop–the user input a command, and the computer gives user the information. The reading experience is also passive. The information doesn’t learn anything about Usman Haque describes this process a “reactive” rather than “interactive”.

Survey responses
Interaction with digital information @Tara Lin
I continued to sketch prototypes.
marginal notes @Tara LinNon-linear article @Tara LinData Interpreter @Tara LinZigzag Google @Tara LinShuffle Point of View @Tara Lin

Next Step

• Conduct interviews
   • Better understand and develop the user scenario
   • Collect feedback for prototype sketches
• Further develop 2-3 prototype ideas after interviews
This week’s topic is VR and AR. My classmates Jie, Yuan, Ruitao, Hridae hosted the workshop. The presentation consists of historical context and a workshop for us to experience two VR games.

Although I didn’t get to play the bomb diffusion game due to technical problems, I’m still intrigued by the concept. It’s about having people in the physical reality and virtual reality collaborated to diffuse a bomb. The people's physical world provides the instructions by referring to the manual, and the person connected to virtual reality has to follow the instructions and diffuse the bomb. I found an analogy in the collaboration and communications between two realities. The tool they use is verbal language because the sound is the only channel where we can share information.

Similarly, people live in different understandings of reality in the information age. How can I provide a shared channel for them to communicate the information? It’s more complicated and nuanced than visual or verbal information. That information often fails to serve communication purposes. The nuances are manifested in the content. For example, people who are in an emotional state on the nuclear energy topic refuse to take in any factual information. What is the rational emotional interaction that helps bridge communication in a debate?
The whole body learning curriculum framework. Each group of learning objectives is supported by what’s below. @Kristian Simsarian
@Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This week I felt uncertain about my progress. I keep sketching new ideas while doing research. But the more research and ideas that I have, the more difficult it becomes to have a clear focus.
Conversation
"How do you even make them care?"
I encountered Bill Chien’s work RUMI, a design concept meant to education news literacy. Intrigued by his concept, I emailed him and asked about his design process and what could be the next step for the project. 

Here is his response: “To bring it a step further, I will try to find experts in writing and literature/sociology, and identify what it is actually making people misinformed in the first place, and make the concept more solid. Because I do think most people are lazy and they won’t spend time elevating themselves unless there is a motivation that really speaks to them. So the question always starts with, why does this matter to them, and how do you even make them care.”

Reflecting upon my ideas, I realized that I have not thought about how to encourage the audience to care about misinformation. To make people care about this issue, I think the design intervention should not be just a change in user interaction, but a systemic change.

"It makes me feel smarter."
Barry gave me detailed advice for each of my concept. 
In conclusion, he suggested that “counter highlighter” is worth pursuing because it engages reader to think deeper.
Research
Interviews
I have talked with several nuclear activists who gave me a general introduction of the nuclear energy debate. They also shared their frustrations in communicating with people who are affected by emotional content. 

Here are some quotes that show my general impressions from the interviewees:

“When facts don’t register, emotions rule their mind.”
“People are offended by facts.”
“Show them you are a human being helps with the communication.”
“I will have to talk with them face to face to have them trust me and listen to me.”
“People just see it as a big scary mass.”

I will need to further synthesize my interview notes next week. My top three takeaways at this moment are: 
• explanation of nuclear energy is not accessible therefore people are inclined to judge with emotions; 
• distrust in counter-arguments; 
• difficulty in understanding the complicated situation.

David Mackay
David Mackay’s book Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air has been a big source of inspiration for me. One of the major arguments he made in this book is that “any sane discussion of sustainable energy requires numbers.” He said that “I want the facts to be clear so people can have a meaningful debate about ethical decisions.” He argued that “we need simple numbers, and we need the numbers to be comprehensible, comparable and memorable.”

He demonstrated that numbers can be understandable and help with constructive dialogue. I’m inspired by how he talked about numbers by using day-to-day examples as a measurement for energy. I would also like to design tools that help people convert adjectives into understandable numerical facts.
Prototype
My prototype ideas for this week. I've been concerned about my progress for the past week. After the midterm check-in with Kate, I’ve decided to take one of the ideas further and experiment with it for three weeks.
Objective score @Tara LinGoogle Translate for Energy @Tara LinScience Honesty Tracker @Tara LinABC @Tara Lin

Next Step

• Continue daily prototype sketches.
• Develop one ideas further and conduct experimentInterview synthesis
• Continue interviews and conversations about design
Team: Natalia, Will, Rita, Tai
The team gave a general overview of mental health. In the end, they quizzed the class and hosted a meditation session.

During the quiz session, there is a “true/false” question that says “people with mental health live 5-10 years shorter than average people.” I found this claim to be a generalization and lack of authentic source citation, so I tapped “false”. The real answer was “true”. It makes me confused for a second, then I realized that the “real answer” is curated by the team. 

Online readers often passively consume information without evaluating the source of the information. The validity of the source is often hidden from the interface we interact with. It could mislead people into thinking the information to be true. 

If people are provided the channel to evaluate the source of the information, would they become more resilient to misinformation? I will sketch a prototype to reflect this design hypothesis. 

Another reflection: For a scientific hypothesis, it can’t be said for certain if they are “true” or “false”. It makes me wonder: what about the media environment that forces readers to think that they need to believe in one side over the other? How do those beliefs influence the way people perceive other points of view?

Prototype
This week I primarily focused on developing the counter-highlighter prototype. The basic idea is to enable readers to highlight an argument in an article and search for counter-arguments. This way, readers are able to compare opposing points of view within their own context. The form of this prototype is inspired by Ted Nelson's THE XANADU® PARALLEL UNIVERSE.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
I also worked on designing an experiment to test the concept. The challenge for concept testing: It’s unlikely that people will change their minds by just looking at one counter-argument. What can I measure as success criteria in a short period of time?

In my experiment brief, I decided to go with sentiment analysis: collecting and comparing how people think about one particular argument before and after the counter-argument is presented. The success will be defined by people becoming more “neutral” in thinking about the information.

Continuing daily prototype sketches
Source Evaluation @Tara LinInformation Game @Tara LinInteractive News Story @Tara LinComparing the Systems of Articles @Tara Lin
Conversation
Patricia Lange
I talked with Patricia Lange, who is an anthropologist and professor at CCA. For her, the biggest value of this project is to give people access to evaluate the source of information. It made me think about what if there is a tool for people to evaluate the information with the system thinking iceberg model.
Comparing Systems of Articles @Tara Lin
Comparing Systems of Articles @Tara Lin
She also found the non-linear presentation of the article most interesting in the sense that it’s less binary. She thinks the way information is visually presented can make a huge difference in how people are processing information. “Having people see the potential information will give them a sense of complexity all at once.” It might prevent people from choosing a side too quickly. I'm personally also really interested in this idea but unfortunately I have not yet found an appropriate context to prototype it with.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Break the paper format @Tara Lin
On my counter highlighter prototype, she said it would be valuable to open people up to different opinions. But she also questioned that “does it make sense to elevate both sides? Or is there only one side?” She expressed a concern: “what about the opinions that could be really harmful to show the other side?” I also heard about similar comments from other interviewees. However, the biggest learning for me is not the potential misuse of this tool. The biggest learning for me is context matters. When I come up with a prototype, I need to be more clear about the context where this tool is being used. It makes me think: when and where would a counter-highlighter most valuable in the nuclear energy debate? What specific problems does it solve?
Research
Field trip: The Glass Room
I went to the talk “pushing back on misinformation” in the Glass Room exhibit. The speaker Renée DiResta shared an insight: “Information is not necessarily true or false, it just reflects a point of view. The best propaganda has some degree of truth to it.” 

The fact that we can’t draw a clear line between “true” or “false” information makes the problem of information difficult to tackle. There is no one solution for misinformation, it will have to depend on the context where the information is used. 

A list of secondary research
I continued secondary research on the topic to inspire and inform my daily prototype ideas. Here is a list of research materials I went through this week. I found the PEW research center article a thorough overview of misinformation.
"The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online", Pew Research Center
"America’s misinformation problem, explained", Sean Illing on Vox
Young Ones Student Awards
Kialo
Visual Complexity
Solutions to misinformation need human-centered design, Vikram Singh
Keeping David MacKay's 'Sustainable Energy - without the hot air' up-to-date

I revised my research objective to be more problem-oriented in the context of the nuclear energy debate:
• What are the types of misinformation in the nuclear energy debate?
• What makes people misinformed for each situation?
• What are the consequences of misinformation?
• What would be an effective approach specific to each type of misinformation?

Next Step

Focus: Conduct experiment on counter highlighter prototype and document learning
Where: GitHub, 88 Colin P Kelly Jr. Street, San Francisco CA 94107
When: October 19-20, 2019

It was a packed weekend in Science Hack Day.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Ariel Waldman Kicks Off 10th Science Hack Day, photograph by Tara Lin
On Saturday, I mostly worked with a group of scientists and engineers in a Local Climate Projection Project.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Local Climate Projections Team
Currently, climate projection models usually appear to be very technical. Here is an example from the National Climate Assessment.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Emissions Levels Determine Temperature Rises @National Climate Assessment
We identified that there is an opportunity to make that knowledge more approachable to normal citizens. Having this realization, I wondered how can we make science explanations about climate crisis more accessible to people? Perhaps this is where interaction designers can play an important role. Below is the final outcome of this project: a database for people to retrieve local climate change projections. The platform will show predictions of the local weather for the next 80 years. Here is the link to the live platform if you are interested in checking it out: https://www.climatefuture.io/
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Local Climate Projections Final Demo on Science Hack Day
On Sunday, I floated around and checked out other projects. 

I was intrigued by the corky and creative projections that people come up with.

Here is an example: Water Harp. The string of the Harp is replaced by water stream.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
The Water Harp Team working on Arduino
I’m especially intrigued by a project called “quantum physics board game”, which gamifies the learning of quantum physics. The physicists think the game was too complicated to be fun:D They were asking for a game designer to help them improve the project. It was a regret for me not being able to participate in the game development. I enjoy learning about physics on my own time. Realizing that there are possibilities to connect my part-time interests to my professional job was a nice surprise. I’m hoping to get a chance to work on science-related projects in the future. 
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Quantum Physics Board Game Demo
On a side note, I got a personalized Halloween costume from a young talented designer. Above all, I enjoyed Science Hack Day as a safe space to be silly and have fun. 
Team: Nathalia, Grace, Jimmy, Elijah

My thesis is essentially about designing our interaction with information. Rethinking the information interface design is inevitably an important part of the project. I found the question at the beginning of this week’s presentation thought-provoking: what is natural?

When we are receiving information, what is a natural interaction with it? 

It might be to internalize or externalize the information.

In my earlier blog post, I sketched the current user interaction with computer information. Our current reading experience has rarely evolved from reading a printed media. In both cases, the readers are expected to passively consume the information.
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
passive interaction with information @Tara Lin
How does it compare to a dynamic information exchange process such as conversation? Which one is more effective in helping people learn? 

What if users can remodel the information to reflect his thinking? Can the interface afford this user interaction? Would it be possible for a reader to rearrange the written information to create a his thinking model? How might externalizing thinking enhance understanding?

I also enjoyed the workshop for designing natural user interface. It makes me rethink the current input for conventional computer interaction. Aside from the learning experience, I appreciate the playfulness. We had great time designing together.
serious play: Tetris
serious play: Tetris
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
serious discussion on designing NUI for Tetris
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
serious discussion II on designing NUI for Tetris
This week I experienced several crisis moments questioning the direction I’m taking. The "problem" with exposing to more information is that it constantly challenge my previous thoughts on thesis project.
Experiment
I experimented with the concept Counter Highlighter.

<A link to the report here>
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Counter Highlighter Prototype V1 @Tara Lin
Conversation
David Merkoski
I was fortunate enough to meet inspiring people because of this project. On Monday I had an enjoyable and reflective conversation with David Merkoski, who is currently working on the sustainable energy field. 

He suggested that helping people staying open is not necessarily a goal for nuclear energy debate. Arguing that “there is no black and white thus we should stay neutral” is not helpful for resolving the debate. Considering the urgency of climate change, the more appropriate thing to do is to help people make more informed and reasonable decisions faster rather than keeping things open-ended.

I started to question my design intent for this project. I realize that being neutral might not be appropriate for the context I’m addressing, especially when there is a decision that needs to be made urgently. For the energy debate (or many political debates), the more reasonable design intent is to help people make a more informed decision while stand corrected. But people will eventually have to settle on one side or the other.

I considered myself as someone who will postpone forming an opinion for the sake of learning more. Staying neutral is what I would exercise on almost everything. I once jokingly said to my writing teacher that “I can’t make an argument.” But I realized that there are contexts where an argument needs to be made.

Weiwei Hsu
Weiwei suggested that I should think about the weight I put on the interface design versus information communication. The context helps me grounded my concepts but it could distract me from diving deep into the interface design. Vice versa. She precisely summarized my dilemma. 😂

After reflection, I think I should stay close to my design context and my audience instead of conceptual exploration. It means that I will need to constantly balance the context and the concept.

Kate’s Main Feedback
• Look for information seekers on the energy topic as my audience.
• Either stay with the topic and change my original design intent, or change the topic and stay with my design intent.

I decided to slightly shift my design intent. I realized that keeping people neutral is not necessarily considered as a goal, but a means to an end. My original intention might work well for researchers, students who are interested in learning about this topic, as my experiment participants suggested. I think reaching out to them would be a good next step.

Research
Field trip: The Glass Room
I went to the Glass Room for the second time to look deeper into the exhibition. There are many sources of inspiration for prototypes.

Networked Optimization made visible only the most highlighted sentences in three self-help books. It prompted me to think if I could incorporate this concept into one of my early prototype ideas: 19 ways of looking at an article.
Fake or Real is another interesting concept about information and misinformation. It asked people to guess if a concept is fake or real. People can also check what majority guesses are. This might also be an interesting prompt to experiment: asking people to pause and think about the validity of a piece of information during reading.
More photos for the field trip for future reference.
A list of secondary research
To design an information interface to help people better understand the topic, I need to first have a good understanding of the energy issue. Thus, this week I immerse myself in energy research. The more information I received, the more ambivalent I am about nuclear. Even in the science community, there are debates on whether we could hit the climate target without nuclear. There are an overwhelming amount of misconception on this topic. People who cherry pick scientific results and intentionally mislead audiences.

My biggest question during research is: Who should I listen to? 

For my future reference, here are some research I went over this week:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRXDYC3TnG4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTKl5X72NIc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jobYTQTgeUE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1EB1zsxW0k
https://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/terrapowers-nuclear-reactor-could-power-the-21st-century
https://www.factcheck.org/2019/11/what-does-science-say-about-the-need-for-nuclear/

Next Step

I still want to stay with the energy topic because I enjoyed the learning experience. However, my research for the right information is tough. There are many misconceptions that made comprehension of whole picture even harder. Thus, I decided to slightly shift my strategy for an audience seeking. Instead of identifying people with strong opinions about this topic, I decided to look for information seekers and identify the problems that they are facing in understanding the situation.

Team: Kendra, Eugina, Heather

I would consider myself as a primary auditory thinker. Thinking is a process of me talking to myself in my head. That’s why I sometimes found it challenging to listen to challenging learning materials and think at the same time. The external and internal sounds start to fight with each other. I preferred to learn about the world visually so I can use my internal sound to process the information.

This week’s topic exploration opens up new learning opportunities for me. It introduces sound in design, a dimension that I’ve overlooked. Sound serves as a signal that unconsciously influences the way we perceive information. I’m especially fascinated by the idea called skeuomorphism introduced in the presentation. “Meanings”, for lack of a better word ;D, in our life can be created by making an analogous association between one event and another. For example, hitting a virtual button is an analogy to a physical-mechanical button. The sound associated with the user interaction will resemble the sound of hitting a real button. To help people understand a virtual interaction, both the visual and audio components are used to trigger the intended user perception. 

For the workshop, we were asked to make sounds for a series of user interactions. I appreciated the experience because it makes me think about certain interactions beyond what I see. For example, we use flipping post-it notes as a way to make a sound for the keyboard typing user interaction. For some reason, the short and consistent paper flipping resonates with the short and consistent typing action. And our reaction to judge whether the sound makes sense for the interaction is immediate and instinctual. The way our brains associate meaning is such a fascinating process.
Check In
In an overview, my thesis project explores different ways of processing information to help people stay neutral or unbiased in the context of the nuclear energy debate. 

I’ve been sketching prototype ideas daily based on the problems that I’ve observed, drawing inspirations from everywhere (academic journals, field trips, online projects, existing products, etc.)
<Link to All Prototype Sketches>
While exploring concepts, I also researched a lot on the energy topic itself to understand what is the tension and what caused the tension in this topic from both primary and secondary sources.

Last week I’ve run an experiment on the counter-highlighter concept.
<Link to Detailed Documentation>
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Counter Highlighter Prototype V1 @Tara Lin
I readjusted my design objective: from neutralizing opinionated groups to help information seekers shape more informed points of view. The adjustment is based on three learnings:

• Using the counter-highlighter doesn’t necessarily make people more neutral, but participants said that it potentially helps improve their points of view. 

• I realized that neutralizing people is not suitable for a context where decisions need to be made–energy issues has its urgency due to climate change. To align with my audience’s goal, I changed my design objective to help people shape a more informed points of view on this topic. 

• Almost all people who tried Counter Highlighter think it is a tool for students or researchers. They said it will be helpful for someone who wants to learn deeper about this topic. Kate suggested that I could define my audience as information seekers for energy topic.
Conversation
Apurva Shah
I had another conversation with Apurva, seeking advice for design process and my current concept.

Summary of Feedbacks from Apurva:

• Presenting counter-arguments might add more cognitive load to people who are already overwhelmed by the complexity of the energy issue

• What if people could refer all the information on the Internet against a “magic library” that contains only facts about nuclear energy? Use confidence level as a benchmark to test if the concept will help people to be more informed.

• Continue to experiment different directions
Research
Aside from informing myself about the energy topic, I had conversations with 8 people who are information seekers. 

I need to further synthesize the conversations in the next two weeks. Some obvious patterns from those conversations:

• Conflicting “truth”: common phrases that I heard is “not sure who to listen to because even scientists have opposing views on whether we need nuclear energy,” “wish there could be a site with all the facts,” “so many people with their agenda, there is no unbiased information.”

• Quality of information varies: “Not all points of view are equally valid” is expressed by at least 60% of all the people I’ve talked with. 

I also talked with an expert in the energy field who also create the content about energy issues. She expressed her concerns in science communication: “I have to be extra careful with how I use words. Otherwise it can be easily misinterpreted by people who made up their minds.”

Prototype
Daily Sketches
Based on the feedback on counter-highlighter, I decided to experiment with the concept called Source Evaluation.
Source Evaluation @Tara Lin
Source Evaluation @Tara Lin

Next Step

Experiment concept Source Evaluation and document learnings
Team: Jamie, Jieying, Tash, Tara

Sustainability is a broad topic. We started by talking about individual areas of interest within the topic, realizing that our focuses are very different: from specific to general, from social sustainability to environmental sustainability, from digital interaction to physical materials. Piecing the content together and create a cohesive flow is the biggest challenge. We further define our scope: looking at the digital age through the lens of sustainability. 
Presentation Flow
Presentation Flow
I was asked to make an intro to the presentation. My understanding of sustainability was initially a very narrow one, mostly in ecological terms. I had very different perspectives about what sustainability means.  Through discussion, I realized that the initial intro didn’t cover the breadth of our content. I then decided to discard my previous content and talk about sustainability in a broader sense. My teammates expanded my understanding of this topic.

For the workshop activity, we started with searching on the Internet for inspiration. We found most of them only remotely relevant to our discipline. So we designed our workshop. 
Ideation I
Ideation I
Ideation II
Ideation II
Initially, we planned to design a worksheet that allows people to recognize their design skills and direct them to leverage existing skills for sustainable design. After testing the experience, we felt that the answers are very general and not actionable enough.
Ideation II
Personal Sustainable Design Principles
In the end, we designed a sustainability assessment sheet using the content of our presentation. The sheet went through many iterations. We felt that it would be a helpful tool for evaluating designs.
Sustainability Assessment Tool by Jamie, Jieying, Tash and Tara
Sustainability Assessment Tool by Jamie, Jieying, Tash and Tara
The workshop was engaging thanks to the class’s participation.
In general, preparing for this exploration workshop is challenging and at times frustrating. The most rewarding learning comes from the coordination in making sure everyone’s interests are included and expressed in the final deliverables. Thanks to my teammates Jamie, Jieying, and Tash for being inclusive rather than exclusive of ideas to discuss the topic with breadth and depth.
This week I spent most of my time testing and iterating concepts.
Experiment
On Monday I talked with 3 people about my concepts: source evaluation and counter-highlighter. 
Counter Highlighter Prototype @Tara Lin
Counter Highlighter Prototype V1 @Tara Lin
Source Evaluation @Tara Lin
Source Evaluation @Tara Lin
Learnings
• Both concepts are well-received. People think combing the two concepts would be helpful to overcome the algorithm bias and information silos to some extent. I made an iteration combining the two concepts and make it more digestible for the testing session.
Counter + Source @Tara Lin
Counter + Source @Tara Lin
• One participant is skeptical about the quality of counter-arguments. He already read a lot of anti-nuclear claims. He said that “I would assume everything that comes up would be hysterical or fake.” In this case, it only reinforces people’s original opinions rather than challenging it.

• “Now that I know both sides, but which side is right?” Knowing the opposite opinions doesn’t necessarily make people feel more informed. “To better evaluate those arguments, my next instinct is to look up the real-world examples or numbers that back them up.” There is an opportunity to make facts and numbers more accessible to the reading experience. 

• Details about the context are ignored in general statements. My interviewees talked about their frustrations with the overly simplistic arguments in mainstream media and the fact that detailed information is buried in research papers.

Is there a way to make the data more accessible so that arguments can be evaluated in a nuanced way? I developed a new prototype and tested the concepts with 2 other people on Wednesday.
Counter + Source @Tara Lin
Contextualize Arguments @Tara Lin
• Being able to access facts in a quick and digestible manner relieved the research burden and doesn't interrupt the reading flow. 

• Showing contextual information reduces ambiguity. In this case, participants said that seeing the data about the death rate of the Chernobyl accident better defines what "risk" means. 

• Presenting the original data gives users room to form their interpretations. 

• Showing both the arguments with contextual information helps with information bias. One of the participants said that “ I tend to be in a bubble working the nuclear industry. The tools combined will help me see both sides of arguments without wanting to turn off the anti-nuclear articles.”
Conversation
Kate shared a framework of learning stages. I found it resonates with my research findings, in the sense that both points to context.

How can I create reading experience that supports context-oriented learning?
Learning Stages
Learning Stages @Kate Rutter
Prototype
Daily Sketches

Next Step

Continue to iterate current prototypes
Team: Jessica, Omar, Gina

I’m frustrated with transportation in the US. Often I can’t even find the bus stop even the Google map said I’m there. Often I have to look at the complicated system map to figure out which direction I’m taking. If I’m not careful enough I’m very likely to waste 30 mins in commute. 

Wayfinding in transportation can look like a trap. It makes me feel that I’m not educated enough to correctly navigate in space. 

Universal design is something that once you see it, you cannot unsee it.

During the workshop, we are asked to design a navigation method for a family.
Presentation Flow
Design Prompt
Realizing that the family comes from Japan, my teammates proposed to develop iconography into the current navigation system (replacing the building name with images, etc.), without assuming that everyone speaks English. 
Presentation Flow
Idea Sketches
This connects to my personal frustrations. I consider understandability as the most important aspect of wayfinding. There are assumptions in the current navigation system that people know about certain things already. The value of design is to consider what people might not know.
This week I continued to talk with people to evaluate the 3 concepts I have so far.
I’ve been using cluster analysis to synthesis interviews – group interview highlights in different clusters to identity the patterns.
Cluster synthesis board @Tara Lin
Cluster synthesis board @Tara Lin
I decided to share my learning this week through long interview stories.

On the counter-highlighter, Interviewee L. cast doubt on the quality of counter-argument: “I’d like to challenge myself as well. But I found the other side incapable of challenging my current point of view because they’re weak in evidence.”

However, he acknowledged that “Providing a seed of doubt is useful in breaking the information bubble. The seed of doubt partially stems from curiosity, partially comes from the realization that different people think differently.”

An important acknowledge I got from L. is “these tools will make people want to think.” I think I might do something right here ;)

In the end, he added that “Curious to see how the concepts apply to other articles in which points are made in disguise.” 

This is an interesting reflection. A lot of times, anti-nuclear arguments are not false claims. Rather, they’re misleading facts. 

-----------------------
To better evaluate the concepts, I found a paragraph by Mark Jacobsen by example claimed that there is no 100% guarantee that nuclear energy won’t fail. 
The 7 reasons why nuclear energy is not the answer to solve climate change @ Mark Z. Jacobson
The 7 reasons why nuclear energy is not the answer to solve climate change @ Mark Z. Jacobson
I decided to test my current concepts with this piece of information. I realize looking at a single piece of fact is not enough to evaluate the energy plan, information seekers have to look at the piece of information within context and see the tradeoffs. How can the tools support this need?

Counter-argument
It’s tricky to counter-argue when the information is factual. Mark Jacobsen's writing works especially well on people who are risk-averse. Even if we presented sound evidence on the safety of nuclear energy, the author can still say: “but there is no guarantee.” Ah, Perfect is the enemy of the good. Perhaps presenting an argument on a certain amount of risk is acceptable might help with this. 

Source evaluation
It helps people uncover the bias of the source. People will find out that Mark Jacobsen is pro-100% renewables. His extreme points of view will plant a seed of doubt on critical readers. However, knowing his bias doesn’t address the content. 

Contextual information
To what extent is risk acceptable? A point of reference is desperately needed. We need to engage people in a systemic understanding. Comparing the risks of nuclear energy to the risks of other alternatives. How are we going to do that? Maybe an argument that contextualizes the risks? 

Counter + Source @Tara Lin
Contextualize Arguments @Tara Lin
My next interviewee S. is a well-informed researcher. He provided some useful suggestions on the concepts:

• On source evaluation, he would like to understand how the content-creator is funded, how often is the author being right, list of mistakes they’ve made.

• He thinks that contextual information would be helpful for the readers to go down the citation chain and find the root source. But there are many contextual information, how to provide the right one that the readers need?

• On counter-argument, he told me that a similar community-based tool called Rbutr exists as a chrome extension. I looked it up but the plugin is not working on my broswer for some reason. However, it demonstrates that the concept is feasible with Internet users establishing the link.

Counter + Source @Tara Lin
Rbutr
In addition, S. gave me a lot of inspiration about information processing and constructive dialect. He sent me an email of resources after our conversation.
Learning Stages
Email of resources
I found the argument pyramid framework very interesting. How can I design an interface that evolves the argument to the top of the pyramid?
Learning Stages
VARIETIES OF ARGUMENTATIVE EXPERIENCE @ SCOTT ALEXANDER
Federated Wiki might be a good reference. It was used to evolve learning through a collaborative information sharing system. Instead of a centralized information system where everyone retrieves information from, each Internet user can create their own server that stores the records relevant to them. It’s not top-down consensus. It’s bottom-up.
Learning Stages
Federated Wiki @ Mike Caulfield
This might sound abstract. If you happen to be interested, click on this link, go to PART 5 and watch the 9 minutes life-changing demo by Mike Caulfield. I’m deeply intrigued. 

Now back to my project, can I use it as a reference to evolve arguments and eventually help people reach consensus?

Next Step

Summarize research learnings
Create demo for prototypes
This week's progress
• Iterating concepts
Writing articles documenting concepts exploration to date (in progress)
• Finishing up research synthesis
Research
I continued to synthesize interviews. I will write them into my documentation.
Cluster synthesis board @Tara Lin
Cluster synthesis board @Tara Lin
Prototype
Continuing last week’s exploration, I decided to further my concepts based on Federated Wiki and Adversarial Collaboration

I first plotted nuclear energy debate in a 2x2 matrix considering two dimensions: interests and objective. (#Ref: Effective Communication in Virtual Adversarial Collaborative Communities)
The 7 reasons why nuclear energy is not the answer to solve climate change @ Mark Z. Jacobson
2x2 Interests | Objectives
The nuclear energy debate is most likely to be shared objective–tackling energy issues and opposing interests(whether or not nuclear should play a part). As the article suggested, “When working together, lack of trust is often a major problem.”

How can we create a trust-based information system to help people better understand the situation?


I found Federated Wiki interestingly tackled this problem: it is a wiki established upon the social network. This means that the information that the users receive is trust-based. They need to follow the person to get the information. It’s inherently a trust-based information network. 

During my conversation with energy information seekers, the quality of counterpoints and personal bias are two obstacles in being informed. They don’t trust “the other side of the arguments” most of the time. So what if the information comes from a trusted source? Will they become more open to the ideas? Here is my concept exploration:

Trust-based Information Network @Tara Lin
Trust-based Information Network @Tara Lin
Trust-based Information Network II @Tara Lin
Trust-based Information Network II @Tara Lin
In this trust-based information network, people opted in to be challenged by someone or the database they trust. The links between information will be established by Internet users instead of the algorithm. Individuals will only see the link when the corresponding information is either linked by someone he trusts or linked to a database he trusts. 

I asked one of my interviewees S. about this idea. He suggested that I look into the social affordances for this tool. I used a framework he sent to think about the affordances.
Social Affordances @Tara Lin
Social Affordances @Tara Lin
The same article also mentioned that social networks should put more focused on user values. In creating a value-based network, I use the difficult parts worksheet to identify user obstacles in behaving according to their values.
Difficult Parts in being informed @Tara Lin
Difficult Parts in being informed @Tara Lin

Next Step

• Digitally prototype key wireframes for the new concept
• Continue documentation
• Prepare for presentation

This week's progress
• Sketch and build key wireframes
Writing articles documenting concepts exploration to date (in progress)
• Drafting presentation
Prototype
I sketched out the three key features for the new concepts:
• Establish database 
• Link information
• Retrieve the linked information
Key Frames + Flow @Tara Lin
Key Frames + Flow @Tara Lin
I’m working on digitizing and refining the wireframes. 
Add Database
Add Database @Tara Lin
Add Database @Tara Lin
Retrieve Link
Retrieve Link @Tara Lin
Retrieve Link @Tara Lin
The prototype is inspired by two concepts: Federated Wiki and gIBIS (graphical issue-based information system). 

The most important learning from Federated Wiki is establishing personal local network as a realizable way to spread information.
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Centralized to distributed information network @Mike Caulfield
The learning from gIBIS is its use of hypertext system to facilitate connecting information across the Internet with logical relationship nodes.
Creating notes in gIBIS @Jeff Conklin
Creating notes in gIBIS @Jeff Conklin
The goal of this concept is to bring structured information to the large, complex database about the energy issue with a bottom-up approach.
Future direction consideration
Looking into next semester, I think I would continue exploring concepts within the energy context, but I have different directions in mind:

If I were to continue the concept:
I think this concept has the potential to be further developed. I could experiment within the context of the energy issue to better understand how it could help people better navigate this topic.

If I were to restart concepting:
• Energy real-life scenario simulation, potentially become a collaborative game
• Data visualization project to make of energy information explanation more approachable

Next Step

• Finishing up digitizing key wireframes
• Continue documentation
‍• Prepare for presentation

I have my final presentation this week.
Final presentation deck
Final Demo
Final Presentation
Looking back at this semester
I set out to address the information bias in the nuclear energy debate. 

Throughout the semester, I sketched concepts daily as ideation process.
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Daily Concept Sketches @Tara Lin
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Daily Concept Sketches @Tara Lin
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Daily Concept Sketches @Tara Lin
I experimented with 4 concepts:
• Counterpointer
• Source Evaluation
• Contextual Information
• Truth Reference Library
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Counterpointer @Tara Lin
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Source Evaluation @Tara Lin
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Contextual Information @Tara Lin
Truth Reference Library @Tara Lin
Truth Reference Library @Tara Lin
I iterated my concepts along the way based on interview synthesis.
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Research synthesis @Tara Lin
My final concept is Trust-based Information Network. It has three features:
• Establish database
• Create Link
• Retrieve Link
Key Frames + Flow @Tara Lin
Key Frames + Flow @Tara Lin
Add Database
Add Database @Tara Lin
Add Database @Tara Lin
Retrieve Link
Retrieve Link @Tara Lin
Retrieve Link @Tara Lin
The most challenging part is dealing with my own inconfidence. Several times I have doubted my ability as a designer. But I’m glad that my persistence helped me push through the crisis moments. 

I’m most surprised by and proud of my fearless ignorance. I was never hesitated to reach out to people who are way more intelligent than me for help. Because of it, I got to talk with so many amazing people that inspired the project. I have a long list of appreciation. They helped me get out of my head when I was spiraling. 

The most important learning comes at the very end of the semester when I talked with David Merkoski. He pushed me to really think about user's need. What kind of need am I really addressing with the final concept?

Need-finding is an important skill. I will focus on learning to better define and understand audience next semester.
Looking into next semester
For next semester, I’m thinking about two directions:

1. Continuing concept validation at least at the beginning. I need to figure out whether or not my concept is addressing the needs of a specific group of people. At the same time, I want to continue to understand the problems in nuclear energy debate and potentially develop new concepts.

2. This semester is full of learning. But I didn't fulfill one promise I have for myself – have fun doing what I do. I personally really enjoy making. Another potential direction is interactive science education about energy. Science education and physical prototype is something I'm hoping to explore more of.
Project Overview
Understanding the system infrastructure of information disorder
Truthfulness/Intent @Tara Lin
Truthfulness/Intent @Tara Lin
Information Disorder System @Tara Lin
Information Disorder System @Tara Lin
Three Elements Considerations @Tara Lin
Three Elements Considerations @Tara Lin
Research Notes
Facing Facts Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Facing Facts Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Coronavirus Misinformation Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Coronavirus Misinformation Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Information Disorder Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Information Disorder Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Biggest Learnings this week (Research raw notes attached below)
• The "truth" can be confusing, boring or threatening to people’s identity. Information communication is not simply about being informed. It is ritualistic, a way to reaffirm people’s affinity with the larger dramatic narrative about the world and their place in it.

• Research shows that science literate groups with opposing values can be more polarized. Political motivated reasoning appears to be negated by science curiosity rather than science literacy.

• We need domain-grounded digital literacy for effective fact-checking. This means domain specific facts related to the content, and knowledge of the web to execute search. (Snopes for fact checking, Quote Investigator for quotes, Tineye or Google reverse Image search)
Drafting Prototype
Drafting Prototype @Tara Lin
Drafting Prototype @Tara Lin
Information Disorder System @Tara Lin
Provide web tool for information validation when users "like" the post@Tara Lin
Three Elements Considerations @Tara Lin
Surface fact-check conclusion and provide action button @Tara Lin
Provide positive feedbacks @Tara Lin
Provide positive feedbacks @Tara Lin
Research Notes
Context

Science and news are important to clean energy policy discussion. But recently, they are increasingly leveraged for politically motivated reasoning. A 2018 PEW research suggests that about two-thirds of US adults use social media as pathways to the news because of the convenience and ease. But more than half of Americans consider social media news as “largely inaccurate.” This concerning phenomenon negatively impacted issues–in this case, clean energy debate–that need more democratic discussion with reliable information.

Problem Statement

How might we reduce the spread of science or news related misinformation in the clean energy discussion on social media by planting a seed of doubt, triggering deeper curiosity and assisting effective search for truthful information?

Research

Last semester, I had 20+ conversations with people who are participating in the online nuclear energy debate.

Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
Research synthesis @Tara Lin

I experimented with 5 different concepts. The final concept is a trust-based reference library.

For this semester, I decided to build on my previous prototype exploration and research the context of social media. This is because I learned from my conversations that a majority of information seekers use social media to get information and communicate with others. But many of them struggled with the problems of biased or inaccurate information on the platform. For the last 4 weeks, I'm immersed in extensive online research.

What establish trust?

To deeper understand the system dynamics that establish trustable information, I first analyzed and compared the system of Facebook and Wikipedia.

How does Facebook establish trust? @Tara Lin
How does Facebook establish trust? @Tara Lin
Centralized to distributed @Tara Lin
How does Wikipedia establish trust? @Tara Lin
Comparing Facebook and Wiki @Tara Lin
Comparing Facebook and Wiki @Tara Lin

The most important learnings from diagramming the system are:

• Wikipedia is consensus-driven. Its community principle Natural Point of View (NPOV) ensures equal input from multiple perspectives. Facebook, or social media, on the other hand, is opinion-driven to stay close to the tribe that users identified themselves within.

• The two platform functions at different stages of information communication. Wikipedia is mainly for information creation, while Facebook is mostly for information distribution. Wikipedia users are incentivized towards verifiability (not truth). But Facebook users are incentivized by attention ("like", "comment", "share").

• Wikipedia is iterative. This means that information can be fact-checked and updated as new information comes to light. The information posted on Facebook is non-iterative, which means it will either be deleted or stay the same when new evidence comes to light.

Understanding the system infrastructure of information disorder

I also looked into information disorders research done by Claire Wardle. It helps me better understand the system structure of information disorders and the current measures.

Truthfulness/Intent @Tara Lin
Truthfulness/Intent @Tara Lin
Information Disorder System @Tara Lin
Information Disorder System @Tara Lin
Three Elements Considerations @Tara Lin
Three Elements Considerations @Tara Lin
Research Notes

I also read many related articles discussing misinformation on social media.

Facing Facts Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Facing Facts Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Coronavirus Misinformation Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Coronavirus Misinformation Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Information Disorder Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Information Disorder Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Research Sketchnotes 2.23.2020@Tara Lin
Research Sketchnotes 2.13.2020 @Tara Lin
Research Sketchnotes 2.23.2020@Tara Lin
Research Sketchnotes 2.17.2020 @Tara Lin
Research Summary

Here is a collection of the learnings from research.

Information Disorder Sketchnotes @Tara Lin
Research Summary @Tara Lin
Research Insight -> Problem Statement

My main takeaway from research can be summarized as:

1. The "truth" can be confusing, boring or threatening to people’s identity. Information communication is not simply about being informed. It is ritualistic, a way to reaffirm people’s affinity with the larger dramatic narrative about the world and their place in it.

2. Currently, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter mostly rely on third-party fact-checkers to ensure the quality of the content. However, relying on third-party fact-checkers is a temporary aid. The long term solution should be empowering the community to be their own best defense against misinformation. My research surfaced that the essence of any solution is to find effective ways to stimulate curiosity and a spirit of inquiry.

This has led to my problem statement:
How might we reduce the spread of science or news related misinformation in the clean energy discussion on social media by planting a seed of doubt, triggering deeper curiosity and assisting effective search for truthful information?

Prototype

The prototypes should address four questions:
1. What triggers doubt?
2. What stimulates deeper curiosity?
3. How can we better aid in users' search for more truthful information?
4. How do they determine if their search result is more truthful/reliable?

I explored different ideas based on those questions.

What triggers doubt?

What stimulates deeper curiosity?

How can we better aid in users' search for more truthful information?

Current Prototype

I presented the prototype step by step to one user so far and asked her to think out loud for each frame. Here are some findings.

1. "I felt confused about what information to validate here. This is a piece of opinion, how do you validate it?"
My interpretation: users might be insensitive to the underlying factual claim in an opinion statement. Some guidance on the validation search could help.

2. "Who are the 23 friends that validate the information? Why is this piece of information meaningful to me? What's their result?"
My interpretation: Friends might be still too general. It could be more helpful to identify the friends who tried to validate the information.

3. "I don't know what would happen after I click on 'validate'."
My interpretation: An explanation on the feature to give users anticipation of what would happen might be needed.

Updated point of view based on current prototype

Knowns
• Surfacing friends' validation action stimulates curiosity to some extent.
• Users might need some visual indications to help them distinguish facts and opinions.
• More clear explanations are needed for introducing the new feature.

Unknowns
• How might the validation feature be exploited for people to attack each other's posts?
• What kind of curiosity will lead to users taking action to validate information?

Next Step

I will continue to test and develop the current prototype. At the same time, I think more design explorations should be made to tackle the different questions in this design challenge. I will keep exploring new prototypes.

Process

This week I spent most of my time prototyping and drafting user-testing plan.
Link to the first draft of testing plan.

Next Step

I will spend more time refining the testing plan. I plan to create a list of questions for each prototype.

Progress

• Finalize testing plan, specify the questions for each concepts
Concept prototype
Refined user testing plan

• Refined prototypes and test the concept with 2 Twitter users.
Concept testing raw notes
Research synthesis board
Concept testing writeup

Next Step

• Continue concept testing and document learnings
• Iterate concepts
• Research and ideate

Progress

2nd Rubric Review

Next Step

• Iteration based on user testing findings
• Seek out industry experts for feedbacks
• Adding automatic hoax detection?

Progress

• Expert interview with Marek
• Scheduled another expert interview
• Started drafting thesis final post

Next Step

• Expert Interview with Jim
• Expert Interview documentation with writings
• Iteration based on users and experts feedback
• Plan user testing for the next iteration–potentially talk with design experts about how to better conduct the testing
• Outline thesis article & writeup
• Brainstorm video demo with storyboards or scripts (Optional)

Progress

• Expert interview with Jim
• Expert interview documentation with writings
• Thesis iteration conceptual model
• Thesis iteration wireframe sketches
• Outline thesis article & writeup
• Drafting video demo structure

Learnings

• Giving people an option to configure the tweet to be verifiable offers both flexibility and another lens for credibility
• Don't aim to use one solution to solve the problem 100%, but focus on the different insights each design concepts can bring to the users
• Hacker News, Reddit moderation model could be a reference to regulate users behaviors in the verification notes
• Combining friction with algorithm can help cut off a portion of users posting misinformation
• The success: the features help users enhance their understanding of the Twitter content, not necessarily finding the truth

Next Step

• Thesis UI
• Plan user testing for the next iteration
• Seek out for experts on social media, sociology, misinformation
• Continue thesis final post
• Brainstorm video demo with storyboards or scripts (Optional)

Progress

• Finalize interface
• Animate UI
• Drafting thesis post
• Drafting video demo structure

Learnings

This week is mostly about implementation and documentation.
Along this journey, I realized misinformation is a complicated problem and my design concepts are only the small portions of a wider range of approaches needed. My thesis mainly address the information consumers aspect, changing the way users react to information by redesigning the interactions. I should highlight this evaluation in my video and report.

Next Step

• Continue thesis final post
• Finish video draft
• Finish UI animation