2. Domain Study Research Paper

Guiding Question:

What are my interests areas and motivations as a designer that inspires my creative process? What are the steps to identifying and exploring those?



Discovery:

As I mentioned before, I’m quite influenced by social media and am looking to explore that as a domain. A specific aspect of social media that I’m highly interested in is memes. I feel memes are starting to take more and more space in our communications and the next big social media application would be about them. I have interviewed a few people about the influence of memes in their lives and have found some interesting points about how people interact with them. Though at this point I am not planning to limit myself to memes, and wish to explore social media as a broad domain. I feel social media as an area is also very interesting. It is increasingly taking up more and more time in everyday life and is responsible for a lot of technical innovations. And with the digital push of 2020, people are building even more digital social networks. Combining the domain with leading tech would be quite an interesting exploration. A resource that has been useful in learning trends and innovations in social media is a journal Social Media + Society, published under Sage Journals. They focus on the understanding of social media and its impact on societies of the present, past, and future. In a paper published in Sage Journals, the author reimagines the social media future in the context of privacy and data issues. They have talked about different products that media giants like Twitter and Facebook have launched which are using cutting-edge technologies to deliver more engaging services. As I continue to read this, it provides me with a great understanding of this domain. Moreover, being an academic research resource, I expect to gain an academic point of view while going through this, which can help supplement my maker knowledge.


In terms of scale, I’m thinking of building a series of small scale interactive products and see how they work out. My motivation to build small scale prototypes is heavily influenced by a resource that I’ve been following for some time - Experiments with Google. I connect a lot with some of the creative projects that people have uploaded there and I often find myself building stuff inspired by that. Though this has a lot of different collections, I find two in particular quite interesting - AI experiments and AR experiments. The projects in these collections are insightful and unique and directly lead me to my next interest area, technology.


I am also looking forward to exploring some technologies and building technically challenging projects using AR and/or ML. I strongly feel that technology is what completes me as a designer and I do not wish to leave that out of my project. And right now in the context of my project, the technologies that I’m most interested in are AR and ML. A lot of products are using such technologies to create engaging social experiences and I feel inspired by them. An interesting product I found, Octi.tv, that I’m considering as a precedent combines AR and Social media to build a social platform completely in AR. I think this is something very similar to what I want to make.



Analysis:

So to sum up, I’m trying to connect social media, tech, interactions, and build something on that. My emergent guiding questions are inspired by these interests. How is tech going to influence social media in years to come? How would the changes affect the user experience for consumers? While working in this domain, I wish to find answers to these questions. My motivations lie more in learning by doing, by delving headfirst into building things and finding answers to my questions along the way.


Though I’ve identified my interest areas and domains that I want to explore, I’m still unsure of what to build. I feel what lies ahead of me here is lots of research and exploration. Research in these particular questions will help me reach a conclusion on what to build. Going forward my plan is to conduct more research with the aim to narrow down my interest topics and find the project idea that I want to pursue. I want to do two-fold research, the first one that I’ve already been doing but feel is not enough, is into existing research materials and products and find out what has already been done. This will help me get inspiration and understanding of what exists out there. Secondly, I wish to research into people’s behaviors and understand how people are engaging with current leading tech products and services in the context of social media and see if any problem or issue stands out. From there I’ll try to pick the problem and start building a solution for that. I strongly want to see a fully formed product coming out of this which is fun to use and helps me explore this domain.



Reflection:

I feel this assignment helped me a lot in structuring my thought process and narrowing down on the next steps. Starting with different interest areas in terms of domains, technologies, etc helped me layout what all I feel excited about. This helped my research process also, as I was able to find research materials about those specific areas. Once I felt I was satisfied with my interest areas, I could start connecting them and figure out what next. I also feel that this will help me in guiding my research going forward as I’m finalizing a concept to explore.


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