After collecting feedbacks for the second version of the bird cage device, we discovered the following issues regarding its design:
- The interaction between the users and the project is flat, as the device only takes in one user input (which is assigning topics to the cages) and respond only once, regardless of how fancy the response looks.
- The previous design makes a metaphor between tweets from Tweeter and the shape of bird cage, which make some sense. But this is mostly a connection based on the visual aspects of the two, rather than the tangible aspects – in other words, how a user is actually interacting with the physical form of a bird cage, the space that the cage occupies, and the bird inside the cage, etc., is not considered throughly enough.
After some discussion with Nick during the weekend, we decided to throw away the idea to make a physical representation of Twitter API by weighting how many people tweets on two given topics, and switch to focus on one of the actions that are most important for a person to own a bird cage – to put a bird into the cage. Based on this, we made a cardboard prototype to simulate a bird luring process. By throwing in hashtags of a topic on Twitter, we will lure an invisible bird that represents the Twitter data on this topic into the bird cage.
Following this design and a quick feedback from Tom, we further discussed what are the possible interactions that can both take advantage of people’s bird keeping behavior, and at the same time connects it to some intellectual activities that cannot be achieved by merely keeping a physical bird from the nature. I realized that since the bird is a representation of Twitter data, it is also a representation of the public’s opinion of a topic.
In the real world, by feeding the bird with some food and observing how the bird react to that food, we can know whether the bird likes it or not. In the same sense, if we feed the public data bird with a particular kind of thinking, by observing the bird’s reaction, we can have a physical glimpse into the public’s opinion or attitudes towards that thinking.
Further, I realized that this provides an opportunity for us to measure or rethink how our perceptions of social phenomenon are different from the larger public. Living in a physical environment, the opinions we possess are inevitably influenced by the people we engage with on a daily basis. For instance, the result of the recent midterm election in New York turned out to be quite different from a lot of people’s prediction at NYU. As someone who lives in a liberal community inside a liberal state, it is not uncommon that she/he’s gauging of the public’s attitude is somewhat biased. And this provides a good opportunity for us to reveal this bias through our feeding action with a public data bird.
So for version 3, we’re planning to create an invisible bird that allows users to guess and reflect on the guessing about public’s attitudes towards controversial topics on social media, as shown below: