For this assignment you will design a culture probe “kit” and send it to 3 different people who you think fit your target audience.  While culture probes are meant to be vague and exploratory, you do want there to be some driver behind the probe.  Consider areas of research like:

  • People who use coffee shops as their office space
  • How people make friends after college (How do people meet new people?)
  • What kind of activities promote emotional experiences in public places
  • How do creative people come up with new ideas

But come up with your own.  Try to find something that is interesting to you.  You kit should include at least 3 different “activities.”  Here are some sample activities:

  • Maps.  You can ask people things like: mark where you spend a lot of time.  Mark where you’d like to spend more time.  Mark where you go to do XYZ.  Mark where you’d rather do XYZ.  Mark an evil place.  Mark a powerful place.  Mark somewhere to hide.  Mark the best place for a party.  Mark somewhere you are a member.
  • Pre-stamped post cards / photographs.  Images can get people to think about specific things or be used as metaphor.  Include a question on the back, but be sure to leave plenty of room for the person to answer.  Such as: What does this remind you of, word associations, place associations, draw a journey, etc.  You can get cheap 4×6 digital prints of images from CVS/walgreens online.
  • Disposable Camera.  You can put a numbered list on the camera of photo prompts for each photo, like: something beautiful, something ugly, an interaction, my most useful tool, my quiet place, a friend, your clothes for today, something desirable, something you want to get rid of, where you live, something boring, etc.
  • Smell jar.  A jar to hold a scent someone likes, or would like to carry around with them.  Also a label for what the scent is.
  • Diary.  An empty note pad with pre dated pages and an open ended reflective question for each day.
  • Clay.  A small package of self drying or oven bake clay for participants to sculpt a 3D object related to your line of inquiry.  An amulet for protect, for good luck, to give away, etc.
  • Drawing.  A black sheet to draw a reaction to a provided prompt.
  • Timeline.  A blank time line for participants to fill in the structure of their week, just a day, or a certain part of their life.
  • Other.  Discuss with the professor.

Remember to make these activities fun for people.  Think of them as making a game, engaging a conversation, making a friend, and giving a gift rather than as a chore or assignment.  Check out PlaceBase (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for an overview of culture probes and a detailed explanation of the items they chose to include in theirs.  Also, see Gaver’s follow up article on culture probesPreview the documentView in a new window that explains why they are meant to be unscientific.  In choosing and designing the activities plan on your participants having about two weeks to complete all of the tasks and return the materials.

Submit a PDF document that includes a photo of your kit, a description of each activity you included, and why you included that activity (what information do you hope to get from it).  ProbeYourName.pdf