This post will underscore some of my key findings from the conducted interview and probe. The questions were centred around general conceptions of homelessness and technology in the homeless sphere.
INTERVIEW KEY FINDINGS:
How would you describe homelessness? Someone who doesn’t have a home, is living in on the street, in an area that they do not identify as their own. The degree to which a person is homeless is dependent on whether they are living on the street, car or friends couch.
I found it interesting that the respondent immediately identified the phenomenon of ‘invisible homelessness’ – living somewhere other than the street. In starting out this process it wasn’t a term or idea that I had originally considered. Perhaps my preconception doesn’t align with the population on a whole.
How do you react when you see someone living on the street? First reaction is shock, then empathy. Not really sure how to react; should I be helping them or should I be ignoring them? The social norm is to avoid eye contact and walk quickly past despite feeling bad doing this.
I think this reaction is fairly unsurprising as much of the stigma towards homelessness generates the idea that they can’t be helped.
What do you see as the biggest causes of homelessness? Financial, can’t pay their rent, familial situations, personal issues.
Could these causes be a threat to anyone? It is harder for people from a wealthy family to fall into homelessness.
Many of the respondents answers align with my misconceptions about the homeless space before I started this research project. I was of the naive belief that being homeless was a choice. I have since learnt that a lot of my early misconceptions about homelessness are shared by the population at large – an education process is essential in solving the homeless crisis.
Have you ever considered the importance of technology in the homeless sphere? The general social perception is that if they can’t afford a home, they can’t afford technology. However, occasionally I have seen homeless people with little devices.
With government resources being primarily online, how important do you think technology would be to you if you were homeless? I would want to be accessing the services but this might simply not be possible. Because the homeless community is a minority, it would most likely be harder for the government to accommodate to them. I wouldn’t see needing to access internet and technology as an essential if I were homeless.
It was interesting to hear that the respondent placed technology to a lower importance than housing. In a lot of my research technology is largely considered to be a life-line for people living on the streets. Technology forms yet another point of misconception to individuals living on the streets.
CREATING A DESIGN PROBE:
Probes weren’t a design response that I had initially known much about. Coming up with a probe at a moments notice was hence very difficult and I wasn’t happy with my original idea. Originally, I asked the respondent to record the ways they use technology for navigation and finding food within a week. I quickly determined that this wouldn’t yield particularly interesting or pertinent information.
My altered design probe requested the respondent to watch the following video and record 10 words that immediately came to mind:
The respondent wrote the following ten words: sick, sad, disgusting, surprising, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, solutions, choice?, community.
It was interesting to see that she wrote ‘surprising’ as the homeless are not generally well regarded in common society. Additionally ‘choice?’ was interesting as it is rather ambiguous and might align with my original thoughts that homelessness is a choice.
Whilst some of the words she responded with were interesting, many are quiet generic and to yield more interesting results in future, it might have been better better for her to generate a statement on homelessness following the video.
In conclusion, I really liked generating data first hand and think this would provide some interesting conclusions to map and visualise research.