Post 5: Interview / Splurge or Save / Housing Search

Interview — Housing Affordability

In my interview I endeavoured to find out how much my interviewee knew about housing affordability in Sydney. I uncover the interviewees plans and hopes for their future in regards to housing as well as finding out their opinions about foreign buyers and high density living.

A transcript of the interview is accessible here!

Probe 1 — splurge or save?

splurge or save? — a probe
splurge or save? — detail of probe

The first probe I designed is called ‘splurge or save?’. It is a small docket-style booklet that asks the user to document their expenses and income every day for a week. The aim of this probe is to understand the spending and saving habits of the user. In doing so, there is the potential to put into perspective how that particular user may maintain or adjust their habits to better save for their housing expenses.

This is a link to the blank probe booklet.

This is a link to the response I received.

I have visualised the response in the image below. What is important to note is that the user noted a $2000 expense for university fees. As this is a one-off large payment and not a weekly expense, I have presented it as a separate entity from the other everyday expenses in the top graph. The bottom graph only compares the income and everyday expenses to put into perspective how much the user spends and saves on average each week excluding any one-off expenses.

Splurge or Save Results
splurge or save? — a probe

Probe 2 — Housing Research

Housing Search — a survey
Looking to Rent — part of the ‘Housing Search’ survey

I was hoping to get a few people to fill in the ‘splurge or save?’ probe however I was advised against this as a lot of people feel uncomfortable disclosing their expenses and income. So I opted to create another probe that would be fun and less intrusive. I came up with a survey that asks people to consider whether they would rent or buy a property to live in. They are then asked a series of questions prior to conducting market research in order to gauge what their expectations are. I then ask them to see if they can find a property currently on the market that meets their expectations and to comment on their findings.

Ideally if I were to do this task again, I would ask a lot more people to participate in order to gather a larger data set. I would also try to establish a completely anonymous online probe similar to the ‘Splurge or Save’ income/expenses probe, so that more people would feel comfortable to participate and disclose their data.

Survey Responses:

Response 1 — Response 2 — Response 3 — Response 4 — Response 5


Conclusions — 5 Point Summary

1. It’s just not a priority.

My interviewee made it clear that moving out of home, whilst desirable, is not a priority for them. They are most excited to travel, “I mean ideally if I had like the kind of job that would earn me enough money, I would totally move out and like live by myself. But with the situation at the moment, it would just be travelling.” As a result, my interviewee has not been motivated to research or engage with the issue of housing affordability. Additionally, they have not started any budget or savings plan to assist them with renting or buying a property in the future.

2. One day…

My interviewee explained that whilst they wouldn’t mind high density living as an affordable option, they do hope to buy a detached house one day. The thought of having to raise a family in an apartment bothered them greatly. “That would be struggle street man. Isn’t that how they live in Hong Kong and China? They have an issue with space, and they have all these high-rises of apartment blocks, and these apartment blocks, they’re so tiny…It would suck especially if you have a family.” Often dubbed the Great Australian Dream, home ownership and having a backyard is an ideal for raising kids, “I’d like them to have the experience of having the space to do things.”

3. Majority Rules Rents!

My interviewee explained that when they first move out of home in the near future, given the increasingly high property prices, renting would be the way to go. “I feel like that amount of money, I think above at least $400,000 or even $200,000, that seems like an impossible amount for me at this stage only just because I’m still a student trying to find a job and whatever. So renting would be more of like a thing I’m thinking about.”

The response to the ‘splurge or save?’ probe, shows that the user saved $387.85 during the week that the probe was conducted. If they were to save for a $200,000 home it would take them approximately 10 years to accumulate that sum. Of course there are a multitude of factors that can affect this calculation. For example, they may enter the workforce and earn a higher income or they may receive financial assistance from their family or the bank. Based on the data provided however, it appears that renting would be a more viable option for the user at this current stage of their life.

It is interesting to note that in the Housing Research survey, 4 out of 5 respondents said they would rent rather than buy. It is important to note however that they are all students 20-21 years of age. The only respondent who was interested in buying is 26 and in the workforce. This may be because the 26 year old has had a few more years to save and budget to buy a property.

4. Two is better than one

3 out of 5 respondents stated that they would be looking to move in with a partner to share the total costs of buying or renting a property. By sharing a bedroom, couples can save money by only needing a one bedroom property and splitting the costs. One respondent said they would live in a share house if living by themselves was too expensive.

5. Not far = No car!

All 5 survey respondents said that they would want to live near public transport and/or near shops. In doing so, there is less need for a car, which can be expensive to buy and maintain. At the same time, 4 of those respondents said they would prefer their property to also have parking spaces. Perhaps this is because although they would prefer to use public transport as it is generally less expensive than driving a car, having a car can be convenient if travelling to places not serviced by public transport.


Post Five: Are junk emails trustworthy?

To appeal to a target group of 18-28 year olds, a set of five questions were devised in order to determine how much knowledge a member of this said target audience has on the topic of data surveillance and online privacy. These questions, acting more as conversation starters than direct questions, provided a much more personal insight into the data world in relation to the secondary research carried out previously.

Interview Questions:

  1. Have you ever received a scam email? Describe its contents.
  2. How did you know this was a scam or a legitimate email? What features gave this away?
  3. Do you think people should have the same level of privacy for their belongings and assets online as they do with belongings and assets in real life? 
  4. Who should be at fault if someone falls for a scam email or similar? The person who clicks the links, or the person who creates the links?
  5. Do you go to any lengths to ensure your privacy/safety online? (e.g using separate emails, not using location services, covering webcams/microphone).

The interview questions were asked to a peer not currently researching data surveillance and online privacy and therefore the answers were somewhat cautious and guarded as they could only relate to personal experience or what they had seen recently in current affairs rather than in-depth secondary research on the topic. This garnered a much more ‘real life’ response to the questions and issues presented which is extremely useful to understand and consider when investigating the topic of data surveillance and online privacy as a whole.

Interview Responses:

  1. Haven’t received any to my direct inbox, only to my junk mail inbox. They usually say “you’ve won money” etc.
  2. I didn’t recognise the sender of the email and I hadn’t entered my details into anything that related to the email. It’s all about reliability.
  3. Facebook and Google are all about tailored advertising which is creepy and an invasion of privacy – people should be asked if something is going to be seen elsewhere on the internet. However, the same people are usually those who illegally download so I guess it works both ways.
  4. If it is something recognisably fake or something that looks explicitly like a scam then it’s your fault as you should be more aware. But if the scam looks real then it isn’t so much your fault but there should be more privacy awareness around the issue – just depends on the situation.
  5. I have an AdBlocker on my laptop which prevents a lot of things like tailored advertising etc. Always have social media accounts on private. I try not to use geotagging on images on Instagram or Facebook. I don’t visit untrustworthy sites.

From these responses, I decided to investigate the scam email issue further by attempting to discover if people actually trusted any junk emails they were sent. I conducted a probe kit to be filled out over a week and garnered the response shown below.

probe 1
Instructions provided for the scam email probe kit
Response from the scam email probe kit after one week

After receiving the probe kit back, I realised my instructions could have been more detailed and should have included a section to write why the particular email was deemed trustworthy or not. This would have provided a better insight into the aesthetic features of emails that some are so quickly to write off as scams. Despite this minor failure, I was able to understand that people do have the ability to determine whether or not they trust an email or not and this opens up a whole new argument of why some users are so well-informed in this area and why some users are not informed at all; an area which I will be researching further.

Five Point Summary:

  1. People definitely have the ability to determine the trustworthiness of an email.
  2. The emails the user marked as trustworthy were from well-known senders which obviously influenced this tick of approval.
  3. Junk/scam emails are definitely more common to receive in the junk email folder than ‘trustworthy’ emails (as suspected). I’m interested to know if there is an algorithm that determines this.
  4. Junk emails aren’t always scam emails – the probe kit should have asked the user to actually determine if the email was a scam email (fraudulent etc) not just a junk or spam email.
  5. The probe kit should have specified to include a reason behind why they listed an email as trustworthy or not – this would have then been great to test on other groups to see if the reasons were similar.

Header Image
Email sourced from a personal account

By Chloe Schumacher

Fast food and fast judgement; an interview

annie_food-676x450Fast food and fast judgement by Epoch Times, 2015

Post five

By Marie Good

Recently I was able to conduct an interview with a class peer of mine who provided me with some interesting insights into the way she views Australia’s health an obesity status. My interviewee is from China and due to this, her knowledge of Australia’s status was based primarily on her relation and experience with an Asian lifestyle. At the end of the interview I was interested in her personal position in regards to her food intake, due to her knowledge and access to a culturally different society than myself.

We firstly discussed her view on Australia’s health and obesity status in general which she considered was quite healthy because of it’s access to organic produce and ability to produce and market it’s own, home-grown food. However, she thought there might be a problem in regards to our junk food saturated market. On pushing this further it was revealed the real reason she developed these views is because of the amount of red meat and fatty, cholesterol contributing processed foods Australia consumes compared Asia. She also touched on the increasing amount of alternate, labelled lifestyles popping up vigorously of modern times such as veganism and vegetarian, continuing to state, ‘for me, I am from Asia and people there like to eat more vegetables, grains and not so much red meat. As a result I think this is reflected in their weight.’

Her answer was very interesting and led me into asking what this statement meant for her stereotype of an unhealthy person, which she responded to as someone who is fat. I consider this quite an interesting take on society’s perception of what it means to be unhealthy. For example, when it comes to matters of the metabolism, which is the major consideration factor for the influence of fat distribution in our human biology, many people think slim people with a lower body mass index (BMI) are at less risk of developing health complications. This is a debatable topic in regards to body types, genetics and our body’s individuality in the matter.

We moved onto the area of what need to be changed in order to alter the way Australia is heading with fast food markets on the rise. My interviewee answered that current fast food companies need to consider making the change to using healthier ingredients. I suggested the idea of healthy fast food chains as an option to which she did not see much success in, commenting that, ‘such a fast change would not be successful, this is why we should try implementing small changes to the system and hope for the best.’

Throughout our discussion it was evident my interviewee’s knowledge of the obesity and healthy living topic was based on her own personal experiences. It made me view each individual as having almost an umbrella of knowledge, mostly only extending towards what they have personally accepted within their life circumstances.

I followed the interview by assigning a research probe activity to my interviewee with the following tasks:

  1. Keep a food diary for a day and record what you eat.
  2. Draw or write a list of healthy and unhealthy foods and write why you think this way.

The results from this probe task displayed a fairly low calorie yet heavily processed diet, with much noodles and low GI foods, however medium amounts of protein and fats to promote feelings on content and fullness. The list generated for both healthy and unhealthy foods mainly showed my interviewees knowledge of ‘healthy’ as being associated with vitamins and energy production whereas unhealthy was associated with traditional Chinese thoughts, particularly on cold drinks being bad for women, fast food, high amounts of oils and a lack of fresh quality. One area of insight from this probe task was seeing ‘cake’ and rice listed under healthy due to its ability to create energy. This clashes with ideas I hold towards cake and rice, as nutritionally, this energy is sourced from insulin release associated with large amounts of high GI carbohydrates (such as sugar, predominantly). It’s further pondered my thinking into why individuals view healthy lifestyles the way they do, the reasons behind it and the associations they make.

Five key points from both of these exercises to summarise my findings are:

  • Australia has a high junk food saturated market with too much heavy meat and not enough vegetables, unlike those of Asian countries
  • Most people perceive being unhealthy as someone who is overweight
  • In order to change the decline of Australia’s health and obesity status, fast food companies should undertake slow change to become more healthy and responsible towards their part in the problem.
  • Individuals have almost an umbrella of knowledge, mostly only extending towards what they have personally accepted or experienced within their life circumstances
  • Many people go by what others have told them are healthy and unhealthy foods but don’t go further into why this may be the case or how they have been classified in that way


Reference list

Epoch Times, 2015, The Western Diet Is So Unhealthy, It’s Affecting Our Eyes, Epoch Times, date viewed 27 August 2016, < >.

 Lam, Y., Y. 2016, pers. comm., 16 August.

Post Four: Branger Briz’s Probe Kit

Branger Briz, an interactive design studio based in Miami, created Probe Kit in 2015 in collaboration with fellow software designer Brannon Dorsey. A satirical prototype, Probe Kit is able to show all the recent wifi connections from any digital device and displays data including pin pointing where the wifi hotspot was located on a map.

[Branger Briz 2015]

Each device shows up on the interface of anyone who has the Probe Kit software as a coloured butterfly – so as the more devices in the area, the more coloured butterflies appear on screen. The user is then able to use this data to understand the daily routine and frequented locations of each individual they are tracking including their favourite coffee shops, their work place, nearby shopping centres and even their home address. It collects device information, vendor information and local networks and migration patterns as explored above and shown below.

Probe Kit interface displaying vendor information, local networks and migration patterns [Branger Briz 2015]

The purpose of the piece is to inform users of any digital device of how easy it can be for a hacker to access personal information; “aimed at illustrating how simple it is to collect personal network data and how much can be inferred from that data” (Branger Briz 2015). Although designed only to show ease of access to networks, the piece can also be used to investigate suspicious activities of friends or family as seen below through these frequented or even random wifi logins.

“If a wife were suspicious about her husband, she could check the queries his cell phone was making and see if his past logins square with places she’d expect him to visit (around work and home). Does he have a lot of inexplicable logins in Greenpoint, for example? Because everyone knows there’s only one reason to go to Greenpoint.”
[Dale 2015]

Looking at Branger Briz’s Probe Kit briefly it is easy say that a laptop and some form of code that incorporates GPS tracking are the main materials or technologies utilised which isn’t completely incorrect, but there is much more involved. Probe Kit can be broken down into three main functions in the code. The first being ‘probe requests’ and this comes from each device already broadcasting the network names they have connected to (for example the wifi network list on a mobile phone). The second function is ‘monitor mode’ in which Probe Kit sets your device to automatically decode the probe requests within a certain distance around your device; so it can automatically access information from devices within this distance. The final function of the code is the ‘data inference’ which utilises geotagging and a MAC or Media Access Control address (very similar to a serial number and represents a single device). These are able to accumulate extreme pieces of information about devices and their respective owners in a nearby radius. Each single device is then represented on the users’ screen as a single coloured butterfly as shown in the gif below. The larger the butterfly, the more network connections it has; meaning more data can be scraped and investigated.

Probe Kit interface displaying nearby devices represented as coloured butterflies [Branger Briz 2015]

Through this code, the user is then able to save devices they have inquired about, filter their search and then cross-reference their data collection with collated data from other cities or areas. Although the idea for Probe Kit was original and innovative, the code itself was built using script from a range of pre-existing projects or script libraries such as Wireshark, Node.js, NW.js, and MapBox. This adds to the emergent practice nature of the design as it is able to use new and existing technologies to create something extremely innovative.

Initially designed, as mentioned above, to illustrate the simplicity of collecting personal network data, Branger Briz has made Probe Kit available to the general public to download and use for personal use and to further emphasise this very idea of how easily data can be accessed. The code is available on Github (a site for online hosting and discussion) and provides a step-by-step tutorial of how to go about downloading the data tracking software onto a personal device.

Code for installation of Probe Kit available on GitHub [GitHub 2015]

Probe Kit emphasises and dramatises just how easy it is for hackers to access large amounts of rather personal information. But although this has been carried out in a less threatening fashion, these vulnerabilities should not be ignored and users should be cautiously aware of just how much personal data can be accessed so seamlessly.


Branger Briz 2015, Probe Kit, viewed 20 August 2016, <>.

Branger_Briz 2015, Probe Kit, videorecording, Vimeo, viewed 20 August 2016, <>.

Dale, B. 2015, ‘Hackers Map the Travels of Passers-By in Eye-Catching Art Installation’, Observer, 9 March, viewed 19 August 2016, <>.

Dorsey, B. 2015, ProbeKit, GitHub, viewed 20 August 2016, <>.

Gosling, E. 2015, Online privacy, oversharing and tech that’s beautiful: Frequency brings us them all, It’s Nice That, viewed 20 August 2016, <>.

Header image
Branger Briz 2016, Branger Briz, viewed 20 August 2016, <>.

By Chloe Schumacher