The Family Scrapbook is the result of a long, winding process. Below, I will pinpoint its highlights. More information is available in the thesis paper.
I started off by a thorough investigation of family interactions. I had formal and informal interviews with nine people from Canada, USA, Israel, Japan, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and Latvia. The average age of the interviewees was 26, and they had been living away from their families for at least five years. Over the course of the year, after each design iteration, I would go back to my interviewees for feedback.
My investigation revolved around the following topics:
What is the family?
How do families communicate?
How does communication change in the presence of the distance factor?
I started the Family Scrapbook by sketching scenarios describing the user experience. I envisioned various circumstances of use, and explored various functionalities the application might feature.
In one of the first iterations, depicted in the photo scenario above, the Family Scrapbook lives on plethora of devices, such as the computer, the mobile or the TV. The application comes with a variety of props, allowing users to scan physical items or leave vocal messages by calling a specific phone number.
The san Siro exhibition
I presented a raw demo of my concept and a video scenario during the San Siro exhibition in Milan. I had to explain the idea to several people and be very specific about the differences between my system and the already-existing tools.
I made a low-fidelity application prototype to test the experience of using the Family Scrapbook. Would people go through the trouble of posting pictures for their families? Would they connect better when they were exposed to these photos?
The experience prototype could have confirmed my design concept or torn it to pieces.
Six families signed up for my experience prototype for three long weeks. The six families came from countries such as Canada, USA, England, Romania, Hong Kong and Serbia and Montenegro.
Each member or the six families received a mock-up of the real application, which was in fact a Flash file they would open locally. When new photos were uploaded, the Flash file would display them and family members would get new photos from their loved ones directly on their desktop.
I was the application engine behind the application. People would email me their photos, using a "send photos" button on the Flash file, and I would upload them on my personal web space, and I would tell the remote Flash files which photos to show.
The shoebox side of the application was also prototyped. By clicking on a picture on the local Flash file, people would be taken to a webpage that stored all the photos posted by the family up until that moment.
Three of the six families did not engage in the experiment. In all three cases, at least one member of each family posted a couple of images in the beginning. After a while of not receiving any pictures from the rest, they would lose motivation and would not even open the application.
The other three families were the complete opposite. They would send pictures as often as every day. On the average, each member of the three active families posted a picture every third day. They had engaged conversations about the photos and they even started emailing each other more.
The family scrapbook exhibited in turin lots of thanks toRalph Ammer for his programming help
The Family Scrapbook was showcased at IDIIís year-end show, Exit. The final prototype for the Family Scrapbook consisted of a standalone client application, created in Macromedia Director MX. Instances of the same application were running on several Apple computers, talking to each other with Macromedia's MultiUserXtra. Instead of exchanging information like image data with an Internet server, all applications were talking to an identical set of local images and only exchange names of images. This is how they would update each other about which files are uploaded and which are not yet.