Thesis: New Concept, User Testing, Name Brainstorming

Lots of updates this week. First of all, I've settled on a new concept— one that still incorporates the themes that I was interested in from the start, but is more concrete in approach. In retrospect, my 'dream review' doesn't make a ton of sense now that I've changed directions, but maybe it helped me arrive at my new idea? Still bothers me quite a bit that it's not consistent.


My new idea is to make a Mobile App that helps people share Geo-Located Mix Tapes. In other words, users could create and send mixes that were tied to a physical location. Perhaps one song is roughly at the intersection where you catch the bus, another is at school, another in the park. The recipient must travel the specified 'path' to 'pick up' the mix, hopefully resulting in a contextualization of space though audio and vice versa.

Here are some of my main points of interest/questions I hope to solve:

  • Social apps seem almost too social. Can a more intimate experience succeed?
  • Has technology made music sharing too fast/easy? Will people take time to participate in something more intimate, even if it takes more time? Where is that threshhold?
  • What exactly makes a mix intimate? Does everyone experience the same intimacy? What kinds of connections occur between two people as a result of a mix tape?
  • Is a mix tape considered a conversation, does it lead to a conversation, or neither?
  • Does audio help people explore geographic terrain?

My hunch is that what I'm describing is an intimate experience that probably varies between individuals. I have my own ideas of what I would build for myself and my friends, but I'd like this to be a tool for more people than that. That said, I'm not sure I'm completely concerned with marketability… I'm more interested in exploring and answering my above questions. 
So, it seemed a logical first step to start with User Testing as soon as possible. I sent the directions below to around 30 people:

  • Please make a mix for anyone you'd like.
  • The mix should include at least 5 songs.
  • The audio must be connected to physical space in some way (this could be one location, a path, whatever union you can think of)
  • The space must be immediately accessible to the recipient (for example, don't make me a mix that 'exists' in Sweden, but a road trip from Manhattan would be ok)
  • You must include a map with the mix, identifying which audio should be experienced where. (this can be a google map, printed with hand-drawn circles, whatever is easiest for you).
  • Please document the songs you chose, the map, and the presentation to the recipient (is it emailed? is it a physical cd? etc.), and send them to me!

So far, around ten people have agreed to participate. I have yet to receive any documentation, but I'm looking forward to seeing the different interpretations of the assignment! In addition, one person wrote back and said they found the assignment too difficult and absolutely didn't associate music with a physical space. I'm actually hoping I get some more responses that are similar (not too many of course, but it's nice to have different perspectives).


I'm assuming/hoping something insightful will come from User Testing that I can wrap into a name for my thesis, but, in the meantime, I've been brainstorming a little— mainly just to make the project seem more concrete. I don't have anything polished, but some of the brainstorming has led me to think about how my project will be used/viewed. For example, the word 'hunt' suggests a game-like approach. 'Dance' is significant to one way music is seen, but may be limiting. I like the visual imagery of a path, a string, a strand, and a series of links. This is all very rough, but it's where my head is at the moment.