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Rizwan Ansary

Assignment 8

Questions from your perspective as a role-play participant:

What were your impressions of your role-play experience?

The PITA board demo that we were shown in the second class was not as interesting but using it personally was a lot more interesting than the demo. It was also an informative exercise in how to solve problems that concern common interests. I also learntsome of the issues that are involved in solving problems like these. On a separate note, I would like to know more technical details about how the PITA board works.

Were there any aspects of the role play that made you apprehensive?

Before the class, I was concerned that I might not play my role well if I did not correctly understand how the whole appliaction works. I think the application was not hard to figure out so this concern was addressed. Had it not been however, then the eventual bus route would have probably not been suitable for a certain class of passengers.

Did you feel that the role play contained any elements of what real users from a real neighborhood working on a real problem might have experienced?

Yes, there were disgruntled users and conflict of interests which eventually come up in any such kind of a "town meeting".

What do you think might have been lacking from the experience that would have existed in a real situation rather than a role play?

A "less" accomodating attitude was missing. In a real situation, one would be less accomodating to other people's concern and more loyal to his own interests even if they are in conflict with some other person's interests. However, being a role-player I had the liberty of thinking for everyone at times, a liberty I would rather pass in a real situation.

Were there any ways that the technology aided you in reaching a decision? Were there any ways that it impeded the process?

It was helpful to see a lot of relevant information (age, family situation, distance preferences etc.) displayed about each user. The tool also helps in getting a true assessment of the situation.
It does not help us in resolving conflicts; we have to go back to the human process for that. At times, it became very crowded at the board, especially in the initial phases of information input. This becomes an even bigger problem for larger groups.

Questions from a designer's perspective

Do you feel that there is any merit to this form of assessment compared to more traditional isolated task-oriented methods?

As I opined earlier, the tool gives a much better assessment of the whole task at hand. So there is definitely merit in this form.

What insights do you think that might be gleaned from using this technique that other techniques might miss?

Quoting from the assignment web-page;
"Transportation planners have decided to try to change the existing route to better serve the needs of the neighborhood..."
The collaborative nature of the technique ensures that we have access to a large screen at all times that constantly displays and updates all individual as well as common concerns of the neighborhood. Assuming that "other" techniques are "traditional isolated task-oriented methods", I believe that they lack the size and coverage of the screen provided by the said collaborative method.

What limits do you see to the technique?

I do not see any limitations in the underlying technique of collaboration. Infact, I believe that actual route planners do incorporate some level of collaboration in their activities. However, the more specific tool (Pita board) suffers from a scalability problem. Also, being fun to use might be a distraction from the real issue, atleast in the begining. The inability to compare various options (routes in this case) based on different cost metrics is also a shortcoming that can be addressed.

What aspects of the design do you think could be added, removed, or improved to better support the desired participatory outcomes of the process? These can be related to the technology, the social setup, the information provided, the process followed, or other aspects that you think are important.

It would be helpful to compare different routes based on their feasibility, accesibility and many other cost metrics.
Also, we have a better chance of having a representative cross section of users if different people play the same role at each meeting. This would bring more concerns to the fore. Also, by manipulating the profiles of each role according to certain situations (e.g snow, public holiday etc.) would bring out more interesting concerns. In other words, making the very same roles situation-specifc would help in learning about people's concerns.

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