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Andrew Skalet


1. My impression was that while it is easy to emulate the obvious concerns of a specified character, it is more difficult to determine what detailed objections or suggestions a specific person might make. This is an issue faced by any representative of a group, but many representatives spend time with their constituents, interviewing them or listening to their recommendations. due to the constraints of this role-playing, we were unable to do that, which limited effectiveness somewhat.

2. The only element that made me a little apprehensive is that it is hard to represent a person's needs in detail, when the character is specified in a fairly limited way.

3. I think the role play included some elements of what real users would exerience, yes. For instance, a person who has a car will be less concerned about the bus route being convienient, and a person who comes to the town to relax will be concerned about noise.

4. As alluded to above, I think there are elements of actually living in a neighborhood that everyone would understand, that might guide the discussion. for instance, the understanding that the northwest area is more convenient to shopping, or bus stops need to be well lit in the south area because of increased crime. while these could be incorporated into the simulation, it would be difficult to tease out all of the shared understandings that residents have.

5. The technology certainly helped by enabling visualization of participants' houses, the bus route, frequency of buses, walking radius of people, and more. It would be difficult to visualize all these factors in a timeframe reasonable to residents, with paper maps or whiteboards. The only way I noticed that the technology can impede the process is that people get wrapped up in the "gee-whiz" factor of the technology, so they get distracted from the problem at hand. Perhaps this is a greater problem with computer science students than it would be with average citizens, but I do not know for sure.


1. Yes, I definitely feel there is benefit from allowing normal citizens to visualize their goals together.

2. Other techniques could easily miss that there is a densely populated area very far from any bus stop, for example. laying it out on the board in front of the stakeholders is a big enhancement.

3. One challenge I see with the technique is making average people comfortable with using it so they can move on to solve their problem and not worry about the technology itself. I am sure the developers of the project have much experience with this, having seen different types of people in action with the technology.

4. In this specific role play, I think the information provided about each specific character should be more detailed. The social setup is good, but it seems that a more structured process is needed to keep the discussion on track. In particular, since the role players here are not real stakeholders, they are not as motivated as one would hope to come to an agreeable design for all. However, I imagine that bringing people to a conclusion is difficult with real stakeholders as well, so a structured process would probably still be valuable.

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