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Paper Prototyping the Interactions with a Memory Tree

The interaction between people with their memory trees plays an important role in this project. To figure out whether or not my proposed solution for the memory tree interface made sense, I did some participatory design using a paper prototype.

The Toolkit
My participatory design toolkit consisted of the following:

  • Memory Tree – various sizes to simulate growth
  • Memory Labels – annotate what memory each memory branch represents
  • Accessible Memories
  • Inaccessible Memories
  • Branches – used to group memories and to connect to other relevant memories left behind by others
Paper prototype toolkit for participatory design

Paper prototype toolkit for participatory design1

Process
After briefly explaining the scenario, I gave each participant the following tasks:

  1. Populate the tree with a couple of memories using the toolkit provided.
  2. How would you respond to a memory left behind by someone else?
  3. What happens to a person’s memory tree when you tag that person to a memory in your tree?

Findings with Dave
Dave approached the prototype with the idea that his memories would be broken down into the following hierarchy:

  1. location (tree)
  2. spaces (branch)
  3. memories (leaves)

The first example he cited that happened to fit this model was his parent’s home. This was a result of me forgetting to mention that this takes place within the context of a city where not all locations have well-defined spaces. Nevertheless, he proceeded and the following insights were a result of the exercise:

  • This approach of breaking down a memory becomes complex instantly. It’s no longer a tree of memories, but a web of branches. Too many tiers to deal with. The example that was brought up, house > room > toy box > toy. It’s like the reversal of a memory palace.
  • Does turning off memories after accessing them an attempt to get people to look at all other available memories?
  • It’s very important to establish and visualize which branch is the original branch that all subsequent branches are branching off of.
  • How can turning on and off memories create a conversation between people tagged to a memory?
Dave breaking down his memories by location, space, and memory

Dave breaking down his memories by location, space, and memory

For Dave, trunk = house, branch = room, memory = power climbing truck

For Dave, trunk = house, branch = room, memory = power climbing truck

Findings with Will

  • It’s important to clarify that everyone has their own Story Forest.
  • Why would someone want to access their memory again if they’ve accessed it already? What if we make a memory inaccessible for a year after accessing it?
Most of what Will did aligned with my original solution

Most of what Will did aligned with my original solution

Sub-branches are formed as a result of the triggers present in the original memory

Sub-branches are formed as a result of the triggers present in the original memory

Wrapping It Up
I realized that during this exercise, it was really important to clarify that each person has their own Story Forest. While a person can create trees and memories in their own forest, other people can also contribute to that person’s forest by tagging them in their own memories.

How a shared memory in a person's forest contributes to another person's forest

How a shared memory in a person's forest contributes to another person's forest

Also, since each person has their own Story Forest, the accessibility of memories of one forest are independent from another. Continuing from the example above, after I view the memory that my brother indirectly added (step 3-4) to my tree via tagging, I would not be able to access that memory for another year. Meanwhile, this would not affect the accessibility of the memory on my brother’s tree.

Overall, I think the interaction between people and their Story Forests (as seen above) creates a support structure that motivates and incentivizes them to help each other to achieve their goals. This conclusion would not have been possible if it weren’t for Dave and Will asking about how one’s action affected another.

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  • 17 Mar 2011

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