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inter-generational communication   

This project explored new ways to encourage communication across generations. We started with a broad ethnographic-style study investigating current communication practices across generation and distance. From this, we were inspired to create the Serendipitous Family Stories system that allowed for family members to leave short video stories in places in the world for relatives to find serendipitously as they walked past these locations. After observing how that system worked in the field, we created a public beta called StoryPlace.me which allows anyone to create a location based story. We also have partnered with professional content producers such as PBS stations to provide historical content. This journey that started with exploring inter-generational communication has led us to create a generic platform for location-based video delivery.

Summary Paper:
StoryPlace.me: The path from studying elder communication to a public location-based video service. Frank Bentley and Santosh Basapur. CHI 2012 Case Study. May 2012

elder communication study
GENERATIVE RESEARCH (2010)

As the population ages and generations are more likely to move apart, we were interested in the ways that families stay connected to each other over generations and distance. To explore this, we recruited 10 families with parents/grandparents in Central Florida and children/grandchildren in the Chicago metro area. Through interviews and three weeks of communication logging, we were able to understand motivations to communicate as well as what current technologies allowed. After completing an affinity analysis of the results, we identified a set of design recommendations for inter-generational communication as well as dozens of design ideas for new concepts. The design recommendations were:
  • Communication should evoke family history/shared memories
  • Communication should be integrated into everyday life
  • Communication technologies should recreate feelings of being together
Concepts included Serendipitous Family Stories which is detailed below.

Publications:
StoryPlace.me: The path from studying elder communication to a public location-based video service. Frank Bentley and Santosh Basapur. CHI 2012 Case Study. May 2012

serendipitous family stories
CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT (2010)

We were inspired by an incident observed in the Elder Communication Study where a participant was passing by a theater when she remembered that it was a place where her grandfather used to dance when he was on military leave and took a picture of this to share with her mom. This got us thinking about all of the location-based family stories that each of us has and how to create a system that could help people stumble upon these stories, much like our participant did when she walked past the theater. From there, we used our design principles from this study and designed the Serendipitous Family Stories system. Family members could record video on the web and save it to a location using a Google map. Relatives would receive a vibration on their mobile phone when they happened to walk near the location of a story and then they could watch the video when they arrived at the location where it was saved. The application also supports lightweight communication (likes, sending a text, or making a phone call) from a story screen.

We tested this application in the lives of 10 participants who lived in Chicago and had older relatives living in South Florida who once lived in Chicago. These relatives created stories about their lives growing up in the city and participants in Chicago used the mobile phone application for one month in daily life to discover these family stories. The system made participants feel closer to their relatives, helped them to learn more about each other, led them to see the hidden family history in places that they pass everyday, and led to increased family communication throughout the month.

Publications:
Promoting intergenerational communication through location-based asynchronous video communication. Frank R. Bentley, Santosh Basapur, Sujoy Kumar Chowdhury. UbiComp '11 Proceedings of the 13th international conference on Ubiquitous computing, 2011

StoryPlace.me: The path from studying elder communication to a public location-based video service. Frank Bentley and Santosh Basapur. CHI 2012 Case Study. May 2012.

From the Small to the Large: Learnings from the deploument of Serendipitous Family Stories/StoryPlace.me. Frank Bentley, Santosh Basapur, and William Hamilton. Ubicomp 2011 Workshop on Research in the Large. September, 2011.

Reminiscing Through Location-based Asynchronous Video Communication. Frank Bentley, Santosh Basapur, and Sujoy Kumar Chowdhury. CHI 2011 Workshop on Bridging Practices, Theories, and Technologies to Support Reminiscence. May, 2011.

Serendipitous family stories: using findings from a study on family communication to share family history. Frank R. Bentley, Sujoy Kumar Chowdhury. Ubicomp '10 Proceedings of the 12th ACM international conference adjunct papers on Ubiquitous computing, 2010

Patents:
Application Filed

StoryPlace.me
PRODUCT (2011-PRESENT)

After observing how participants used Serendipitous Family Stories, we saw the opportunity for opening the system to the public and allowing users to create location-based stories for anyone. We also saw potential uses beyond the original goal of inter-generational communication to learning about places in the city and creating stories to document activities for friends and family.

To further explore this, we created a public-beta version of Serendipitous Family Stories called StoryPlace.me that allows anyone to create an account and share stories with friends/family as well as follow public collections of stories from professional content sources or other users. We partnered with several PBS stations and city governments to include professionally-produced content about the history of various landmarks as well as special event information for particular city locations. These collections are available for users when they first join the service in order to better understand how location-based storytelling works as well as to give them new ways to explore their cities.

Publications:
StoryPlace.me: The path from studying elder communication to a public location-based video service. Frank Bentley and Santosh Basapur. CHI 2012 Case Study. May 2012.

From the Small to the Large: Learnings from the deploument of Serendipitous Family Stories/StoryPlace.me. Frank Bentley, Santosh Basapur, and William Hamilton. Ubicomp 2011 Workshop on Research in the Large. September, 2011.

milgram map revisit
GENERATIVE RESERACH (2011)

While working on Serendipitous Family Stories, we began to think about the types of places where people record stories and how these places relate to how they see the city. Remembering Milgram's work from the 1970s on people's mental maps of cities and the places that are important in their lives, we decided to replicate the study to see if modern technology (e.g. mobile maps, checkin service use, GPS, etc.) have changed the ways that people see their cities. We recruited 100 users in a park in Chicago and followed the Milgram procedure based on his publications. We also collected demographic and technology use data to correlate with the maps.

We found that the places that are important to people in their daily lives as drawn on the maps are very different from the types of places where people check into on services like Foursquare and are also different from the places where they create stories in systems such as Serendipitous Family Stories/StoryPlace.me. We also observed key differences between tourists and residents in the ways that they label neighborhoods and that people who used location check-in services were more likely to know a larger part of the city.

These findings are important for future location-based service design and we identified several implications for deisgn for future systems to better align with people's mental models of their city.

Publications:
Drawing the city: Differing perceptions of the urban environment. Frank Bentley, Henriette Cramer, Santosh Basapur, and William Hamilton. CHI 2012. May 2012.