Instruction Sets for Strangers reading response

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

It’s interesting to read about a perspective of NYC from 1970 and think about what changes (or not) may have occurred since.  This research team focused heavily on young professionals and their habits around their office buildings during lunch breaks.  Their observation that crowded spaces were traced to a series of “choke points” that only comprise a small portion of downtown spaces was surprising at first, but then relatable when I thought about my own experience in NYC.  The locations that I frequent often such as Union Square are always populated, but going down any side street especially at night and many of these spaces are near empty.  The study made notable observations of typical plaza interactions but did not touch upon the least used plazas and how their space can be optimized to encourage more use, which I’d like to hear about.

Cultural Probes

This project is really exciting to me because it reminds me a lot of the Fluxus art movement and mail art that occurred in the 60s that encouraged people to blend different media and topics to make your own art aesthetic.  Utilizing this technique as a research method to learn about differing culture groups is an intelligent way to hear stories through easily recognizable objects such as postcards and disposable cameras.  Communicating through this means is not just a good idea for the elderly, but should be applied to more research groups because the media is fun to use, personable, and allows for wide interpretation of use.  The designers in this project were very open minded with their research direction, yet their curation was still clear and defined for their purpose.

1 comment

  1. Great response! I’m glad you liked the Cultural Probes reading, that’s a great project with limitless potential as a use study..

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