Following on from her honours thesis Jessica’s PhD will explore the concept of literacy in mobile...
Jessica Frawley commenced her PhD at UTS after graduating in FEIT last year with first class honours and has recently been awarded the prestigious University Medal for her outstanding academic achievement in 2011.
A graduate in English and Philosophy from the University of Leeds in the UK, Jessica moved to Australia 4 years ago and began work at UTS as a researcher with the Centre for Human Centred Technology and Design (HCTD). Encouraged by her supervisor Dr Laurel Dyson, Jessica undertook Post Graduate Studies at UTS and in 2012 will complete her first PhD year studying Multimodal Literacies.
Jessica is a self-confessed night owl with a passion for research. These complimentary qualities are particularly fortuitous in light of the research intensive year that was 2011. While Jessica was completing a highly commended honours thesis exploring creative story telling by use of mobile phone technology she was also working with HCTD academic Dr Lian Loke on the ‘the chicken project’.
Despite its’ potentially comical title ‘the chicken project’ is based on a serious philosophy that addresses the way in which rapidly advancing information technology is designed and applied in real world terms. At the heart of this research is the concept of participatory design which focuses primarily on the varying needs of technology users and actively involves them in the design process.
The chicken project itself is a system connecting chicken farmers in rural areas to consumers in the city and revolves around an unconventional web-based recipe network that enables farmers to upload a recipe for their particular product. Drawing inspiration from the popular “Master-chef” television series the website is constructed in a way that provides insight in to the producers and creators behind the recipes thus incorporating the agents and processes behind the produce and the source of the produce itself.
A significant element of the design comes from the ethical principle of representing those who do not have a voice but who are an integral stakeholder in a system. In this case the human voice was extended via a process of modelling to a crucial and central stakeholder party, the chickens themselves. Via a process of profiling based on research, a persona of a chicken was created and named ‘Betsy’. The behavioural characteristics and needs of Betsy became an integral part of the system design.
The system has a holistic approach that links production with the consumer process and raises awareness of factors that ordinarily may not be considered such as the farming process and the labour involved in seeing the raw product to the consumer table.
The web design has now expanded so that both farmers and non-farmers can register and contribute recipes. In Jessica’s own words “Slowly I imagined that the website could be a place where people celebrate their produce and start to break down the dichotomy between ‘producer and consumer’...if we really want to we can be both”.
As ‘the chicken project’ nears completion Jessica looks ahead to her PhD on multimodal literacies examined in the light of participatory design principles. Following on from her honours thesis Jessica’s PhD will explore the concept of literacy in mobile technology. With the advent of technology, concepts of literacy now extend beyond the traditional definition of reading and writing capability. The PhD will focus on gaining an understanding of different types of modern literacy (visual literacy for example) and the impact it has on users. This research will be used to inform concepts of design literacies and the relationship between designers and receivers in mobile technology.
In looking to the future beyond her PhD Jessica hopes to further develop her passion for research and discovery. One of the main drivers for Jessica’s research is her interest in people and their stories. It follows that a key focus of her research is the complexity and diversity that exists among user requirements and perceptions around technology and the crucial role these elements play in informing technology design.