Kimra’s Project

My project for this class will tie into my I School Master’s final project on personal TV scheduling. However, what specific part of that study I will capture here is something that’s been constantly in flux — and I would love to discuss issues of practicality (vs. perfection/ideal situations) in this kind of work.

At this point, my main idea is to present photographs from my study participants’ TV-watching lives, synced with audio of them talking about how they watch television. What follows is a brief synopsis of all the discarded ideas that got me there and the questions I still have about how to make this work.

My first plan was to photograph or video-record my participants in their homes, ideally on their couches or near their televisions or laptops. Except a) many people, especially the total strangers I recruited, are more comfortable meeting in public places (as, frankly, am I!) and b) very few of the people I recruited said they were willing to be videotaped or photographed.

So I came up with another idea: I’m doing a diary study as part of my research, and so I decided to give each participant a particular style of diary — selected partly for its photogenic nature! — and photograph those, then create a collection of still photographs augmented with audio of the participants talking about their viewing habits as reflected in the diaries.

I gave out my first two diaries last week, and both participants said they were unlikely to use them; both said they’d prefer to keep the diary online, take their own pictures, and send everything to me. The basic concept still works, but I obviously have much less control over the quality of the photos I receive that way.

Audio quality is another issue — my recorder is awesome for picking up audio almost anywhere, but that’s for transcription purposes, not presentation purposes. I’ll also be doing a number of follow-up interviews by phone or Skype, which are likely to have less crisp quality.

As I’m trying to make this as easy as possible for my participants, what’s the best way for me to balance the realities of my research and the ideals of this project?