Worst technologies for girls

The Worst Technology for Girls? is a paper presented by Wendy March (Intel Research) and Constance Fleuriot (Bristol University) at the EPIC 2005 Conference (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference ).

The aim of the research was to discover how teen girls use technology in relation to privacy practices in their everyday lives. Asking teenage girls to describe the worst technology they could imagine was a fruitful way of exploring their feelings towards location-awareness, tracking and surveillance in particular and served as inspiration for the design of concepts which embody many of their concerns.

What is interesting is the focus on participants' view of the potential impact on their privacy of technologies such as location-aware computing. With a peculiar emphasis on this question: "How do they feel about technologies that reveal their locations to their families and friends? " (joint photo blog for two weeks +i n-depth individual interviews of 24 teenage girls, aged between 17 and 18)

The approach of asking for the worst technologies is very relevant with regard to thoses goals. And the winners are:

  • Family Video: A small video camera attached to a flotation device acts as a personal CCTV which sends back a constant video stream to home.
  • Constant Connection provides a continuous open communication channel for parents and children ( the home audio device, which is ideally suited for a kitchen counter.)
  • Ticker Text converts all communication from designated cell phones into an easy to read text format. Each text message that is sent or received on the phone is printed out on a paper roll.
  • Teen Monitor provides a simultaneous broadcast of all your teenager’s conversations through an audio speaker in your home.

Why do I blog this? I really like this approach, not for imaginer do's and donts but instead to get insights about participants' feeling towards privacy concerns. Besides, imagining a situation in which all the family could read teenager's conversation on a paper roll in the kitchen would be a funny but tough issue!