Abstract

The paper describes the methodology and process of an ongoing research project, conducted by Studio TAO and Tongji University with Nokia, to demonstrate how digital communication devices can help bridge the social gap between rural and urban China. Rapid growth, substantial socio-economic changes, and massive migration from the countryside to the urban areas, are creating an imbalance in the urban-rural system. No visible value is given to activities and resources related to the countryside. Young people move to urban areas to find a job to economically sustain their families; social fabric is weakening and traditional practices and local skills are disappearing. DESIGN Harvest explores ways to connect rural areas with the city to enhance the exchange of resources. This approach is being prototyped in the context of Chongming Island, near Shanghai. The proximity of the island to the city, and the way it has maintained its rural identity, despite Shanghai's fast pace of growth, makes it ideal for researching the relationship between the two realities. Together with Nokia, we started researching how communication devices can help enhance connections through prototypes, models of interaction and service systems. In the initial phase we combined desk-based research and ethnography to understand users. A set of tools and practices were designed and tested for immersive exploration and to define user characteristics for the later developed scenarios and concept generation phase. The need of a specific methodology is due to the user group's peculiar profile, and no previous specific study. Language based problems and semantic bias were also encountered. The paper explains the methodology and the design guidelines for the concept generation phase. Finally,design proposals are presented. Although these proposals are the result of extensive research in the Shanghai/Chongming context, modular and exportable design characteristics will be clarified, for possible adoption in different contexts.

Keywords

sustainable design, design and society, product-service-system

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Mobile Marketplace Designing Digital Devices to Connect Rural & Urban China

The paper describes the methodology and process of an ongoing research project, conducted by Studio TAO and Tongji University with Nokia, to demonstrate how digital communication devices can help bridge the social gap between rural and urban China. Rapid growth, substantial socio-economic changes, and massive migration from the countryside to the urban areas, are creating an imbalance in the urban-rural system. No visible value is given to activities and resources related to the countryside. Young people move to urban areas to find a job to economically sustain their families; social fabric is weakening and traditional practices and local skills are disappearing. DESIGN Harvest explores ways to connect rural areas with the city to enhance the exchange of resources. This approach is being prototyped in the context of Chongming Island, near Shanghai. The proximity of the island to the city, and the way it has maintained its rural identity, despite Shanghai's fast pace of growth, makes it ideal for researching the relationship between the two realities. Together with Nokia, we started researching how communication devices can help enhance connections through prototypes, models of interaction and service systems. In the initial phase we combined desk-based research and ethnography to understand users. A set of tools and practices were designed and tested for immersive exploration and to define user characteristics for the later developed scenarios and concept generation phase. The need of a specific methodology is due to the user group's peculiar profile, and no previous specific study. Language based problems and semantic bias were also encountered. The paper explains the methodology and the design guidelines for the concept generation phase. Finally,design proposals are presented. Although these proposals are the result of extensive research in the Shanghai/Chongming context, modular and exportable design characteristics will be clarified, for possible adoption in different contexts.

 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.