Carnegie Mellon University_ Masters of Human Computer Interaction

Course: Reactive Spaces Studio

Individual Project

Duration: 3 weeks


Skills:  Research_ Low- and Mid-Fidelity Prototyping.


Project summary

The goal of this project was to design a public installation for a community needing to be heard. It was an exercise in using design to raise awareness and educate by leveraging of data and technology. My pick was Women in Tech.

The project was inspired by David Colangelo and his concept of Massive Media. My design aims at shedding light on the gender gap in the tech industry.

It is a media installation that juxtaposes a preferred future with current experiences of discrimination at workforce as captured by women through text messages and tweets in real time.

Project theme

As a male studying Human Computer Interaction at CMU, I was very much aware of struggles and concerns that my female colleagues and friends faced.  

The rate of women leaving tech industry mid-career has increased. It is not simply a question of gender inequality in pay. Women face everyday harassment in the tech industry.

My project would provide women a public platform to share their experiences, and uncover the prevalence of the struggles they face. The installation would also facilitate a conversation as to what a preferred future could look like.

This installation allows women to bring visibility to their daily reality at work

This installation allows women to bring visibility to their daily reality at work

 

Choosing a Location

Given the public nature of this project, the location would decide who would be the audience, interacting with the installation. The location also determines the potential impact and the reach of the message. I chose San Francisco Financial District.


Positioned in the heart of San Francisco, the intersection of Market and Montgomery sees everyday hundreds of employees from different tech companies pass by. It is the perfect platform to raise the issues that women face in the tech industry.

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Design Components

After several attempts, I designed a monument in form of an Obelisk. It is a 20 feet tall pillar with a tetrahedral cap. The phallic shape is a representation of the male dominated work place.

Experimenting with different shapes.

Experimenting with different shapes.

Experimenting with different possible displays

Experimenting with different possible displays

 

Content

The content is divided into two parts:

  1. The preferred future with meaningful roles for women in the tech industry.
  2. The current experiences women have at work. 

 

1. Current Experiences

The side walls and the cap are made up of dotted LEDs and display what women tweet or text about their experience at work.

 

2. Preferred future

The front wall of the obelisk is LCDs with modified Polarization layers, which means that you cannot see anything on its milky glow, until you look through the glass shield.

Here is an example of how LCDs with Modified Polarization Layers have been used by others:

The content there comes from artists, writers, journalists, etc exploring a preferred future.

Sketch

Here is what the monument would look like.

Two views of the obelisk: Front wall displaying the preferred future through the glass shield; Back walls and the cap showing live messages in dotted LEDs.

Two views of the obelisk: Front wall displaying the preferred future through the glass shield; Back walls and the cap showing live messages in dotted LEDs.

 

 

Data Flow

Here is how the data would flow through the system.