Observe a Community and See How Technology and Society Interact

Observing Technology

For this Assignment you will go out into the community and observe an area of technology that you are interested in and compile your findings in written format. Be sure to review the Assignment rubric in the Syllabus before you start your paper.

For this Assignment you will go out into the community and try to see for yourself how technology and society interact. This is an observation project and will require you to:

  1. Make observations of a social setting.

  2. Gather field notes.

  3. Summarize those field notes and make connections to what has been learned in the class so far.

This project will get you out and exploring. Remember; do not put yourself in danger by choosing an unsafe social setting.

Choose a technology: In true observational studies, you would go out into the field and see what happens, without having any real direction to your observations, or something you are hoping to find. For this study, time is of the essence, so it would help to think of the kinds of technologies you may find in the setting before you get there. Some examples might be looking for cell phone use in restaurants, using a car instead of walking, etc.

Choose a social setting: You will need to choose a social setting that will provide a wide variety of behaviors within a fairly short period of time. This setting will also need to be one where a wide variety of people gather so that you can collect good quality observations that can lead you to making some general statements regarding how technology influences behavior.

Some great places to observe are local malls, busy city streets, large stores such as grocery stores or Walmart, or fast food restaurants.

Entering the social setting: You will need to think about how you are going to present yourself in the social setting. You can be a participant-observer: participating fully in the setting and not making any obvious attempt to gather information, or more of an outside observer: setting yourself outside of the action in a purely observational mode.

The most effective way to gather data is as a participant-observer. You will want to dress and act the part of someone who belongs to the setting, without drawing any undue attention to yourself. If you are going to observe at a Walmart, you would enter the store, take a cart, and occasionally put things in the cart and look like a shopper as you observe the setting. If you were going to observe at a fast-food restaurant you would order food and then sit and consume the food in an area that will allow you to observe the comings and goings of others.

Gathering field notes: The main activity for the project will be the gathering of field notes. This can be done in many ways so pick which is best for you and for your setting. The best way is to take notes while the action is going on and you are still in the setting. Some ways to do this would be to use a cell phone to collect the notes and either email yourself or text your observations and then write them later into a document. You can also jot down notes in a small notebook as you go. You can also wait until you leave the setting and then write your notes down quickly before you forget, but this way is less dependable.

Observation time: In total 1-2 hours of observation time should be enough time to complete this assignment. This would be the average length of a trip to Walmart, for example, and should give enough time to observe people interacting with your chosen area of technology. Approximately 1 hour is ample enough time to observe while taking notes, but also keep in mind if you need to change locations, your travel time to and from location, etc?which may take longer.

Drawing conclusions: Once you have been in the setting for a few minutes, some activities may catch your eye that will support or undermine your previous ideas of what you may find in the setting. Just keep observing what you find and then use the observations to complete the sections listed below.

Compiling your findings:

When you write your paper, complete the following sections. Remember to format your paper using APA manuscript style.

  1. Describe the technology or technologies that you observed and where you did your observation.

  2. What types or categories of people were using the technologies?

  3. What behaviors did you observe that were connected to these technologies?

  4. What is your conclusion?

Your project should be 750-1000 words in length and adhere to the following standards:

  • Double spaced

  • Written in size 12 font ? Times New Roman

  • 1 ? margins on all sides

  • Separate cover page and reference page

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