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When Participants Do the Capturing: The Role of Media in Diary Studies

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2005, 00:00 authored by Scott Carter, Jennifer Mankoff
In this paper, we investigate how the choice of media for capture and access affects the diary study method. The diary study is a method of understanding participant behavior and intent in situ that minimizes the effects of observers on participants. We first situate diary studies within a framework of field studies and review related literature. We then report on three diary studies we conducted that involve photographs, audio recordings, location information and tangible artifacts. We then analyze our findings, specifically addressing the following questions: How do context information and episodic memory prompts captured by participants vary with media? In what way do different media “jog” memory? How do different media affect the diary study process? These questions are particularly important for diary studies because they can be especially useful as compared to other methods when a participant intends to do an action but does not or when actions are particularly difficult to sense. We also built and tested a tool based on participant and researcher frustrations with the method. Our contribution includes suggested modifications to traditional diary techniques that enable annotation and review of captured media; a new variation on the diary study appropriate for researchers using digital capture media; and a lightweight tool to support it, motivated by past work and findings from our studies.


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Copyright © 2005 by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept., ACM, Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or © ACM, 2005. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems {1-58113-998-5 (2005)}



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