Post 14 – September 25th

What we’ve done Welcome back from summer! It’s been a doozy. To give you a quick recap of those events, the four of us planned for and attended the 27th Annual Ugandan North American Association Conference and Trade Expo. We’ve been in contact with the President of the UNAA, Brian M. Kwesiga, since the Spring to host participatory design workshops. We revisited and reshaped our four concepts from the Spring and presented three storyboards, along with a host of other activities, to the workshop participants. We received a lot of valuable feedback and commentary from our 18 participants and a couple dozen other conference attendees. We also engaged in the cultural events the conference had to offer, such as indulging in the prepared local cuisine. Tuesday, we presented our findings to M-ITI faculty advisors and were advised to down-select to one by Friday with our client. We then discussed the different deliverables due and assigned roles and responsibilities based off of who wanted what experience. Friday, we brought Chris, our client, up to speed and asked him to rank each concept comparatively, across how appealing it was to him, how innovative it was, how impactful, and how RootIO-related. Concept A (broadcast your expertise) was the least well-received, and Concept B (uncle-nephew spelling game) and C (mentor-matching) were more desirable due to the compelling nature of those relationships. Although we were unable to down-select to one, we feel that we’re moving in the right direction. Obstacles/What’s Next We still need to get to one. We are taking time to individually process Chris’ feedback (incorporate two-way dialogue between the diaspora and Uganda;...

Post 13 – May 8th

What we’ve done This past week was all about the affinity diagram and some early concept building. We were able to finish our affinity diagram, composed of 840 white sticky notes (approx.), 152 lower level pink sticky notes, 40 second level orange sticky notes and 13 top level yellow ones. All this came out directly from 25 interviews and also considering our 44 survey responses from both Ugandans and diaspora members. We had a very productive meeting with Chris where we decided to keep going in the path we took (concept building using our affinity as the main reference) and he seemed satisfied with our first concept approaches. We also gave a dry run presentation to Simone, Evan and more M-ITI faculty members. We got very good feedback and many things to consider/fix for the final presentation. Some of these very important aspects were: – Our whole presentation narrative: One or two members presenting, not all of us. – Our presentation visual design: Changing the whole template for a more professional one. – Our presentation order: Changing the order of the slides so they make more sense altogether. – Presenting our client to the audience: We have to be more thorough in this aspect. – Visuals for our research: Fixing the circles diagram, spending less time on the affinity diagram insights (no video unless it’s used as background for something else) and showing some more about the concepts. Obstacles/What’s Next Making sure sure to have these issues fixed by the final rehearsal presentation and take our travel decisions for the fall so we can start coordinating...

Post 12 – May 1st

What we’ve done It’s been a busy week. We are concluding the research phase and will begin the synthesis and concepting phase next week. We have a few final interviews, namely with Ugandans living in Uganda – both are affiliated with youth development centers and should have insight into the tangible skills and goals of teenagers and young adults. Through the last couple weeks in this phase, we are exploring the Ugandan side of things more deeply, through interviews, literature review, and online surveys. We want to understand their perception of the diaspora, as well as their deeper wants and needs. Since our project is aimed at exploring ways to connect the diaspora to people back at home, Ugandans living in Uganda play a vital role in that exchange. We finally have our surveys ready for online deployment. They have gone through many rounds of refinement, and we’ve taken a close look at a similar survey written for the Albanian diaspora for comparison. There are two surveys: one for the diaspora, one for Ugandans at home. For the diaspora, we wrote a few weeder questions to assess the validity of the respondents, and the rest of the questions were modeled off of our standard interview questions. We added a couple more about their cultural identification; items they bring back from Uganda; and things they’ve been exposed to while abroad that they would have found useful in Uganda. For the Uganda side of things, some of the things we wanted to learn about included: what type of information they ask about from their counterparts abroad; what they would want Uganda...

Post 11 – April 24th

What We’ve Done: We have ramped up our efforts in terms of in-depth interviews and are now up to 20 Skype and written responses. The best method of finding new contacts has been referrals from past interviewees. We feel like we have finally begun to reach a greater cross-section of the Ugandan diaspora! We have finalized the survey(s) and are working on getting it to the right listservs (Yahoo forums, UNAA mailing lists) as well as putting it up on Facebook. Hopefully this will give us enough data for statistical significance as well as further design ideas. This week, we have been trying to dig deeper into a potential field visit in September. Our options are to visit a conference such as UNAA (New Orleans) or SASA (Toronto) OR find someone to coordinate focus groups for us in places with a high concentration of Ugandans such as as London or Boston OR combine the two efforts. Our goal is to put some work in over the summer developing concepts enough to get feedback on them and/or facilitate participatory design sessions with our user group. Therefore, we are talking to the contacts we’ve made in each of these locations to get a feel for what could be accomplished during a visit. Then, we can get our budget passed along for approval. Obstacles: We have had a couple no-shows for interviews, but that is to be expected. We are feeling the pressure of a May 20th presentation, especially missing a team member this week, but we are excited to move on to the visioning stage of the process. Sometimes we wish we...

Post 10 – April 16th, 2015

What we’ve done: These last days we’ve been exploring even more ways of getting in touch with Ugandan diaspora (and even with Ugandans living in Uganda) to get more insights for our research. New ways we’re trying are posting the surveys in popular forums in Facebook and Yahoo Groups, exploring the Amazon’s mTurk platform, posting in popular social news platforms like Reddit, Tumblr, Craigslist and Ugandan newspapers. We’ve been doing more interviews and so far we have completed 11 interviews with Ugandan diaspora members. Also we got two emails answering our questions from other diaspora members. All of these interviews have brought us many insights but we still want to push for more interviewees, especially from different social classes so we can get a better picture of their needs. We also did a very insightful brainstorming session to get some concepts around our research. Most of our concepts are focused around mentorship, diaspora aid, local and foreign awareness and basically, Ugandan needs. We concluded our session with some storyboard visioning exercises. We found around 9 relevant books as literature review for our diaspora research focus and we’ll decide which ones to read this weekend. We finished two digital surveys (using Typeform), one for the Ugandan diaspora community and one for the Ugandan local community. We are expecting to get many replies using this digital medium.   Obstacles: Doing the interviews is a very long process and requires time and attention. We’ve been trying to get high quality data in a short period of time but we’re still struggling with the biased diaspora Ugandans sample. We are exploring two new ways to...

Post 9 – April 11th, 2015

What we’ve done: This week and past week we’ve put a lot of effort into identifying members of the Ugandan Diaspora and contacting them to set up interviews.  We sent over 50 inquiries through several different mediums, these include couchsurfing, meetup, personal connections, referrals, and google searches that lead us to different diaspora groups and individuals.  From these inquiries we have received a 25% response rate, and have been able to schedule ten interviews, five of which we did this week.   For these interviews we prepared a variety of questions, these include asking them about their story of leaving Uganda, what they miss the most, what the Ugandan community is like in their current home country, what their dream for Uganda is, among others. The five people we interviewed currently live in diverse locations, including the Netherlands, London, Washington D.C., Kampala, and Toronto.  We also were able to get a written response to our questions from a member of the couchsurfing community. Each interview lasted between half an hour to an hour, and during them we were able to uncover interesting cultural insights. We were also able to identify different ways that the diaspora can contribute to the Ugandan community, including knowledge sharing, foreign lobbying, sharing resources, and being positive representations of Africa.   Outside of the interviews we made great strides in our literature review.  We are currently each reading one book related to Africa, radio, and development.   Obstacles: Due to pivoting two months in to the project we feel behind in our research phase and hoping that there is a way to tie in our...

Post 8 – March 26

What we’ve done: Now that we’ve met with Chris and have the go-ahead, we are moving firmly in the direction of researching non-financial ways the Ugandan diaspora may want to be involved with RootIO. Some initial research has exposed: a couple waves of migration, due to the politics of Idi Amin, conflicts with DRC, and the Lord’s Resistance Army; vibrant online diaspora publications; a large Ugandan presence in Tanzania, UK, and the US; the presence of brain drain; and the number of health professionals that leaveSSA to get educated abroad. We pulled together a list of over 30 contacts that will be engaging with the hope of getting an interview. We are contacting them now, and hoping to schedule interviews over the week of April 9-16. We have also settled on our analogous populations of study: Nigeria (for the significant size of it’s population), Romania (for it’s relative media-darkness), Puerto Rico (for the %age of legal immigrants abroad), and Guatemala (for the %age of illegal immigrants abroad). Obstacle/s: The response rate of our cold outreach is unpredictable. We have two solid connections grace a Robby, but everyone else is a stranger. We may have to make a second push to contact individuals, in the case of a low response rate, before our ideal week to schedule interviews (April 9-16). Visiting London is therefore up in the air. In addition, we want to make sure that we don’t get too distracted by setting up a radio station in Madeira (finding the exact legalities has not been straightforward). Furthermore, it will be a balancing act to make sure that we get...

Post 7 – March 20, 2015

What we’ve done: We offered to help our client find “filler” content for the radio stations while they are being set up in Uganda at the 4 test sites. As with any new technology, there is an adjustment period; for RootIO, this means they need audio files to play on the stations while the community gets used to the concept and hopefully starts creating their own content. We have continued/expanded our literature review to include research on diaspora groups, particularly community associations, blogs, and Facebook pages that might help us make contacts. In addition to Ugandans in the UK, we are looking into cross-cultural comparisons with other African groups in Portugal such as Angolans and Cape Verdeans or perhaps Latin Americans in the US. Our new hunt statement is: We aim to research the diversity of the Ugandan diaspora to determine how diaspora members can contribute to the Ugandan media in non-financial ways. While it’s possible most people want to contribute financially in terms of both remittances and/or sponsoring a station, we are eager to explore other means of participation. We listened to a talk given by Stefan Candea, an investigative journalist and co-founder of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism. He suggested diaspora members could be a great resource in terms of finding partner organizations in other countries interested in overcoming the censorship prevalent in many home countries. Obstacle/s: Access to our new user group is potentially easier and cheaper given Portugal’s close proximity to the UK, but we currently have fewer contacts in that community than Uganda itself, so our greatest concern is finding the right people to get in touch with. We...

Post 6- March 12, 2015

What we’ve done: This past week we focused on reading through the books of our literature review, gathering all the feedback we got from our presentation last Thursday and from our last meeting with Chris, which was crucial for the orientation of our project. We also got the chance to play with an actual RootIO radio station [in progress] but we couldn’t do much with it without being completely set. The meeting with Chris was focused on narrowing down our project’s scope. We presented to him more than 10 potential hunt statements and his feedback was that we could choose a focus we liked but also find relevant to the RootIO project. After a lot of discussion we are looking forward to a diaspora focus project now which brings many new opportunities but also some redesign of our approach. We had a meeting with Anu Sridharan to discuss her experiences in her current project being developed in India. Her project is called NextDrop and is focused on communicating water availability in four different regions in India. It currently holds between 38,000 and 40,000 active users. We got interesting insights about unexpected experiences, obstacles and an interesting approach to the “missed calls” concept as a free communication platform being used by millions of people. Obstacle/s: We are looking forward a highly possible new approach to our Capstone project and that will bring consequences to our current documentation (budget, timeline, research plan, competitive analysis, territory map, etc.). After trying to focus really closely on the Ugandan rural communities and their interaction with the RootIO platform, it seems that we’ll be taking the focus away from them to...

Post 5- March 6, 2015

What we’ve done: This week we mostly concentrated on doing a competitive analysis.  We first defined who the competitors are and split them up into three areas, those being tier 1 (direct competitors), tier 2 (indirect competitors) and niche (user-generated platforms). After that we brainstormed and defined the dimensions we would use to compare the different competitors. Examples of these include reach, language, how content is generated, popularity indicators, methods of participation, among others. Once we completed the competitive analysis chart we started looking for interesting findings and created charts that visualized these findings.  Some of these findings were how popular facebook is as a participation platform for listeners and radio stations, that a lot of languages are represented, and that stations don’t shy away from serious topics. We received our books for our literature review, and have started going through those. Jenn also scheduled three interviews with people we can learn about how to get people to adopt new technologies, and the Ugandan diaspora.  We had a meeting with Chris to narrow our scope and to present the work we have done so far. Obstacle/s: We are struggling with client expectations and understanding how our project could fit in with what they are doing.  Some of this problems arises with the client feeling we are redoing research that was already conducted early on in the process. Next Steps: This coming week we will be interviewing two people, one who introduced a new technology in India and the other who is a member of the Ugandan diaspora.  We will also continue our literature review and start synthesizing findings. Additionally,...