To combat and empathize with media-bias, we created designs for an interactive installation that allow participants to learn about an emerging news event, craft a story to be published, and then be confronted with their media biases. We conducted research that included Mechanical Turk and prototyped in a webVR framework called A-Frame.
Project brief: Create an interactive public display that utilizes public information on the display and private information on users’ phones.
As a team, we decided to choose a meaningful topic and push the bounds of our comfort.
ViewPoint is an interactive installation where users act as a news editor. Participants learn about and craft a news story over the course of several immersive rooms (e.g. background events, interviews, choosing a journalist to write the story). After they submit their fictional story for publication, the participant is confronted with different forms of bias in their story. The installation ends by showing anonymized stories and statistics to further audience understanding.
To prototype and present our work, we use a 3D/VR environment made with A-Frame and a mobile prototype with Marvel.
The team was effectively four UX designers, two of which also acted as prototype developers. We all contributed to each room and the overall experience, but we each led part of the design.
We worked in spurts through stretches of individual ideation and stretches of group refinement. This allowed us to inter-stitch divergent and convergent thinking throughout our timeline. Additionally, we decided early on that we wanted to stretch our skill set and try something new.
As the the user walks through the exhibit, they go through several rooms, each with a singular purpose corresponding to a pieces of a news article. We designed the rooms in ViewPoint to be immersive with floor-to-ceiling interactive displays. Some rooms allow for multiple simultaneous participants, others are for one user at a time.
Our initial research consisted of us finding and summarizing articles, both about media mias and about the FBI v Apple encryption case. Our literature review showed us possible pathways of media bias.
An initially centrist voter who watches an extra hour of Fox News per week would be up to 7% more likely to vote Republican, depending on the election.
Many Americans struggle to understand the nature and scope of data collected about them.
[Those] with the most consistent ideological views on the left and right have information streams that are distinct from those of individuals with more mixed political views — and very distinct from each other. […] It is virtually impossible to live in an ideological bubble.
One of the articles from Pew Research showed how trust levels per news source changes based on the ideological group of an individual. This gave us the idea to test how headlines would be judged by individuals if they could or could not see the source of the headline. How much would agreeableness change?
We went to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a service that allows humans to complete small intelligence tasks — for instance completing a survey. Our findings suggested that
Overall, we found the Pew data to be correct. This led us to create a design that would show users articles and the user would have to decide where it came from. We’d then confront the users’ bias by showing them where the article actually came from. This design direction was great for showing how users might be prejudiced against particular news sources, but it didn’t get to the deep human core of journalistic bias. So we re-designed our project into what ViewPoint is today, a short experience as an editor.
Sketching ideas helps us move quickly and get the overall picture. However, sketching doesn’t give us the experience of being there. For such a spatial exhibit, we found it to be hugely helpful to our designs to stand in the exhibit experiencing it virtually. We got further confirmation that virtual reality strengthened our designs after we saw other teams present work which did not properly take into account a human-height vantage point.