A three part project consisting of a framework, a digital tool, and a card set to help designers better consider the impact of their work on human social connection
This project proposal is based on my disseration. Here, I argue that human social connection is vital to healthy lives and that designers, specifically those creating connective networks and experiences, have a key responsibility in ensuring that the connection they facilitate is healthy.
The Connection Framework uses a set of parameters and examples of different kinds of connective technologies. First, seven key terms are identified and explained.
Four of these are qualities which positively affect connection (focus, authenticity, empathy, and social support). The other three are negative qualities which actively harm social connection (manipulation - as in biased algorithms - safety concerns, and social comparisons).
Designers then use these seven benchmarks to "grade" their work, determining if there are any parts of the design which can be improved.
This framework also suggests questions designers can pose about whether or not their project meets the connection parameters and how projects can include and improve those parameters. The benchmark system serves to show designers what a good standard of each score is.
This Web Tool allows designers to interactively check on projects online. The tool operates via a set of sliders corresponding to each of the seven values. Depending on the score, the colour of the page changes.
The Web Tool also has a "danger zone". When the estimated amount of social comparison, manipulation, or safety concerns reaches more than halfway, the designer is prompted to immediately reevaluate their design.
Experiment with the prototype of the webtool here!
The last part of the Connection Framework is a set of cards which designers can use to gauge where their project stands on the connective spectrum.
These 112 cards have real-world examples of connective design projects, how they were scored using the framework, and why they got that score.
This physical companion to the benchmark and framework system makes the system more playable and easier to work with.