rebecca's WIP

outrage machine

Last Friday January 29th was the big day: the final presentation of our interactive billboard in Times Square. Below is our documentation video of the event, as well as a longer screen capture of some of our results.


We also gave a presentation about our project and our process at Viacom’s Whitebox Theater on Friday February 5. A video of our slides is below.

More documentation photos coming soon!

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Earlier today, we presented updated project concepts to the MTV News Team at Viacom. Our project has evolved even since the November meeting, and it was great to get additional feedback. The presentation we gave is below.

We also put up a demo to user test on the Waverley Screens of the SMS Your Outrage Concept. It looked great on the screens and I’ll be doing some documentation of people interacting with it in the next few days. In the meantime, here are some screenshots below.

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One concern we had (and still are working through) about our voting on two sides of an outrage idea is that people won’t have enough context to know what is actually up on the screen. Certain things that take over Twitter, like the Starbucks Red Cup, for example, aren’t necessarily known to everyone and we want our piece to be inclusive and active.

So, we decided to make a quick paper prototype at ITP to see if this is even work exploring further before we build out this or another idea. The results were interesting as you can see below; a fair amount of people voted throughout the day (after these pics were taken) but a lot didn’t understand the hashtags and what perspective of side of the story they represented. It seems like some of those issues would be remedied with great copy and choice of images, but we’ll still need to do a ton of user testing if we go this route.

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In addition to our paper test, we also sent out a survey to the ITP student list to ask people what they are outraged about. This test informed our project and might develop into an entirely different concept for Times Square, in which users can text in their outrage. In any event, here are some of the interesting responses we got from that survey —

People suggesting we bar Syrian refugees from this country and the general racist fear-mongering that dominates the news.

Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to his daughter

Police brutality.

guns. civilians, police, anyone using a gun.

environmental disaster in brazil that was neglected by the media

The expectations that get passed through society about what women’s’ bodies are supposed to look like and thus valued. WTF what a waste of energy

stereotypical assumptions of some countries

Cecil the Lion did! & that stupid article from the nytimes about how detroit is the last station on the L train

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Here’s our updated project concept for the Internet Outrage Machine.

We realized, to our dismay, that our previous carnival hammer interaction wasn’t saying what we wanted to, so we went back to the drawing board and brainstormed some alternative ideas. We landed on something that we think is much more solid, and developed the idea to present to Viacom a couple of weeks ago.

Our new project  concept operates on the premise that outrages are polarizing, that they’re always characterized by some kind of us vs them dynamic (this was part of a larger meta-discussion we had on what exactly is an outrage). The basic idea of our project is that we’ll show examples of the most popular outrages from 2015 on the Viacom screens and present two opposing “sides” or perspectives on that particular outrage.

For example, the Starbucks red cup debacle, which has totally erupted on Twitter over the past couple of weeks, has a contingent who think its a #WarOnChristmas and those who think #ItsJustACup. In the context of our project, we’d present those two sides (in the form of hashtags) and then ask the user to vote for what they feel strongly about.

Since our installation is taking place in January and we want to engage as many people as possible, we wanted to keep our interaction really simple. We’ll have two ways to vote, a physical interface at the kiosk in front of the screens, as well as a text messaging system. We’re still playing around with ways to give the user feedback once they vote (aside from the counter increasing), but some ideas we have imagined are displaying corresponding tweets with that hashtag when a vote comes in, or doing something interesting with image animation.

Next steps:

  • Paper prototyping for various outrages and hashtags (to see if people recognize them and if they’re compelled to vote with just paper and marker)
  • Lock down our voting system interface (we’re now experimenting with the idea of using a camera live feed)
  • Make a prototype to test on the Waverley Screens before our Dec 11 presentation and document the results
  • Explore technical options for our website to see if we can “detect” outrages using Twitter trends and natural language processing and/or sentiment analysis
  • Flesh out art direction and design for Times Square Screens
  • Wireframe website experience
  • Start building!
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Here’s our latest concept storyboard and a demo that Abhi made which pulls live Twitter data.




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We made a lot of progress with our Outrage Machine concept the first few weeks but have recently gotten stuck in the hole that is “group think.” It’s been difficult to push our idea since we’ve got really attached to the idea of the hammer game interaction and have been trying to make everything fit within it even though it’s been limiting. Our initial concept proposal presentation for that idea is below.


To get ourselves thinking in a different way, we had a “there are no bad ideas” brainstorm last night where we each had to come up with 10 totally different approaches to this same topic of internet outrages. My preliminary sketches are below, and they range from the totally ridiculous (outrage yule log) to a data visualization of every time the word “anger” or “outrage” appears on Twitter. Working through these ideas rapidly made me realize I’m really interested in this idea of bringing dimensionality and humanity to these outrages. How can we ask questions and take a moment to think more critically about them? How can we see them from multiple perspectives? I came across this article about Jon Ronson which frames the topic in this way. Also idea #8 — outrage autocomplete — is not totally formed but plays with this idea of questioning as well.

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