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Preliminary Research and Summation

In this blog, I will discuss some of the preliminary research I’ve done on various design thesis topics.

Note: I started researching some design thesis ideas over the summer, so some of my sources were accessed a few months ago.

Problem #1: Inclusivity in Online Dating

Pardes, Arielle. “This Dating App Exposes the Monstrous Bias of Algorithms.” Wired, 25 May 2019, https://www.wired.com/story/monster-match-dating-app/. Accessed 29 May 2019.

This article is what alerted me to this potential problem in the first place. I found it while reading the news at work. It discusses the algorithms behind dating apps and how they enable biases to be more prevalent. This is an old issue that is seen over and over again in many different types of technologies that use algorithms to learn their user’s preferences, but essentially what happens in dating services it causes certain types of people are matched to fewer people based on their race or other factors.

Lefkowitz, Melanie. “Redesign dating apps to lessen racial bias, study recommends.” Cornell Chronicle, 27 September 2018, http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/09/redesign-dating-apps-lessen-racial-bias-study-recommends. Accessed 29 May 2019.

I found this article linked in the above article. It summarizes a study done by Cornell researchers about the effects of dating apps that allow you to filter out people by race. They found that apps that filter by race decreased interracial relationships and that people who used platforms that allowed you to filter out certain races were more likely to view multiculturalism unfavorably. It also discusses ways to mitigate these bias issues and solutions that other dating apps have used.

“Race and Attraction, 2009-2014.” OkCupid, 10 September 2014, https://theblog.okcupid.com/race-and-attraction-2009-2014-107dcbb4f060. Accessed 29 May 2019.

This OkCupid post came up multiple times in articles related to the exclusive nature of online dating. It discusses the rates at which people of different races and genders matched with each other and highlighted some cultural biases, especially against black women and Asian men. These patterns encouraged OkCupid to make changes to their platform.

McGuire, Nneka. “The struggle–and bright side–of online dating for people of color.” Chicago Tribune, 13 February 2018, https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/ct-life-dating-while-black-online-0213-story.html. Accessed 29 May 2019.

Since there was a lot of talk in the other articles about how race affected the online dating experience, I decided to look for specific articles about that. Rehashing some of what’s been said above, the article also talks about the specific issues that people of color can run into when dating online, including fetishization and racism. It ends with advice on how to improve the online dating experience.

Seibert, Dustin J. “Online Dating Apps, Rated for Your Black Ass.” The Root, 11 September 2017, https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/online-dating-apps-rated-for-your-black-ass-1800833944. Accessed 2 October 2019.

This article was linked to in the previous one. It provides short, but frank reviews on various online dating services (both web-based and app-based) with an emphasis on how they measure up for black people specifically. It was a good overview of a fair amount of the mainstream offerings out there and also gave me an idea of what features are important in an online dating service, at least for this person.

Kim, Sarah. “‘So Can You F*ck?’: What It’s Like to Online Date With a Disability.” Daily Beast, 15 April 2018, https://www.thedailybeast.com/so-can-you-fck-what-its-like-to-online-date-with-a-disability. Accessed 29 May 2019.

This article talks about the difficulty of dating with a disability, especially online. I became interested in what other groups of people might find online dating alienating and found that the disabled population is at a huge disadvantage, and this article talks about many of the ways this manifests. The author discusses the question of whether a person with a disability should disclose their disability in their profile or wait and the uncertainty of what will happen upon revealing it. In the end, the author concludes that dating the old-fashioned way is easier because there’s less of a focus on the disability when starting a relationship.

Problem #2: Abortion Rights

Holland, Jennifer L. “Abolishing Abortion: The History of the Pro-Life Movement in America.” The American Historian, November 2016, https://tah.oah.org/november-2016/abolishing-abortion-the-history-of-the-pro-life-movement-in-america/. Accessed 20 May 2019.

This article summarizes the history of the evolution of attitudes towards abortion in America. It was very interesting what the motivations of early anti-abortion activists were. Most interestingly, it talks about how the narrative of the story and the messaging changed and became more potent. Namely, people campaigned on the idea that the fetus is a human life and that abortion is murder. Previously, people didn’t really think of the baby as a human until the pregnancy was rather advanced. Also interesting was the effects of thalidomide and how that again changed people’s opinions on abortion.

Munson, Ziad. “How People Become Pro-Life Activists.” Scholars Strategy Network, 8 February 2016, https://scholars.org/contribution/how-people-become-pro-life-activists. Accessed 20 May 2019.

This article talks about how people become anti-abortion activists. Some of the surprising points are that it isn’t as tied to religion as some might suppose. It is also usually a slow process rather than a sudden epiphany about how evil abortion is; people who know anti-abortion activists slowly come around to their view.

Herzog, Katie. “If Liberals Want to Change Minds on Abortion, We Must Understand Why People Oppose It.” The Stranger, 15 May 2019, https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2019/05/15/40213619/if-liberals-want-to-change-minds-on-abortion-we-must-understand-why-people-are-pro-life. Accessed 20 May 2019.

This article was written in response to the recent spate of laws that restrict abortion. Again, I was interested in looking at ideas of how to change the minds of anti-abortion advocates. The author gives an anecdote of a pro-life woman and why she opposes abortion and discusses the idea that rather than painting all anti-abortion activists with the same brush, people actually dive down and understand why people make the choice to oppose abortion.

Carroll, Rory. “‘Irish history is moving rapidly’: backlash to abortion law fails to emerge.” The Guardian, 11 January 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/11/irish-gps-slow-to-offer-abortions-despite-muted-backlash. Accessed 20 May 2019.

This article talks about the history of abortion rights in Ireland. This is notable because Ireland has been notoriously anti-abortion (and even anti-contraception) for many years, largely due to the conservative religious culture there. I was led to this article because of the phenomenon in the previous article, and I thought it would be useful to analyze how and why abortion sentiments have changed so quickly in Ireland.

“‘Pro-Choice’ or ‘Pro-Life,’ 2018-2019 Demographic Tables.” Gallup, May 2019, https://news.gallup.com/poll/244709/pro-choice-pro-life-2018-demographic-tables.aspx. Accessed 2 October 2019.

This provides information on the opinion of groups in the US on abortion and is broken down by several categories, including gender, age, education, income, and other factors. It was linked in the Katie Herzog article above and provides some insight into what the target audience might be when it comes to changing minds about abortion.

“Abortion.” Gallup, n.d., https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/Abortion.aspx. Accessed 20 May 2019.

This provides information about the changing opinions of Americans regarding various issues surrounding abortion between 1975 and present-day. There are several specific questions about abortion issues, giving a better idea of what people think about it, such as whether the participant would want to overturn Roe v. Wade or whether abortion should be completely banned or should be allowed in certain circumstances. I believe this was linked in the Katie Herzog article as well.

Problem #3: Accessibility to Art

“Why Public Art Matters (2018).” Americans for the Arts, June 2018, https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/legislation-policy/naappd/why-public-art-matters-2018. Accessed 2 October 2019.

This source is more about how public art enhances communities socially, culturally, and economically. This is more a justification for why public art is important, but I think that public art is an important way for people to engage with art on a day to day basis, so I included it here.

“Making Art More Accessible.” Newsweek, 26 June 2002, https://www.newsweek.com/making-art-more-accessible-146129. Accessed 30 September 2019.

This article is pretty old at this point but it talks about the Museum of Modern Art’s efforts to use technology to engage its visitors more with the art. They used touchscreen kiosks that allowed users to interact more with art than they would be able to with the actual pieces. The hope was that people would learn more and spend more time in the museum. They found that visitors used the kiosks nonstop. I’m interested in helping the general public engage with art more instead of feeling that it’s inaccessible, so I think this is a great example of how technology was used to help mitigate that.

Woon, Wendy. “Art as Experience: 80 Years of Innovative Learning with MoMA.” Museum of Modern Art, 4 October 2017, https://stories.moma.org/art-as-experience-80-years-of-innovative-learning-with-moma-e31327baad81. Accessed 2 October 2019.

After reading the above article, I decided to see what MoMA’s current efforts were with regards to solving the same problem. This post gives a good overview of all the things the museum has done over the years in arts education, such as the People’s Studio and the Young People’s Gallery. It also discusses what kinds of future technologies can be used to further the cause.

Rosenberg, Francesca. “What Does It Mean to Be an Accessible Museum?” Museum of Modern Art, 16 November 2017, https://stories.moma.org/what-does-it-mean-to-be-an-accessible-museum-9e9708254dc9. Accessed 2 October 2019.

Along with art being accessible to people outside the art world, I’m also interested in making art accessible to people with disabilities. This post talks about MoMA’s efforts to include people with disabilities in the museum, starting from historical things like the War Veterans’ Art Center as well as more current programs like Meet Me at MoMA.

Brown, Mark. “Google Art Project aims to shed new light on classic works of art.” The Guardian, 1 February 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/feb/01/google-art-project-classic-works. Accessed 2 October 2019.

Google Arts & Culture (formerly the Google Art Project) is a site that includes many high-resolution images of objects at museums around the world. In addition to looking at art objects, some museums have a sort of Street View that allows you to “walk” through the museum. I included this here because I think it’s a great way to use technology to allow people to experience previously unreachable artworks.

Callil, Jack. “Democratising Art With the Guy Behind the Google Art Project.” Vice, 11 May 2015, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7bd97b/democratising-art-with-the-guy-behind-the-google-art-project. Accessed 2 October 2019.

This article talks about the Google Art Project and the ideas behind the guy who developed it. He discusses wanting to make art more accessible but working around the obvious limitations of viewing an artwork in a way that it wasn’t originally intended and trying to make the experience unique in its own way.

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