Chris Noessel > Masters Project: Free Range Learning Support> Imagine
Introduction  |  Process  |  The Service  |  Experience Prototypes  |  Conclusion  |  Appendices


You’re walking to lunch with a group of coworkers, discussing a popular movie that uses genetics as a plot device. Someone recalls a pivotal line from the movie that mentions "gene splicing," but no one seems to know what it really means or how someone does it. Normally, the conversation thread might end here, as an hour or so might pass until you can get back to your desk, a dictionary, or the Web. But you are a subscriber to Fresh. You pull your cell phone out of your pocket and send an SMS to the service. In a matter of seconds, you have the definition of the term. At the next pause in the conversation, you can share the definition and continue the conversation thread.

On your way back, you’re still wondering: OK, I know the definition. But really, how do you splice a gene? You don’t know any geneticists, so you send the question instead to Fresh. “How do you splice a gene? It’s so small! Nanoscopic scalpels?” This isn’t a question that a computer can answer easily, so instead the service passes the question on to someone who is likely to know. Before you sit down to your desk again, you receive an SMS with a short answer to your question. You reply with “email more” and in a few minutes, you have received an email on your desktop computer with more detailed information and some web links. You actually have to get back to work, though, so you can just keep it in your inbox until you’re ready to give it some time.

Just after you finish work for the day, you read the email and follow a few of the links. Though there is information about the general science and recent developments of gene splicing, you are most surprised to learn that genetics are not just Hollywood plot fodder or some far distant technology. Genetics already play a part in food production, even in crops grown right there in your town. You’re not an activist, but you’re a little concerned. After forwarding the email to your coworkers who were part of the lunch conversation, you make a personal commitment to learn more. Using special software on your cell phone, you tell it to watch your surroundings for anything having to do with genetics.

On your way home, you receive an SMS asking you to look around for the Pups R Us dog breeders. The message tells you that selective breeding is a kind of genetic modification. This doesn’t quite make sense with the scary stuff you read earlier. Dog breeding isn’t anything threatening. It’s cute and fuzzy and sloppy-tongued. You won’t be back at your computer again until morning, and you have another 30 minutes to your commute, so you reply with “more.” Moments later your cell phone downloads a web page of further information that you can peruse when you get home, discuss with your family, and follow up a little more tomorrow.

This scenario describes several examples of how the service supports its subscribers learning while “on the move,” away from other references or resources. In the above scenario, you are free range learning about genetics, using a service that supports your burgeoning interest.

I will detail the service vision in later sections. But first, let’s go back to the beginning of this idea to get an understanding of its context.

NEXT> Back to the beginning.

© Copyright 2003 Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. All Rights Reserved.