More design thinking and the people formerly known as “the audience”

by Emily Goldblum @emilygoldblum

At one point during Clay Shirky’s TED talk he mentions, “What matters here isn’t technical capital, it’s social capital.”

Shirky then goes into a larger explanation about how more diverse voices can be heard, regarded and even answered today, thanks to the explosion of interactive digital media. He adds: “Now that media is increasingly social, innovation can happen anywhere that people can take for granted the idea that we’re all in this together.”

This is what what we’re all here for. This is our movement (dramatic or semi-truth?). Instead of a one-way connection between the media and the public, people are able to talk back. The internet hasn’t stunted the growth of journalism, but extended it and given the opportunity for multiple touchpoints with our readers instead of one to many.

The article by Jay Rosen complemented Clay Shirky’s TED Talk extremely well. Rosen mentions that there is no longer a passive “audience. ”Instead of just being spoken to, people can speak back and to each other. This doesn’t mean they’ll always get a response in return, but if a large amount of people want a response, journalists often feel pressure to respond. Think about all of our communities and how we’re attempting to (if we haven’t already) boil down one issue/something worth protecting. We could be the trigger in setting off more of these “horizontal” conversations.

During class, we regrouped after going out and approaching New Jersey commuters in Penn Station. We had left last week’s class with a mission in mind: what could make commutes easier from or to New Jersey? When it came down to it , we uncovered some concerns any commuter in NYC can relate to. We observed people. They may have had headphones in or they were sprinting to the subways in order to get to work or go home. Most of those who stood waiting were engrossed in their phones. In general, people seemed flustered, frustrated and sometimes even defeated. We approached them anyway. This deserves some kudos.

We learned through the commuters that they were anxious about getting on the train. They just wanted to be wherever they needed to be.

Professor Jarvis spoke about Clever Commute, which has both free and paid services to make commutes easier. One free service within Clever Commute allows the user to find the track their train would be on. Although it’s in beta, this helps eliminate anxiety for those waiting for their track number to appear on the screen in Penn Station.

Erica told us about the NJTLight App, has a four star rating in the iPhone app store, with over 50 ratings. This app gives you the train schedule in a PDF format so you’ll be able to download it on your phone in case you don’t have service.  If you’re creating an app for the pitch next week, you can read some of the comments on the app’s reviews. This gives a good idea of what else communters might want to see, i.e. Jake Rockwel mentioned that he’d like to see a better alert system when delays occur;  “Renpek84” mentioned that he/she would really love to see buses and trains included.

After further discussion, we brought all of these ideas onto the whiteboard and switched into design thinking mode. What do these commuters need? How will whatever we create for them affect them and help them?Will it last? We spoke about reoccuring themes. Breaking into our groups with design thinking/innovation in mind, everyone chose one issue that they’d wanted to solve for commuters.

Working together, we worked to focus on that one specific problem, and once we got into the ideation phase, we brainstormed useful solutions. What could we do with all of these great ideas? What’s realistic?

We were able to then share our new ideas and get feedback in order to hone in on what it is we want to accomplish for Luis’ group was animated in their presentation, presenting a potential app that knew a lot about its potential users. It gave commuters the option to chat/complain/question what was happening with their train line. For example, the group presented a situation in which a train was delayed, and Julia opened up a chat feature so that she could ask others what was happening.

My group talked about possibly creating an add-on for’s website in which a stream would live on the right side of the screen. You’d be able to search for potential train delays by typing in your area, and also toggle back and forth between info you need going home vs. traveling to work.

I’m looking forward to hearing every group’s pitch next week, whether it be expanding on their original ideas or presenting something new.


Can you share a few tips on getting interviewees to open up, if any? I enjoyed hearing about this in class, whether it was opening up the conversation with compliments or getting straight to the point.

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