Behavior/Experience Readings W1

Readings Week 1
Design for Behavior & Experience

“Chapter 7 Hurried Ethnography for the Harried Ethnographer” Ethnography: A way of Seeing. Wolcott, 2008.

  • What is the minimum or maximum time needed to be spent in the field to claim ethnographic validity? The researcher’s belief that enough time will produce guaranteed outcomes is at odd with the realist’s understanding that it’s impossible to exhaust any topic of inquiry.
  • “Ethnographic accommodation” is a researcher’s limitations of time that are put upon an study that employs ethnographic means.
  • How should a researcher handle time? As a scarce resource. Plan out time and set limits to fieldwork that take into account the other parts of the project.
    • When field work is not yielding any new or novel insights, it may be time to start writing.
    • Writing while still having time set aside for field work permits an initial analysis that a researcher can use to focus the remaining observation time.
    • Begin writing as soon as you think you might not be able to get it all. Do not put off writing by waiting to be a more astute observer.
    • Once you begin to review collected data in your head, start writing. Begin with the comfortable or well-synthesized ideas, and the writing should guide the remaining time you set aside for field work.
    • Start writing if half of your total time is remaining. Writing and organizing data often takes more time than observations themselves.
    • “People do writing this fashion [fieldwork first, then writing last] but this is one reason why so many monographs are uninspired.” Rosalie Wax
  • Writing about your thoughts before fieldwork can help to focus your observations on its ultimate purpose, and to organize your final account.
  • In subfields of anthropology, rapid fieldwork has become common but should not be dismissed. Common surveys, questionnaires, targeted interventions are not rushed as much as they are repetitive and formalized. Ethnographers are then considered data sources for teams conducting anthropological appraisals.
  • Anthropological appraisals may use common interviewing techniques, or even group interviews (focus groups), where an ethnographer would partake in a less structures interview/conversation and potentially identify a key informant.

“[…] Much stands to be gained for any researcher who pauses long enough to have a look around, with the intention of putting an inquiry into some broader perspective.”

Ethnographic Reconnaissance

  • –an ethnography precursor, permitting an initial survey or examination which is followed by a more detailed inquiry.
  • A windshield survey–or a survey of a community from a drive around town–is a rapid appraisal technique that can lead to valuable observations for further examination.
  • Ethnographic reconnaissance does not carry the notion that it must be done quickly, only that time must be set aside for getting one’s bearings in a new situation.
  • Do not disregard intuitive feelings about what is going on in a project, even if you’re part of a team performing pre-selected rapid assessments. Reconnaissance and getting one’s bearings should aware remain forefront while doing fieldwork.
  • Advice for initiating fieldwork to realize maximum return on ethnographic reconnaissance:
    • ethnographic reconnaissance develops organized common sense, free from inappropriate professionalism. don’t stick to overly scientific methods for observing the nuance complexity of human activity.
    • a researcher conducting ethnographic reconnaissance should try not assume a tourist or poll-taker or professional researcher identity, rather an interested human being. All of those identities could hinder natural conversation.
    • do not feel pressured to “sample” the population in any certain way. There will always be “gate keepers” of the community and they are worth your time as well.
    • write up notes quickly thereafter a reconnaissance effort. Initial opinions, anticipated problems, observations that go against your conceived notions are often fleeting once removed from the field.
    • keep in mind you are there to learn how those in this setting make sense of their world; if they can’t answer a question, it’s not part of their world. an idealistic goal for interviewing is to get them to talk with the fewest direct questions. ask questions as they come to you.
    • know what information is already out there (community history, maps) and do not feel obligated to reproduce it, but consider its biases and affordances carefully before inclusion in your reconnaissance or ethnography.

Systematic Research

  • Systematic research doesn’t always describe the existence of a community in ethnography. Care should be taken to understand when and how to count what needs to be counted, and measure what needs to be measured.
  • Problems and questions that are defined or redefined in terms of computational capabilities shift the researcher further away from orienting traditions of ethnography.
  • Photography, videography, and systematic research should not become ethnography–they are tools, not philosophies.
  • Stepwise research should not go against timing, but instead inform it. Dedicate chunks of times to different topics over the course of the fieldwork, and observe what changes and what doesn’t.
  • long-term fieldwork by ethnographers can provide “finer distinctions between change efforts and changed results, or between change and rhetoric of change.”

 

The Interpretation of Cultures “Chapter 1 Thick Description: Toward an Interprettive Theory of Culture” C. Geertz, 1973.

“To try to find the figure in the carpet of one’s writings can be as chilling as trying to find it in one’s life; to weave, post facto, a figure in —”this is what I meant to say”—is an intense temptation.

  • New ideas take hold of the intellectual community with vigor. It is applied to many problems and many situations. The community applied is where it is applicable and desists where it cannot be extended. What is does explain is now brought into focus, and the pseudoscience falls away.

“The concept of culture I espouse […] is essentially a semiotic one. [M]an is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning.”

  • If you want to understand science, look at what practicing scientists do. If you want to understand anthropology, look at ethnography.
  • Ethnography is more than just establishing rapport, selecting informations, transcribing texts, etc. It is an intellectual effort called “thick description” by Gilbert Ryle.
    • “Thick Description” is both thinking and reflecting, as well as thinking of thoughts.
    • A “thin” description of events merely records actions or direct observations, but a “thick” description finds a hierarchy of meaningful structures that leads to the actions. Where was this action learned? What was the intention behind the action? What is the context of the action? What is the action codifying?
  • Ethnography is a collection of data that is really a “construction of other people’s constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to. [I]t does lead to a view of anthropological research as rather more of a observational and rather less of an interpretive activity that it really is.” Analysis is sorting out the structures of signification.

“What the ethnographer is in fact faced with […] is a multiplicity of complex conceptual structures, many of them superimposed upon or knotted into one another, which are at once strange, irregular, and inexplicit, and which he must contrive somehow first to grasp and then to render.”

  • Human behavior as symbolic action has a significance. The communication by an action’s agency is of significance. With this componential analysis of culture, “culture is composed of psychological structures by means of which individuals or groups of individuals guide their behavior.”

“The cognitive fallacy—that culture consists of ‘mental phenomena which can [should] be analyzed by formal methods similar to those of mathematics and logic’—is as destructive of an effective use of the concept as are the behaviorist and idealist fallacies to which it is a misdrawn correction.”

  • Ethnographers seek to speak to and with individuals, not for them.

“Culture is not a power, something to which social events, behaviors, institutions, or processes can be causally attributed; it is a context, something within which they can be intelligibly—that is, thickly—described.”

  • Behaviors are the vehicle for culture. Behaviors’ relationships to each other is intrinsic, but it’s their role in patterns of life that give them meaning.
  • Inspecting events his how we interpret symbols and symbol systems, not by setting them up and organizing them into our own patterns.
  • Searching for sound, overarching order in cultural proceedings discredits analysis; do not divorce interpretations of events from the events themselves.

“If anthropological interpretation is constructing a reading of what happens, then to divorce it from what happens—from what, in this time or that place, specific people say, what they do, what is done to them, from the whole vast business of the world—is to divorce it from its applications and render it vacant. A good interpretation of anything—a poem, a person, a history, a ritual, an institution, a society—takes us into the heart of that of which it is the interpretation. When it does not do that, but leads us instead somewhere else—into an admiration of its own elegance, of its author’s cleverness, or of the beauties of Euclidean order—it may have its intrinsic charms; but it is something else than what the task at hand—figuring out what all that rigamarole with the sheep is about—calls for.”

  • There is a distinction being speaking and writing. An informant speaks; speaking is the event.  An ethnographer writes (inscribes); writing is the thought of speaking… or the meaning of the speaking.
  • Cultural analysis is guessing at meanings and assessments of such guesses; it is not all-encompassing or robust, rather its nuanced and situational.
  • Ethnographic descriptions are…
    1. …interpretive.
    2. …interpretive of the flow of social discourse.
    3. …attempts to rescue the “said” of discourse from ephemerality.
    4. …microscopic by nature.
  • Any larger, broader implications or abstractions of culture are often from extended acquaintances with extremely small matters, not a wide variety.
  • “To regard [ethnographic findings] as anything more (or anything less) than [particular] distorts both them and their implications, which are far profounder than mere primitivity, for social theory.”
  • This methodological critique of the microscopic nature of ethnography is valid, yet not to be resolved by considering the events as an actual microcosm, but resolved by “realizing social actions are comments” on society, with no bounds nor guarantee where the interpretation can go.
  • Generality of cultural theory grows from the “delicacy of its distinctions, not the sweep of its abstractions.”
  • Cultural analysis does not build on other analysis; it “plunges deeper into the same things” and enriches the understanding of both analyses.
  • Cultural theory is not predictive. It guides the lens to which we can view past events, and potentially anticipate future occurrences of the event.

“In ethnography, the office of theory is to provide a vocabulary in which what symbolic action has to say about itself—that is, about the role of culture in human life—can be expressed.”

  • Cultural analysis is, by definition, incomplete. They are sustained by continued debate and discussion. Yet, the more narrow the details, the less complete they become.

“The danger that cultural analysis, in search of all-too-deep-lying turtles*, will lose touch with the hard surfaces of life-with the political, economic, stratificatory realities within which men are everywhere contained-and with the biological and physical necessities on which those surfaces rest, is an ever-present one. The only defense against it, and against, thus, turning cultural analysis into a kind of sociological aestheticism, is to train such analysis on such realities and such necessities in the first place.”

*An old Indian story goes: The world rests upon a platter that is on the back of an elephant and that elephant stands on the shell of a turtle. Each turtle, in turn, rests on another turtle.

“Ethnography” in The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed. D. Randall and M. Rouncefield.

What is Ethnography?

  • “Ethnography is a qualitative orientation to research that emphasizes the detailed observation of people in naturally occurring settings.”

Why use Ethnography?

  • “Perhaps the main virtue of ethnography is its ability to make visible the ‘real world’ sociality of a setting through detailed descriptions of the ‘workaday’ activities of social actors within specific contexts.”
  • Ethnography seeks to observe and record activies as social actions embedded in a socially organized domain.

Doing Ethnography – Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

  • The social world ethnographers plunge into is often not organized in the way researchers expect to find it.
  • Recording the richness of everyday activities is often difficult because of its commonplaceness.
  • Ethnography does not take immense amounts of training, nor is its goal to search for hard-to-find things; nor is it simply hanging around or experiencing another community. It is listening and watching to the guiding principles that structure others’ activities.

What does an Ethnographer do?

  • An ethnographer does not need to go look for data; they look for communities and actions within these contexts to observe, the data is then presented to them in that context.

“The point of fieldwork is to understand the social organization of activities within the setting.”

Collecting Data

  • “In terms of what the fieldworker collects by way of data, […] it will be dictated not by strategic methodological considerations, but by the flow of activity within the social setting.”
  • Everything an ethnographer experiences or witnesses or observes is data. There is no sense in having all the data, but nevertheless your record of it should far exceed your use of it.
  • Ethnography is “the deliberate attempt to generate more data than the investigator is aware of at the time of collection” (quoted in Dourish (n.d.: 2). Mass amounts of data collection tends to happen as a consequence of the ethnographer’s immersion in a setting. Recording things often comes naturally as a foreigner in a new country wants to document everything they don’t understand.
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Grounded Theory for Qualitative Research

Glaser and Strauss (1967); Strauss and Corbin (1990); Glaser (1992)

based on Dick, Bob (2005)  Grounded theory: a thumbnail sketch

...

Grounded theory begins with a research situation, and observations regarding such a situation. Constant comparison is the heart of the process. Compare interview data with other interview data, then make theories, compare that theory to interview data, etc. These comparisons are often noted in margins of text, and encoded to the likes of the researcher. Relative structure of themes and how themes relate to each other can be written as memos, and then memos are sorted as a skeleton upon which writing can occur. 

gtphases
Grounded Theory, process

 

“In short, data collection, note-taking, coding and memoing occur simultaneously from the beginning. […] The theory is emergent — discovered in the data, Glaser will say.”

What most differentiates grounded theory from much other research is that it is explicitly emergent.  In this respect it is like action research: the aim is to understand the research situation.  “The aim, as Glaser in particular states it, is to discover the theory implicit in the data.”

 

Questions to judge grounded theory research: Does the theory fit the situation?  Does it help the people in the situation to make sense of their experience?

engine
convergent interviewing (see Note-Taking)
  1. Data Collection
    • Observations
    • Interviews
  2. Note-Taking
    • Glaser recommends not taking notes or recording. This stimulates natural rapport and leaves you with a summary rather than being bogged down in word-by-word transcriptions.
    • Dick recommends recording the session, taking very minimal notes, so that you can go back and verify your effectiveness.
    • Convergent interviewing can also be used among a group of researchers. In this, interviews are found touch on similar subjects, and similarities and discrepancies are identified for further study and appropriate theorizing:
  3.  Coding
    • Start by asking general questions about the situation and how the participants manage their situations.
    • On the second interview develop a code in the margins that compares the first interview to the second interview.
    • When repetition of codes begins to emerge, convert them into memos.
    • Memos and categories of memos can be organized in various sub-groups in a hierarchical or network fashion.
    • The process of interviewing stops upon saturation, where no new information in a category is added.
  4.  Sampling
    • The sample of interviews should be emergent, in that, when new categories emerge, differences in those categories should be sought out to study.
    • You shouldn’t limit your research to the initial sample if it ends up not being completely representative of the diversity of your population.
  5.  Memoing
    • “A memo is a note to yourself about some hypothesis you have about a category or property, and particularly about relationships between categories.”
  6. Sorting & Writing
    • Reorganize the memos as needed to describe the phenomena/situation to an outside audience. This guides the writing structure.
  7. Using Literature
    • It is not apparent at first what literature will be appropriate to cite in writing until the observations and interview processes begin.
    • The literature to be cited should be treated as equal to the data you’ve collected.
    • Glaser warns about reading too specific of literature before interviews, in that the coding and memoing could guide you to make assumptions that won’t exist during your observations/interviews.
    • If an apparent disagreement between your emerging theory and the literature exists, don’t assume that your theory must be wrong.  You should seek to extend the theory so that it makes sense of both the data from your study and the data from the literature.

“In short, in using grounded theory methodology you assume that the theory is concealed in your data for you to discover.  Coding makes visible some of its components.  Memoing adds the relationships which link the categories to each other.”

Perspective Mapping: South Station

Tasked with returning to South Station, the following observations were made in light of an essay by urban media designer, Martijn de Waal (of The Mobile City) entitled The City as Interface: How New Media Are Changing the City.

In the essay, de Waal specifies some public space as part of the “urban public sphere,” namely any accessible place where people of various background can potentially meet. In certain aspects, successful public spaces are designed around the identities that weave though the space on a daily basis. A modern urban public are the inhabitants of this public sphere which share a common goal or action (such as transportation in a train station). American sociologist Lyn Lofland introduced a third classification of space (besides public and private): that of the “parochial” domain. A parochial sphere consists of a common group of people that share a sense of commonality despite having a publicly accessible location. Examples include a Turkish hooka bar in a Dutch neighborhood, a gay bar, a bench in a public park where teenagers commonly gather. The ubiquitous nature of personal cellular-run interfaces (phones, laptops, tablets) permits an interlocked analysis of public, parochial and private spaces. These observations try to take in consideration of these three classifications.

Patrons were observed in different zones of the South Station atrium/food court. For the course of three minutes, actions despite walking, were tallied. Included were (phone activity, talking, looking up at ads and way-finding, using the restroom, eating, etc). Actions were then classified into adding to the public domain or participating in a parochial/private domain (since often times it’s difficult to classify which one an individual is participating in).

observatations_ss_2b

These are the tallies/raw data from my 3 minute observations about the Atrium:

observations_ss_2

The concentric circle diagrams are the first steps in my algorithm to determine a network diagram at the perspective of an individual in South Station. My assumption: A patron of South Station will be drawn to areas in which other people are behaving similarly (headphones on, or looking for way-finding, or eating, etc.). My network diagram takes into account which zones are physically accessible to each other (clear pathways) and how much sonic or visual activity is perceivable from his/her vantage point.

The top image is the network diagram with the centers of each zone at their physical distances from each other. The circular chart on the left describes the journey of one individual through South Station in terms of talking on a mobile, looking up at way-finding, and having headphones on. The blue wedge and outlined zone #7 shows where in time and space (respetively) the individual’s perspective is currently. The size of the node represents how many people inhabit that zone on average. The saturation of the node represents how many people are conducting similar actions as the current user’s perspective. The length of the connection represents the potential of the user perceiving ambient information (sonic and visual) in his current perspective.

network_south_station

In this way, space is not a simple function of x-, y- and z-displacement; it is a dynamic system of goal-seeking, resource-exhausting, information-filtering agents which happen to be navigating four dimensions. And when these motivations act on a subject, it is not accurate to plot navigation of a public space in two dimensions.

GLASSES \ data

Behavioral Risk Factors – Vision & Eye Health

2005-2013
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“In 2013 and subsequently, one question in the core of BRFSS asks about vision: Are you blind or do you have serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses? From 2005-2011 the BRFSS employed a ten question vision module regarding vision impairment, access and utilization of eye care, and self-reported eye diseases. The Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System is intended to provide population estimates of vision loss function, eye diseases, health disparities, as well as barriers and facilitators to access to vision and eye care.”

https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/behavioral-risk-factors-vision-amp-eye-health-fa1d8

Prevalence and Distribution of Corrective Lenses among School-Age Children

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2562227/

“In the 1998 MEPS, 23.9% of the 5,141 children aged 6 to 18 years had corrective lenses. When weighted to the U.S. population, an estimated 25.4% (95% confidence interval, 23.8 to 27.0%) of the 52.6 million children aged 6 to 18 years had corrective lenses.”

Original data source (SAS or ASCII)

http://meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/download_data_files_detail.jsp?cboPufNumber=HC-160I

 

Prevalence of Adult Vision Impairment and Age-Related Eye Disease in America

“The Vision Problems in the U.S. report and database provides useful estimates of the prevalence of sight-threatening eye diseases in Americans age 40 and older. This report includes information on the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment, significant refractive error, and the four leading eye diseases affecting older Americans: age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. The estimates in this report use published prevalence rates and 2010 U.S. census data. These estimates reflect the growth and changing racial, ethnic and age composition of the United States population.”

http://www.visionproblemsus.org/news-resources/data-downloads.html

Mapping Public Spaces: South Station Part 2

Odonnel_Urban_Public_Network

After two assignments considering the mapping of South Station, this capstone project is both a summary of research and critique of mapping methodology.

The first visualization observes activity of patrons of South Station in the ticketing and food court atrium. Dots are placed on a plan view of the atrium to show different activity by location. While this visual is helpful to show where different types of activity occur, it is often easily observable: food transactions happen close to food kiosks, etc.

The second iteration of our data concerned perspective mapping. This visualization takes into account a specific user, and to what degree the public sphere can add to his/her experience in Station. The traditional plan view is colored by areas of unique programming. From there a distortion map is created for a user that favors way-finding, noise, visual distractions, and other patrons doing similar actions. While the distortion method is not programmed to be dynamic or algorithmically precise, a series of these maps could help show areas that most alter or add to the urban public sphere.

The third iteration creates a network diagram out of the plan view, considering that area is irrelevant in programming. Programming zones are replaced by nodes, that vary in size by the average population that inhabit those spaces. Connections between nodes are shortened and lengthened according to the similarity of adjacent spaces and strength of their sonic and visual stimuli from the user’s perspective (outlined in blue) and detailed in the circular narrative (blue wedge).

Mapping Public Space: South Station

ARTG 6330: Mapping Strategies
joint studio with NU Architecture

Assigment 1: Mapping Public Spaces at South Station

For the first assignment, groups will need to identify a phenomena that structures space in South Station in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Once the phenomena is identified, collect data to map the space and visual techniques to clarify the space. Thought and materials to collect the data should be considered, as if a team of researchers would be collecting data for you.

In the main Atrium of South Station, our group observed patrons of the MBTA and their social habits (or lack thereof). My first sketch focuses on the area in front of the overhead electronic arrival/departure timetable. The space in front of it was void of obstacles and measured ~80ft by ~20ft, with the electronic boar above the short edge. While this space is free of obstacles, observations quickly found this space to fluctuate population and usage rapidly.

First attempt at mapping South Station in front of electronic arrival/departure board
First attempt at mapping South Station in front of electronic arrival/departure board

In this diagram, I grid the space in front of the electronic board. Places where patrons had a “social event” or stopped I marked with an X, and the subscript describes # in their party as well as gender. The lines connecting events show pathways to and from the event.

Immediately, some issues became obvious:

  1. Any biographical information that does not change from entrance to exit of South Station (gender, # in party) should be coded w/o labels to avoid confusion.
  2. Layering multiple pathways becomes difficult to record/follow a singular experience in the station.
  3. Pathways are a vector, they should denote direction
  4. Location of social events is may not prove as interesting as comparing location and type of social event (checking phone, greeting someone, reading newspaper).
A1_SS_sketch1
A physical map/plan view of the Atrium, and some ideas about how to visually code different types of events and people
A1_SS_sketch2
Descriptions of the Center of the Atrium; Observations from standing in the center of the Atrium; sketch detailing the proportions of the area in front of the electronic arrival/departure board
A1_SS_sketch3
Defining the phenomena; Attack Plan for Starting Research, including suggested variables to have researchers collect

This is a link to the first-draft of my  Research_Form_South_Station. This is what an Observer would take to South Station and fill out. The goal of this form is to get the independent researcher to understand the study, how to avoid mistakes (often miscommunication), and collect data in a consistent manner.

This project continues with collecting some sample data and creating a sample of the visual language necessary to define the space.

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces: Intro + Chapter 1

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
William H. Whyte
1980

This video, made by Whyte, follows along with the accompanying book.

Reflection: It is amazing to see how far we’ve come in the scientific process across all disciplines: design, psychology, architecture. In Whyte’s Street Life Project, the research team lead by Whyte innovates (for the 1970s) data collection practices with the use of cameras. While Whyte speaks about some psychological phenomena that is beyond his scope of academia (how construction workers and women-watchers will catcall but have never been recorded successfully approaching a woman), he does so with in jest. These are merely observations of people’s behavior. This text is an interesting precursor to user-centered design and how cognitive walk-throughs can aid usefulness and usability of space.

Notes

Foreward, Preface + Introduction

  • Amidst an urban crisis, Whyte observes people in small urban spaces and recognizes similarities and patterns, among them: smiles. When we think of cities, we often criticize instead of remember there are places people enjoy in cities.
  • It should be conservationists goal to conserve both city and country. If a city is deemed uninhabitable, people will move out of them. It is small urban spaces that help foster ideas of habitancy.
  • Findings from the Street Life Project in 1971. The book focuses on spaces that do work, don’t work, and reasons why.
    • Street Life Project focuses on studying city spaces by means of observation. Many observations at the time never dealt directly with American cities experiencing overcrowding; most studies used student populations, animal populations or over-seas city populations.
    • First iteration of the project studied playgrounds, parks and informal areas of recreation.
    • Study found that many parks, even those in densely populated areas, were not crowded—many were even bare. Ample space is not a factor in effectiveness.
    • Assumptions at the time were that many children played in streets because lacking playground space.
  • As the project expanded its observation locations, open plazas in NYC revealed a similar imbalance of space usage.
    • While the percentage of open plazas in downtown NYC is minimal, they are used frequently enough to color the perception of the entire downtown.
    • Open plazas increased in downtown NYC as part of a 1961 city planning incentive. The city awarded permits to build an additional 10 sq. ft of office space above zoning permits, for every 1 sq. ft. of plaza.
    • While some plazas flourished at lunch time, others were left bare. The discrepancies were studied and then presented to the City Planning Commission to create new zoning laws for plazas in NYC.

1  The Life of Plazas

  • The study of plazas was observational. At first, researchers just watched what people did in the space. Some interviewing was also completed.
    • Commuter distance from plaza was relatively short; fewer people from the actual building used the plaza directly in front of their offices.
  • The best-used plazas often have a social air.
    • There are a higher proportion of couples and groups in more-often-used plazas than less-often-used plazas; same with the number of women.
    • Couples or groups choose places to rendez-vous or meet up.
    • Urban plazas were rarely observed to be used for mingling or meeting new people.
    • Men are found in higher proportions on the edges of plazas; women are found in higher proportions on interiors spaces of plazas.
  • Some of the most useful observations came from off-peak hours of plaza use. During peak crowdedness, people choose available options. Less congested hours at the plazas allow people to make conscious choices.

Self-Congestion

Whyte_pg20
Example of Self-Congestion

“What attracts people most, it would appear, is other people.”

  • People are unreliable on questionnaires; their ideals can be opposite of the actions.
  • Plotting locations on the plaza where conversations of > 1 minute, observations show more times than not conversations in the middle of the crowds, and not off to the side.
    • While conversations are expected to originate within the flow of transportation/walking, conventional thought perceives conversations to drift out of the way. This is rarely the case.
    • People also choose conversation locations at well-defined areas, near objects or landmarks (steps, fountains, wall) which can be near pedestrian flow, but rarely choose wide open spaces.
  • These observations remain true for other cities with a similarly high population density. Suburban areas will lower densities follow slightly different tendencies. Suburban spaces have similar traffic flow, but pace and socialization is reduced greatly.
Whyte_pg23
Sighting Map example Whyte gave to his research fellows to fill out while at on-sight observations