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User Testing

(Email to Wendy & Les 17th March 2020)

Now that the Stationers Hall presentation is done (many called it ‘genius’ which was quite moving), the zombie apocalypse (sans-zombies) is upon us and my procedure has been postponed for a week exactly (doctor is unwell…), I can return to focus on the PhD.

As I think we have agreed, now is the time for user testing. My question to you is basically what aspect to test and how.

The framing statement was: “Knowledge is fluid with a multiplicity of interconnections–whereas an argument, such as a PhD thesis–is rigid and linear, though supported by connections to the fluidly connected knowledge space.”

The original research statement was: “How can a richly hypertextual environment augment the author’s ability to perform literature reviews, support cognitive internalising of the external work to achieve clarity and how can this be further communicated in a linear form, connected to, and given credibility from, the fluid knowledge space?” I also wrote that: “…this project examines what hypertextual functionality could better support the presentation and interaction of interconnected knowledge, connected to a linear argument and how different views can service both while easily toggling between them.”

The work I have been doing has been to bounce between what seems important from the research perspective to what seems to make sense from the software perspective in-use and back. I have in the course of the PhD built macOS software which addresses this: A word processor called Author, a PDF viewer called Reader and, from before, a text utility called Liquid.

The functions which I feel most strongly address the research question are:

  • Dynamic Views for augmenting cognitive internalising (learning/studying/‘getting it’)
  • Folding & Find for the same as Dynamic Views but supporting more linearising rather than keeping the information non-linear
  • Visual-Meta for performing Literature Reviews and augmenting Reading

To see the 8:20 min presentation of these functions please have a look at the video I made based on my presentation at Stationers’ Hall, if you have not already: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd7NsoyaOwI&feature=youtu.be I will be updating this soon since a few things needed to be updated based on this for Find primarily and my programmer Jacob has been ill (recovering) though functionally it is done.

Which of these do you feel I should take into the next stage and perform user testing on? Should I use usertesting.com now since people are in lock-down or do I need ethics for that too? Can I do one for me ‘commercially’ and cite it as well or can I not cite it if no ethics beforehand? Can we have a video chat about this?

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