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Week One

Page history last edited by Andrew Hershberger 14 years, 3 months ago


Add thoughts here for Aaron Marcus' talk and article...


Here are several additional thoughts about The Green Machine.


First, we discussed that it might make more sense for the energy consumption feedback to occur at a time and in a location that are in the natural path of the behavior that we want to change. An example I thought of is the "These Come From Trees" stickers that have been deployed around Stanford's campus. These stickers are placed on paper towel dispensers to serve as a reminder to reduce consumption just when you're about to use a paper towel. In CS 377V on Thursday, BJ Fogg noted that he believes the winning solution for behavior change is to "Put 'Hot Triggers' in the path of motivated people." It still is not entirely clear to me whether The Green Machine intended to motivate or to change behavior, which are two different tasks.


Secondly, The Green Machine used social networks to allow comparison and also competition. An interesting study might be to look at whether explicit competition or casual social comparison is better at effecting long-term behavior change.


Lastly, mobile phones can most likely be used to influence energy consumption, but they're not necessarily the right platform for all of the features expressed in The Green Machine. For example, why not integrate the monitoring service with existing social networks to provide the social functionality while keeping the mobile app itself focused on personal energy monitoring? Additionally, it will likely become increasingly inexpensive to add interactivity to home appliances, so prototyping and researching these interactions could prove to be highly valuable.


Andrew Hershberger



Comments (5)

Brie Bunge said

at 1:37 am on Apr 6, 2010

I think Terry made the excellent point that when he is on his way to do laundry, he's not going to look at his phone. Technology that is intended to influence behavior shouldn't necessitate changing behavior/typical routine to begin with. I agree with Andrew that it will probably become "inexpensive to add interactivity to home appliances." Thus, the goal should be to minimize the distance between the motivation to conserve and the ability to conserve. Moreover, it seems to me that the most successful method of implementation would make it such that the "green" choice is no more effort than the typical one - if anything it should be easier. To accomplish this, I imagine automated systems that automatically adapt for optimal energy savings. For example, surge protectors could shut off when below a certain level (smart strip already do this, but aren't widely used yet). Also, washing machines could have a "green" mode that waits until a non-peak time of the day to start the wash and uses a cold cycle.

Steven Dow said

at 5:14 pm on Apr 8, 2010

Viewed as a prototype, the Green Machine is a perfect example of putting down concrete stakes in the ground in order to generate feedback and new ideas. Andrew and Brie point to the GM prototype as a spring board for generating a whole host of alternative ideas. I'm willing to bet anything that the current design for GM will be thrown away and redesigned.

What I find interesting, in the context of our course theme, is the process described by Aaron and his team. His team explored the design space for using information visualization to persuade green behavior. First, he pointed out that current constraints for energy monitoring are shifting towards more data, more ways for access that data, and more people interested in that data. Political gears are aligning to enable the "smart grid." At a society level, the mobile phone is becoming the dominant paradigm. On an individual level, consumer education is important and a smart meter needs to be designed with appropriate metaphors, mental models, navigation, interaction, etc. It was important to account for existing theories of behavior change. So once Aaron's design team marked out some of these variables and articulated their assumptions, they used various representations to communicate, including info architectures, sketches, screen mockups, and use scenarios. On the abstract level, this thinking process is common to many design domains.

Praneeth Wanigasekera said

at 9:56 pm on Apr 8, 2010

I disagree that the phone is not a good platform for the Green Machine. In a world that is increasingly going mobile, the most important feature for the Green Machine is for its functionality to be integrated with the consumer, to be one, essentially, so that conserving energy is something that becomes completely natural. The Green Machine must be with the user at all times providing information and most importantly providing the means to save energy.

The last part is why I thought leaving out actual control elements from the GM prototype was inconsistent. If persuading people to change their behavior is the goal, and the GM is on a device that is carried around at all times, providing control so that users can take power savings actions immediately seems to come naturally. The importance of the mobile platform is critical because of the social networking aspect as well. Would you want to have 30 different devices in the home all connecting to Facebook individually to update what you are doing with energy savings. Obviously this is something that should be managed at the central level, whether using a console in the home (as companies like Cisco are persuing) or through entities like the GM on a mobile platform.

At a high level I was confused by the scope of what we can do with a prototype such as this one. We were talking more about the theoretical future goals of the green machine rather than what I think the prototype is meant to be. I think the prototype as presented is a great way to experiment with the interface for this new idea as Steven noted. However, can we talk about the effectiveness of the application to actually save energy with a screen mockup outside of interface effectiveness? In the paper, an important theme that is mentioned is the importance of feedback in energy consumption. How much feedback can you have with a design only prototype (i.e. unconnected to actual devices, power saving methods, etc).

Praneeth Wanigasekera said

at 9:57 pm on Apr 8, 2010

Also, to state something that is I think obvious, applications designed to change behavior will change behavior. i.e. yes, we may not look at our phones when we are heading to do laundry but isn't that why this app is being designed, to change our behavior? I think the paper provided some discussion of incentives for changing our behavior, in the form of social networks, competitions, etc but I think the paper did not mention the most important incentive of all. When Terry mentioned counting pennies when deciding which can of tuna to purchase, what motivates us to behave in that way?

I think if we truly wanted to save energy, we would increase the cost of the dirtier forms of energy. People would unquestionably use the GM more in that scenario (assuming it provides people with cost savings). Similarly, if enough savings could be obtained through the app for it to be significant, people would use the app not only on the way to the laundry but in many other situations where currently we would not imagine a power saving smartphone app being used. The key is providing the right incentives and the means to make a difference.

Poornimaw said

at 7:39 pm on Jun 9, 2010

@ Praneeth & Steven - I was wondering
1) Is information alone enough to motivate people to reduce consumption - Measuring personal energy consumption and even adding a social dimension to it, where you compare your scores with friends can be a huge motivating factor for people to be conscious of their habits and hopefully change them. But as Steven said - this would be putting a "hot trigger in the hands of already highly motivated people". However, According to the Pew Centre for research in 2009, only 30 percent of Americans actually believed that carbon emissions due to human activity resulted in global warming. This is really really low, compared to a 60 percent awareness rate in Europe and over 70 percent in Asia. So if we walk out of our liberal bubble in the Bay Area, how do we make something like a green machine work effectively in "mainstream America" where a majority of the people might not really care about their carbon footprint?

Also, given the fact that developing nations will bare the brunt of climate change and that it is in rapidly growing economies like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia etc.. where the rate of energy consumption is accelerating rapidly, how can we deploy this idea effectively in those markets, where the overall impact of changing behaviours might be easier (due to the greater awareness and concern about climate change issues since it directly affects their lives) . Also, mobile penetration is really high in most of these countries, across socio-income groups. Therefore, it can be a very effective platform to reach out to the masses.

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