5870 Exercise 2 Conduct an Observation with a Partner

Keri Ortiz and Tina Bell

1.) Tina Bell

Computer Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse room 120

The computer monitor is approximately 17 x 14. A thin band of silver surrounds the outside edge creating a border. Inside this silver band, a black band border approximately 1 inch thick follows the silver pattern. Inside these borders is the actual computer screen. It is recessed in by approximately ¼ of an inch. It is lighted by some unknown source.

Following the computer screen along the bottom, the observer sees menu tabs. These tabs are black and the writing on the tabs is white. The tab which indicates which screen is appearing is slightly darker than the others. Tabs with a blue, lower case “e” with a tan line swirling once through it, designate that they are for websites on the Internet. Two of the tabs indicate “application errors.” As well as containing the writing stating that the tab indicates and application error, the tab contains a small white box. Inside this box is a coffee cup. The coffee cup is has been made up of lines. Blue lines form the design of the coffee cup and tan lines form steam rising from the cup. The observer was unable to determine if the coffee cup was significant. She could not determine if the coffee cup was always paired with the application error message.

At the top of the computer screen is the browser bar. A thin bar at the top indicates that the computer is open to “Ethereal Education: English 5870. Below the browser bar, is the actual web page. Ethereal Education id displayed at the top in red. The screen is displayed in three columns. The left-hand column consists of a category entitled “Archives; English 5870.” The middle column consists of categories for the class. The right-hand column lists other types of resources. Above these is a search bar. The right side of these other resources is a scroll bar. The arrow currently resides at the top of the screen.

The keyboard is flat and silver. The keys are white with grey lettering. This keyboard is a “QWERTY” keyboard with the calculator buttons to the right. The function keys run along the top of the letter keys.

A smooth white mouse which is approximately the size of a human palm is attached by a white wire to the keyboard. A small grey scroll button is at the center, top of the mouse. Below this is a log of a apple with a smooth bite taken from it. The apple is also white and barely visible.

2.) Keri Ortiz

An Apple Computer Displaying Ethereal Education

The item to be described is an Apple monitor, keyboard, and mouse displaying a web page from Ethereal Education at approximately 7:40 on the evening of Thursday, January 19, 2009. The monitor is a matte silver gray with a shiny black glass apple cutout centered on the bottom of the frame. The monitor has smooth rounded corners. The monitor has a foot supporting it that is made of the same matte silver gray material. The foot also has a white sticker that names the computer P-120-11 in black lettering. The computer keyboard is almost flat, an odd design to me a PC user. My hands are uncomfortable trying to use the unfamiliar keyboard. The mouse is awkward as well. It has a short cord that is hooked into the top right hand corner of the keyboard that makes using it difficult because I find myself continuously having to adjust the cord. The mouse itself is white, almost perfectly smooth except for the etched detail of an apple centered on the top. The top also has a rubbery gray dot towards what would be the front of the mouse.

The display is showing a web page from Ethereal Education–our class page. The page is white with red, gray, and black writing. The red screams “click on me” because it identifies a link that can be clicked on. The browser bar is a dark charcoal with white writing. The bottom left corner of the Internet window has a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark that claims that there is an error on the page. On the opposite lower corner is a small globe and the words “Internet protected mode on.” The same corner shows that there is a live network connection and that the speakers are on as indicated by a small speaker. In the upper left-hand corner are the browser forward and back buttons of which only the forward button is lit. The other is a dark color and appears almost embossed on the page indicating that it cannot be used to go back. From Ethereal Education there is no looking back. There are five additional tabs open at the bottom of the page. They are as follows: Balance for K. Ortiz, Ethereal Education, Click here wind, and 2 tabs that are application error notices. On the right side of the screen is the scroll bar about 4 inches long and firmly situated at the top of the page.

The information displayed on Ethereal Education is a page ending with the link for the course calendar for 5870. The overall design of the page is aesthetically pleasing and information can be easily gleaned from the page. The color combination of red, white, gray and black makes for a very easy to view page. Keeping the color scheme simple makes it easier for certain things to stand out like links for example. Because they are a bright red they jump out as main points of navigation. The text is written in a very slender stylized font that is easy to read yet stylistically pleasing. The glare from the overhead lights interferes in my viewing of certain text items from the viewing angle from my seat. The overhead lights reflected are long rectangular shapes with a metal mesh of some sort that reflects into the dirty, fingerprint-smudged screen.

Keri Ortiz

In Comparison

Tina and I observed the computer for about 15 minutes. Our observations do have some similarities but more interesting are the differences. In describing the physical aspects of the computer Tina was more specific and gave measurements like when she described the monitor as being “approximately 17x 14 inches.” I was more concerned with the colors and textures as when I described the “shiny black glass apple.” In looking back through my description I am surprised that I included no measurements. In hindsight, measurements are a seemingly obvious aspect of description but they never occurred to me.

In describing the web page on display I took into account the functionality of the page. How does it work? I also made judgments as to whether or not it was aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. My partner stayed with a more concrete description. I also included judgments about the functionality of the computer. Part of my description included the things I didn’t like about the computer like the “awkward” mouse and I made reference to how difficult if was for me to use the keyboard. I wonder if a good description should just pay attention to the things that can be measured and checked?

If I were to remark on any weaknesses in my partners paper I would have to note that the description gives no judgments on the computer and the web page displayed. But then maybe a good description shouldn’t include these things. From the description, I don’t know how she thinks of the subject. In the description my partner gave a thoroughly detailed description of the visual aspects of the computer and page. She noted things that I can’t even now recall like the coffee cup.

2 comments for “5870 Exercise 2 Conduct an Observation with a Partner

  1. Keri
    February 23, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Did I post this properly? I’m not quite sure how this works.

  2. James
    March 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I think that you are both excelllent and specific observers. See my response to the other post for more specifics, but in general, I would suggest that when observing people (and I would say that when looking at a webpage you are observing its creator, just like when you read a book, you are looking into the author to a certain extent), when doing qualatative research, and most particularly when doing participant/observer ethnography, I want to know who you are, who your partner is (in a much more specific and humanistic way than just a name/title, I don’t actually care about the name in that context, protecting anonymity can be important, but I care about personality, ethnicity, social class, education, purpose of the observation, religion, and it’s relative importance to the belief system of both the observer and the observed, social setting, and relative power structures among the participants, how that power is exercised, who exercises it, in what way, and why they choose to either exercise it or not. And so on and so forth. The actual physical object or location observed is relevant only in relation to these things, so I would have spent a short paragraph talking about the computer, and the room itself, and the rest of the time talking about myself, my partner, the words on the page, anyone else in the room, and what effect their presense might have either on the observers, or on the observed thing, and so on.

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