pre-thesis week 11

This week I was able to finish Imaginary Apparatus and Branding New York. I still have to write down some notes from the two — for Imaginary Apparatus, I mainly want to re-watch the accompanying documentary to take screenshots of signage, but need to get my hands on a computer with a DVD slot first; for Branding New York, I started some notes from chapter 1 but could use a bigger screen to copy and paste quotes more easily. I was able to write down my notes from SSENYC over the weekend, though. After looking back at my reading list, I realized I only really have two more sources I might want to include in my lit review, both in the area of motion graphics — one in video form that would be a fairly quick watch, and the other a book titled “Typography and Motion Graphics: The ‘Reading-Image’”. I’m hoping I can get through those in this week, before I start pulling it all together into my introduction and lit review.

I was also able to schedule my four interviews this week, and will have the first one this Tuesday. I feel a bit nervous about them, mostly in a logistic sense — I’m worried about the sound equipment failing me, or me tripping up the questions I want to ask, or them not eliciting very good content. But also in the more sensitive sense, because the topic revolves around stigma, I worry about coming across in an otherizing way. I’ve been going through my questions all week, tweaking things here and there to make the phrasing as neutral as possible while remaining empathetic. I’m trying to comfort myself in that I know all the people I’m interviewing, that hopefully it does come across in good faith and that they do feel comfortable sharing with me. 

Besides the interview questions, I created the interactive typographic exercise I mentioned last week, making it a survey. I selected 48 typefaces in a variety of styles and will be asking participants to rate how “New York” each is, in a five-step Likert scale. Here’s the help text and an example question: 

I think this will be an interesting exercise, and I’m planning to ask my interviewees to think out loud so I can take notes on their reactions to the typefaces. But I can also see myself tweaking this survey so that I can send it out to more people — in which case I might want to add a long-form question at the end about what their overall impressions were, if there were any trends they could identify. I could also ask some demographic questions and compare groups (native NYers, transplants, and outsiders, for example) to see if any differences jump out. I’m not sure how vital this will be to the final project — I wouldn’t be limiting myself to the typefaces I selected for the survey — but I think it’ll help flesh out some more perceptions of New York City in a visual way.