Informal HCI and Media Consumption Study

Okay, not really. You may remember that my daughter's birthday was on Saturday, and we were very excited to give her an iPod Touch.

She's had a little over two full days of use by now, and I thought I'd talk a bit about how she's actually using the device so far. I must say that I'm not surprised, as I've always seen the Touch as more analogous to a laptop than to the Nano, for example. So, this is all very informal, very anecdotal, and by no means rigorously tracked. First, some details on what she actually received:
  • iPod Touch 2nd Generation, 8GB
  • Preloaded with: Twilight movie (a gift from my son), third Twilight book via the Kindle app, 2 free games and one paid game (Labyrinth), new Hannah Montana album (thanks to @amazonmp3), another full album and one other song that she likes, several tv shows that were already on her Nano, and the free Pandora app
  • Wifi via WEP encrypted home connection, which I set up before unwrapping
That's pretty much it. So much for actual content loaded on the iPod (a device that originated as a way to conveniently store and disseminate lots of content). When she powered up and began to explore the device, she spent some time looking at the basic apps (weather, time), the games that were loaded, and the gifts she received (album, movie, book).

Then she hopped on YouTube. Then she closed out and headed to her email. Then she set up her contacts. Then she went to her feed reader. Then she streamed music from Pandora. Then she played games, and on her brother's advice, downloaded a couple more free games (Papi Jump is now a family favorite). See a pattern here?

What's most interesting (to me anyway) is what she didn't do: she didn't head over to the desktop and transfer music from iTunes. She didn't really even listen to music (other than through Pandora).

In the afternoon, she had a few friends over for a birthday party. They played outside, and generally did the things that normal 11 year olds do. Then my daughter connected her Touch to the main television, and they watched a little YouTube and then Twilight while eating pizza. Still no music playing. . .

Yesterday, I set up the TextFree Unlimited app from Pinger. She spent much of the afternoon and evening periodically texting her friends, cousins, grama, and mom (who was at Starbucks grading papers) from her iPod. She spent more time playing games and checking out viral videos on YouTube.

I'll not bore you with more details; my point should be abundantly clear by now. The overwhelming majority of the time my daughter spent on her Touch was in activities that we traditionally associate with "computing." Even most of the media consumed (everything other than watching
Twilight, it seems) was obtained via the cloud. To me, this pattern of activity is not surprising in the least, yet completely fascinating.


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