Capstone Project Proposal: “Vent at Me”

by aburridg @ 8:03 am 21 March 2010

Concept & Motivation

I’ve always been really interested in how people choose to express themselves through the internet. Many people I know have heard of Post Secret and FMyLife: sites in which people can express something personal about themselves anonymously to the entire internet. I’m sure many people have also heard of various YouTube celebrities who blog about random topics in their lives/about the world and end up getting 1.8 million views (a.k.a. Boxxy).

Another big question I have is why?: why do people feel the need to express their problems publicly to potentially everyone on the internet? An obvious answer would be because it’s an outlet for them. Or, they believe that by expressing their secret or opinion, they will change the way others think about the topic of their secret or opinion (or at least open their eyes to the topic). So, I figured I’d investigate even further than that and put forth the final question I’m going to hopefully investigate for this project: Why do people feel the need to express themselves over the internet, and how do the topics they feel comfortably sharing over the internet differ from the topics they would share with a person face-to-face?


I don’t think they’re has been a huge study on this, but I want to collect my own data anyway. I will be using Mechanical Turk again (since I had so much fun with it in my first project!). I will also try to use other survey sites and chat clients to get data. I’ve already begun collecting data and shaping my survey from mechanical turk. I’m going to start trying to collect data from chat roulette soon (when I’m not sick anymore and my voice returns).

This is going to be an information visualization project, so after I collect enough data, I will try to compile the data into a visual project. I haven’t fully decided on how I’m going to visualize my data–it depends on how successful my data collection from the video clients are and on the final data set (how many dimensions I have to work with).

Right now, I’m thinking about using a bar chart to display my data (each bar would represent the data from a different participant). And, using the fish-eye idea to be able to zoom in on the bars to get more specific information about the participant. There will also be filters to only show participants from certain age groups and genders.

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