Cultural probing was a technique I read about whilst studying block 2 of my course.  The technique is a type of survey which allow researchers to study communities in depth, when there is no time for a lengthy ethnographic study nor the budget for more traditional methods, such as questionnaires or focus groups.  They also give designers an empathic understanding of their subject area.

The designers I read about, put together cultural probe packages.  Each pack contained maps, postcards, a disposable camera, a media diary and even an egg timer, all designed to prompt responses and discover participants’ habits and emotional, aesthetic and social values.  Unfortunately, I did not have time to put together such a pack but the idea interested me and I thought it might be interesting to try out some basic element of the idea here.

Okay, so I didn’t get a brilliant response but it was fun trying and I enjoyed Simon’s artwork (below).

  • Who are you
  • The place you live
  • Your favourite thing
  • Your favourite place
  • Your favourite piece of clothing
  • A happy thought
  • Something that helps you
  • Something you couldn’t live without
  • Somewhere you would like to visit
  • An ambition
  • Someone you admire
  • The one thing you would like the world to know about you

Something that makes you feel:

  • Safe
  • Happy
  • Loved
  • Unhappy
  • Frustrated
  • Angry

Something you:

  • Love
  • Hate
  • Would like to change

Something you think is:

  • Boring
  • Ugly
  • Beautiful

Cultural Probe by Simon Nevin

Cultural Probe Drawing 1 by Simon Nevin

Cultural Probe Drawing 2 by Simon Nevin

Cultural Probe Drawing 2 by Simon Nevin

Cultural Prove Drawing 3 by Simon Nevin

Cultural Probe by Toni Abram

Who are You?

The Place You live?

Your favourite thing?
Music, chocolate,  babies laughing and shiny, sparkly stuff.

Your favourite place?
My bed.

Your favourite piece of clothing?
A black and white top with a tie back – I always get compliments when I wear it, which makes me feel good.

A happy thought?
My garden in the summer.

Something that helps you?
The adaption on my key – helps me get in my house. My dad – he fixes my computer.

Something you couldn’t live without?
My pc, it scares me how reliant I have become on it and the fear I feel when it breaks down.

Somewhere you would like to visit?

An ambition?
To graduate from the OU.

Someone you admire?
Bob Geldolf.

The one thing you would like the world to know about you?
Just because I am quiet, does not mean I do not have thoughts and opinions.  Listen to me – I have a lot  to say.

Something that makes you feel:

Safe – My phone.

Happy –The Friends tv show makes me laugh out loud.

Loved – Being looked after when I get sick.

Unhappy – Arguing with people.

Frustrated – Steps, having to ask for help for things I think I should be able to do on my own, people who don’t understand why this is frustrating for me and people who spell my name wrong (both bits), even when I spell them (both), 3 times … yes I am certain I spell my name that way.

Angry – Public transport.

Something you:

Love – My home.

Hate – Intolerance, liver, sprouts and runner beans. Yuck!

Would like to change – Man’s inhumanity to man.

Something you think is:

Boring –‘Only boring people get bored’ but feeling un-challenged, un-stimulated and mundane household tasks.

Ugly – Chewing gum on pavements, litter and people who spit in the street.

Beautiful – My mum’s quilts.


3 Responses to “Cultural Probing Exercise”

  1. Simon Nevin Says:

    Hi Toni,

    I’m a fellow student on T307. I’ve answered your cultural probe with drawings. I’ve scanned them but can’t attach them here. Do you have an email I can send them to? Reply to my above email and I’ll send you them. If I may, can I ask you to reciprocate & answer my cultural probe?! I’m not sure how often you look at your blog so I might contact you via forum if I don’t hear from you.


  2. tonilouisa Says:

    Cool! I was hoping someone would give it a go.

    I will send you my email address separately – I haven’t uploaded any images here yet but I should be able to.

    Send your cultural probe too and I will be more than happy to reciprocate.


  3. tonilouisa Says:

    Simon Nevin a fellow OU student has answered the Cultural Probe with drawings.

    Check them out here.

    Thank you Simon.

    Toni xx

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