#AloneTogether – An Exploration of Social Connectedness Through Communication Technology During Physical Distancing
Abstract: This thesis project explores how communication technology can foster the sense of togetherness to maintain the feeling of social connectedness during physical distancing. The current global pandemic COVID-19 is causing billions of people across the world to live in isolation or by physical distancing regulations. The elimination of almost all in-person interactions is affecting people’s mental health and has resulted in many people turning to communication technology to feel a sense of social connectedness.The project builds upon three main areas of theory: the social and mental effects of physical distancing, designing for crises and design theories about togetherness within communication technology. The design process is guided by a research through design methodological approach, with the aim find out how people who are living in isolation and by physical distancing regulations are using existing forms of communication technology to feel a sense of social connectedness with others and what they need from it. The project addresses two key problematic areas which were identified during the fieldwork and literature review and are explored through prototypes. The prototypes focus on how to create a hang out feeling within online group interactions and how to create the in-the- moment feeling during shared online live experiences.The outcome of this project includes in a problem framing, design process knowledge, research insights and prototypes that explore how to foster the sense of togetherness within communication technology. The findings from this project intend to contribute knowledge to the research and design community on how to design new or alternative forms of communication technology that foster social connectedness during physical distancing.
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