An overview of my New Media Capstone project

This semester, I was part of a team of four students who created a capstone project as part of the final class required to receive the New Media Certificate at the University of Georgia. We were required to create a piece of new media technology about autonomous vehicles, and we came up with Auto — an immersive, personalized web-based experience that shows users what their futures will look like with fully self-driving cars. We presented the project at the New Media Institute’s spring SLAM event on Saturday, April 29, 2017.

But our booth presentation at SLAM didn’t happen overnight. Over the course of the spring semester, my team worked hard to develop a concept for our product from a mere idea, including branding, a trailer, a wireframe, a beta, blog posts, a one-pager, and several other assignments that helped make our concept a reality. Below are a few of the things I was most involved with.

Research

As part of an early class assignment, my entire group conducted research about autonomous cars in order to develop a project plan for Auto. I focused mainly on how autonomous vehicles achieve automated tasks, and what technology currently exists on the market. Additionally, I researched a few of the ethical and safety considerations for self-driving cars. Overall, this research really helped our group think about autonomous vehicles more holistically, thereby informing our decisions during the course of the project development.

View our research here.

Wireframe

Brainstorming what our project would be was a group effort for team Auto. Our adviser John Weatherford was instrumental in guiding us toward a broader, purposeful view of self-driving cars, which ultimately led us to consider creating a user experience instead of a piece of car technology. Our wireframe is a good example of this decision, as it closely resembles our finished product — a personalized look at a specific user’s future with self-driving cars.

View the wireframe here.

For the wireframe assignment, I contributed mostly by developing a vision for the design of the product, specifically in the form and purpose of the experience. Being a journalism major, I drew inspiration mostly from projects conducted by media outlets such as The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. After creating a plan, the entire group helped create the wireframe using Marvel, which we all presented in front of the class near the middle of the semester.

Technology

While our team didn’t have any experienced coders to execute Auto’s web-based experience, my fellow teammate Kalah Mingo and I took the reins in teaching ourselves some basics. We based our interactive web experience on a project created by The Atlantic that shows users a personalized view of how the world has changed during their lifetime.

Using The Atlantic’s project as inspiration, we developed a way of using user responses in a short information form to produce a personalized day-in-the-life scenario for a future with self-driving cars. While I mainly focused on designing and maintaining the HTML website for our team as well as the web-based experience, Kalah took the lead in developing the in-line JavaScript functions that make our project work. Together, we learned a lot more about how to create and maintain dynamic websites.

Beta

In order to get our project from a wireframe to a working beta, Kalah and I mostly worked together to develop both the JavaScript functionality of the experience and the HTML framework to produce a feasible rough draft of our product. In this, I took the lead in designing the beta HTML website using a template that included the team bios, start page and layout, while Kalah focused on getting the experience to work on the back end.

Trailer

As we prepared for SLAM near the end of the semester, I took the lead in writing a script for our project trailer, which was later shown at the event in order to promote Auto. Our concept was an ironically cheesy infomercial that demonstrated how a future with autonomous vehicles could improve the lives of drivers in unique and interesting ways. Kalah served as the actor in the trailer, and I directed, shot and edited it. Our fellow teammate Adriana Reynolds also helped direct.

Final product

Moving from our beta presentation to SLAM, our main objective was to improve the JavaScript functionality of experience by assigning specific values to specific form responses in order to determine a custom output. Kalah mostly took the lead here, while I focused on finishing the trailer and polishing the UX of our website. The whole team pitched in the week of SLAM to come up with a booth concept and prepare for presenting our project to guests, including printing materials and coming up with a scripted presentation. Ultimately, we had a lot of interest in our project at SLAM and had several great discussions about the future of self-driving cars.


This post is an assignment for a New Media Capstone class in the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia.