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Page history last edited by Mike Brown 12 years, 8 months ago


500--Term Project

Subject Instructions

Click here to view Test procedure for Tarot subjects



Use the 2nd floor conference room? I'd prefer privacy.Can we use the 3rd floor lab?


Research Question

Survey sample of users on the experience of an online tarot reading versus a traditional tarot reading.


Qualitatively, did it offer the same experience? Did they prefer one type of reading over another? If so, why? Would it be possible to reproduce the best elements of one in the other?



Pre-test questions

Brief interview with subject (what do they know/have heard about Tarot, expectations, etc). All are asked a standard question set.

  • Have you ever had a Tarot reading before?
  • If yes, please describe your experiences.
  • If no, do you know anything about Tarot cards or Tarot readings?
  • Do you have any expectations about what will happen today?


Random assignment to online or human reading

Insofar as possible, we are trying to keep the essential elements of a Tarot reading the same between the online and the personal experience: we will use the same deck and the same spread. For the online reading, the chosen site does provide some explanation of the cards and of the card position in the spread. But the online reading is essentially a private experience, whereas the personal reading is a shared experience. Does adding a personal touch to the information interaction experience make a difference in how people feel about the interaction? Should that be the real research question, with the tarot cards being the red herring that throws our subjects off the scent?


The subjects will be randomly assigned (coin flip? an excel spreadsheet's random function? is there a better way?) either a human reader or a reading from the online tarot site.


The online site will be http://www.llewellyn.com/free/tarot.php. The deck style we will use is the World Spirit deck, which will also be used for the personal readings.


The Llewellyn site also offers a selection of spreads, including the standard 3-card spread called the Past/Present/Future spread. This spread will also be used for the personal readings.

So, the same trappings of a traditional reading -- card images, spread -- are maintained for each interaction. Except one is online and private, while the other is in-person and shared. The other major difference of course is that the personal reading is guided by someone presumably more experienced in the topic domain than the subject.


Hill -- another sneaky trick -- we force everyone to do an online reading, observe them, ask the questions, etc. But we offer them a personal reading "off the books". My assumption is that more people will say yes than no. While I do the personal reading for them, you observe them and gather the same data (posture, thinking aloud, etc). And after it was over, we relaxedly chat and ask them which they preferred. Since, to them, the test is "over," they may be more honest and talkative about their experience. It's an iffy proposition though, if not enough people take us up on it.


For online readings

Hill and I observe the online interaction and ask them to think aloud. Note their posture, facial expressions, etc.


For personal readings

i will go through the standard tarot ritual -- help them define the question, shuffle the deck, do the card layout, etc.


Still encourage them to think aloud. (And reassure them I'm not offended if they think it's all bogus.)


During the reading, I tell them about the cards' meanings, the significance of their positions in the spread, etc. In this case, Hill observes the subject and perhaps me as well. I'll be "onstage" during the reading and not really observing.


Post-test questions

In both cases, Hill asks post-test questions.


Follow-up interview (what did they think, deep insights, would they do it again, etc) - standard question set. Hill -- can you think of some good questions? just two or three. Shoudl they be related to the theme of solo vs shared interaction?

  1. What were your impressions of the reading?
  2. Do you think you got new information? New ideas? New perspective?
  3. Looking back on the experience, what one or two things stand out in your mind?


Review the Shannon model with the subject. (Maybe print out Gary's slide)


Ask them to map the reading onto the model--maybe draw it on paper? Hill -- this was my original idea. But if we go with private vs shared experience, then this could be moot. Or we could keep it to maintain the illusion that this is a random test.


Ritual For Personal Readings

  1. Provide an overview of what the ritual will consist of.
  2. Define the question. "What should I know about...", "What should I consider...", "How can I go about doing..."
  3. Deescribe the Past-Present-Future spread.
  4. Shuffle the cards, cut, etc.
  5. Lay out the cards in the chosen pattern.
  6. Interpret!
    1. Ask them to look at the cards and describe what they see happening in the pictures.
    2. Ask: based on their positions in the spread, can you intuit a meanin?
    3. I walk them through some basic interpretative heuristics:
    4. Groundwork
      1. Use reversed cards? No.
      2. Major/Minor balance
      3. Suit balance
      4. Number emphasis
      5. Focus cards
    5. Analysis
      1. basic meaning of each card
      2. orientation of each card
      3. value of each card
    6. Synthesis
      1. cards in relation to each other
      2. flow from beginning to end
      3. intuitive sense
      4. summary

Final thoughts and wrap-up

Writing up the results

Our paper could veer a little too much toward "how well do IS students really know/understand the Shannon model" so we'll have to control for that in the experiment and our writeup.


Our paper (I don't see a page limit on the assignment) could be structured like:

  1. Define the research question ("Is a Tarot reading an info interaction? If so, and using the Shannon model as a template, how does a reading map onto the model, in the opinions of IS students? If not, what prevents it from being classified as an info interaction?") or ("What differentiates a private interaction experience from a public or shared experience? We use the trappings of a tarot reading--one online and private, the other with a human reader and thus shared--to examine these qualities.")
  2. Brief history of Tarot cards; the ritual of a reading (?)
  3. Brief overview of Shannon model
  4. Review experiment setup
  5. Review experiment results - questions asked, responses to the readings
  6. Review results of students' opinions of mapping the reading to the Shannon model
  7. Conclusions


In-class presentation (Dec 3)

For the final class, it would be fun to do an in-class reading, depending on the time. We could do a reading with someone who didn't get a chance to sign up, and I could think aloud as to my internal process as I'm assessing the situation and making decisions. Hill could finish with a quick wrap-up of our findings, which really shouldn't take that long.




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Hill -- I've highlighted T'giving and the date we have to do the presentation (12/3) and the date the paper is due (12/12). It would be great to have the sessions wrapped up before t'giving so that we have time to crunch data, spin the results, whatever.



  • Announce that we're ready to do readings. Maybe make an annoucnement in the next class. Or does Gary have a class mailing list we could use? there'll be no way to coordinate everyone, so wondering if a weekend or weekday evening would work. We both need to be there, that's the  constraint.
  • So we should probably start by defining times when we're available to spend a few hours at a time on campus to work with folks
  • wonder if we could send out a notice to the SILS student list and ask for volunteers -- don't know what kind of response we'd get
  • Use Surveymonkey?
  • What if we offer the choice of EITHER online or in-person -- send them the link to the online tarot reading, then they use the surveymonkey link. For the in-person reading, do the reading and then send them to the surveymonkey link. Then the two of us don't have to be around for each reading. And then it's just up to me to schedule the in-person readings.
  • OR -- they do both an in-person and an online (the latter at their convenience) and then they do a surveymonkey comparing the two experiences. Hill's job is then to collect up the results and crunch the data. Mine is to write up various background pieces of the paper and do the readings. [Update: Gary preferred this setup.]


Writing the paper

Things to include:

  • Bits and pieces of the above.
  • The instructions to the subjects.
  • The survey questions.
  • analysis of the results


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