Consumption & Sustainability: Designing the Future of Online Shopping

Consumption is today a complex ethical process that requires balancing cost together with environmental impact, trade and labor practices, safety, and health considerations. In making these choices, consumers have today access to vast amounts of information seeking to promote repairability, recycling, hacking, making, sharing, etc. Taking stock of this evolution of consumer information, this assignment provides class participants with the opportunity to draw from librarianship, user experience design, and information service design so as to imagine possible futures for consumer information services.

The assignment requires answering the following questions:

  1. Data sources: What types of information could be available on the site? Where would it come from (user-generated, manufacturer, third-parties)? Who would pay to generate and provide access to it?
  2. Data quality: What kind of mechanisms (e.g., technical, policy, economic) would ensure its authenticity, fairness, and freshness?
  3. System design: How are data, software, and hardware components assembled and interconnected (e.g., through APIs) to provide services;
  4. User experience: What kind of interfaces (e.g., taxonomies, search mechanisms, visualizations) would help users manage and make sense of this information?

Product Life: Extending the Life of Electronics

Caitlin Meyer and Niqui O'Neill

While Amazon product pages offer an incredible amount of information, concerns about the performance of an item over time are not addressed. If curious, a user could click through thousands of reviews to glean an understanding, but, currently, somebody wondering about replacing a part or safety information is forced to search elsewhere. This loss of traffic and confusion can be easily remedied with Product Life: a robust service consisting of Customer Reviews Over Time, Safety & Recall Information, and Parts & Installation. This trio of services provides a more informed, comprehensive purchase experience then reimagines a consumer's relationship with an Amazon page as more than a single, day-of-purchase interaction.

Unregulated Amazon

Sarah Jones and Ashley Vergara

Our vision of Unregulated Amazon was inspired and challenged by Dunne and Raby's 'Design Noir' and their frustration that designers have become complicit with the 'status quo desires' of consumers. Unregulated Amazon challenges this status quo by focusing on the regulations that constrain the Amazon marketplace and imagines a future where recalled products are freely available, left to consumers' own evaluation of their potential risks.

Amazon Green: Research, Repair, and Recycle

Helen Chun and Felicia Martinez

Amazon Green applies data from EPEAT, iFixit, and to promote researching, repairing, and recycling electronics. EPEAT provides verified information about green rated electronics and local regulations that govern their production. iFixit offers user-reviewed repair manuals for electronics that include photographs and step-by-step instructions. lists recycling centers by location, green living tips, and other tools for the eco-conscious user. The Amazon Green proposal thus offers an opportunity for users to engage directly with the life cycle of their electronics.

Amazon Shareplace

Stalgia Grigg and Brandy Watts

Amazon Shareplace is a platform for sharing new or used top of the line Amazon electronics through third-party sharers. Shareplace is intended for individuals whose interests and creative lifestyle involve using superior entertainment equipment. The primary function of the Shareplace service is to provide a platform for sharing Amazon electronic entertainment and professional production products in such a way that makes them feasible and affordable by way of an alternative economic model. Likewise, Shareplace adds value to these products by imbuing them with new social use.

Amazon Kindle 2.0: Unlocking the Potential of Comprehensive Reading Data

Diamond Cronen and Alba Edesa‚Äč

We envision a new service and/or feature of the Amazon site that would aggregate and compile a number of key data points generated by users of its e-readers --- including available data from users' Goodreads accounts, as Amazon now owns this service and has integrated it into its e-reader software. Some of the features could be very enticing to many different types of readers, as well as authors and publishers.

Amazon Book Sleuth

Yang Guo, Crystal Yang, Yaqi Zhang

Purchasing a book from Amazon can be a frustrating experience, particularly when a book has multiple editions. What separates one edition from another? Which edition is best suited for an individual's needs? Amazon's current system for creating listings does not accommodate the dynamic nature of books; established listings can be incredibly difficult to edit. As a result, the listings tend to have poor or confusing information regarding different variations of a book. Our solution to this problem is an Amazon extension called Amazon Book Sleuth. ABS will provide a comprehensive history of a book. ABS will be able to differentiate and articulate the differences between book editions and provide links to the correct listings available on Amazon, any Amazon international site that ships to the user's location, and 3rd party sellers. ABS will be built utilizing library cataloging and metadata principles to ensure find-ability and data quality.