Avaaj Otalo: a field study of an interactive voice forum for small farmers in rural India
CHI, pp.733-742, (2010)
In this paper we present the results of a field study of Avaaj Otalo (literally, "voice stoop"), an interactive voice application for small-scale farmers in Gujarat, India. Through usage data and interviews, we describe how 51 farmers used the system over a seven month pilot deployment. The most popular feature of Avaaj Otalo was a forum ...更多
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- Agriculture provides a means of livelihood for over 50% of India’s population. Most of India’s farmers are smallscale; 78% of farms are five acres or less .
- The Government of India invests heavily in its agricultural extension program, in which trained field officers help communities address common problems and learn about new farming techniques or technologies.
- This program has not lived up to its potential.
- The authors' work explores the use of a voice message forum to provide interactive, on-demand access to appropriate and timely agricultural knowledge.
- Voice content can be accessed using low-cost mobile phones, which are being rapidly adopted by rural communities around the world
- Agriculture provides a means of livelihood for over 50% of India’s population
- No more than one participant was chosen from a single village; Development Support Center (DSC) chose to spread the user base to cover a wide range of farmer backgrounds and experiences
- Participants were briefed on Avaaj Otalo’s features during a meeting called by DSC prior to launch
- As is common in web forums, traffic on Avaaj Otalo (AO) was dominated by a small number of highly active users
- Social Dynamics we describe some of the social dynamics that emerged around AO, both within the virtual forum, and in the communities where AO was deployed
- WORK In this paper we have presented the results from an extended field study of Avaaj Otalo, a voice application for small farmers in rural India
- Participants The
51 pilot participants were selected from 4 districts across the state.
- No more than one participant was chosen from a single village; DSC chose to spread the user base to cover a wide range of farmer backgrounds and experiences.
- Three months into the pilot, 17 participants were removed due to non-usage
- These non-users either lost interest in the system or had little interest to begin with.
- The decision to add new users was based on DSC’s goals of maximizing system usage and feedback obtained through the pilot.
- Due to malfunctions with the logging system during the first 20 days, all log-based data presented in the paper begins after this time period
- Traffic Overview Over the seven-month pilot, 6,975 calls were made to AO.
- Figure 4 shows a weekly breakdown of call traffic, by specific feature.
- The Q&A forum was by far the most popular feature, outnumbering announcement board and radio archive accesses combined in every week.
- Of the 36 AO users that were interviewed, 65% named it as the AO feature they liked the most.
- As is common in web forums, traffic on AO was dominated by a small number of highly active users.
- The 10 most frequent callers accounted for over 80% of overall calls, with the top 3 accounting for 60%
- The authors discuss the implications of the findings for the design of voice-based social media targeting rural communities in developing regions.
Use Touchtone (Wisely) Prior work for low-literacy populations has focused on the use of speech recognition, graphical icons and other ways of avoiding text.
- The authors advocate appropriate use of speech recognition, when and if it matches the requirements of the task — for example, in random-access tasks, when the space of potential responses is high.CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK.
- The authors' work has shown that voice can be a suitable medium for online communities in the rural developing world.
- This represents an early step in the development of appropriate social media tools for connecting these previously disconnected communities.
- The authors look forward to addressing these and other questions in the version of Avaaj Otalo
- There are three main bodies of research related to this work — voice user interfaces for low-literacy populations, empirical studies of voice-based social media, and projects using voice as a medium to deliver information to small farmers.
Voice-based Social Media There have been several empirical studies of voice-based social media in the developed world. Most of these have focused on media spaces that support synchronous or near-synchronous communications within groups, often in the workplace [1, 5]. Dourish et al investigated use of continuous audio and video links to connect remote offices, concluding that it was not adequate to understand such spaces in terms of facilitating personto-person communications, and that broader individual, interactional, communal and societal perspectives must also be considered . Ackerman et al studied office usage of a audio-only media space over a two month period, finding that audio was sufficient for creating a usable and useful social space .
Several researchers have proposed the use of structured voice messages for improving asynchronous voice communications . HyperVoice first applied this idea to groups through an interactive voice response (IVR) toolkit for community discussion . Subsequently, several researchers have designed voice-based forums, chat applications and wikis [8, 24] including for developing world contexts [4, 9]. To our knowledge none of these systems have actually been deployed or studied empirically.
- This work was supported by IBM Research India, Stanford SOE, Nokia Research, and The Gates Foundation
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