In my post last month, In Search of Clarity, I thought I had found the core of my thesis. Paul’s feedback was to focus my efforts on the experience of cooking together itself, because that was the key differentiator separating my project from the numerous recipe sites already out there.

In the weeks that followed, I had a chance to think long and hard about this. I also had some really good conversations with my thesis group leader, David Womack. He said the following:

The magic for me is being able to meet strangers and share this really intimate experience of cooking together. I would want to automatically be able to find cooking buddies based on foods I like, things we have in common, etc.

Thinking back to the story of Vera and Fred, my idealized cooking buddies, this is exactly the hope I¬†inadvertently¬†expressed in this story. This project is not just about the act of cooking together in real time. It’s about who you’re doing it with: whether it’s a friend who lives far away or a stranger you form a connection with, it’s the people who make it so compelling.

A fellow student, Kristin Breivik, also disagreed to some extent with Paul’s assessment. She says:

There is so much around [the cooking experience] to even get people to go to the cooking part. You need to get people excited from the very beginning. and once people get to cooking, it might not even matter if the technology sucks.

She brought up a good point, because I realized that when Clint and Yang prototyped together, Clint was adamant that we actually cook despite initial technology troubles on both ends. This may have had to do with all the built up anticipation, prep and “framing” I had done beforehand to get him excited. So even though conditions weren’t ideal, they persisted and found a way to make it work, and the reward was an incredibly satisfying experience for both of them. Clint, reluctant cook that he is, was even enthusiastic about doing it again. And again I think the fascination was in the interaction with Yang, another human being, not with the “cool” technology that made it all happen.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I should completely disregard the technology driving the cooking experience, but I think it’s clear by now that it doesn’t have to be my one and only obsession. In any case, now I think it’s time to gather together all I’ve learned into one big ball and roll it out the door.

Which means: this week, I will be making wireframes! Stay tuned!