When people switch jobs, move to a new city, start school, or have a child, aspects of their identity change. For designers, this presents an opportunity to help people invent and discover who they would like to be in their new roles. But there is little evidence of design attempting to support this behavior. By looking at one of these groups (incoming college freshmen) I am developing a mobile application called MetaMe that allows students to project meta information about themselves in the physical environment and adjust that information to project and prototype aspects of their identity in order to get to a more desired self.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can visit a prototype at metame.jamin.org.


  • Shelley Evenson
  • John Zimmerman


In room interviews
Interviews were conducted in students’ rooms to see how they expressed their identity through their artifacts.

Research Boards
Research was documented on large boards to visualize the findings.

Taking Notes
Me, taking notes during a participatory design session.

Participatory Design
Participatory design session where participants were asked to visualize their social network.

PhotoNow concept sketch
Early sketch for a concept scenario.

Concept Scenarios
Example concept scenarios.

Visualization of some of the survey results.

Element of Freshmen Identity


Concept Map
Visualizing the concepts against the main themes.

Mobile prop
Prop used during a concept validation session where participants were asked to enact scenarios.

Enacting Scenario
A participant enacting a scenario.

Participatory ambient brainstorm
A representation of ambient information during a participatory design session.

system sketches
“The System” of the MetaMe concept as understood by a design session participant.