Finally “Act Re.Act!” started! A few words about my experiment… I give an energy-meter (the Wattcher) and a workbook to the participants (see post: design probes), and for 3 weeks they document their experience. The participants come from two different neighborhoods, as I am interested in how neighbors can learn from each other. The themes I’m exploring are: awareness, adoption and social learning. How people learn and get aware about the energy they consume? How do people welcome an intervention like an energy meter? How does social learning work? After the 3 weeks, we will have a workshop all together, discuss about the experience, the frustrations, the rewards etc. and in the end conceptualize about solutions.
Of course, 3 weeks is not enough time to get “valid”, “scientific” measurements and results. However, it’s more than enough to get insights on the users’ lives, and a lot of inspiration for ideation. I can’t wait for the results 🙂
As a lot of friends have asked me about the probes I designed for my project, so I thought it would be a good idea to upload them. It’s only to give you an impression, and ispire you, but please don’t copy them as it’s a skill that I’m still mastering…Hence, I have still a lot to learn from my mistakes.What I find hard when I design the probes is to draw a line between information and inspiration. If you want information you have to interfere and ask questions to get the right answers, but if you want inspiration you have to let the user tell his/her story and express him/herself…Anyhow, I’ll learn 😉
On Tuesday I attended the PhD defense thesis of Froukje Sleeswijk Visser on “Bringing the everyday life of people into design”. I succeed to follow the presentation with my poor dutch, and I really enjoyed the defense (this in english 😉 ).
Froukje’s thesis was the first phd on contextmapping , a very popular method in my school (credits to Froukje) for conducting contextual research and empathize with the user when you design a product/service. Contextmapping is a participatory technique that involves the stakeholders and the users during design and communicates the rich knowledge gained to the design team. However this communication is not just a signal from A->B…it involves a lot of noises, trivial things that users do daily, and that are passed on to the design team for inspiration and creativity.
Designers (and not only) like to hear stories, empathize with the people and then design for/with them…I apply this techique for my thesis as well, and I can say that it really works as you get to know the people and shape stories in your head. It’s a very nice technique, however you have to master it and aknowledge also the time it consumes for conducting it, for the bits of information/inspiration you get. Hence, I would definetely recommend it to get rich information, but maybe not for your graduation project if you haven’t mastered it 😛
p.s you can download or order a hard copy of Froukje’s thesis at her website
A very inspiring presentation by Marc Surman, the executive director of the Mozilla Foundation.I think he teaches a few things to designers about what open and participatory design can do…