CFC Media Lab – Journal #1

Class #1 – Initial Exploration – 2nd of July

The purpose of the CFC Media Lab Prototyping course is to “identify research questions, through rapid ideation, development, and refinement of their project concepts.” So what better way to start this class than to examine our current ideas and our prior making practices.

How do I approach creation activities?
My background is in engineering. I need to define a clear problem statement for myself that can be broken down into smaller issues. I try to come up with ways in which I can measure my success in each of these issues and try to come up with individual solutions for each of them. And finally, I try to combine all of them and modify them so that they could all exist in the same answer.
What I found in my experience is the lack of participation of the community/stakeholder in the design process. They usually are involved in the confirmation of the problem, and they only come back at the end of the project to see if they like the solution or not. At that point, the project is almost done. In some rare cases, the stakeholder gives us a few suggestions or small modification, and then the team goes back and makes those changes, and the project is over.

Part of the reason that I wanted to do this master program was to change my design process. I believe that stakeholders must be more involved in the creation process. In my experience, the designers take the role of all knowers. They act as if they have a full understanding of the field, but in reality, they have only been exposed to a little part of that world. This is very much visible in the final solutions that they come up with and also provides a great reason as to why all the solutions are short term.

We talked about our design approached in class, and what I found interesting was how different each one of our processes was.
Through our conversation, I realized that my approach is very much goal-oriented in comparison to others. I need to have a working prototype and does everything that needs to be done first and then if time permits, I will take into consideration other aspects that might lead to a better-designed product.

At this stage, I needed to converge on an idea, so I decided to use the 5-why technique to narrow down my interest into a specific problem.

  1. Build a tool that assists with documentation. why?
  2. It is very time consuming in most cases to write what you are doing down when you are also building it. why?
  3. It requires a change in mindset and also not all the decisions being made are super clear for the user to write/note them down. why?
  4. Not all the decisions made are active decisions and most of them come from the user’s background and previous experiences, therefore are difficult for the user’s to identify them. why?
  5. It is difficult for the users themselves to identify and documents things that are second nature to them.

This activity really helped me narrow down on why I want to focus on documentation, and also focus on what kind of decision making I would like to capture.


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