CFC Media Lab – Journal #2

Class #2 – Situating the Prototyping – 4th of July

I am a firm believer in co-creation. Even though it is challenging for me to define what it means, I have always found it very useful in my practice. For my thesis, I am interested in looking at co-creators and their design process, so it only makes sense if I approach the prototyping in the same manner.

Elizabeth Sanders was my first readings on the role of participation in research. In her paper, An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research,

Liz Sanders. 2008. ON MODELING: An evolving map of design practice and design research. Interactions 15, 6 (November 2008), 13-17. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/1409040.1409043

she maps the move from expert mindset to participatory mindset in both design and research. She touches on the “loose ends,” and how we will not be able to reach a full co-creation status until we stop calling in customer co-creation.” For me, the fact that we are still attached to the old frame of work, where the users are the customers and the designers are the experts who are creating for the customers is a red flag.

In her other paper, Co-creation and the New Landscapes of Design,

Elizabeth B.-N. Sanders & Pieter Jan Stappers (2008) Co-creation and the new landscapes of design, CoDesign, 4:1, 5-18, DOI: 10.1080/15710880701875068

Sanders and Stappers define co-creation as “any act of collective creativity.” They present a more specific type of co-creation, co-design. Co-design is a particular instance of co-creation referring to the combination of the designer and the “not trained” people in the design process working together to create something. Co-designing is not a new concept, just one that we are taking a closer look into now. They talk about the history of the practice of co-creation in design, and how in Northern Europe it has been under the name Participatory design whereas in the United States it has been under User-centred design. Even though we have learned the benefits of participatory design, we still don’t see full participatory models in work.

Another interesting point they highlight is the change in the role of the designer, the researcher and the user that has been brought by co-designing.

  1. The users have shifted from passive object studies
    into experts of their experience.
  2. Researchers have moved away from analyzers of the user’s experiences and turned into supporters of the user’s expert experiences.
  3. Designers have stopped doing all the creative thinking in the process and turned into the giver of forms to the ideas of both the users and the researchers.

What is really interesting in this change is how the design tools have become the primary way these three groups communicate with each other and common ground where all their decision makings occur.

Going back to my thesis and project, I want to build is a tool that I can later use as a way to capture all the decisions that are being made in a design process and use the data to explore different ways that I can document that process. So I can say the project is to build an outcome centred prototype to run then workshops which would lead to more context centred prototype where the scenario becomes more important. My goal for the CFC class is to create a middle-fidelity prototype that I can use to frame my research question and situations that I am interested in exploring.

 

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.