11.28.07 Revised Workshop Plan

Kelly C. and I reworked our plan for the small-group session we’ll lead at symposium. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us to collaborate with the Cranbrook students in planning the session, but the good news is that they’ll be attending the symposium. Here’s our revised plan:
1. Introductions
Refer to continuum of control as framing device for workshop

2. Human Scatterplot
Separate into groups: 3 points of control as ways of looking at design projects

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a horizontal line, participants close their eyes and listen to a series of questions and statements. For each question, the participants provide a physical response:

Yes/agree = 1 step forward
No/disagree = 1 step backward
Neutral/undecided = remains in place

  1. Are there more people who consider themselves designers today than 10 years ago?
  2. Templates are a great idea because they give non-designers the ability to create their own designs.
  3. Do you blog regularly?
  4. I participate in an online community or environment.
  5. Do you color outside the lines?
  6. I believe open source should be the future of computing and code.
  7. Do you program your own web sites?
  8. DIY culture is adding design jobs.
  9. Do you prefer to work without involving the client in the creative process and have a “dramatic reveal” of the finished concept or product?
  10. Your handmade birthday card is better than a non-designer’s handmade birthday card.

This will act as a sorting device to separate participants into three groups: design control, shared control (user/designer) and user control.

3. Introduce the artifact: present scenario around light rail proposal (and definitions of terms)
We’ll read two definitions, paraphrased from A Dictionary of Sociology, by Gordon Marshall:

Individualism can be defined as a set of ideas emphasizing the importance of the individual and the individual’s interests, and is used to characterize a range of ideas, philosophies, and doctrines. For the purposes of our discussion today, “individualism” is used employed to describe a political philosophy usually described as ‘liberal individualism’ that stresses the importance of the individual and the value attached to individual freedom and individual choice. This philosophy is frequently contrasted with collectivism, where the collective rather than the individual good is paramount.

Collectivism refers to any political or socio-economic theory or practice which encourages communal or state ownership and control of the means of production and distribution. The collectivist critique of liberal and other theories of individualism argues that market relationships are competitive, also therefore tend to be divisive, and undermine those communal bonds which are necessary between individuals if they are to cope with misfortunes to which all are in principle vulnerable.
Detailed Scenario:

Mae Winfield is a 42 year old mother of two who works in a cafe on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh. Because of her husband’s job in sales, he often monopolizes their only car and she takes the bus downtown for work. Additionally, her 14-year old daughter has begun to ask about a driver’s license and a car, but Mae knows it’s not in their family budget.

On her walk from the bus stop to the restaurant, Mae stops by the Fayetteville St. Town Hall input node. She notices that there are new photos posted in the Public Transportation section, so she expands that category to have a closer look at one of the buildings. According to the description, the warehouse was part of the original proposal for a light rail system to connect points in Raleigh with other places of interest throughout the Triangle area. The idea seemed to hit a dead end last year when the plan didn’t receive federal funding, but there is a recent post with information from the Triangle Transit Authority about a new plan involving the local transportation organizations.

The partnership is analyzing the old plan and trying to reconfigure it so that they can accomplish the light rail plan with their local resources. They are asking for community feedback to hear about transportation habits, places of interest, ideas, and concerns.

After reading the detailed description, Mae can choose to peruse comments by chronology or keyword. She can leave her own, individual voice-to-text comment by touching and talking to the node or by calling a local number on her phone. She can submit written comments through a computer or via text messaging. She can choose for comments to bear her name or remain anonymous. She can also submit related photos from her phone or via email, or have walking directions sent to her phone from the node. She collects the directions in order to visit the site after work.

With her daughter in mind, Mae touches the category about safety issues. She reads some of the comments and questions left by other people. As she is browsing, another woman approaches the node. “I worry about safety too,” she said.

“Let’s record and submit a dialog,” Mae suggests. They both touch the node to activate the collective recording mode. “I selected this section because of my teenage daughter,” Mae explained. “We won’t be able to afford a car for her, but I’d like her to have some independence. And my husband and I wouldn’t have to constantly ferry her around if there was some way she could get around on her own.”

“That’s true,” said the woman. “I wonder how late it will operate? Also, what security measures do you think they will take to make sure a new transit system is safe?”

“I would feel better knowing that there were security cameras and conductors on the trains, just to have a physical presence and keep the peace,” Mae said.

“Those are good ideas. The train stops should probably have cameras and personnel, too,” said the woman.

The two continue to chat and the node records their conversation about public transportation. Later that day, after sunset, phrases and suggestions from their chat would be projected—along with feedback from other people—onto the facade of the warehouse building in question. This larger level of information demonstrates how feedback left by individuals can be applied collectively to the physical spaces in question.

4. Group Activity
Pass out Question sheet for framing discussion: focus is not on design or system, but the way this works in the continuum
Assign group recorder, use big notepads and markers
Group work time 10-15 min (they take notes)


Please respond to the scenario by considering the following questions from the perspective of your group’s position on the continuum. Nominate a group note-taker to record your group’s conversation and ideas. Feel free to propose a new utopia or distopia, respond in writing, sketch, futurecast, revise, reveal, surprise and shock.

We will reconvene in 15-20 minutes to discuss each group’s ideas.

  1. How can collectivism and individualism, mediated by technology, inspire urban renewal and change through the design of a nodal system that provides access to current issues?
  2. As designers, what evidence of collectivism have you encountered in the cultures for whom you design?
  3. What evidence of individualism have you encountered?
  4. In what ways can design respond to audiences that would benefit from systems that take both collectivism and individualism into account?
  5. Can they both be accommodated? Should they be?

Key Topics:
collectivism / individualism

Collectivism / Individualism
According to the article by Currin V. Shields, current trends in American society are to gather only for problem-solving or in times of crisis. There is a general spirit of individualism and the collective forms to address issues as they occur, not preemptively. For example:
– weather disasters happen and then plans are re-evaluated
– health issues occur and then we head to the doctor

As designers, what evidence of collectivism and individualism do you see in our field?
How do you feel about it?
How can design be used to reverse trends or can it only react to what is already in motion?
How do notions of collectivism and individualism relate to the spectrum of design control and user control?

Can design provide opportunities for collectivism and individualism in one system? Where is the balance between designer and user control?
Can collective voices from the public inspire urban renewal and change through the design of a nodal system that provides access to current issues?
How can collectivism and individualism, mediated by technology, inspire urban renewal and change through the design of a nodal system that provides access to current issues?

Is one of these trends becoming more or less prevalent? Why?
How do these trends pertain to or affect our notions of public and private space? How can a space be collectivist or individualist?

Designer control >>> User control
Where is a graphic designer’s place in this project?
What expertise might we bring to the table for this type of project?
Who else would you want on your team?

How much control can be given to each end of the spectrum?
Would policy makers and those who control the means of production to actualize city plans have an obligation to the public input?
How will the user know that their voice is heard, or is that an issue? How do you test for this?

How can interface design promote interaction and dialog between people as well as interactions between people and technology?
We love technology and recognize its importance and capability to shape culture, but it takes a back seat to what is actually happening with people. We’re also interested in looking at the human connections, human input, human interactions—not just between people and technology but (god forbid) between people and OTHER PEOPLE!

How can the design of a network of input modes evoke this sense of human contact?
How can graphic design contribute to this goal?
Is it even possible?
What are the ways that this is facilitated?

Public / Private
Residents of a city feel as if the space that is privately owned is still part of the collective community. Property owners rely on residents to support their businesses. How can design function as a mediator between these parties to communicate needs and desires?

How can you test for user needs in terms of disclosure of personal information related to opinion in a public forum? (use continuum)

Review the questions that were selected, via each group presenting the notes from their discussion


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