This week, we were given the opportunity to revisit previous mapping exercises with a more informed approach. The first activity required us to map human and non-human stakeholders again. Here, I found that because I had only recently refined my previous stakeholder map, the one I generated in class did not wildly differ from it.
The second mapping activity was much more interesting because it indicated the movement from gathered information to community concerns, as we began to map polemics. Alongside the polemics – which we interpreted as ‘problem statements’ in our map – we listed the emotions involved in the particular viewpoint being expressed, and the motivations behind it. Because of this exercise, I was finally able to see how the research we had been doing for weeks could translate into a design proposition. I worked with Mart on this map and found that he was able to identify the emotions surrounding each of the polemics much more acutely and insightfully than I could. Prior to this exercise I had researched data surveillance in a very clinical way however some of the emotions Mart identified – “hopelessness” “anxiety” and “doubt” – really resonated with me and have encouraged me to consider emotional positions on the issue in further research.
The third map required Mart and I to select a polemic, – “data surveillance doesn’t protect national security” – isolate the stakeholders involved in this particular issue and then plot their emotions and motivations. This exercise was particularly enlightening because it promoted empathy, allowing Mart and I to see the polemic from a number of different, new viewpoints. Here, the idea of “responsibility” as a motivation for stakeholders resonated with me. Actors are responsible for other actors, and when there are layers of this responsibility, it is easy for blame and criticism to be misplaced.
The next stage involved further dissection of the polemic. The above is my learning group’s unfinished map. My learning group of 4 focused on the issue Mart and I had been exploring – datasurveillance for national security – and I think we found it difficult to generate ideas quickly because half of the group had been focusing on a very different polemic up until this stage of the mapping. This particular way of mapping is something I will repeat as I am narrowing down my issue as it generates a comprehensive, yet concise summary of an issue.
The final stage required us to pull out an actor – object or person (or group) – from the previous map and frame it in terms of its values, hierarchies, challenges, associates, capacities, and relationship to politics. Here, I have included my learning group’s analysis of the “intelligence agency” and they play in national security and data surveillance. Once again, this exercise was effective in promoting empathy, however I believe more interesting and insightful results may have come out of mapping non-human actors.
In conclusion, the group mapping exercises have been invaluable in widening my knowledge of the area. Every time I map in a group, I am introduced to a new term, a new stakeholder or even a new way of approaching an issue. In particular, I have really valued the exercises that have encouraged empathy by identifying emotions and motivation as I believe this information will be very useful when I come to propose a design response.