-Maria Yanovsky 2016
Throughout university working within a group can seem like a daunting task. However for the purposes of research co creation and collaboration have served some relatively good purposes in creating a broader understanding and enriching discourse of research topics.
(Homelessness and Exclusion Group Brainstorms, 2016)
The maps above were a part of our word association exercises. As a group we were able to fill two long study tables full of descriptive words that as a group of five, triggered ideas about homelessness. Gave the group a variety of choice when it was time to pick a set of 25 words. Working collaboratively here was useful in understanding the formation of language and bounce ideas off each other.
A Key insight that came from that exercise is the initial demonstration of how, even as researchers our collective word associations were predominantly negative. This may have to do with the fact that it is difficult to find a positive angle to talk about a negative topic. Yet, at this stage, I feel its almost hilariously contradictive that we are critiquing the prevalence of stigma, yet we are still so heavily angled at negative perceptions. Negativity perpetuates stereotypes and stigma. It may be useful, to start mapping from the angle of a homeless person and try to put myself into the shoes of anyone of the categories within the homeless umbrella.
Collaborative issue Mapping creates a broad spectrum of ideas that maybe overlooked if the task was undertaken by one individual. Looking back at the controversies map, as a group we decided that we as a group would focus on an aspect of homelessness that as individuals we would have overlooked. This being, the location of where homeless people sleep. Different research and perspectives created a more in-depth conversation of an expanded topic and enriched our understanding of the basic foundations of our issue.
Collaborative issue mapping also helps shed light on the “hottest topics”. For example, as a result of our mapping exercises which included word association exercises and the controversies map as a collaborative team we worked out there was a gravitation towards keywords that were used as labels for the homeless community. This demonstrated, through further mapping that collectively we all had an interest in the stigmatisation of homeless people indicating its popularity and resonance within a small body of researches.
Working collaboratively in a group helps fill the gaps in mapping exercises. This creates a detailed and rich contribution to discourse as the entire issue is explored from multiple angles. Within each mapping exercise there were degrees of knowledge each participant brought to the table. However as a collaborative group, we were able to fill in the cracks and generate a greater collected understanding which would have taken a lot more individual research to come to a conclusion to. Another intriguing aspect to compel this, is that these gaps generated heated discourse where contrasting view points came to the foreground. This was especially handy within the Controversy map exercise where we needed multiple clashing viewpoints.
However, one thing I did notice from collaborative mapping is that emotions, and perceptions can herd together like a flock of sheep. I found that in my own time, away from the raw, discussion based spaces, I was able to employ the findings from group exercises and create maps that are more tailored to personality and sense of humour.
As a result I made a playful illustrative map of some of the non human, object based actors, that stand out to me when thinking about homelessness. This was a lot more fun, then just thinking about words and text, and a quick little exercise of visual representation.