Blog Post 9—pooling knowledge to encourage idea generation

This week, as discussed in blog post 8, we worked individually to compose problem statements, and then came together as a group to brainstorm possible directions that could be taken within each person’s problem statement. The following is a visual documentation of the brainstorming process, with notes on the effectiveness and usefulness of each stage, and of the finished maps.

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A blank slate, photograph by Rachel Ellis 2016

The blank page as seen in the above photo was a daunting sight as we were presented with the task of collating all our individual research into ideas for a design proposal for each member of the group. Having been mapping stakeholders for the past several weeks, I think that we all found it hard to suddenly try and recall our research from weeks 1 and 2 in order to generate intelligent and meaningful ideas, both for ourselves and for our group members.


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Beginning to brainstorm, photograph by Rachel Ellis 2016

As we began to work, I found that even though the process was slow at first, we slowly got into a rhythm and ideas started to flow readily and quickly as we began to write down anything that came to mind. One of our issues at first was that we were overthinking our ideas, which prohibited us from getting all the ‘bad’ ideas out of the way to make way for the good ones. However, once we started to loosen up, we became much more efficient, and built up a very good rapport amongst team members, which I feel was one of our great strengths in this brainstorming session. Because of our connection, there was a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, which meant that everyone was very forthcoming with their ideas, and very constructive in their input of ideas for other team members.


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In progress, a map of ‘Humans Affecting Birds’ by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong, photograph by Emilie Glasson 2016

As we were creating the maps, it became apparent that it was extremely useful having 2 other people to generate ideas who had been researching different aspects of climate change. These different points of view and different points of research meant that each person brought new dimensions to each map. However, because we were still very unsure about what we should be centring our design proposals around, and none of us had a very focused idea to begin with, the majority of the statements written on the maps were quite broad, and will need a lot more research done on them before they are ready to be used as areas to create design proposals around. I also found personally that it was hard to give very in-depth ideas because I had limited knowledge of my group member’s focus areas, so I was only able to offer insights based on my own focus area, and other general information I had picked up through all my textual research.


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A map of ‘Humans Affecting Birds’ by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong, photograph by Emilie Glasson 2016

This was the first map we made, around the problem area of ‘humans affecting birds’, and I think that it ended up being the most detailed because as we went on to the other 2 maps, we slowly lost energy and focus. Through this map, I came to realise the large amount of ideas that can be generated by 3 people when they work together. I myself would have struggled to come up with half of these ideas. Whilst the aim of this brainstorming session was to generate 100 ideas for each problem area, we struggled to generate 50 because of the time constraints. I felt that overall we were not given enough time to really consider each map, or to have meaningful group discussions about the ideas that were being put forth on the maps.


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A map of ‘Indigenous Communities Affected by Climate Change’ by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong, photograph by Rachel Ellis 2016

This was the second map we made, around the problem area of ‘Indigenous communities affected by climate change’. This ended up being the least detailed map, due to the fact that only the group member who was examining this focus area had any solid knowledge of it. The rest of us could only offer ideas based on our broader knowledge of Indigenous communities, and perhaps some incidental knowledge we had gained in our readings.


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A map of ‘Values Shaping Stances’ by Rachel Ellis, Emilie Glasson and Megan Wong, photograph by Emilie Glasson 2016

This was the third map we created, and it had the most connections drawn between different points. Whilst it didn’t have as many ideas as the first map, I think that it had the most detailed points because 2 group members had been researching this focus area, even though one had switched at some point to a different focus area. I also think that this was the broadest focus area in terms of the research that could be drawn on to generate ideas—everyone will have come across debate on the issue of climate change, and each person will have their own views on the issue which have been shaped by their values.

By the end of the brainstorming session, I had come to realise that these were really the first maps that seemed to me to have a purpose—I have always found the stakeholder maps confusing in that they have never really had any visible connection to all the textual and visual research I did in weeks 1 and 2. Through these maps that we created today, I have finally been able to begin to use the knowledge I gained in those first 2 weeks to start thinking about possible ways of visualising all the data I have collected in an interesting and thought-provoking manner.

Emilie Glasson

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