POST 9: A visual process of mapping and collaboration

This post is concerned with providing visual documentation of the brainstorming session that I briefly outlined in the post previous, which was concerned with brainstorming potential design responses to a problem statement, located within the topic of online privacy and data security.

The first step in arriving at potential design responses, was each group member articulating a personal problem ‘statement’ — or a specific micro space within the topic of online privacy and data security, that would require — or at least afford — design intervention. To create these problem statements, it was necessary to consider the ‘five W’s’ (who, what, when, where, why), of which I have outlined in some detail in the blog post previous, regarding my own personal problem statement.

It proved most useful for me, personally, to visualise potential statements for further investigation, visually, upon a map. I felt at this point, there was quite a number of potential statements coming to mind, arriving from prior research. The map thus proved most useful for precipitating these statements, and allowing a physical/visual means of comparing these statements. I have including this map below:


In comparing these various statements, and after seeking advice from my peers, I decided to move forward with a statement that was concerned with a lack of education and awareness in Australian teens and young adults of the ages 12-25yrs regarding online privacy and data security.

Once each group member had articulated a problem statement, we began to brainstorm design responses. For each problem statement, we created three sheets of paper: One for visualisation design responses, one for generative system design responses and one for service design responses. In five minute intervals we switched the sheets of paper and attempted to write down as many responses we could envisage for the problem space within each of these response sub-categories. This meant that each problem statement received a total of 15 minutes attention from the entire group (5 minutes for each response sub-category).

I have included my own, personal three pages of visual maps that were the result of the group’s collaborations. Each map is for a different response sub-category (generative design, visualisation design or service design). These maps are all concerned with providing various design responses that may confront or approach the issue of a lack of awareness and education in those aged 12-25 in Australia.

A collaborative map for Generative design responses to the problem statement

The group and I considered that their seemed to be quite a number of possibilities for generative outcomes (as seen above). We considered that there is a sense of infiniteness in data, as a material, within an online context. Data is quite boundless in an online context and therefore perhaps lends itself to generative systems. This was quite an interesting realisation that arrived through the group’s collaborations.

A collaborative map for service design responses to the problem statement

In attempting to articulate service design responses to the problem statement, the group found lateral thinking to be an effective technique for loosening up the process; where a group member would suggest or call out something seemingly ridiculous or abstract to the problem statement and then we would brainstorm around that seemingly ridiculous idea. We found that often a plausible idea would stem from the seeming ridiculousnesses. One example of this technique, was a group member suggested creating a malleable room for kids in schools, with the walls made out of a clay like substance, that seeks to educate kids about leaving behind a mark within a space, to somewhat echo the data trail (or mark) left behind in a digital space. Of course, this example was perhaps not practical for a school, however, it did get us talking about children’s experiences of physical space within a school and how the dichotomy between physical space and digital space in schools might be explored.

A collaborative map for visualisation design responses to the problem statement

The group and I found visualisation responses to this particular problem statement rather difficult. We were unsure exactly why this was so, particularly given the infinite quality of data in an online context, and how this might lend itself to the practice of visualisation design.

From these three maps, each member then attempted to pull out 4-5 favoured options. It was again useful for me to articulate these upon a map to precipitate these ideas into something physical for comparison. I have included this map below:

4 favoured design responses that arrive through the group’s collaborations

The various methods outlined proved most useful for beginning to envisage potential design responses that may confront some of the issues outlined in my research throughout the semester. The group collaborations allowed a space of sharing knowledge and understandings, and a means of pushing potential design outcomes beyond those immediately obvious. The group’s lateral thinking and abstraction techniques were particularly interesting as a means of pushing ideas beyond the obvious. Such techniques will certainly prove most useful in future design endeavours.