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Friday
Jan302009

5 faces of research

This last week I have been involved in studying techniques for upgrading the deliverables and items to be developed
during the project as well as continuing with the collection of information and research. One important step was to
stop and figure out where the research was going, what I am getting from each front.

I was also reflecting upon the structure of the project that I selected for myself. Initially I proposed weekly goals, where
each week hold a question and a structure where Monday and Tuesday would be destined to research, Wednesday to
sketch some event or deliverable, Thursday would be the application day and finally Friday the evaluation and publishing
day.



I can already see how utopian this scenario is. It might work if your research involves only you producing stuff that
you can get out of the lab or workshop try out with anyone and then return to evolve it. But if you're dealing with mul-
tiple groups and moving around too much, schedules force you to review the plan. Also some threads from the previous
week still linger and it's hard to have such a short cycle. On top of that, it did not foresee new avenues that would
come out during the process and would require some schedule space.

Anyways, one positive aspect of the hyperstructuring is that even if you keep breaking it, you know what you are brea-
king and that more or less always gives you an idea of where you are in the process. And I am keeping the idea of pu-
blishing the weekly findings too.

In the research phase, although this was not so clear when the project plan was made, I ended up attacking the the
problem in five different forms to gather insight and information. From each one of them I hope to get some specific
knowledge to be used in the analysis and combined multiple times to the concept generation.

Interviews

I interviewed people both at the design school and at the Mapping the Contemporary exhibition at the BildMuseet here
in Umeå asking them to share with me stories that they have lived, known or witnessed in the urban space of the city.
From these interviews I got the perceptions and an activity map of the city with places that were more pointed and others
that were not. Focusing the video camera on the map I registered the gestures and ways that people point to places
when they are talking about them. There are 2 hours of video to be decoded and transcribed now.

 

Questionnaire

The questionnaire will give me an overview of maps in combination with some social networking usage. It has open
and closed ended questions. So far I have been receiving lots of answers from very different user groups. The back-
round of the users is irrelevant at this stage and wasn't considered in the survey.

 

Workshops

Yesterday I conduced a card sorting workshop with cartographers and GIS technicians at SLU here in Umeå. The cards
contained verbs related to maps. The opening question was: With maps we can... They were asked to organize the cards
as they thought would make sense, in a traditional card sorting technique. Then the groups or clusters of cards were
identified as macro groups, and finally a discussion of which should be the most important changed the perception of the
process that was built from a single linear process to an iterative cyclical process, composed of rationalize, design,
interpret, usage and learning & experience.
Although it was hard to point out the most important cluster, they all agreed
that Interpretation is crucial to maps.

Another discussion emerged of what could or not be called a map, the main different arguments pointed to the necessity
or not of the physical space navigation. Another aspect however was pointed: Maps should always evidence the relation-
ships between elements.

So, from this experiment I wanted to extract conceptual models made by experts on the field on the utilization of maps.
This will help me understand the meaningful activities and semantic avenues that derive from them.

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    Response: chimoncnaca
    mondel

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