Communication Futures - Planning the Social Intervention

A few weeks ago near the start of the module, we had a presentation from Jen Ballie on e-Co-Textile Design and how Jen used social media and design to promote her work.

She split her presentation into three parts:

Part One - Identifying a problem area, doing her user research and brainstorming possible solutions.

Part Two - Prototyping lo-fi solutions

Part Three - Toolbox and learning by doing.

Jen's problem area that she identified was the overconsumption of fast fashion and her chosen user group was generation Y since they were the generation that went through fashion the quickest.

To do this Jen organised a number of different workshops whilst gathering her research for her PHD and recorded them all using various social network platforms to not only document but only share her work with others online in an open source fashion.

The main reason we were receiving this presentation was that we were going to be planning our own social intervention in the coming weeks. We split into teams based on discipline and were asked to focus an intervention based on one of three different possibilities:

1. How could a community of designers share their skills using social media?

2. How can designers engage their end users/consumers actively in the design process?

3. How can social media be used to promote an existing design concept?

Our group decided to focus on question 1, but rather just promote our skills as interaction designers, we looked at how we could showcase the whole of DJCAD through a mascot. We brainstormed a number of different types of mascots including some relevant to Dundee but in the end we decided on a stuffed Brachiosaurus toy which we named Baxter. Baxter was given a little bag made out of an old DJCAD t-shirt, a camera and a small number of business cards to leave around the art school, which all contained details of his various social media accounts and promotes the hashtag: #djcaddinosaur.

Baxter would become a brand character and his main goal would be to give the outside world a backstage pass into the inner workings of the art school. Baxter would use Facebook and Instagram as a diary and the plan was to do Human of New York style of interviews with students around the school to help showcase their work, find out what they were working on, their favourite thing about art school and always ensure that we get a link to their blog or personal site to help promote their work. Baxter would also use Twitter as a way of communicating his thoughts and dropping hints at where he would potentially be on the days.

To plan the intervention, we initially set up all the social media accounts and took pictures of Baxter in various places, as to acquire profile pictures for the accounts and to create a trailer video for his arrival to the art school. We also contacted HumansofDundee to see if they would do a feature on Baxter to help promote him outside the university. I also branded Baxter as The DJCAD Dinosaur and created various iterations of the design to play around with different colours before setting on our final design. With everything set we decided that our plan for when we began the intervention was to feature two different studios a week, and to every day flag someone down in the art school and carry out a brief interview to find out about their work.