Personal Honours Project - Insights, Questions and Concepts (1)

After thinking about what was said after Guru's Day, the time came for me to begin thinking about what I was going to actually design next semester. I'd had several ideas over the semester but no definite direction to go down.

To begin with, I wrote down all the ideas I'd had over the semester and began to critique them, with the goal in mind of looking for what my aim for the next semester will be:

A platform to create communities surrounding various topics in a way that allows users to have a discussion about the topic and present information as they see fit.

This was the my base idea right back at the beginning of the semester, and in hindsight I was only really proposing designing a forum system, and I wasn't really interested in trying to redesign the system (why fix what's not broken?). Originally I believe this idea was to have more of a focus on communities of practise, but this changed as I did more research.

Create a platform that allows users to create their own communities about anything, to bring together different interests and experiences to create and work towards a common goal.

This stemmed from research into communities of practise and constructionism and how normally communities need a common goal to bring them together. This got me interested in what would happen if you created a platform where people were left to determine what goal they were hoping to achieve and see how communities how would form around these goals. Almost like using the crowdfunding model of setting a goal but with people offering to help reach the goal instead of donating money. 

In the end I decided that this idea would be better to try and workshop as an experiment rather than the basis for a whole project. This could be what I could use next semester when I'll be looking to generate information to use for my app later down the line - community driven knowledge sharing.

A temporary community that will throw participants together and ask them to achieve their goal within a time limit.

This immediately raised the question of how this would work. Would the goal be set by a user much like the other idea or would the goal be predetermined? If so, would the goal be attainable given a time limit? And what sort of goal would you looking to achieve given the time scale? Given that there an emphasis on temporary communities, what would happen if they didn't reach their goal in time? Ultimately there would be no repercussions so what would be the point?

An app that makes the knowledge learning journey more engaging.

With this idea, I decided to broaden it out more and this helped me formulate several more ideas to follow up. Ultimately, I think this is what I was now particularly interested in achieving from my previous aim several weeks ago. This initial idea split into two different ideas for me.

1. A digital platform where the user can explore information about topics in an engaging way in an almost choose your adventure way.

2. Creating a digital platform that displays users search queries in a visual network. Creating data visualisations based on search history. The searches become nodes and the more searches, the more nodes and ties are added.

I then however had a brainwave about a potential third route I wanted to go down, that would sort of bridge the gap between the two as well as have more of focus on the learning aspect that I was interested in.

My aim for next semester would thus be:

Looking to provide an alternative way of interacting with information in the digital age by creating a digital social learning experience.

I found that this was better description of what I was trying to achieve this year while remaining to my original aim I set myself when I was creating my brief earlier in the year.

With that in mind, I began to write down all of my research insights that I'd gathered through out the year. I divided the sheet into 4 quadrants - Communities, curiosity, constructionism and conversation. My goal was to single out the most relevant insights and use them to create insight statements and questions that I would then use to formulate my final concept.

I decided to drop the theme of conversation as that had the least insights and instead focussed on pulling insight from the three other themes.

For Curiosity:

1. We need to find way to encourage people to learn, question and create.

2. We can use search - the method of Google et. al - as the primary method of asking questions.

3. We need to make users more aware of their learning.

For Constructionism:

1. More likely to make new ideas when actively engaged in an activity.

2. The best interactions occur when people partake in shared activity.

3. Social constructionism supports the development of both individual and community.

For Communities:

1. Communities need to invite interactions that make them alive.

2. Knowledge is "captured" when the holder joins a network or community.