THAKAFA Co-Design Workshop
In collaboration with Joanna Choukeir Hojeily from UsCreates (London) we designed a workshop for the The Arab Spring – Designing politics Summit at the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany. To decide on the issue that the workshop will tackle we sent out a tweet survey to hundreds of people across the Arab region with this: "What is the key political issue in MENA today and why? #ArabIssue". The insight was clear, the majority of responses fell into one simple idea: "Most Arabs have a closed mind when they could have a more critical mind."
Discover & Define the Challenge
Participants were introduced to Naji, a 12 year old boy, and a scenario from his life. Participants split into three teams: Naji's home, school and community. Each team had a number of personas that were key players in that team. To ensure participants walk in the shoes of those key players, each adopted a persona, rehearsed a role play conversation, and 'became' that persona for the entire length of the workshop. To define the challenge, each team then made a list of all the barriers in their environment that stood in the way of Naji developing a critical mind, and another list of all the opportunities that new ideas could be built on.
Develop & Deliver Solutions
For a truly co-designed experience, teams mixed in the second phase so that the home/school/community players (including Naji) meet up for the first time and put their heads together to generate solutions. Ideas were then delivered through presentations in front of conference attendees for feedback and discussion.
Understanding a set scenario and role playing the personas resulted in contextualised tangible ideas that can help in opening up a young Arab mind. These included:
1. Granny positive storytelling evenings in the community
2. Shop owners forum enhancing positive connections in the community
3. Anonymous social networking platform matching youth interests (rather than demographics)
4. Exploration school trips to 'other' cities
5. Visual coding game to communicate via images rather than words
Data Visualization & Infographics Workshop
With Density Design Lab (Giorgio Roberto Uboldi, Azzurra Pini and Matteo Azzi) and Sciences Po-Médialab (Donato Ricci)
In an intensive 3 day workshop about digital methods and data visualization, the 20 participants were taught how to unveil and represent unexpected stories by extracting meaning from large digital datasets. The theme was to explore all the articles related to Lebanon published by the Guardian in order to understand how Lebanon is perceived in the international media.
Using Guardian API to collect all the articles related to Lebanon from 2005 to 2012 (4634 articles) and an ad-hoc software, ANTA, designed and developed at Sciences-Po, the relevant semantic entities of each article were extracted. During the first lesson, 4000 entities were introduced to the participants and they had to divide this dataset in different categories (e.g: places, people, institutions). The final outcome had to be visualized in three layers:
1. A timeline that showed the trends of the entities and categories from 2005 to 2012
2. A series of maps with all the geographical data linked to Lebanon divided per trimesters
3. A series of network graphs divided per trimesters that show the relations between the entities in order to show how the actors and topics are connected to each other on the Guardian.
1. The timeline, visualized through a 9 meters stacked area chart, let us see how the quantity of information about Lebanon on the Guardian is strictly linked to the main events that occurred in the last seven years, like the 2006 War or the assassination of Rafic Hariri in 2005. We could also observe that in the last two years the attention on Lebanon increased enormously due to the evolution of the so called Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war. During the exhibition we asked the visitors and the participants to add notes on the timeline according to the main peaks, in order to make the timeline richer with information.
2. During the second session the students had to extract the entities related to geographical places and visualize them on a map. The exercise revealed the main geographical patterns related to Lebanon and their changes according to the main events.
3.The last, and probably the most interesting and challenging session, was about creating network graphs in order to show the existing relations between the entities in the articles. The students were asked to choose a trimester and visualize the network through Gephi. The size of the nodes corresponded to the frequency in the trimester and the edges showed if the entities were present in the same article. In this way the participants were able to discover the main discussions occurring on the Guardian and around which actors they revolve. Most of the topics are the usual suspects in the press when mentioning Lebanon: Israel, Syria, Iraq, War, United Nations and Terrorism.
photos: Joanna Choukeir Hojeily
Service Design Workshop
With Eeva Campbell (kisd/GSA) & Giulia Bazoli (TU Delft)
Design is not just about creating expensive chairs or making pretty websites. In fact, design is all around you. Where? From the experience you have when taking a flight to how secure you feel when making an online purchase. From the way you move around the city to how you deal with your health. Optimising these experiences through the eyes of the user is what service design is about. In this 5-hour workshop, the 25 participants were introduced to this vast discipline with a theoretical presentation supported by practical activities.
In teams, the multidisciplinary participants were briefed to explore ideas for a (product) service system that addressed a user's needs. A series of guided activities led the teams through the central phase of a design process: identifying needs, brainstorming ideas and communicating a solution. The teams were required to:
• create a Customer Journey Map;
• define a Value Map;
• ideate a solution;
• storyboard the entire (product) service system;
• and present their thought-process and solutions to each other.
With such a diverse audience, the workshop guaranteed a multidisciplinary approach to the topic of service design. The theoretical presentation helped to lay a foundation of knowledge for participants to build on. They were able to understand the key points of the discipline and create their own definition of it. Through the activities, the teams were introduced to a selection of service design tools. Each team chose a story of a Beirut experience told through the eyes of the user. For their user, the teams created a fitting Customer Journey Map. From this they pinpointed the low-points of the experience to identify the main needs. With the Value Map, they defined the direction their solution was to take. A brainstorming session aided ideation of new services that addressed the users' needs. By storyboarding their solution the teams considered the service touch-points and gave their idea a form. All activities were documented for the presentations at the end. As they presented, each team continued to amaze the others with their clear thought-processes and the diversity and relevance of the ideas that ensued.
Video Documentation for Designers
With Sara Manzini, Giorgio Bordiga (Politecnico di Milano) and Nina Martin (Aalto University Media Lab)
Lebanese designers came together to participate in a 2-day workshop to learn and practice the use of video techniques as an integral tool for the design process. Designing with video brings many advantages in various stages of the design process, from exploring to documenting and (re-)presenting and touches on disciplines like design ethnography, participatory design, interaction analysis and usability studies amongst others. We focused on the early recording of user behavior and trained participants of the workshop how to use video to document their observations and be able to crystallize first insights in order to move forward in the design process and formulate actionable theses.
After we introduced some theory and examples of our work to the 11 participants, we facilitated an open brainstorm to come up with various themes relevant to the central area of Hamra in West Beirut. The challenging traffic and its impact on pedestrians and cyclists was a main topic and various teams formed around it. Altogether, five teams came together plus one individual designer, who took on the challenge of observing begging children. The teams were asked to phrase a focused design brief that still lets them explore their topic as much as possible in the limited time. The deliverables of the workshop were a poster and short video. The contents of the poster were structured as follow:
All the participants received instructions and advice on how the camera can be used to get the most out of the designers' observations by positioning it, setting the focus and field of view without altering the situation. They also received training on how to approach users without influencing the way they interact with others in that situation. Each team then went out onto the streets of Beirut to further explore the issue they chose to investigate in the design briefs we asked them to write for themselves. After returning to the workshop space we together analysed the videos and formulated the insights with the facilitators. Every team received instructions and support with the editing of the footage.
Four out of five teams explored various aspects of urban traffic, such as the interaction between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, bus stops and wayfinding. The two other teams looked at the shoe cleaners' profession and begging children, both activities that emerged from the busy life of Beiruti streets and the slowing down effect traffic has on pedestrians. The five posters that presented the process from the vague design brief to the observations, clusters of insights and the final, clearly phrased concept that could then be presented to various stakeholders. After two days of hard work by all the participants, we eventually got to exhibit all the videos and five posters at Laboratoire d'Art in Gemmayze, Beirut. You can find the posters and videos here.