Note to self…

Kids playing video games

Guest post today! It’s me… but me two years ago..!

Do you or your kids play video/computer games?

I wrote this during my Masters year (on ‘Mysteryboxes’, my Masters blog) when I was looking into video games and what we can learn from them about learning and engagement. At the same time I was a concerned parent… What should my kids play? How long should they play them?

Over the course of a year, by paying a little attention, I learned a few things that I felt were worth remembering – so I wrote a ‘note to self’! Having just read it for the first time in a couple of years I stand by it… especially the stuff about “better than TV” and “tantrums”!

I think games can be valuable in learning, but like everything else there needs to be a balance! But I feel as a parent I need to have some control, or sense, of what that balance should be.

So, if any of this sounds familiar please, click here, have a read, and let me know what you think!


Dragons Den at Rachel House

Just wrapping up at after a great few days working with kids at Rachel House, Kinross – helping them to come up with ideas, design and prototype product ideas.

Below is a video outlining day one’s activities and soon to follow will be day three. Below that you’ll find a link to Hazel’s blog post (DJCAD Masters for Design Services programme director) which will explain more about the project.

Thank you Rachel House for opening your doors to us and sharing your creativity – we all had a great time and will be back as soon as you’ll have us :)

Dragons Den at Rachel House.

via Dragons Den at Rachel House.

Who’s the One?

I’ve blogged previously about some work experience that I and three other MDes graduates took part in with TaylorHaig on their Dundee Total Place project. In that post you’ll find the video that I edited together focusing on part of our process as designers, on the streets of Dundee interviewing, capturing information from the source.

Here’s another cut, similar to the previous one but focusing now on some of the responses to the question we asked, “Who’s the One?”

The videos are a taste of how we can illustrate to stakeholders (who can’t always be with us while we’re out) the sense of reality that we feel when we engage with these young people. For obvious reasons we can’t (don’t want) to reveal specific names, faces or even voices. The video, audio and photography captured is always on that understanding and that encourages the openness that we need and have received.

For illustration purposes I’m always looking for ways of documenting this process in a way that captures the immediacy of the environment and the people we are speaking to without resorting to ‘scarey’ ‘TV News’ silhouettes and voice overs.

The subjects in the video were approached cold on the street, involvement is on their terms and responses are not forced or prepared. If they agree we then produce the camera and take notes. It’s important to us that they write the name of ‘the One’ themselves and capturing that moment, through video or photography, can produce personal and powerful moments. Infinitely more powerful than the scrawl of a designer.

So these videos are an attempt at finding a style that illustrates all of those things: reality, immediacy and security. I welcome your comments.

Taylor Haig

Late last year, along with three other DJCAD Masters of Design graduates, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the initial stages of a project being managed by Taylor Haig. Taylor Haig specialise in Service Design and have led several key service redesign projects for local authorities across the UK. Lucy Kimbell (now of The Young Foundation) was their lead ‘design thinker’ and the DJCAD team worked closely with her in person and via Skype over several weeks.

The ongoing project is aimed at ‘children’s’ services within Dundee City. From the Taylor Haig blog:

Taylor Haig is advising the Dundee Partnership (Dundee City Council and its partners) who are using a Total Place approach to redesigning services. The aims include understanding more about local citizens’ lived experiences and looking to co-design services.

Gaining access to young people in the system to get a handle on the issues that face services and their clients daily can present challenges but the service workers and young people that we spoke to were incredibly generous with their time, willing to talk openly and frankly about their circumstances, their experiences and how the ‘system’ was supporting or failing them.  Part of my role in all of this was as documentarian, in video and stills, of the processes and outcomes of collecting and sorting of data and facilitation of workshops. Below is an initial rough-cut of early research carried out on Lochee High street. For obvious reasons I can’t/don’t want to show the faces of our interviewees but I did want to capture something of the people and their environment, their story. Primarily I achieved this through footage of hands and feet as well as the audio of the interviews. The audio, for now, has been removed, but hopefully you’ll get a sense of how, visually, the theme could be developed.

Additionally I was able to put my graphics background to good use by putting together an identity for the project – entitled, ‘Be The One’ – which would be included our clipboard sheets, posters, badges and icons for Twitter and Facebook.

The object of the badges was to have two designs; one stating ‘Be The One’, (a call, a challenge, to make a significant difference in someone’s life); the second design proclaims ‘I’m the One’. This badge was to be hand delivered by our young people to those who HAD made a significant impact on their life… who were those people?

As part of our on street research we asked that very question, ‘Who’s the one?’ in your life… the answers varied: “Mum”, “Steve at…” , “No one!”

But as if to illustrate to us the potential and the urgency in getting these services ‘exactly right’, we witnessed, first hand, a genuine success. At our first workshop with representatives from services involved with youth work in Dundee, one of the participants present was in fact one of the ‘names’ written down by an on street interviewee. It was a powerful and genuinely moving moment as we handed out our first ‘I’m the One’ badge to “Lorna from Careers Scotland, Dundee”. (Below is the photo taken of our interviewee and her hand written answer to “Who’s The One?’ several weeks earlier)

It was a great opportunity to be invited to witness experienced Service Designers work. It was especially encouraging to see that the tools and methods we had developed during our Masters projects were so compatible to Taylor Haig’s ‘tried and tested’ methods and that our team was a truly collaborative partner in the process. So thank you to Lucy, Lynne and Richard of Taylor Haig.

Work on the project will continue during 2012 so keep an eye out for updates.

Happy New Year..!

Slightly late start to the New Year perhaps but there has been a lot going on!

Just about a year ago I started blogging on MysteryBoxes. That blog primarily led you through the research and processes of my Masters Degree (@DJCAD) from which I graduated in November.  This site has taken the key projects and information from that blog and presents it (hopefully) in a more legible structure.

MysteryBoxes will remain live but will not be update anymore – this is the place to be.

So, have a look around and look out for projects rolling out over the next couple of weeks including a the return of BMEDay, a QR Code history trail project that I’m designing with a group of Primary School children and the latest information on the Dighty Burn!

Can’t wait to get you up-to-date! :)