Out of the Rut

After a great hour spent chatting chatting with Rachel and Victor about our projects, I felt a bit more confident to start formulating my ideas and creating stories around them. I spent time having a brain dump where I came out with a few ideas, with the plan from there to start extracting the themes from them and developing the best points and stories.

I was wary of coming up with a solid idea straight off the bat, or one that I was too invested in, as I know that can hinder my foresight. As is the case with any designer, I didn’t want to be forced into decisions that maybe weren’t correct.

5 of my best ideas mainly focused around the two topics of ‘gentrification’ and ‘culture’. They’re pretty much two sides of the same coin – looking at the development of Dundee through two kinds of eyes. Ideas ranged from a listening machine, that gathered information about people’s thoughts on local landmarks, forming an AI that gave a true reflection of society’s opinions on places and people. Other ideas involved a game that would send people on a sort of treasure hunt around Dundee, solving riddles or something like that. I liked that idea because it was quite vague, and also because the idea of gamification yields better data and insights than simply asking people “what do you think of X?”

The story that I am going to develop, however, is through the eyes of those impoverished in the city. Recently, I’ve becoming totally intrigued by the idea that the quarter of Dundee’s population living within poverty won’t really feel the immediate benefits of a billion pound construction project. I discovered that a big way to fight this lack of empathy is through storytelling and explaining other people’s points of view – a humanistic function perfect for voice controlled AI’s. I think this is especially poignant in the era of fake news and smartphone ubiquity, where people can get stuck in the bubble of their Facebook feed, without getting a true sense of external problems in their communities and countries.

I used Dan Harmon’s storytelling structure, mentioned in yesterday’s post

So it’s settled – how can we use storytelling to create empathy for Dundee’s impoverished? The topic is there, and now the really fun, yet hard bit starts. My goals for the rest of the week are to play, make and talk. I want to start creating prototypes and experiences that visualise what this story might look like – how it might solve problems for people in Dundee, how it might connect people in order to help others. Other bits I want to learn are how the AI itself might operate – where will it live, what will it sound like?

By creating a rough draft story I’ve began to visualise what I might work on, but as I said, it’s important to not get too invested in that idea. I need to now think divergently through making and human centred research and begin building this idea for the ground up. It feels like progress is being made!


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