After focusing on the most inner piece of dialogue, then applying that focus to extend to dialogue on heritage-identity, we took the step of narrowing the audience as well as overall topic. With this narrowed context, we then re-designed, refined and iterated tools and concepts we had generated in earlier stages (when focused on dialogue and when making interviews). We hoped that the workshop would help us to gain greater clarity around the principles of dialogue we have put forward and how they work when identity and heritage come into negotiation.
The workshop's topic was chosen with the following goals:
- Provide opportunities for expression of different viewpoints
- Open and ambiguous enough to allow people with different backgrounds to bring their own perspective
- Able to be used as an overarching topic in multiple contexts
- Specifically relevant to the European context
The workshop's experiences were designed to support the following goals:
- Openness and civic listening - everybody has the right to contribute and to be listened to
- Tension or conflict - provide a setup where tension is explored in a productive way
- Perspective- taking and reciprocity - participants will encounter perspectives dissimilar to their own
- Transformation - the activities will record change and transformation
The small workshop was held on February 24, 2017, for 8 participants in Copenhagen, Denmark as shown fully in the accompanying video.
The topic of the workshop, as informed by the key points above, was about personal understandings of peace. We were curious to unearth how peace is defined and represented across generations - specifically in Denmark, where each generation may have experienced notably different definitions and understandings of peace. The participants were recruited across two age brackets, where four participants were over the age of 65 and four participants were under the age of 40.
We designed a series of five experiences, including the introductory exercises, where each experience focused on one or more of the goals we sought to explore and had the potential to be re-designed for a different location or physical context.
Each of the workshop's five experiences is shown through the accompanying video, but three aspects of the overall day are relevant to highlight.
1. We designed this series of experiences with different compositions of groups - whether pairs or foursomes, full group or half group. Varying the composition meant the participants' feedback at the end of the day was not solely based on their personal experience of a positive pairing, but rather reflected the overall experience (though of course impacted by the social nature of the workshop).
2. Furthermore, we designed the flow of the day such that we were weaving between experiences that included technology or not. For example, the first major exercise, "Outside-In" asked participants to use their smartphones to collected representative images to answer a series of questions and then share, compare and curate answers as a small group. The second experience was face-to-face, with prompts and structured rules through simple cards. The third experience incorporated an intimate VR experience of a series of videos showing riots and protests in Copenhagen. The last experience was a co-creation exercise, again using only cards and paper.
In this way, we sought to use technology when and if it made sense. For example, the VR experience gave each viewer a focused and specialised sensation and space of time to consider a piece of audio visual footage. This visceral experience would have been hard to communicate as effectively through photos on paper or words only. Furthermore, it allowed us to test and collect footage-data about how different people (whether older or younger, from different parts of the country) perceive the same act (a riot in Copenhagen) differently - because of the questions the non-viewer was required to ask of the VR viewer. In this way, we also tested the potential for a Socrates-style learning and expression through asking Socratic questions as well as a "sensory-constrained" element. as the non-viewer could only "see inside" the VR experience by probing questions and imagining visuals before they themselves could then view inside.
The "Outside-In" use of smartphones to document surroundings allowed part of the group to go outside and bring what they saw back inside to share and compare with what the "inside" group had found online - both were searching for answers to the same questions, but one searched online and the other searched "offline" - as in, physical space, outdoor surroundings.
The participants - though varied in age - were able to use the technology-based tools for experiencing and expressing themselves. Furthermore, their inputs - specifically for the "Outside-In" experience - caught their voice as well as decisions in the moment, thus serving as data for the researchers to easily follow up on after the fact.
3. We used knowledge gained from the structured dialogic experiments as well as the previous interviews and co-creation workshop - pulling out the key inputs and feedback to design the workshop for February 24. We prototyped slightly more standard design research tools such as probes/priming objects, as well as unusual warm-ups, such as creating a necklace to represent one's identity based on a series of questions and pre-laser-cut pieces custom-designed by CIID.
A few insights that drove these changes:
While objects and images from the past play a strong role in individuals' memories, they were also eager to remix or re-represent these elements in new ways (from interviews and co-creation workshop, led to "Peace-Envelope" and "Outside-In").
The involvement of participants in co-creation exercises itself is a tool in generating, nurturing and sustaining provocative discussion on heritage-identity (from co-creation workshop, led to "Co-Creation" segment).
Rules to structure body language, roles and sensory expression can enhance and sharpen a dialogic experience (from experiments and interviews, led to "Other-Shoes").
In each of these experiences, we sought to better understand the differences and similarities among individuals, how they brought their heritage-identity to the tensions in their different answers, how they negotiated discussion and answered prompts without necessarily knowing their interviewer, partner or group well. Going forward, we seek to design for and engage with topics and groups that would have a higher likelihood of experiencing challenging and tension-full dialogue, and to understand better the potential for digital-specific interventions in terms of asynchronous and off-site communication.