Filed under: Participation
Reason talks of ‘Learning the practice of participation’ – this is becoming the key aspect of these interviews I am conducting. I am struggling and on the path of learning that is making me better at conducting the interviews to be increasingly more participatory. The honest observations and reflections need to be documented constantly to capture the transition and insights this process is revealing. Daria mentions that I am a participatory design practitioner, but I also realise that discussing participation in theory is much easier than applying it in practice.
My role as a researcher is directly related to how I am defining my practice in communication design. I now see that it’s integrated together, when before I saw it separated in some way.
Up until the last GRC, my focus was on how a designer design artefacts that engages an active participation of the audience. But now, the focus may still be the same, but I have realised by pulling out to a meta level and examining it more holistically, that the collaboration, facilitation and participation that takes place between other stakeholders (designers, clients and other designers) are equally significant factors in the process. Those interactions, networks and relationships amongst the stakeholders is emerging as a significant role in contributing to the process of designing the artefact that engages an active participation of the audience. My research question is now;
How does the designer engage with the stakeholders and translate that engagement into a process that creates an artefact that engages an active participation of the audience?
I think this a substantial realisation in terms of my topic, and it is something that had always been there but I had not acknowledged or illuminated until now. This discovery was also facilitated by the series of interviews I had begun. In the interviews, I was asking the participants to articulate their roles within a design process, and the commonality of the conversations revolved around relationships, interactions between the stakeholders that includes the designer. The characters within this ecology constantly changes and modifies in different contexts, depending on variables like relationships between people. However, the key focus within such shifting contexts now seems to be the links between those people that enable interaction, engagement, participation.
Reflecting on Management vs. Community Project and Dear John, this interaction between the stakeholders clearly influenced the way the outcomes and artefacts had engaged an active (or non active) participation of the audience.
By conducting these interviews, I began to realise that I am not talking about anything alien to the practice, but in fact I am describing the practice on a meta level. Different practices have different contexts, and there are the numerous subsets of what I am describing. My research is heading towards being a methodology of engaging various audiences of my research. It’s a methodology, as opposed to a model/formula, for design practitioners to use in their own practice. So, for example, a practitioner could apply and customise parts of my research to their own practice to enhance the way they engage with clients, or collaborate with the team of designers etc, as a way to facilitate their own design process in creating the artefact which could be more meaningful for the audience. Alternatively, it could simply be another way of examining their practice in relation to what I am defining as my practice in communication design. It could simply be asking them to step out from their practice to see it from a different perspective, and showing how their practice may be part of this meta level I am describing, and how this shift in perspective provide interesting learnings that could influence what they do in a different way. Students are also important audience of my research as they are forming their own view of the practice and how they practice within the practice of communication design. 57.08