Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DCC2008 Paldi01: Brainstorming and Categorisation about Food

Image: Brainstorming at an early stage with varied levels of expression

The four groups have started the process of exploring what they already know about their chosen subjects, namely, Food, Inflation and the Economy with respect to the four regions that have been assigned to each of the four groups. The groups are working on the following regions as listed below:
Group 1: West Bengal
Group 2: Rajasthan
Group 3: Goa
Group 4: Uttarakhand

Image: Categorisation at an early stage with groups discussing possible approaches

As usual they all started with a fairly superficial list of words after a hour or two of discussions and when the teachers came around for the review they were all working on organizing the few words that they had listed out in the first round of articulation. This led to some discussions with each group when we stressed on the need for a greater depth in both the number of word ideas as well as the variety of concepts which would be only discovered if the lists were truly random and done in an intense session with active participation of the group. This led to a second round of brainstorming and this time a far more elaborate set of words emerged and some groups “got it” and they had a rich texture of concepts that could be seen strewn across the large page on which they did their brainstorming capture. Others still had the all dominating list-mania and found it difficult to abandon a lifelong learning of making lists in an organized manner, but this would change as the groups met each other and saw the difference in the approaches and what it did for the richness of texture and content of the brainstorming sessions.

The groups have now started caregorising the discovered words and they are using both post-it stickers as well as index cards to sort and re-group the discovered words into some meaningful categories that they could use for the development of a structure that would have a shared meaning for all members of the group. The process is always full of debates and arguments but eventually time constraints lead to some form of negotiated settlements even if these are not fully satisfactory to all participants. This makes the design process a bit like the political negotiations that take place when contentious issues are being examined in mixed groups and a deadline forces the settlement of the matter in a form of truce with some give and take from all sides.

Image: Categorisation at a fairly developed stage, more cards and several sub-groups discovered

Tomorrow the groups will be converting their found structure into a memorable metaphor that could support and enhance the reading of the subject and its content as a composite image that could aid both recognition of the core features of the categorization as well as the overarching theme of Food and the name of the region that the group is addressing. The choice of image and the use of its parts to map out the discovered structure will determine just how successful the group has been in translating the understanding from the structure to the making of a memorable image that will remain in ones mind and aid recall of all the subtle attributes and features of the explored subject, which in this case is Food, Inflation and the Economy in the context of the four chosen regions and also as an aid to look forward to setting a platform for the further work to be done to expand the groups understanding of the subject and the context in which they are located.

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