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Out Loud : Final day

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Niall & Edel

With their project, Niall and Edel were hoping to encourage people to stop, look around them and appreciate the many exciting things happening in the Market’s area.

They had two prototypes they were looking to test:

a) A suggestion box for the area
b) Cardboard arrows pointing to places of interest

They found that the suggestion box attracted a lot of attention but had difficulty convincing people to stop and engage.

The cardboard arrows, which they felt should be left unattended for the purposes of the test, had all but disappeared when they returned to collect them later on that day.

Although they found it challenging, Niall and Edel gained most from street conversations and in retrospect felt this was something that could be considered if they were to go ahead with a second iteration.

Joa

Joa first came to Ireland in 2004. Her initial impressions left her curious about why Irish people weren’t engaged with their public spaces more. She originally approached Out Loud with an ambition to make cubed street furniture. However, as she engage more with the process, her methodology changed. On the final day, Joa tested a Hedge school that would enable people to share information with the local residents.

Joa was surprised to learn that people were respectful of her hedge school idea once they understood it as a positive intervention. Not only that, she discovered that here project had an effect on the atmosphere in the area and people stopped to talk about things they wouldn’t normally have shared.

While these two prototypes were being tested, Ken, Siobhan and Stephanie were working in the background. Ken took advantage of Joa’s prototype to talk to residents about how they could make better use of their energy, while Siobhan and Stephanie spoke to passers by about graduate plug.

Over all, Out Loud has been an exciting adventure. During the course of the 6 months, mistakes were made and from it, new things were learned and developed. I would like to take this opportunity on the blog to thank everybody who gave it their support, enthusiasm and commitment.

Merci Bien

Prototyping the prototype

Thursday, March 10th, 2011



In this week’s episode of Out Loud: the team had their first stab at prototyping their ideas. Using some basic materials lying around the studio, the team got stuck in. This week, we were joined by Jan Martinus-Stalmans, a product designer who ran his own service design consultancy in Antwerp for two years before moving to Dublin to pursue his primary passion – sailing. It was a welcome visit and added a very welcome voice to the room. So this week we focused mainly on prototyping the prototype. Figuring out what materials are needed to build them.

3 questions to prototype with

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

At Out Loud — the midweek shuffle – we’ve been moving in leaps and bounds. This evening’s meeting was the team’s last chance to develop their ideas before moving into the prototyping stage. To get through this final session, we began working with 3 new questions.

1. Do you know what your project is about?
2. Do you know where your project is going to take place? (within the markets area)
3. Do you know what your prototype will be?

Out Louders were given 10 minutes to think about these questions. Once they had written them out, they were asked to stand up and, within a very tight time frame, present them to the team, who responded with feedback. I’m going to use Niall here as an example, who’s project is focused on promoting engagement:

1. Do you know what your project is about?
My project is about engaging/encouraging people to imagine the markets area in new ways. Highlighting parts of the market that are unused.

2. Do you know where your project is going to take place? (within the markets area)
This will depend on what the prototype is. Hoping for an area that is active.

3. Do you know what your prototype will be?
No ideas for prototypes as of yet.

Honest answers there from Niall. As a next step, Out Louders were given a further 10 minutes to develop prototypes. After the ten minute time frame, each team member was invited to feedback to the team who offered more feedback. Using this process, presenting and feedback, has helped to broaden the scope of the projects and enrich the relationships they have with each other. Next week, we will get down to making the prototypes.

One cool link we found on the value of prototypes, features Devorah Klein from IDEO. Great insights here.

Project relationships

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

People have been taking a lot recently about ‘joined up thinking’, usually in reference to large institutions or government policy, but what happens when we apply this concept on a smaller scale? During last week’s session, the Out Loud team began to see their projects in terms of their themes and not their methods (eg the noticeboard project became more about engagement and not simply about the provision of information). By exploring the projects in this way, Out Louders were better able to see the overlaps between each of their projects.

In order to explore this further, the team were engaged in a visualisation exercise. Each Out Louder was supplied with one sheet of A3 paper and one black marker and invited to draw how they saw all of the projects fitting together. With this exercise, the team began to understand the inter-relationship of all of their projects and identify the spaces where collaboration could happen. By the end of the evening, a decision was made by the team to join up and work more closely together.

Using the 5 Questions

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

“Wednesday’s child is full of woe” – that may say it for children alright but not for Out Louders. When this crack team of creative commandoes descend on the building, it’s all action.

This Wednesday, the team were reminded that the area we were working in was the markets area; broadly contained within Ormond Quay > Capel Street > North King Street > Church Street. With this in mind, we hunkered down and continued to drill into the projects some more. The objective of this evening’s session was to try and get to the heart of each project – what was the project really about? What was central to its story?

The achieve this, we used the five questions mentioned in the previous blog post ‘Project Question’. Out Louders were encouraged to answer each of these questions with the help of the group and then asked to either define their project even further or re-phrase the project question.

Over the course of the evening, the project themes began to emerge and take shape. To give you an example: When picked apart in this way, Niall and Edele’s project on developing a Noticeboard became better understood as a project about increasing engagement in the area. Defining the project in this way frees Niall and Edel up to develop a variety of different solutions to an identified problem.

Project question

Friday, February 11th, 2011

And they’re off! Out Louders are now galloping towards the finish line. First hurdle — the project question. The team are really sticking their necks out here. This evenings meeting was devoted to tackling this first obstacle which meant, you guessed it, asking more questions!

As a starting point, all of the work done to date was put up on the wall so each Out Louder could see their work to date; this included the 50 questions, the street engagement and the 10 international examples. Each team member was encouraged to think about the goal of each of their individual projects and challenged to come up with their project question – on the spot!

By the end of the evening, we had 4 fine project questions:

How to change people’s behaviour towards public space?
How can we invite people to interact with information?
How can we make energy consumption fun, sexy, more accessible?
How do we grow pioneers for the city?

These questions will now act as guides, helping each Out Louder to navigate the exploration process they have now embarked on. Bon voyage Out Loud! We look forward to your return.

10 examples

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I don’t know why they call it the hump day; the Out Loud team have no problem getting over it. Last week, come 6:00, they pretty much kicked the door in — appetite for construction.

The aim of this session was to work towards an overall project question. One example the team were shown was The Speed Camera Lottery, taken from Volkswagen’s Fun Theory project. This project, designed by animator and games designer Kevin Richardson, uses the over arching question ‘Can we get more people to obey the speed limit by making it fun to do?’. (Have a look at the Fun Theory site and see for yourself where this question lead)

Last week, Out Louders tested their project ideas with people on the street. One of the advantages of this approach is the random nature of the feedback given. When you’re doing street engagement, you need to go in with the attitude that everyone you talk to is an expert. But when it comes to feedback, people aren’t always capable of being explicit about their needs and wants and so it’s up to the person asking the questions to listen very deeply and try and interpret what is really being said. This is where the Out Louders found themselves this Wednesday evening.

Reviewing some of the feedback, the guys were challenged with understanding what people were saying and were asked to review the material with two key questions:

1. What is at the core of what people are telling them?
2. What does this mean in relation to the city?

They were reminded of Henry Ford’s line: ‘If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ One can only assume that if Henry Ford had heard faster horses, he may have spent some time distilling what was being said and HEY PRESTO! arrived at the motor car — but no doubt the road wouldn’t have been straight nor smooth. Instead, Ford would have engaged with the same uncomfortable journey of uncertainty that the team were being asked to embark on that evening. After a very short period of time, certain insights had been developed and the Out Louders were shown the questions they had developed during the previous week and asked to identify the gap.

The next exercise had the team researching 10 ideas that related to their individual projects. (for example: Edel and Niall, who are looking at a noticeboard for the city, found the City in a Jar project www.cargocollective.com/cityinajar). This small bit of research helped the team to increase the breadth of their projects; so in Niall and Edel’s case, the focus became less about developing an explicit noticeboard and more about figuring out how you disseminate information around the city.

The Out Louders left the room that evening feeling excited about what they had learned about their projects and from the people they had spoken to. The next challenge is to really hammer down that key question for each project. Once this is achieved, exciting things will start to happen.

Street engagement

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Wednesday evening again! A bunch of Out Louders met in Ormond Quay, all of them keen as mustard and gunning to go. The suspense in the room was palpable so we wasted no time in revealing the evening’s theme – Street engagement.

On hand to share their own experiences with street engagement were Love the City team members Lindsay and Vincent, who presented their own engagement project ‘chat couch’; (reference blog of LtC) a fantastic example of how questions can be used to engage people.

The first thing Vincent expressed to the team was the importance of having a clear purpose. Knowing what it is you’re trying to find out helps to focus the questions you’re asking — in their case, Vincent and Lyndsay were trying to uncover the ‘hidden gems of the city’. Vincent also encouraged the team to be open when engaging with the public, to really listen to what people had to say and not to be precious about their ideas. Adding to this, Lyndsay explained that in order to get to richer dialogue, they found that questions sometimes needed to be re-iterated and expanded upon with tangible examples. (For instance: Do you know of any magical or amazing places in Dublin? — such as the lake in Stephen’s Green or the benches by the canal.)

Vincent and Lyndsay finished presenting and the evening’s challenge was revealed – 5 questions/5 people. For this challenge, the team were invited to review the questions they had generated the previous week and develop 5 new questions that could be used in street engagement. To complete the challenge, Out Louders needed to find 5 people they could ask their questions to.

Basing ourselves around the Capel Street and Jervis Street area, the guys set about talking to people on the street — I must say they did a great job getting stuck in, no time wasters here! In a very short space of time, the team began hearing important feedback on their ideas – Niall heard a few people say they were interested in a digital notice board, Joa spoke to some teenagers who expressed an interest in public seating with celebrity pictures on them. After half an hour spent loitering on street corners, Out Louders returned to base and shared their experiences. They talked about, and marveled at, the sound of the street.

Developing questions

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

This Wednesday, Out Loud enjoyed its first meeting of the new year. As well as the die hard Out Loud volunteers (we salute you!) we were joined by some new faces, importing fresh energy into the project. After a quick round of introductions – where we shared our most mortal fears with each other – the Out Loud team were introduced to the evening’s theme – Questions.

Questions are central to how we work at Designing Dublin and we’d be nothing without them. There that evening to stimulate curiosity was Designing Dublin veterans Sarah and Luke; who both did a stunning job presenting examples of how they’d used questions during their time with Designing Dublin.

Once the guys had wrapped up, we unveiled the evening’s challenge – 50 QUESTIONS! The team were lead through a stiff and rigorous process of question generation. Questions needed to relate to either projects they were working on or project themes that were given to them that evening for the sake of the exercise. Running in 10 minute cycles, Out Louders were pressed to come up with as many questions as possible within 5 minutes; once those 5 minutes were up, questions were reviewed for another 5 minutes. And then we dived in again…

By the end of the evening, a starling amount of questions had been generated, which will help push individual projects forward and turn up the volume on Out Loud!

We have a name. We have a Wordmark!

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

 

We finally decided on name today! Love the City : Out Loud!

After about a month of brainstorming and many many ideas and concepts, Diana mailed me with the suggestion ‘How about Love the City Out loud!’; and ‘PLING!’ It fell into place. Perfect.

We now have a wordmark and a page on designingdublin.com which links people to us, our project blogroll and facebook. So now that all this is in place we are hoping lots of curious people will find us in the tricky web that is the internet and turn up at our meetings with ideas and a smile!