Co-designing the Story Sharing Cube a novel experience driven data collection method for exploring transformative experiences in participatory culture communities

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Master's Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design
The rapid growth of participatory culture communities, where members don't only act as one-way consumers but also as co-creators, has resulted in a lack of understanding of the impact of the participatory culture events on their participants, communities, and society. Burning Man as such a participatory culture, however not the only one, is a celebration of art and a temporary desert city in the US. Experiencing co-created events when belonging to a participatory culture community, where people experience low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, often brings about life-changing experiences and stories, in other words, transformational experiences. These transformational stories are important. Not only for personal or community development but also for science and our understanding of the change in societies. Burning Stories science-art platform, the client of this thesis project, studies these communities and one of their methods is an experimental novel method called the Story Sharing Cube (SSC). The case SSC was piloted at the Burning Man event: an independent art-based research tool that collects qualitative stories without a need for human intervention. The SSC devices record anticipated stories - in the thesis scope the research interest was on transformational stories, individual experiences that somehow change the participants' perception of themselves, or life, or the community. However, essentially all kinds of qualitative data may be gathered with this SSC device, depending on the research interest. This thesis describes the product development of the first already existing SSC prototype. The aim of the redesign is to create a more experience-driven data collection. The thesis documents the design process of the redesign of the Story Sharing Cube device, following Vision in Product (ViP), a framework in product experience that is context-driven and interaction-centered. The role of the designer is to develop the product's appearance and feel. The novel method records qualitative narrative datasets in situ: the Story Sharing Cubes are standalone data collection devices that participants can autonomously operate without the researcher's presence. Because data is being captured independently, the success of the recorded data sets depends largely on Story Sharing Cube’s design. This thesis explores the design of the Story Sharing Cube method in 1) attracting participants, 2) engaging the participant, and 3) onboard the participant to the question probe and facilitate to open up a sharing about personal transformation. This report illustrates a visual design journey of the product development of the SSC method with applied research in the form of design experiments. The product is first deconstructed on three levels: product, interaction, and context. Then, the product is designed with a vision statement and a human-product interaction. The report develops design principles and concepts. The result is a design statement, interaction proposal, and a final design proposal: the Story Sharing Pyramid. The Pyramid proposal invites the intended rich experience in the Burning Man context: it helps to reflect on the topic transformation by having an intimate moment where a user can have an interaction that resembles to ‘drop their story in a hidden flower’. The type of thesis is one that has the characteristics is a hands-on design process. The thesis purpose is to document the design process.
Salovaara, Antti
Thesis advisor
Heikkilä, Jukka-Pekka
research through design, participatory culture, experience-driven design, product development, applied research, narrative data
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