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StoryCubes in action: workshop on Critique, Collaboration, Prototyping

Submitted by on December 3, 2009 – 9:00 am

I recently came across Kevin Hamilton‘s Complex Fields site, and read his description of a workshop on Critique, Collaboration, Prototyping and how he used StoryCubes as part of it. I asked if he’d write a short summary to post here, which he’s kindly done:

SUMMARY: Kevin Hamilton, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

In a couple of workshops now, we’ve used Storycubes to help start the group design process in a way that also establishes critical criteria for later evaluation and reflection. We’ve found that in group work, it’s all too easy to divide tasks early and not actually do the hard work of deciding together about goals, arguing about contexts and outcomes.

Our response to this was to devise a four-part system of critical criteria – CONTEXT, FUNCTION, PROCESS, and AUDIENCE. In the classroom, we ask groups to establish goals within each of these areas, so that they can later return to their stated goals and decide on how they achieved or departed from them. I recently married this structure to the Storycubes with some success.

The projects where I’ve used this technique involved the creation of interactive site-specific artworks. Each team received four blank cubes – one for CONTEXT, one for FUNCTION, one for PROCESS, and the fourth for AUDIENCE. I asked each team to fill each side of each cube with one possible item or goal. The result was six possible audiences, six possible functions, etcetera. The team could then mix-and-match to decide on one approach scenario to explore through physical prototyping or other methods.

One unexpected function of this process was to provide something of a “common enemy” in what for some seemed an overly artificial process. If a team’s members were new to each other or otherwise experiencing awkward interaction, they could at least unify around begrudgingly following the process of constructing Storycubes. (They eventually liked them, even if it seemed too elementary or formulaic at first.) The resulting cubes also added up to a sort of database archive for future iteration and design.

Download Kevin’s StoryCubes (PDF)


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