Zumix Proposal and MOU process

Over the last two weeks, the ZUMIX Radio team has been developing and honing our potential project ideas and the processes by which we’ll design and build the chosen project. After the brainstorming workshop with the ZUMIX DJs, team members took on various aspects of the ideas the youth generated to do some feasibility research. We considered our budgetary, space, and time constraints, as well as our pool of shared resources to determine what we’d be able to accomplish.

We started with three idea groups:

Portable storytelling booth
Old-time radio
Both!

While we were all excited about the idea of building a portable storytelling booth, as we did more research, we began to think that it might be beyond the scope of both our class and ZUMIX Radio’s capacity to tackle at the moment. ZUMIX Radio hopes to work on it in the future, potentially in future Co-design studios.

In the same “let’s be realistic about what we can do” vein, the “both” option was shelved, as well.

We’re now focusing on the “old-time radio” idea. That being said, our conception of it has changed since our first few brainstorming sessions. The whole point of the point of the project is to get ZUMIX Radio more integrated in the larger ZUMIX organization and to attract more youth to the ZUMIX Radio, both as listeners and participants. Coupled with the fact that the brainstorming workshop was such a success, we’re now stepping back from our initial “old-time radio” idea and instead looking toward the youth and staff for design ideas. We’ll hold design workshops with both groups or in a single mixed group. We’ll also engage the youth in the building of radio. We hope this to be a mutually beneficial experience with all participants – staff, youth, and MIT students – broadening their perspectives and learning new skills.

The process of developing the MOU and proposal was challenging and thought-provoking. We were forced to think about not only what was feasible, but also to think critically and openly about the planning, decision-making, and implementation processes that this project entails. Who gets to decide which project we choose? Who participates in designing and building the final product. Ultimately, the choice is ours. This seems like a central lesson that this course is trying to convey. We’re in the position to choose who participates and who doesn’t. This gives us power. This may not be our preferred set of circumstances (indeed we may be actively working to overturn it), but given that it’s the ones we’re in, we have to choose how we work within it. Collaboratively, from the top-down, or somewhere in between.

You can find our Project Proposal and MOU here.

The hardware design and software design are linked as well.

2 thoughts on “Zumix Proposal and MOU process

  1. This is great :) Feedback below!

    Clarify:

    *Who is the unnamed ‘youth representative?’

    * Did you consider building micropower radio transmitters?

    * Will the Radio also be able to play the Zumix Radio station live,
    either via the livestream, FM transmission (if they get their
    license), or both?

    * Does everyone on your project team have the skills needed to build
    the Zumix Radio? Please clarify who will be leading this component,
    and what aspects of the project others will be responsible for (for
    example, documentation, graphic/visual design, outreach, event
    planning, and so on).

    Value

    * The central project idea, designing and building a Zumix Mobile
    Radio, is clear, concrete, and fits directly with Zumix’ goals on
    multiple levels.

    * Doing design/build workshops together w/Zumix youth adds a lot of
    value to the project, above and beyond the object that you’ll create
    together, very nice.

    * It’s a fun, interesting, creative approach.

    * The project proposal document is very clear and well organized, glad
    to see the inclusion of clear roles and that your team is
    considering both product and process ownership.

    Concern:

    * Your project proposal leaves case study work until the very end.
    Please Rethink this so that you are doing process documentation and
    write-ups as you go.

    * Clarify roles and responsibilities for all project team members, not
    just hardware design/build

    * It’s not clear how or whether the project will meet the goal of
    increasing listenership of Zumix Radio live stream, think more about
    this

    * The features of the actual Mobile Radio you’ve proposed to build
    need additional workshopping, for example: what if people want to
    swap out the music? If it goes outside, will battery, amplifier, and
    speakers be powerful enough to be heard? Can it be used to play the
    live stream from Zumix radio, and if so, how? Is it a standalone
    object, or is it designed to connect to other devices like a mobile
    phone or mp3 player? Etc.

    * This isn’t really a concern, more of a clarification: In your
    project proposal post, you state ﻗ°ﻸWho gets to decide which project
    we choose? ﻗ°ﺄ Ultimately, the choice is ours. This seems like a
    central lesson that this course is trying to convey. Weﻗ°ﻷre in the
    position to choose who participates and who doesnﻗ°ﻷt. This gives us
    power.ﻗ°ﻻ However, this doesn’t have to be the case. For example, your
    MOU lays out decisionmaking power; if you’d prefer ZuMix staff to
    choose between projects, you could simply state that in your MOU. If
    you’d like to come to formal consensus together, you might specify
    that instead.

    Suggestions:

    * Create an ‘Instructable,’ or clear, well-documented how-to guide,
    for your Zumix Radio build. This will help others do similar
    projects in the future, and also provide more visibility for Zumix
    Radio.

    * Plan how to do a good job with process documentation as you go, and
    who will do this. Think about how process documentation might also
    be part of a social media strategy to get people listening to the
    station’s stream.

    * Consider a stop-motion video of your build, as a fun part of
    documentation that might also be shared on social media and bring
    more listeners to Zumix radio stream.

    * The best commercial implementation of a ‘Mobile Radio’ like the one
    you’re describing is probably the Logitech Squeezebox. Suggest
    taking a look at its design & features.

    * If you’re able to get the build cost way down, consider whether you
    can offer youth workshop participants the option to take their Zumix
    Mobile Radio home with them once they’ve built it?

    * Suggest including a mini input and male to male cable with the
    Radio, so that people can connect their mobile phone headphone
    output and use the device as an external speaker (a nice feature of
    the Logitech Squeezebox).

    * Suggest a design that allows people to easily modify the music
    that’ll be played. A built in drive preloaded with music seems like
    a poor design choice? Consider setting it up so that the music it
    plays is stored on a USB flash drive, a cheap & widely available
    memory option.

    * If it’s going to be brought outside, it needs powerful battery,
    amplifier, and speakers.

    * Please specify your open license for process documentation (CC
    attribution sharealike would be good).

  2. Hey ZUMIX Team!
    I’ve enjoyed reading about your processes and considerations of how to include more ZUMIX folks in the codesign process! I’m sharing some comments below following the URBANO feedback methodology. Let me know if I can clarify anything.
    Cheers,
    Bex

    Clarify
    You say that you are moving forward with the Old Time Radio idea and also looking for more design ideas. What will you be seeking to design? Are you still planning to build radio receivers, just not necessarily styled as “Old Time”?

    Value
    This project could be a great way to engage more folks already involved with ZUMIX. I can imagine running workshops with people to build small personal radios.

    Concern
    Are you considering designing the interactions with the radio as well as the radio device? Thinking about how this will be engaging for people and how people can engage with ZUMIX after listening will help you to guide your design so it answers to the goals you’ve identified together.

    Suggestions
    This could be a fun way to invite people to listen to ZUMIX Radio programs. You might also consider designing take-away components for people after they have listened or spoken with you — stickers, pamphlets, SD cards with radio programming… etc.