A conversation about codesign

During the course Jenny facilitated a workshop where we tested different tools for collaborative interviews and documentary film making. I interviewed Charlie, who spoke about why he found co-design useful in his work. I lost the original sound clip (so sorry Charlie) but the following is a picture from that day and my reflections on Charlie’s comments.

Conversation with Charlie

Looking back at this interview and the entire course as I worked with Rogelio and Sujata on the Final Report, I realized that my biggest learning from the course was the codesign should not only involve a participatory design process, but should also focus on building the capacity of the community partner to participate before even starting the design process. We often assume that people want to participate and even when they do want to participate that they have the capacity to do so. However our conversations in class and with Cara, our community partner, taught me that we have to build a supportive framework for participation if we truly want to work collaboratively with a community.

Here is a sound clip I recorded based on these final observations.

Final thoughts

A big thanks to the entire codesign class for all the rich conversations and sincere feedback!

Thank you meeting with Cara from Press Pass TV

Last Friday, Rogelio and I asked Cara if we could meet her for lunch as we had a gift we wanted to give her on behalf of the team.  We decided to go to the farmer’s market, which is now running in Copley Square on Fridays.  It was nice just to stroll around together and we could talk about whatever was on our mind.  What we realized is that we have a really good trusting relationship with Cara and we assume that some of that natural trust was built out of the collaborative processes which were used throughout the semester. Furthermore, even though there was some element of closure in this meeting, we realized that Cara sees us as integral to the campaign after she asked if we could represent the campaign at an upcoming event with an organization that might help support the campaign by increasing its visibility.

Unfortunately, Rogelio and I were not available for that meeting but may help her with similar activities in the near future.

Below is a picture of the farmer’s market in Copley Square.

Co-Design Video Interview Exercise

Earlier in our course, students were given the task of interviewing each other using different types of media. These types of media were collected using mobile devices, both feature phones and smart phones, and the media included video, audio, and pictures. Students were instructed to interview fellow students with question related to collaborative design, such as “What is co-design?” and “What is the most important component of co-design?” I was able to interview Jenny Larios Berlin, who is working on a co-design documentary project with Iquilinos Boricuas en Acción in Boston’s South End. Also, I worked with Sujata Singhal on this blog, who is working with me on the Respect in Reporting co-design project with Press Pass TV. Content for both Jenny and Sujata’s interviews can be found below.

Jenny’s Audio Interview on The Most Important Component of Co-Design can be found here:

Jenny Audio Interview

It was an interesting experience having Rogelio ask me what co-design is and what the most important aspect of co-design is in a public place.  It made me feel like I was on one of those late-night show hunts for susceptible pedestrians…I liked being put on the spot like that.  I suddenly was forced to talk about co-design and felt nervous even though I had just been editing and reading our final paper on co-design for hours.  I would actually like to go do a series of interviews on the street and ask others if they know what this process is…I think it could be really interesting to see what the average person’s perspective is.

Sujata’s audio interview can be found below:

Sujata Audio Interview

Final Presentation and Next Steps

I am happy that I got the chance to grapple with creating Civic Media in a studio setting. Being exposed to how civic design is tackled from an academic and codesign standpoint opened me to some new considerations:

  1. Creative projects can have structure.
  2. There is a good deal of usefulness to legal agreements. They protect the interests and define the goals of creative projects. MOU’s are definitely things that I will look more into in the future.
  3. Everyone comes in with biases. By having structured conversations- running workshops, creating timelines, using sticky notes you can reveal some biases and problems that you may have missed.

By reading papers such as the Bespoke Project, journalism as a catalyst for change, and  seeing how other people in the class designed and worked to expose their own biases when it came to their projects I was motivated to make my project better and smarter- learning from those around me.

My final presentation, a Prezi can be seen here.

The Tech Article, The Art of Advocacy at MIT, was Published this past Tuesday!  I was able to use it to introduce myself to Jonte, the new UA President when I dropped by the UA offices yesterday afternoon.

The Next Steps are putting the work that was done this semester to good use and planning for next term. I am set to meet with Kate at the end of this week and have offered HIA’s findings and documentation as something the UA can use as they move to implement online resources for Undergrads to Use to stay updated on institute events (Tech Article advice #1: Make interactions more transparent by developing online platforms that are relevant, easy, and efficient. )


Respect in Reporting Co-Design, Final Project Presentation

On the last day of the Civic Media Co-Design Studio course, all of the different teams and projects had the opportunity to present their work. In our case, we presented on the overall co-design process working with Press Pass TV on the Respect in Reporting Campaign. The presentation was comprised of many different sections and provided an overview of the project for newcomers. We modeled our presentation after the Co-design Manual, which is one of the outcomes of our course, and the major sections included: Project overview, The Process of Co-design, Securing a Community Partner, Doing Design Work Together, Testing Ideas Together, Passing the Torch, Fail Hard Redux, and Growth, Learning, and Success .  The full presentation can be seen here.

Villa Victoria Committee Meeting (5/18/12)

Today I met the newest addition to the Villa Victoria Documentary committee member. She works in the VV Center for the Arts and has film-making experience. It is exciting to bring her on to the project.

Below is the general agenda of the meeting:

  • I gave our newest member a brief overview of the genesis of the project, myself, and current status of the project.
  • We reviewed the edited MOU
  • We discussed the total cameras that IBA has in its possession that we can use for the project
  • We discussed what to do with the taped recordings of all channel 6 footage (the station that IBA used to run for the community)
  • I informed them of the tapes I collected from the Colab interviews conducted in 2006, but now I have to find a video player to see them.
  • We discussed the fellowship I have to fund the project this summer with the end goal of the trailer
  • We identified where I can work in the office during the summer months
  • We set the next few meeting dates and the expected goals for the next meeting (e.g. watch a couple of sample documentaries, finish the MOU, and confirm the date of the next workshop)

Obviously this project will continue and so will my blog postings. However I have created a blog specifically for the project. If you are interested in this project and would like to stay connected please refer to this site: Villa Victoria- Documentary Project

I can’t wait for the summer. It will be a great time to get to know the people and community even more, while getting some good work done on the project. Wish us luck! 🙂 

Multi-media Interview

So this is my 3rd attempt to imbed the image of the multimedia. Below is blogger post where I was able to imbed the interviews and video. This is the link to the blog: http://codesignlearning.blogspot.com/2012/05/interview-thoughts-on-codesign.html

I was able to take the video from my phone and email it to myself. From there I uploaded it to Youtube so I could imbed it in the blog.

The voice and photos, I wanted to merge into one medium. As a result, I uploaded the photos to Picasa. Picasa has a function where you can create a video of photos and text slides with audio. Since I had more audio than photos I simply set the photos on repeat until the audio interview was completed. Please click on the link above to open a new tab to see and hear the interviews.


Final Class Presentation

Final class deliverables:

  • Villa Victoria Wikipedia Entry, below is an image of the entry I am working on with the community.


  • Digitized Timeline


  • Final Presentation



  • Project Reflection
    I am continually engaged and energized by the project and the people I meet at Villa Victoria. Although, I wish we were farther along with the workshops, I am excited about this summer because I think we will be able to accomplish a lot. I have a fellowship to continue the work and hope to have the trailer done by the end of this summer. There is a lot of great archived footage, but I also plan to engage the community to produce new material that they can contribute to the project and perhaps feel an even stronger sense of ownership.
    I am constantly learning about codesign and what that means in the context of a documentary. I think this pattern will continue throughout the process.
    When we went through the fail hard process there are still a few issues that I think about. For example, what is the impact, who is the audience, and will anyone care. As I work with the committee to answer these questions I think we get closer and closer to a core audience for which we can create a targeted message that is also a call to action for greater involvement in grassroots movements for community members who are seeking an identity within the American culture that marry’s the past (heritage from the place of origin) with the present (US assimilation). This is not an easy task and often there is the feeling of betrayal that we may have to contend with.
    All in all I have enjoyed the project so far. So long as it stays a collaboration with clear and understandable expectations it will be a fruitful partnership. I look forward to what we accomplish in the coming months and years.
  • Next Steps
    • Committee Mtgs
    • MOU
    • Review archived material
    • Complete workshops
    • Edit trailer
    • Community screening and support
    • Continue to the next round of funding
    • Feature length
    • Distribution

Backlash, Timing, and Reporting

This week I have done some thinking about whether my work has been an exercise in codesign or not. That results of my thoughts can be found in the course booki.

Infographic Workshop & Tech Article

Next Tuesday the Tech Article that I have been working on for HIA will go out. I received comments on the first draft from the Campus Life Editor Saturday and talked with the graphics department about the graphic I am planning- inspired by the drawing created during the Infographic Workshop held last Friday!! (pictured below)

The Discussion, Politics & Advocacy @MIT Workshop (Infographic Workshop), had a low turnout but I received a lot of bounce back –

Contacted by member of MIT’s Jewish Community Concerned that I forgot to include them along with some of the religious groups I invited to the Workshop.

Asked for an update on the findings of the workshop from MIT’s Lutheran Episcopal Ministry who I have connections with through HIA/The Technology and Culture Forum (T&C), and Director Mytty.

I was able to learn and connect with one of the exec members of Active Minds, a student mental health advocacy group just launched a post-it note campaign in the infinite this week- another example of how students are reached on campus| fun – entertaining – installations.

What I learned

It was interesting to learn about how Active Minds like Relay for Life, another successful and integrated student group is part of a nationwide organization. Most of the advocacy groups that I have run into are:

1. Off the grid: started by passionate students/friends or with the support of outsiders- nationwide organizations or churches

2. Administrative: related to the institute’s administrative offices, DSL| Division of Student Life, DUE| Department of Undergraduate Education, SAO| Student Activities Office

I had planned the workshop for the group of 6 that had RSVP’d from MITOccupy, The Forum, Active Minds, and the Black Students Union:

Instead I used Charlie’s dotstorm to take some notes and had more of a conversation learning about how Active Minds has sustained itself and how the exec member pictured his student group’s connection to the Administration and  to the student body that they hope to serve.


Key takeaways from the Workshop discussion:

MIT students can be qualified as skeptics. Unless questions are asked in the right way [forum/location] they will not be answered with the  clarity and freedom of expression that is needed to generate understanding. A number of realizations, covered in the Tech article, discuss how this quality can be leveraged.

Board Activity Outcome: MIT is structured like a bubble and the administration is on the outside. The less obvious statement is that inside the bubble there are divisions that are rarely crossed and it is the result of efficiency.

One of the most interesting statements that I have encountered during my time as an organizer for HIA is “MIT is segregated.” 
The outcome of the workshop was a bit biased because there were only two of us; however, the result, a statement that we exist within student group bubbles mimicked the . Each is really dynamic.  Reaching out and engaging deeply through reflection and work is something that occurs few and far between. There is a need for engineering in discussion- the manufacturing and start up bug in advocacy.
I think there is a lot of promise in the UA initiatives that I have learned about- making MIT Undergrads more connected by creating an online presence.
Though I argued against relying on internet platforms due to the current usage of the class websites, I believe that HIA can help make online MIT community engagement more widespread by taking the findings we have generated in studying and helping groups and students involved in service and politics/advocacy this semester.
My last actions for this year will be to schedule a meeting with Kate Mytty with the Support, Research, and now Reporting that we have done this semester we have started to make plans for working to make Charter Day happen.

Digitized Timeline

This is the first attempt to publish the timeline created in the first workshop held in partnership with residents of Villa Victoria.

Villa Victoria Timeline

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