Projects 2008 > Happy Town > Journal
"… a virtuous activity of the Soul" — Aristotle (one of the many, many quotes on the subject, and one we like)
So what is going on in this project? Well we don't know yet where we will end up, but we have a rough plan of action, and we know that we are on our way.
So far it's been a heads-down in a bunch of research materials and a heads-up in the air engaging a whole load of imagination and storytelling.
Design processes at the end of the day are all about finding an answer to the question "What is it?" at a variety of levels of detail; but we tend to break this question up into the initial sub-questions "Who is it for? What is it for? & What does it do?"
The design-research process will answer these eventually in some detail, and feed the prototyping process, but for now they act as big stabilisers in the background, anchoring the investigation.
A brainstorm in the BDH attic
"Heads-down" is an immersion and engagement with a rich seam of happiness books, articles, and media-mentionings — and a plan to engage with a variety of "happiness expertise" to identify and set the right context.
"Heads-up" begins with a day-long kick-off open-studio style brainstorm at BDH and lots of notes sketches and diagrams up on the wall.
Marker pens and post-its are distributed and then Gill and Nick from Plot and John from BDH lead off with an overview and Q&A of "Why we're all here…"
Afterwards, a cross-section ("I'm not that cross…") of BDHers scribble out their mental maps of Bristol as a place, and as a place to live ("The buses are crap, but driving is tough…"), with some shared Bristol cultural landmarks, both celebrated and obscure, to act as both warm-up to the session and warm-up to the "Towns" part of the investigation.
Capturing this and much, much more on the big post-its, with some cross-collation of the small post-its and some rapid thematic collaging (process freaks amongst you may recognise this activity as "affinity diagramming") results in some broad "topic/thematic landscapes" to consider —
• "What makes me happy?"
• "Karma accounts"
• "Press happy for…"
• "Perspective two-step"
• "The festival of happy"
• "Happy hotspots"
We end the day exploring and identifying "dimensions of user-ness" (The who is it for? question.) This will be crucial for both user-research interviews and observations, as well as testing the validity of our propositions and prototypes.
Photo's are taken; the big post-it wall is documented and packed for transport back to Plot; addresses, phone numbers, and appreciations are exchanged, as well as pledges of eternal friendship etc etc
Back at Plot, a project site is set up on base-camp to exchange project materials, conversations, files, dates, and more pledges of eternal friendship etc etcThen an inital set of introspective trigger questions —"What do we do to makes ourselves happy?