Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Assignment 5


During the first semester, our assignments were mainly based on secondary research. Now we are focusing on primary research methods and this assignment required us to develop a proposal for how we might use the methods that we learnt this semester to take our research further in the topic that we explored in the first semester.

The topic that I chose to investigate in semester one was "How do social networking sites act as a major connector to designers". I am going to look further into this topic and explore the different methods which I have been using this semester in order to investigate this topic further. I will look into the use of interviewing, visual experiments, and observation and will explore what system will work best.

I chose to write about social networking sites because not only do I use them, I find the controversial argument of whether they do more damage than good interesting. I am also interested in other people's opinion's and reasons to why they use social networking sites.

I have looked at various different journals and books about this topic including; "The networking survival guide: get the success you want by tapping into the people you know" by Diane C. Darling, "The Virtual Community" by Howard Rheingold, and "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. "The networking survival guide: get the success you want by tapping into the people you know" is about how to make the most of everyday physical networking and gives tips on how to advance on one's own networking techniques. Rheingold's "The Virtual Community" is a book which tours the "virtual community" of online networking and also discusses social networking in detail showing alot of evidence and experiences. Both texts agree that networking, being it virtual or physical is very important to everyone in order to be successful so therefore helping designers in there careers. Another source that I have looked at is a social networking site itself, "Twitter". I have been looking at a young female artist called Johanna Basford who uses this site to gain publicity. Over a 24hour period she created an interactive and hand drawn illustration which was created through other "Tweeters" sending suggestions to her to finally produce a super sized hand drawn black and white illustration. Some of Basford's clients include The Victorian and Albert Museum, The Body Shop, and DKNY. This is a good example of how designer's can take advantage of social networking sites to help them succeed. Not only is Basford connecting with other designers and people from a similar profession but she is also connecting with the public and getting a chance to advertise her work for free on the internet.

After retrieving this secondary research, I would like to go ahead and gain some primary research to learn more about public opinions and for what reasons people use social networking sites. I would like to know if people think that social networking sites help designers connect with the rest of the world. To do this I would start by looking at the methods which I have been taught this semester and these are observation, visual experimentation and interviewing. To achieve the best results I would start by conducting an interview. I would target a group of designers and then ask them a set of semi-structured questions which would help me with my research. The group of designers that i would interview would have to be different ages, genders and from different backgrounds so that my results were not biased. I would ask a set of questions that were not straight to the point but subtle which would gently prompt the interviewee to give me the answer that I am looking for. I think that I would also conduct a public survey to gain an insight to the public opinion's on social networking. The questions that I would ask in this interview would be about social networking affecting the general public and not so much a specific group such as designers because I would like to see the results for designers and the public. I could also conduct a survey which would also allow me to collect accurate and fast information. However a survey may not achieve the best results as many people might give false answers for quickness or perhaps just to protect information about their private life as they feel put on the spot because these questions are being thrown at them from nowhere. If the interviewee is asked a series of semi-structured questions then I think that they will then give you more information as you are engaging back with them and it becomes some sort of conversation.

Another way to gain primary research would be to observe people in a computer suite and see if they use social networking sites. However I do not believe that this would be the most effective and correct way to find out this information. Aswell as invading these people's privacy, it would not help me to answer questions such as "Is this networking site helping this person in their career?" or "what does this person use this site for?". Alot of people would obviously not feel comfortable with someone watching over their computer screen observing what they are doing and that is why I have decided to use interviewing as the method that I would use if I was to take this further. Interviewing would give me all the information that I would need on this subject and would enable me to gain a deeper understanding of the people that use these sites. A problem that may arise in interviewing would be that people would not answer honestly or would not feel comfortable answering a series of questions about there private life's to a stranger. A way to work around this as I previously said would be to ask strategically worded questions which are not straight to the point because in that way the interviewee would feel more at ease and they are answering the question for you rather than you almost telling them what to say.

To conclude if I was going to look further into the topic of "How do social networking sites act as a major connector to designers" then I would gather secondary research on this topic and to do this I would use interviewing as the chosen method as it helps me to collect all the information that I need. This would also enable me to acquire accurate information quickly.


For this part of the assignment I will write a short proposal on how I could use the methods that I have used in both semester 1 and 2 if I had to re-do one of my studio projects. The project that I have chosen is the "Juteopolis" project from the first semester. This was a group project and the brief was to design a exhibition space for the DCA which was based on "Juteopolis", the name Dundee was given in the peak of the Jute production. The purpose of this was to inform the public about Dundee and it's history within the Jute industry.

When we first started this project alot of the research that we gathered was from Verdant Works which is an old Dundee Jute mill which has been conserved and is now a Jute museum. More of our research was from Dundee's library and also the university library. However now after completing assignments on primary and secondary researching methods I can see that if we had to do this project again we would be able to collect accurate information and lots more of it quickly. I would start this by using interviewing techniques to interview a number of different people.

The first of the interviewee would be the general public. To do this I would brainstorm ideas and come up with questions which I could ask people on the street to find out what they understood about Dundee and the Jute industry. I would try and target each generation to see how each generation's knowledge differs. The older generation would be likely to know more about this than the younger generation. However it would be interesting to see how our exhibition would need to educate the public. I would need to make sure that my questions were general and were in no way going to offend anyone. I think if our group had this knowledge prior to doing this studio project then we would possibly created a better exhibition and if not then we would have at least be far more knowledgeable about the subject. I think it is important to know as much as you can about the client to enable you to design the best possible design for them.

The next of the interviewee would be the people who currently work at the Verdant Works. Although we did get to speak to them I think it would be more effective if we could have had private interviews to gain as much knowledge as we possibly could. It would have been useful to brainstorm and plan a set of structured or semi-structured questions to enable us to retrieve as much useful information as possible. Getting to interview an exhibition designer could have also proved very useful and interesting. I would have been able to find out what types of exhibitions are successful and what techniques are most effective. Another method that would be very useful would be to observe a variety of different people in an exhibition to see what parts they find the most interesting and also to see what parts of the exhibition they spent the most time at. I would observe a group of people of all different ages for example adults, the elderly and school children. It would have been very beneficial to see who spent the most amount of time at different stages of the exhibition and also to see what catches different age groups attention most. I would also set up my own experiments and small exhibitions in order to see what the different people thought of my designs. It would also be useful to try different methods out before completing my final exhibition. I could have also conducted a survey or asked people a set of structured questions as this would have been very useful to me to find out what the client would prefer rather than assuming.

During our first semester one of the things that we were working on was how to collect secondary information. If I had used this knowledge in this studio project then I would have alot more research to help me. If we had used the library's cross search then I would have been able to collect more books and journals about Dundee and the Jute industry. It would have broaden my knowledge on the topic therefore allowing me to possibly create a better design.

Learning about secondary and primary research has definitely been worthwhile and will help me in future projects. I now understand that through the use of experiments, observation, interviewing, reading journals, magazines and books that I can now gain an enormous amount of research to help me with my future projects whether it being for design studies or the studio. Using these methods will help me understand the clients needs and their story which will enable me to design the best possible design for them.


Darling, Diana C, (April 2003) The Networking Survival Guide: Get The Success You Want By Tapping Into The People You Know, The McGraw Hill Companies

Gladwell, Malcolm, (2000) The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference, Little Brown

Rheingold, Howard, (1994) The Virtual Community, Harper Collins


Johanna Basford




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