If This Much Instruction is Needed…


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

For the first week of DS106 Goes to Work, I’ve asked students to be on the look out for things in their world that might benefit from a “storified” approach. This was deliberately left vague, and I want students to struggle a bit with this.

As you interact with media in your every day activities– shows, advertising, online content– start asking yourself if you are seeing a storified approach (which may not always be called for). Look for things that do not seem to be explained well, or that do not kind much interest for you to become engaged with it.

This might be an instruction manual, a recipe, a web site, a video that explains poorly complicated task, an article. This will be an ongoing activity to find an example you can use for your final project, where you will create media to add storytelling elements to it. Do not worry if you cannot find a great example, just start the process of thinking about it, and observing the world around you. This also needs to be something that others can see on the web, or for which you can post a photo/video to your blog, so for GMU students you should look for things outside the scope of your job.

It is not about coming up with a “right” answer for “points”. This will be an ongoing task (oops, I already forgot to add it the second week) to nudge them to look for, ponder, and likely discard ideas which might work for their final project after week 7.

My example came from this series of signs at the train station in Saratoga Springs, new York. Clearly, a train station needs a system to notify the authorities of an emergency (e.g. trains going off the track?) and the station is not fully attended; it was closed when I got there after 5pm on a week day.

Clearly, the addition of three hand written signs of attempted clarification are not working. My gut hunch is that for design of functional objects, the more you need signage to explain how it works suggests the bigger the problem of the design; some of my favorites when I travel are the ways in which hotels seem to need to explain how to work the controls in the shower:


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

For the train station, I am not quite sure how the storifying would work for public signage- maybe a graphic comic? Or it may not be something that is part of the display,perhaps some public campaign messages? There are many stories that could be woven of either the people who pull it because the emergency is a lack of taxi cabs, or the poor responders who keep having to come out and add new signs.

This is just a maybe. Keep on observing.

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