Here are two kinds of inputs and outputs that I’d like to experiment with a bit more:

  1. Habit Journal (structured input)
  2. Dialectograms (unstructured output)

Theoretically, I think the two can be combined, but initially, I am trying them out separately.

I. Habit Journal

What is it: A habit diary is a series of the same set of questions that are asked across multiple days as a way to identify behavioral triggers and rewards for a routine.*

Why it’s interesting: A habit diary could help discover the ‘craving’ or reason behind a particular behavior or routine.

Habit Loop, from the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Here’s how you do it in 4 steps:

  1. Identify the Routine: What is the cue, what is the routine, what is the reward? In the above instance, the routine is drinking.
  2. Experiment with Rewards: Switch out the types of rewards with variants (i.e.- a cookie, talking to people, basking in the sunlight, etc.). After experimenting with each type of reward, ask the participant to write on a piece of paper the first three words that come to their head (this is to get snapshot of the mental state). Then ask them to wait 15 min and check-in on whether the craving for the reward is still there.
  3. Isolate the Cue: Knowing that habitual cues tend to fall into 5 categories(location, time, emotional state, other people, immediately preceding action) when a particular routine starts, isolate the cue by having the participant note: Where are you? What time is it? What’s your emotional state? Who else is around? What action preceded the urge? Do this 3x or more.
  4. Have a Plan for Modifying the the Habit: This is where gamification or new routines come in. What behavior/routine do we want to change?
Modifying the routine, from the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

*From Charles Duhigg, the Power of Habit

**Note: It’s more common to get to step 1 (Focus Groups can help you reach that) and maybe even 2, but getting to step 3 is tricky.

II. Dialectograms

Example of a Dialectogram by Mitch Miller

What is it: A Dialectogram* is visual record that incorporates a psychogeographical representation of the stories of people in a shared space (like a neighborhood, a house, etc.). This is a spatial representation of the textual stories the researcher unearths from learning about the people who utilize the space.

Why it is interesting: I originally discovered the Dialectogram- coined and created by Mitch Miller- through a friend on Instagram. It immediately caught my attention for a few reasons:

a) It’s a different way of looking at the familiar or a way of jettisoning preconceived notions about our assumptions about a place or journey. The Dialectogram is reminiscent of Cognitive Mapping, a technique originally conceived by an American Psychologist named Edward Tolman, but also famously referred to by Fredric Jameson in his essay The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism where he refers to the psychogeographic mapping activities of the Situationists, who ‘mis-used’ maps as a way to gain new and novel experiences or perspectives.

b) Provides a convenient visual overview to the context, actors, and anecdotes: Similar to Sketchnoting, Dialectograms are visual mnemonics made up from a combination of visual and textual elements. However, Dialectograms show a complex series of events and actors that are tied together by being location based, and have textual notes that are based on interviewing the users/actors.

c) Engagement with viewers: It can evoke in the viewer, the novelty of peering into a dollhouse or diorama where the viewer can behold a whole world from a comfortable vantage point. Moreover, the dialectogram is a document that testifies to the ephemeral events by evidence of creating traces of them on its ‘map’.

Think of a Dialectogram as a narrative driven variant of a User Journey map or a Service Blueprint and Persona document. The pros: it’s less siloed in its framework and more richly engaging. The cons: there isn’t a clear beginning or end because multiple beginnings and endings are layered on top of each other. However, its non-linearity may be the quality that lends it its curiousity factor which would engage and encourage viewers to view it more than once in order to discover things. Also it creates empathy- that failsafe industry buzzword.

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