‘prototyping with users’ Category

Sprint / International negotiations on climate change adaptation

November 18th, 2013

Dear all, here is a short outline on the preparation of the Paris Sprint.

  • Dates & Venue

Jan 6th to 10th, at Sciences Po, Paris. We have pre-booked rooms in a nearby hotel.

  • Programme

Under deverlopment.

The first morning will be dedicated to presentations by alpha-users. Then, we will form interdisciplinary teams of 5/6 people constituted of EMAPS members + friends.

  • Topic

Adaptation is a latecomer on the scene of climate negotiations and is, to a large extent, unfit to such arena. Rooted in the tradition of United Nations diplomacy, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was originally instituted to address the eminently global challenge of greenhouse gases reduction through mitigation.

Local in its actions and effects, adaptation definitely entered the UNFCCC arena in 2000, when the inevitability of climate change impacts became evident and with it the need of developing countries to find international support for adaptation policies. In this framework, adaptation has largely become a question of financial flows.

Since mid-2000, however, the place of adaptation in the international negotiations has grown incessantly and actors have been struggling to put new issues on the negotiation agenda. The traditional boundaries of the UNFCCC are thus under pressure.

The controversies relating to the international negotiations on climate change adaptation tend to fall into two categories:

1. The controversies that take place within the UNFCCC itself and concern the rationales governing the transactions of adaptation money and the arguments and issues mobilized to support them:

a. What is adaptation money? A help from rich to poor countries to prepare for future climate change impacts (according to the development paradigm) VS a compensation from polluting to polluted countries to repair the current climate impacts (according to the “loss and damage” paradigm) VS a contribution to anticipate current extreme events (according to “disaster risk reduction” paradigm) ?
b. How should adaptation money be transferred? Which countries and institutions should govern the ‘adaptation funds’? How should the use of the money be monitored and accounted for? Which type of institutions should this funds be and how they should be organized?
c. Which objectives should drive financial aid for adaptation? decrease vulnerability to climate impacts (e.g. sea level, extreme events, droughts, environmental migrations, etc.)? increase adaptive capacity (e.g. poverty reduction, water security, food security, land use change, economic compensation, security, etc.)?
d. For all the previous questions, we can also ask who defended which position and when a given position or controversy was more discussed.

2. The controversies that take place outside the UNFCCC, or on the sideline of it, and concern the representativeness and the weight of the Convention’s negotiations in the larger debate on adaptation.

a. To what extent an essentially local problem such as adaptation can be managed effectively through an international forum?
b. When and to what extent issues discussed outside the UNFCCC in relation to adaptation have (or have not) become the subject of international negotiations?
c. Are the discourses of the actors in the negotiation coherent with their discourses and actions outside the UNFCCC?
d. How do non-national actors (NGOs, industrial lobbies) engage in and influence the negotiations ?

  •  Datasets

ENB reports
Climate Funds Update
Web corpus
Scientific literature
IPCC reports
UNFCCC documents (included COP country submissions, side events and SBSTA reports)
(if we have time) adaptation projects from different project collections
(The NY Times articles)

  • Alpha-users

We have contacted experts potentially interested in co-producing the maps with us, whom we adress as “alpha-users”. We want 5/6 of them. The contacted persons might of course redirect us to other experts. We will discuss the content of their presentation beforehand.
We are in discussion with Neil Adger & Richard Klein (academics), Alix Mazounie (NGO), Troels Dam Christensen (NGO/negotiator), the Green Climate Fund…
  • Other participants

EMAPS members : I already got some answers. Here is the form which you are invited to fill in to confirm your participation ASAP (and before the end of the week) :


EMAPS members are encouraged to stay the whole duration of the Sprint.

Advisors : we have sent an invitation to Pelle Ehn and David Chavalarias.

Students : we plan to have 3 Density Design former students.

Issue experts : we want to have experts of the climate controversy (apart from Mark who will be there as well) like Amy Dahan & Christophe Buffet (Centre Alexandre Koyré), Clive Hamilton, Alice Caravani of Climate Funds Update (Overseas Development Institute). François Gemenne will moderate the presentations by alpha-users on the first morning.

  • Expenses

All expenses including transportation will be borne by Sciences Po. We will book hotel rooms, but we ask EMAPS participants to take care of their own travel, which will be reimbursed after the sprint.


Mapping with Others: How to Work with Climate Change Issue Experts

May 17th, 2013

Since February of this year we have been running the second version of the Issue Mapping for Politics course where students have engaged in climate change controversy mapping through three periods of the controversy: (1) the very existence of climate change, skepticism and causes, (2) mitigation (quantified self approach and carbon market approach), and (3) adaptation. Climate change issue experts have been involved in each of these stages. More precisely, they were invited to describe and present the state of affairs of their fields and tell us about their analytical needs. Based on these presentations students were asked to produce maps. Afterwards, we will organise a follow up with the issue experts to present them with the maps, and engage with them concerning the extent to which they meet their needs, including any new needs that arise from reading the maps.

During the EMAPS meeting last month, the University of Amsterdam presented field notes from our work with these climate change issue experts. Below is a summary of some of the most relevant things we learned from them, which we consider could be useful to other project members working with issue experts. The slides from our talk can be found here:


A few things we learned thanks to the Issue Safari

December 21st, 2012

On December 12 2012, the EMAPS project organized its first Issue Safari.
Such workshop was an improved version of the seminar we organized in June 2012. In both cases the objective was to submit some of a set of maps we had prepared on the theme of aging in UK to the evaluation of a selected group of potential users.
The first workshop had been very interesting, but had also revealed the great difficulty of finding a common ground between mappers and users. Users were very critical on several aspects: from the choice of the research questions, to the datased employed, from the visualisations employed to the legibility of the maps (see emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1329).
In order to overcome this difficulty, we started a new process of interaction with the users (described here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1701, here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1728 and here emapsproject.com/blog/archives/1754). This process helped us to produce a more effective set of maps and to identify a groups of users potentially more interested in our visualisations. The December Issue Safari was the result of this process.

I think it is fair to say that the Issue Safari has been a success in the sense that we have greatly improved the adaptation between users and maps. Most users found most maps relevant and engaged with them in interesting ways. This allowed us to collect a richer user-feedback that we will now be able to re-invest in the case study of climate change adaptation.

Drawing on a very detailed set of notes collected during the Safari by the facilitator of the Young Foundation and compiled by Lucy Kimbell, I have prepared the following synthesis of the lessons we learnt during this workshop


A speculative blog post about changing how we engage with issue professionals in the design and production of issue maps within EMAPS

December 10th, 2012

Ahead of our two-day workshop in London later this week, I present some suggestions that follow on from our discussions in the project team about we can engage productively with people who might use the issue maps we are creating in the project. As I understand it, the role of The Young Foundation in the EMAPS project is primarily about helping to engage with people beyond the project team, specifically with the communities of issue professionals working on the two topics.

This post builds on recent emails and skype meetings between us; our small workshop in Oxford in October (see posts by Michele and Benedetta in Milano and by me afterwards, with comments by other EMAPS team members), as well as our June meeting in London (see posts by Tommaso) and discussions about the design process by Milano and Paris.

I will cover

  • a narrative about the project’s trajectory to date in terms of engaging with issue professionals, written from a personal perspective as someone working within YF on EMAPs since March 2012 (when I was employed there, and now freelance);
  • a brief introduction to some concepts and methods from the fields of Participatory Design and Design Research, which offer some approaches that could move EMAPS towards a more participatory mode of designing/using maps in the context of a research project;
  • a speculative description of what these concepts and methods might look like in practice, if the EMAPS team decided to use them.


What we learned from engaging with ageing issue professionals

October 18th, 2012


What are issue maps and what are they for?

The aim of this post is to share some reflections following our session exploring the most recent batch of maps with potential users in Oxford last Friday. Three of us who were there agreed to write posts: Michele Mauri from Milano who is leading the work on the design of the maps; Kat Jungnickel, a freelancer with a background in ethnography/STS who has been doing participant observation with an issue professional for The Young Foundation, and me. Mine will focus on the interesting and difficult questions that lie at the heart of the EMAPS project: What could the maps be (and for who), what are they for, and how do we work together to create them in an iterative process? My questions and attempts at answers are situated in the project’s work over recent months on the topic of ageing, and my own practice/research in social design and service design.

The Young Foundation’s role in the EMAPS project is about public engagement – helping identify and engage participants in the project who are probably not researchers (in the academy) but what Richard Rogers calls ‘issue professionals’, for whom research is probably part of their work. At our EMAPS meeting in mid-June 2012, we (my former colleague Jacques Mizan and I) brought together around 25 such people from the UK working in different ways in relation to the ageing issue, from different kinds of organizational context from consultants, public service managers, to volunteers, to care workers. We found it hard to work out who to invite (and get them in the room) because we were not sure what the proposed issue maps on ageing might be for. We know that the EMAPS project aims to design maps of controversies and explore their purposes in relation to complex collective issues. But in our day-to-day interactions we did not find it easy to summarise the project when talking to our colleagues within The Young Foundation or in discussion with potential participants. We did not understand how such maps might fit within the work practices of people who work within the ageing issue, which are of course diverse and shaped by different kinds of professional expertise and knowledge.

The EMAPS-wide project discussion that followed that workshop in June then lead to our next phase of work, which took us in a new direction: away from showing people the latest maps and asking for feedback, or asking what they might do with them, or what other maps they might find useful, towards understanding one issue professional’s work practices, and designing maps for her as a kind of lead user (von Hippel 1986). From Kat’s analysis of Maria’s work practices (documented earlier on this blog), the EMAPS team in Paris and Milano then created maps that aimed to help her answer her ‘research questions’. So on Friday, we created a workshop in two sessions. First we showed Maria the latest maps (lead by Kat and Michele and Benedetta) and got Maria’s responses drawing on her deeper knowledge of the project through her work with Kat. We also asked for her feedback about what we planned to do after lunch, when we broadened the discussion by bringing in three other ageing issue professionals, known to Maria. We (Kat and I) had decided that rather than asking for their feedback, we wanted to elicit responses to the maps by asking them to try to do some tasks with them – which we checked with Maria.

We thought that giving these professionals opportunities to try to use the maps to perform a task similar to the sorts of things they already do, and then watching and interviewing them as they did this, would give us insights into the research questions within EMAPS. After a brief introduction to Map 2 (the “milky way” map that shows linguistic terms drawn from a corpus of documents on ageing and dementia, we asked them to do the following tasks:


MAP 2: What are the public health and social care messages about ageing and dementia?

TASK (work together): You are developing a campaign aimed at people to increase awareness around the parents and neighbours having dementia. What are the core messages you want to communicate? Use the map to see.

Having presented a task relevant to their world, the participants then looked at the maps as they began to try to think through what the map was presenting them with. Quite quickly we moved away from the task. Later, we did not insist on using the task we had prepared for Map 1 as by then the conversations flowed well and also the sense of asking “What would I do with this map?” By they time we looked at the set of maps of type Map 3 (images from Google searches for ageing), we no longer needed a task to get them to engage, but we did repeatedly ask what they might use these maps for and how and when.

This approach draws heavily on a design/research field I will go on to explore a bit later. As well as actively participating in the session (Michele, Benedetta, Kat and I) we also documented the activities with audio, video, photography and taking notes.


Here are some of my initial observations – which may appear bleedingly obvious to some of our research partners – but are perhaps worth of noting down here, if only to show much work it takes to involve someone who is not a specialist in digital methods or issue mapping, in understanding what the maps might be (for) and what it takes for them to be of use. They may of course be completely different to the views of Kat, Michele and Benedetta although we of course discussed what we did, what we observed and participated in and what we made of it through the day.


Finding 1

The maps can only ‘work’ if these aspects come together:

-       An understanding of the user’s worlds and work practices and the purposes to which maps can be put

-       Data and their provenance, relevance and reliability that fit with the user’s requirements in relation to the things they want to achieve

-       A method that translates what the user might want to achieve in her world, into a research question, into a question that a map could answer, into a way to gather data and analyse it for presentation within a map

-       A visual presentation of the data/question/key/legend that fits within the understandings the user has about her world


Finding 2

The maps can be used for these purposes (and probably many others):

-       Understanding the ageing issue and how it is constituted

-       Reframing or thinking differently about the ageing issue based on what the maps show

-       Provoking discussion about controversies within ageing between different people looking at or using maps

-       Verifying or challenging an existing understanding of the ageing issue

-       Seeing new sets of relationships (eg between actors or linguistic terms or concepts) in relation to the ageing issue


Finding 3

We need to do more work to understand how these various purposes come into play in different professional contexts and through various disciplinary practices. From observing the four issue professionals in the room in Oxford we noted quite different responses to the same map, even though they shared some common projects and knowledge about the ageing issue and its actors. For example one participant said that the map of linguistic expressions from the corpus of documents (Map 2 – the milky way map) was not useful, whereas two others strongly believed it was and that it was something they could use for example to help them align their own grant-funding bids or proposals to funders’ or commissioner’s current concerns. While this is partly the result of the visual presentation of the data, it is also about how participants grappled with understanding what the map is, and where the data come from, and what the map offers them as a resource. We suspect that these responses are shaped by many factors including cognitive and learning styles, and disciplinary practices about how research and strategy are done in organizations of different kinds.

Other perspectives

I now want to turn to a field that I think EMAPS can learn from, and which has certainly shaped how The Young Foundation (through my interventions) has participated in the project. Participatory Design (PD) is a field that combines a Scandinavian political/social commitment to worker empowerment, with a practical understanding of collective design. Much of the research/practice in PD has focused on the design of software. One of the leading contributors to PD is Pelle Ehn (see Ehn 1988). More recently several researchers (who often design software as part of their research) are exploring STS/ANT in relation to this design work (eg Ehn 2008; Binder et al 2011; Andersen et al 2011).

Some of the learning in this field is:

-       How to understand and design for “use” (eg within existing practices) and how “design” relates to use by re-configuring practices or involving the creation of new practices (eg Ehn 1988; Suchman et al 1998; Redstorm 2008).

-       How design-work can be thought of as performatively constituting the new relations between actors involved  (eg Hartswood et al 2002; Andersen et al 2011).

-       How to understand participation in design work eg thinking of their active participation as language games (Ehn 1988).


How we go forward

At our EMAPS meeting in June, we agreed that The Young Foundation would host an ‘issue safari’ in November 2012 bringing together a wider group of issue professionals working on ageing, to explore the latest iteration of the maps. In my email to the wider EMAPS team a couple of weeks ago, I again proposed that we create some tasks that are meaningful within the worlds of such professionals. We prototyped this approach in Oxford last Friday, and it worked well enough to provoke a conversation that surfaced what would the participants do with these maps, from which we then meandered onwards and outwards. In response Tommaso pointed out that the EMAPS researchers will be on hand to guide participants through the safari, which sounds great – until we have to explain it to someone who is a busy professional.

I now think we have a couple of options to consider before we finalise what we do at the end of November:

1. Find someone with an existing task related to ageing, that we could work in relation to and modify/create some maps for. An example from one of our participants from Friday is working on the creation of a new ‘Joint Strategic Needs Assessment’– a framework for gathering, sharing and interpreting data about needs relating to older people in Oxfordshire (in social care and healthcare). However I don’t think this is going to work for two reasons. First, although this project is happening and could suit our project in some ways, the data they need are mostly regional, not national or cross-European, and are probably not available online and therefore not available easily to EMAPS. Secondly, the participant did not find the maps we shared on Friday to be that useful although they were ‘interesting’. Although very involved in the collective sharing and use of data in relation to ageing, this participant seemed not to value the purposes I suggest above eg provoking discussion about controversies within ageing between different people looking at or using maps; verifying or challenging an existing understanding of the ageing issue; seeing new sets of relationships (eg between actors or linguistic terms or concepts) in relation to the ageing issue. So we don’t propose following this up.

2. Create some tasks in collaboration with a couple of participants (eg Maria – but she’s about to leave the UK for three months) which are recognizable to them and others and draw directly on their work practices. Eg further developing the tasks we proposed on Friday. I have had discussions with my Young Foundation colleague Sue Nunn who is now going to work on the EMAPS project with us, and she can identify several issue professionals within ageing/social care who she thinks do the kind of work of pattern recognizing/strategic overviewing that we think the maps support. We suspect that this will lead to requests from us to Paris/Amsterdam/Milano to adapt the current set of maps and possibly use new data (eg possibly documents they can supply us with). We’ll get back to you next week with more on this.


Some wider questions

And finally, a series of questions for EMAPS going forward. Please accept my apologies if I have misunderstood some aspects of the project and these questions are already taken care of in different ways.  Below I used the terminology from the Participatory Design field (“use” and “design”) – which may not be right (especially as they separate out design and use) but at least offer a way in to helping understand what the maps might be for, so EMAPS can design better maps.


-       Understanding use before design. In this ageing project, we were able to recruit Maria and use Kat to work closely with her to develop a shared understanding of her work practices to support EMAP designing maps that are more closely aligned to the questions she has. Are there plans for years 2&3 to learn from this and work closely with users (in the way Kat did) to translate their practices into research questions for maps, before designing and producing them? I know there is a conversation between EMAPS and the weADAPT community which involves sharing maps (or right now, wireframes of future maps) with them and asking for responses. However I am talking about something additional and in more depth – which involves using an ethnographic approach to studying the practices of people within the weADAPT community – not just asking them what they think of maps, after we have designed them.

-       Understanding use after design. Much of the researcher effort in EMAPS seems to focus on designing the methods, gathering the data, designing the maps and engaging participants, but I wonder if there might be resources to focus on how the maps get used as boundary objects (eg Carlile 2002) in work contexts: This would add a focus on how they are used once we are finished.

-       Involving participants directly in fast participatory design. There is another possibility, which draws on the PD tradition in another way which would look like this: inviting people from the weADAPT community to take part in a practical workshop with EMAPS, in which we do a very fast cycle of understanding their work practices and research questions, translating this to a set of questions that EMAPS could answer, creating questions and gathering data, and producing maps, and then watching what they do with them – all over two days.

Apologies for the busy blog post but I felt it was time to synthesize a number of conversations we’ve been having at The Young Foundation.



Andersen, T., Halse, J., Moll, J. (2011): Design Interventions as Multiple Becomings of Healthcare. Nordes ’11: the 4th Nordic Design Research Conference – Making Design Matter. Helsinki, Finland, May 29 -31, 2010. pp. 11-20.

Binder, T. Giorgio De Michelis, Pelle Ehn, Giulio Jacucci, Giulio Linde and Ina Wagner. 2011. Design Things. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Carlile, P. 2002. “A Pragmatic View of Knowledge and Boundaries: Boundary Objects in New Product Development.” Organization Science, 13(4): 442-455.

Ehn, P. 1988. Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Ehn, P. 2008. “Participation in Design Things.” In Proceedings of the Tenth Anniversary Conference on Participatory Design 2008 (PDC ’08). Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA, 92-101.

Hartswood, M., R. Procter, R. Slack, A. Voss, M. Büscher, and M. Rouncefield. 2002. “Co-realisation: towards a principled synthesis of ethnomethodology and participatory design.” Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 14(2): 9–30.

Hippel, Eric (1986) “Lead Users: A Source of Novel Product Concepts,” Management Science 32, no. 7 (July): 791-805.

Redström, J. (2008). RE: Definitions of use. Design Studies, 29(4), 410-423.

Suchman, L., Blomberg, J., Orr, J., & Trigg, R. (1998). Reconstructing technologies as social practice. The American Behavioral Scientist, 43(3).


Preparing for the EMAPS workshop in Oxford

October 14th, 2012

Lucy and I have been preparing for the next workshop on the developing maps to be held in Oxford on Friday (12th October). In addition to our lead ‘user’, we have invited four health and social care professionals, who are all experts in their fields (policy, volunteer organisations, advocacy, arts).

The aim of the session is threefold: (1) elicit discussion about what maps are useful and for what purposes, (2) observe, listen, record and synthesize information about the use and purpose of maps and (3) ascertain “what these maps do” for these people and how they could use them.

The way we intend to achieve these objectives involves three stages:

- Present each core question on which the maps are based

- Discuss what this core question/issue means to health and social care professionals. ie.How it matters to their work? How and in what ways it matters to their colleagues?

- Show the map/s and set a group task in which participants are asked to use the map to ascertain directions/ outcomes. Further discussion will be encouraged.

We will be documenting the workshop in various ways; notes, audio, video and still photos.