Designing tools forconviviality : A design led exploration of ParticipatoryActivity Mapping

Abstract: This thesis is a report of research work that contributes to the understandingof so-called convivial tools. It does this by describing how small enterprisesuse Participatory Activity Mapping as an approach to changing, as well ascaring about, people and the things that hold their work situations together.Working on this thesis I observed that small enterprises and their employeesfunction in complex and heterogeneous work environments without havingthe tools or routines to make presentations of how the different aspects oftheir work situation are held together. In this thesis such tools are describedas convivial tools, that is tools that can be used by people to create things,express their own tastes and caring for others. Over 15 different ParticipatoryActivity Mapping events were conducted during the period of research. Thefollowing research questions were put: What are the potentialities of usingParticipatory Activity Mapping as a convivial tool? How does ParticipatoryActivity Mapping aid the processes of designing product propositions? andHow does Participatory Activity Mapping assist small enterprises in creatingconviviality. A methodological and theoretical triangulation was used, togetherwith a practice-based and design-led generative design approach, to advancethe inquiry into the potentialities of using Participatory Activity Mapping as aconvivial tool. The investigation revealed that knowledge is not created from asingle vision: on the contrary it is partial and pluralistic. Participatory ActivityMapping supports a situated approach, where the mapmakers co-create theirown versions of their own situation together with versions and positionsfrom other people and things. In this sense Participatory Activity Mapping isabout helping the mapmakers to co-create topological propositions and seerelations within their own practice in order to craft new relational patterns.In addition, the study presents different mapping situations as examplesand guidance for how the design field can be sensitive to mapping aspectsthat show strategies for othering, making absent actors present and tellableotherness. The conclusion of this thesis is that future design researchers andfuture design practitioners should consider shifting their focus from creatingproduct propositions to creating convivial tools that support people in theirefforts to enrich their environment with the fruits of their own vision. Thiscould help design practitioners to involve the space in-between and changecurrent design tools, such as service blueprints, into something that is muchmore heterogeneous, decentralized, messy and involving.