Designing tools for conviviality : A design led exploration of Participatory Activity Mapping

Abstract: This thesis is a report of research work that contributes to the understanding of so-called convivial tools. It does this by describing how small enterprises use Participatory Activity Mapping as an approach to changing, as well as caring about, people and the things that hold their work situations together. Working on this thesis I observed that small enterprises and their employees function in complex and heterogeneous work environments without having the tools or routines to make presentations of how the different aspects of their work situation are held together. In this thesis such tools are described as 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 Participatory Activity Mapping events were conducted during the period of research. The following research questions were put: What are the potentialities of using Participatory Activity Mapping as a convivial tool? How does Participatory Activity Mapping aid the processes of designing product propositions? and How does Participatory Activity Mapping assist small enterprises in creating conviviality. A methodological and theoretical triangulation was used, together with a practice-based and design-led generative design approach, to advance the inquiry into the potentialities of using Participatory Activity Mapping as a convivial tool. The investigation revealed that knowledge is not created from a single vision: on the contrary it is partial and pluralistic. Participatory Activity Mapping supports a situated approach, where the mapmakers co-create their own versions of their own situation together with versions and positions from other people and things. In this sense Participatory Activity Mapping is about helping the mapmakers to co-create topological propositions and see relations within their own practice in order to craft new relational patterns. In addition, the study presents different mapping situations as examples and guidance for how the design field can be sensitive to mapping aspects that show strategies for othering, making absent actors present and tellable otherness. The conclusion of this thesis is that future design researchers and future design practitioners should consider shifting their focus from creating product propositions to creating convivial tools that support people in their efforts to enrich their environment with the fruits of their own vision. This could help design practitioners to involve the space in-between and change current design tools, such as service blueprints, into something that is much more heterogeneous, decentralized, messy and involving.

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