What would the plants say?

What would the plants say? Amid global warming and environmental stress, what can plants tell us about our environment that other forms of communication can not?

Gerald is an experiment in environmental communication. We are interested in how the public might access information about other living things directly from the environment. Our aim is to design a way to give people a deeper connection with their environment and a means of understanding changing conditions free from economic or political frames. Gerald, and his sister Vera, are our concept for this. As plants, they are rooted in their surroundings and their lived experience is different to that of humans.

Gerald, an agave, and Vera, an aloe, will be rigged with sensors that capture data about nutrients, light and moisture. In the first instance we are interested in what information we can gather. The next step will be to make that information meaningful: how might we communicate with Gerald? After that, we want to explore how we might develop a network of plants that can tell a broader environmental story.

This project touches on several research themes in communication and interaction design, including the value of understanding big data in context and how to design communication for the internet of things.

We think Gerald and Vera have things to say. This project aims to give them a voice. Follow them @GeraldThePlant and @Vera_Plant

Developing the process via workshop

The JxD process is almost completed and will be available on this site very soon along with some additional resources.  Representing the process and all of it’s ‘layers’ (we think that’s a good way to describe this) has been challenging.  This final representation has been the result of a few steps, perhaps the most important being a design workshop around the JxD process. We originally designed a framework – a structure for thinking about Journalism Design, but as a result of the workshop, we realised we needed a process instead. Here’s a quick summary of how that workshop ran and what it produced.

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Prototyping the process

So far we have created two versions of the Journalism Design process. The first was developed at the end of 2016 based on data gathered from students. We presented this concept to a design workshop in early 2017 and redesigned the concept based on insights from participants.

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The project methodology

We’re using a design approach to develop the JxD process. Like most design research, the methodology involves phases of contextual research, designing, evaluating, implementation and redesign. It is a practice-led approach to research, which uses design techniques as tools for investigation.

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