Participatory Inquiry, episode 75: Cards Building Shared Understanding

“In a network, in transition, what if we design cards, boards, rules, artifacts and frameworks that catalyzes conversations and turn them into stories, captures core insights and builds shared understanding?”

Turning select parts of the tacit knowledge of the participants, into a captured story on a grid, a board. A deck of cards designed to catalyze conversations and allow for annotations, is one of the artifacts that can be used.

Participatory Inquiry
One particular deck of cards, Participatory Inquiry, can be designed both as cards and as posts, ie one of them this here post you are now reading.

Infinite Canvas
We need a near infinite digital canvas. One approach is to design something that looks and works a bit similar to existing tools, current digital media.

Pattern Language And Large Finite Grid
Then, we need a large yet finite grid. A language, a pattern language. Here I will outline a sample two-dimensional grid, with two different glossaries serving as dimensions.

A More Developed Sign
The reason for this glossary, is because biosemiotics, signs and life as if co-extensive.

Inventing the Medium
Is the other glossary, the other dimension. All about making good use of digital media, building shared understanding.

Needless to say, many other glossaries can be used, these two are for illustration purposes.

Does it compute?
Finally, we need a large pattern language to make sense of and if at all possible, track and compute, what happens in all the different cells outlined by the grid.

A 2x2 example grid

- Agency
- Conversation

Shareable Understanding
- Code
- Network

…and the quadrants

Agency x Code = Behavior
Conversation x Code = Attention
Conversation x Network = Will
Agency x Network = Intelligence

Given the quadrants, this 2x2 grid can be useful for digital social learning. Similar yet different combinations can be designed, smaller or larger grids, in response to sufficiently clearly articulated needs. In addition, a fuzzy zone in the middle of the 2x2 grid can be seen as, and cards placed there!, representing the building of shared understanding, using cards, conversations and grids.

Grids and Snap-To-Grid, Maps and Territories
The combinations (quadrants, cells) need not be perfect in any ordinary sense of the word. Rather, they can be seen as deliberately un-exact beginning conditions and guesstimates, providing a departure point for gathering around conversations, stories and shared understanding.

For small, separate groups, rules can be designed ad hoc, what best serves the review of the situation, the story to be cocreated and the relevant tasks.

In larger settings, eg in digital platforms, some form of facilitation, including an understanding how to play (the) cards, how to participate, and some form of curation, human and/or machine, is usually needed.

Curation is here essentially the conversation and annotation rules and guidelines designed to facilitate participatory inquiry.

Contextual Intelligence
Can be seen as providing some kind of operational context, eg when connecting data and story, one part of the contextual intelligence which can be outlined as a “border”, boundary, around, encompassing, the grid in use and also allow for (further) annotation, eg annotated card sessions and cards forming a knowledge repository, a knowledge as a service — server.

On Governing by Design

Paola Antonelli:
“…a set of design principles suitable also for policymakers, based on the idea that design is an agent of change that enables us to understand complex changes and problems, and to turn them into something useful. 
Tackling today’s global challenges will require radical thinking, creative solutions, and collaborative action. This design approach would be:

Complex problems require simple, clear, and honest solutions.

Successful solutions will move people by satisfying their needs, giving meaning to their lives, and raising their hopes and expectations.
Exceptional problems demand exceptional solutions that may be radical and even disruptive.

Effective solutions will be collaborative, inclusive, and developed with the people who will use them.

No solution should be developed or delivered in isolation but should instead recognize the social, physical, and information systems it is part of.

Every solution needs to be robust, responsible, and designed with regard to its long-term impact on the environment and society.”

Participatory Inquiry, episode 75: Cards Building Shared Understanding

Building Shared Understanding