Towards the end of September we took part in the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend. Working with Plymouth University’s Hack the City we provided a miniature version of ThingsCamp for a family audience.
There’s more about that weekend in this earlier post, but since then we’ve produced a compilation of the “Paper Hacks” we created with children (and parents).
The aim of Paper Hacks was to involve everyone who came along to the event in making devices they’d like to see in the future. Children don’t need any more instruction than that (actually children don’t need any instruction at all if there’s a table of materials to play with).
Adults needed more encouragement but in the end it was a group of teenage boys who made the most stuff, even if they went way off brief.
By keeping the instructions simple we quickly got an idea of what mattered to people, especially children. Anyone who’s worked with children much probably won’t be surprised to discover that what mattered most to them was nature and animals. And so we saw a lot of devices for communicating with animals, protecting nature, creating gardens that thrived.
We’re writing this post now because in two days’ time ThingsCamp 4 is taking place and it’s worth expanding on what “prototyping” could mean. With Paper Hacks we wanted to bring material that everyone could use and at ThingsCamp 4 we’ll do the same. Yes, there will be technology (for every level of experience) but prototypes don’t have to be functioning devices. Prototypes are a great way to start conversations, provoke reactions and—as with ThingsCamp 3.5—find out what really matters to people. We hope to provide the range of materials that makes that possible.