The best thing about a physical wall, in my mind, is the interactiveness of it. The easier it is to engage with something, the higher the collaboration, understanding, learning. So I was pretty interested when I saw this in street the other day. What was going on? What problem were they trying to solve with this?
One problem was, that despite having a lot of American Census data about their neighbourhood, there wasn’t any qualitative information gathered – things like how people perceive their community and how they want to see it. So they wanted to survey the community, and get data they could correlate with the census data. But they also wanted to overcome the problem of getting people to participate. They didn’t want another boring survey, they wanted something that was fun and easy to interact with.
So, instead of just another survey, they set up an intriguing information radiator outside the library, on a market morning. And it worked. There was no need to entice people to fill in surveys, people couldn’t help but stop to look. And then, they took a piece of wool and tied it to the pins that represented how they felt about their neighbourhood. The same kind of questions that you’d get on a standard survey, but much more fun to answer.
Different coloured wool represented different demographics within the neighbourhood. And they match the demographics from the American Census, so data can be correlated accordingly. (I got to tie on a white string).
On the back of the board there were some more traditional activities going on – collecting suggestions on post-it notes as well as quadrant mapping feelings about various neighbourhood facilities.
It was a great reminder of how the physical and interactive can engage and delight, and of the importance of making it easy to interact with. I’m looking for a reason to use this at work soon…
For more information, see Community Census.