The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

guest post: Maisie Platts on sketching at the EDID9 digital identity event

Posted by Steven Warburton on February 3, 2009

Maisie Platts along with Martin Jones joined us at the digital identities workshop last month. They are both illustrators, and helped us add a visual dimension to the case stories and group discussion – Martin’s reflections can found below. These are the notes that Maisie has sent and kindly allowed us to publish here as a guest post:

When I was invited to attend the Digital Identities workshop to draw my view of what was being said and done I was both excited and a little nervous as to what to expect. My biggest concern was to whether I’d be able to comprehend what was going on. The idea of creating quick sketches with a possible audience was also quite daunting and very much out of my usual comfort zone. I’ve become very used to sitting at home with only myself for company drawing things over and over until I am pleased with the results before I show them to anyone. Although I was feeling a little anxious about these things I am a firm believer of the importance of setting myself challenges and it’s always good to get out the house!

A week or so before the workshop we were sent links to some of the case stories that attendees had written about digital identities. From reading these I felt less worried as I began to understand better the idea of digital identities and was familiar with some of the subject matters such as Facebook and Flickr. There were still a few things though that boggled my mind.

On the day of the workshop an early morning rise and a surprisingly fast train journey got me from Liverpool to London, handily arriving at Euston Station just around the corner from the British Library. I was very happy to be greeted with a cup of tea when arriving at the conference centre and enjoyed a quick chat with some of the attendees along with Martin my fellow sketcher for the day.

In the introduction I understood most of what was being said and enjoyed thinking about how I could draw the three aspects of my identity that we were all asked to do. Everyone then got into to groups to discuss specific case stories. I chose to sit in with one of the groups having not yet decided whether I would stay with them for the whole morning or move around and catch elements of different groups conversations. We all began by introducing ourselves and talking a little about what we did and about our depictions of the three aspects of our identity. Then two members of the group Margarita and Josie talked through their case stories and the group proceeded to discuss. I started out by trying to quickly sketch my interpretation of what was being said (seminaked.jpg) and then redrew a few of the elements which I felt needed a bit of refining to make it clearer what was happening (protection.jpg).

Towards the end of their discussions the group were stood up around the table looking at a large sheet of paper and moving around different coloured post it notes. You could tell they had been working hard as the table was in a bit of a state of disarray, much like how my desk gets at home. This was when I chose to draw what I saw before me to try and capture the enthusiasm and energy of the group (conceptmapping.jpg).

I had gotten so carried away with my drawings that it came as a surprise to me when it was lunch time already.

After lunch I made the decision that I would not stay in just one group but move around a bit more to see the differences or similarities between them. When I arrived at the first group it was quite difficult to understand what they were talking about as it was all a bit too technical for my ears. I began making literal interpretations of the words ‘Super Patterns’ and ‘Anti Patterns’ which seemed to keep coming up in their conversations. I imagined them to be highly decorated superheroes and plain clothes anti heroes from a comic book. I didn’t want to get too carried away with this so after a while I asked the group for a brief run down of what they were focusing on. This made it a little clearer and allowed me to draw something I think was a little more relevant to their discussions. (Pica1.jpg)

After this I decided to move over and sit with a different group. It was quite difficult again to figure out what the basis of their discussions were as one story seemed to lead on to something different. However I decided it didn’t really matter what the starting point was as what was being said was very interesting so I just chose to draw from what the group were talking about at that moment. (Pica2.jpg, Pica3.jpg) Before too long everyone was packing up for a final round up of the day so away went my pencils into my pencil sharpening filled pencilcase.

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