Personal expression to make public spaces inclusive and equitable
The Storywall is an expressive public installation that emphasises the experiences that people share despite possibly having different identities and life stories. It encourages people to share short personal anecdotes anonymously. These submissions are displayed on a public screen in the physical space they frequent. Users respond to a pre-defined set of questions. The goal is to foster the physical presence and interactions between strangers in public space, “so that you can relate to other people, but you’re not instantly exposed to them”.
Public spaces are important for fostering civic discourse and connections in communities, by providing the opportunity for people who may not otherwise interact, to meet. This ‘social friction’, that arises from the physical presence and interactions between strangers in public spaces is crucial to placemaking and the creation of inclusive and equitable spaces.
Approach and Methodology
The Storywall as a hack
The Storywall has more in common with an interactive artwork to be displayed in public than a product to be designed and evaluated for use. The research project involved design, realization and evaluation in sufficiently realistic contexts of use. The metaphor of ‘hacking’ is relevant here, with an emphasis on learning by doing. The project was also a study of the role of digital media platforms in placemaking.
Rapid Iterative Approach
The prototype was developed in an iterative manner in phases - background research, literative review and precedent analysis, visioning and implementation. The Analysis-Synthesis bridge model was instructive to the development of the concept.
Personal stories are at the heart of the Storywall. Over the course of the research and development, it became quickly apparent that stories work extremely well as relational artefacts that make us think of "the other".
Stories are relational
They contain perspectives of people we may never meet.
Stories are representative
They work at individual and collective scales.
Accessible & Varied
They provide room for personal style and expression.
Web-based. Easy to deploy anywhere.
The final prototype was a Node.js based application, backed by a MongoDB database. A simple API allows users to make new submissions and display existing stories.