The Experiential Turn – Mapping and research

On Wednesday 12th November I was a “conversationalist” in an event sponsored by the Design Research Institute at RMIT University. A bunch of experienced and early career researchers (ECRs) came together to talk about our research, explore what each of us are doing and to have a larger conversation about the experience of research. My role was to facilitate the discussion and prompt, prod and ask questions and generally kept things moving along in an interesting way.

To help with this task I brought along some artefacts, some maps, from An Atlas of Radical Cartography. Inside are ten maps that serve to challenge our conceptions of what a map is and also force us to ask questions about such things as legitimacy, agency and power.

Our table discussed such issues as:

  • how, as researchers, do we conceive our audiences for our research. Who is our research for?
  • do we make transparent in our research that which is normally hidden? Do we surface our micro-decisions?
  • how do we account for the fact that research design and method selection have an inextricable link with what we eventually ‘show’?
  • If we were to represent our research in map form, would we draw maps of that which already exists, or would we be drawing maps of that which is yet to be?
  • what does it mean when our maps (research) gets published? Is unpublished research somehow illegitimate?

It was a fascinating 90 minutes and it flew by. All too soon it was over.

You can scroll through the photos above to get a sense of what occurred on our table. I would love to have been a ‘roving conversationalist’ – it seemed that there were extremely interesting conversations happening all around the room.

Many thanks to Jeremy Yuille for inviting me along to participate!