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Integ121exercises | Exercise Improvisation


Observation, Improvisation, Storytelling, Brainstorming and Design

Discussion of Observations

  • What did you observe?


  • How extensive was the observation? Where did it begin and end? Could it have included purchase of coffee, juggling of money, unlocking of office door, cooling or reheating of the coffee, disposal of the paper cup....


  • How else could we observe this? Would multiple users give us a better picture? Would a first-hand or cup-eye view provide additional insight? Are we looking at doors or people?

One Oddly-framed Observation

One summer afternoon, when I was driving through Phillipsburg — about half-way between Waterloo and Stratford — I observed a man crossing the road in front of me.

In his left arm he cradled a toddler; in his right hand he carried a chainsaw.

I immediately made an uncomfortable connection, which I just as quickly dismissed.

There was nothing inherently wrong with carrying a baby and a chainsaw; the chainsaw wasn't running and the baby didn't appear to be in danger.

But the scene, as observed, was memorable, if only for the incongruent juxtaposition of two fairly ordinary elements. What was the story?

Probably: "Hi John, I'm returning your chainsaw. Laura's away, so I'm minding Ralphie."

When we break the frame, we sometimes find humour

Q: How many people does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One,

unless the bulb is high enough to require a ladder,

in which case two is better

(to help with moving the ladder and steadying it while changing the bulb).


Q: How many self-important people does it take to change a light bulb?

A: One to hold the bulb while the world revolves around him.


Q: How many Psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Only one,

but the bulb really has to want to change.


Q: How many students does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Will this be on the final?

A: Why are we paying tuition if we have to change light bulbs?

A: There's an app for that!


Q: How many Knowledge Integration students does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None.

The lightbulb doesn't change.

What changes is the student's understanding of the bulb vis a vis its design, manufacture, historical context, social impact, environmental consequences, future extensions and applications ....

HA! Uh, Yeah

Q: How many designers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Does it have to be a lightbulb?


I mean, what if we were to rephrase the question as:

"How might we produce more reliable light?" or

"How could we improve the availability of natural light?" or

"How could we avoid meeting at night?"

Framing, Ambiguity and Finding the Unexpected Response


Author: -- - 23 Dec 2009