This week, the cards were being trialed much closer to home - in my hometown of Newport in fact, by my good friend and fellow MA student Jack Rees.
Initially discussed during an on-the-road conversation in Barcelona back in February, in the before times... (Before COVID that is...) Jack expressed that he was keen to engage with Making Sense in relation to his own independent practice as a musician and audiovisual producer.
Jack is the first person to engage in these trials by following the trial guidance.pdf I had established immediately after Sarah's trial:
While engaging with Part 1 as outlined in the guidance document for this trial Jack had decided that he would use these cards. He was actually kind enough to record an intro video makring the start of his time with the cards, so I'll let him explain...
Through this process, Jack had set off by immediately establishing a new system for using the cards... The Tarot Reading. The system was simple. Draw one card from each of the 5 categories each day, reveal them, generate answers and/or ideas in response to each of those cards, then repeat for a total of 3 days. At the end of the process, you will have developed the blueprint for initiating your creative project - in a mindful, paced, and considered fashion.
“For the first part of the trial, I decided to use them like Tarot Cards as part of a 3-day design process to help me establish a new direction for my solo music efforts, letting the cards dictate what I needed to think about each day and sticking to this without question." - Jack Rees
Jack's system was one that spread the engagement with the cards over the course of the week. Which was a little wider than the allocated trial windows in the participatory design schedule. So he generated the remaining 5 card draws for the subsequent days and made a permanent log of them at his workspace. ready for when he has time to begin actioning this new solo music project.
Then for part 2 of the trial, The Prism Framework was revealed and Jack decided to use this part of the trial to use the cards and this framework to explore ideas around his current Utilipub project. Having worked through the 4 steps outlined in the prism framework he made notes in response to the cards explored during this 2nd part of the trial. Which resulted in a very different experience:
"As I moved on to part 2 of the trial, I found The Prism Framework just as useful to me as the free-for-all in part 1 - in contrast to Part 1 of the trial this approach made it feel like I had my own personal tutor in my pocket." - Jack Rees
In the post-trial completion form, Jack had rated his experience with the cards during part 1 of the guidance (i.e. the free-for-all_ and part 2 (i.e. The Prism Framework)
On establishing The Prism Framework last week, it was great to hear these remarks from Jack. For two reasons: 1). Providing a specific framework didn't diminish or limit the experience with the cards in any way.
2). It remained appealing to someone who had no problem devising their own system for the cards.
I think the flat out 10s are ridiiiiiiiiculously kind, especially as Jack's workflows required much more time with the cards which the schedule sadly couldn't afford... abut the piece I'm thankful to see here is that both parts of the trial held equal value for Jack. This was something I was concerned about - would the provision of a framework for using the cards truncate the experience? In this case, both parts of the trial have fared really well. It'll be interesting to see how the par 1 part 2 split in the trial guidance works out. During our post-trial discussions, Jack also went on to say that The Prism Framework could go even further to support users in their exploration with the cards, stating that providing examples for step 3). (i.e. how the spectrum cards can be utilised) in the trial would help to paint the picture even more here. Also, when asked which card ended up being the most valuable to him. This was his response:
"The most valuable card that emerged during came from the Cognitions & Cognitions category - ‘Make People Care’ - because usually, the consumer is the last thing I think about when I make things!” - Jack Rees
Again this was just wonderful to hear. The cards are very much about supporting people in doing things they haven't done before. Beyond the promising insights from this trial regarding the balance of the options for freedom of use with the cards vs utilising the in-house framework, one of the most valuable aspects of this trial was the post-trial discussions that dug into 2 additional themes that surround (or could potentially surround!) these cards. Again during our post-trial discussions, I had raised an internal concern that I had around this project, which unlocked a lovely conversation immediately afterwards:
"I fear that my seriousness towards this project will end up with me producing a serious resource. I want it to be effective for sure, but I don't want it to confuse effective with serious. I want it to be ludic and fun." - Leigh Davies
In response to this, 2 things came up in conversations:
1). Ceremony & Ritual.
Cards are steeped in a history of ritual. Jack's card system really doubles down on this will of the cards angle. And I'm keen to foster this even more amongst the (future) community of card users.
This is something to have fun with! I mean I guess this was already happening. During the last trial Sarah felt that she had adequate permission to develop 'The Card Throw' technique for using the cards. Allowing chance and fate to play a role in what card would influence her creative thinking, and being playful while doing so! To add to the pool of playfulness, Jack had even proposed a printable 'gaming board' for the cards - something provides a physical template for engaging with the cards, one that not only adds gamify the process of engaging with the cards but supports people in mindful sequence and spatialisation of the cards themselves.
2). A community around the cards.
This conversations under this heading very quickly got onto the topic of marketing approaches for Making Sense (with some of my recent impassioned blog ramblings on creatives relationship with marketing leaking out again)
"Remember, the act of marketing is a creative process too!" - Tom Soper
Also, this week there were no participant contributions regarding the addition of any new cards. But I had stumbled upon ideas for 2 new cards myself away from the trial - [ENERGY] for the Translating Terminology category, and [IMPART A NEW SKILL]
Also, as an aside to the outcomes of this trial - while the trials were taking place this week I actually started to play around with further approaches to limbic marketing techniques for Making Sense, breaking out of traditional approaches and habits... I went somewhat bold and brash for possibly the first time in my independent career:
In response to which Jack had this to say...and I think it's on this note, that I will take my leave.