Week two of our intense residency in Penaranda has just come to an end. Over this week we attempted to get to know the users of FGSR better. Through the casting we chose participants for 3 research groups- 2 made up of users of the centre, and 1 of non-users. While the methodology of this research was somewhat compromised- users met at the centre while we took non-users to a local cafe, the idea was less to find hard data and more to explore the ways the people of Penaranda thought and talked about some of the themes the project is concerned with.
We divided the workshops into 4 parts; community, collaboration, consumption, communication, using an icebreaker game at the beginning of each section. Luckily, the casting section proved useful in that everyone who participated had an opinion to share and it was quite hard to follow with everyone talking over each other! Again, thanks to our great translator for helping us to understand what the discussions were about.
This reasearch phase helped to illuminate a few things about how Penarandinos feel about emergent technologies. Pretty much everyone was online, using email and Facebook and Twenti to keep in touch. People had less experience in using digital technologies to explore their own creativity, making us realise further the value of the project and the desire of FGSR to engage with technologies, but to make sure they take their audiences along with them.
If we approach the discussions as another way of getting to know the people of Penaranda and the landscape in which we are working, then they were a success. The discusssions, the written and drawn material produced, and the diaries that the participants will be keeping will find their way into the final event. This research is an integral part of our practice, even if formalised by using a basic ‘focus group’ model.