Emoji Stories: Visual poetics for explaining the Center
Emoji—little pictograms built into many mobile OSs—are a playful lingua franca of text chat online. We asked participants to describe Berkman in up to nine emoji. On the back of the card, we asked them to describe in words what their emojis meant.
metaLabyrinth: Exploring values, challenges, and dreams.
Participants answered a series of questions about the values, practice, ambitions, and fears attending their work at the Center. The questions were presented in the form of a "maze book": a physical pamphlet cut and folded to allow multiple, user-determined routes through the pages and the prompts printed on them.
Time Capsule: Telling the Center’s story for deep time.
In small groups, participants nominated items to place in a time capsule to be opened in one hundred years. They were prompted to consider communication in deep time, pondering such precedents as the Voyager Golden Record and designs for communicating the dangers of nuclear waste to visitors thousands of years in the future. Each group generated a long list, selected seven final objects, and drew them alongside short written descriptions.
Scalar Metaphors: It’s never all one thing or all the other.
Just about everyone at Berkman agrees that the center contains multitudes. We asked groups of participants to formulate a set of dichotomies to complete the following sentence: "At its best, Berkman is most like a ______" (Carpenter/Alchemist; Lamp/Mirror; Curly Fries/House Salad).
They then shared these with the larger group and everyone identified where they thought the Center should fall on a scale from one semiotic extreme to the other. Finally, individuals selected the dichotomy they found most evocative.
Six dichotomies accrued the most votes. In these dots, you can detect the lively debates that animate life at the Center. How to work with or against power, how to collaborate, and how to effect positive change. The responses offer us ways of thinking about symbolic summations of the Center’s spirit.