Mapping "Design Ecosystems"
|| Markers, large pieces of paper
||Discuss how ecosystems work in nature,
including biodiversity. Do a basic workshop on brainstorming and mindmapping.
||Business Studies, Canadian and World
Studies, English, Environmental Studies, Native Studies, Science,
Social Sciences and Humanities, Technological Education, World
on Earth exists in isolation. Everything depends on something else
to function. Think of an ecosystem:
humans depend on oxygen produced by plants. Plants rely on carbon
dioxide, soil, and light from the Sun. Both plants and humans depend
on water, and so on. We can use this kind of thinking to understand
how designed objects also operate within systems.
- Pick any object that’s human-made. It could
be a design from the Massive Change project, or anything else.
Do a quick brainstorm about
what it takes for that object to function. What goes into it? Write
down everything you can think of. For instance, if it’s a
hamburger, it requires: a bun, a beef patty, toppings, a wrapper,
a stove, a restaurant with people to make and sell it, and someone
to buy and eat it. These are the "primary players."
- Now ask yourself what it takes to make all of
the things on your list. What industries benefit from, or rely
on, the object you chose? Make another list of these "secondary
players". Then make a third list of people, resources, industries
or energy sources connected to those on the second list.
- Now draw a mindmap showing
all the players. Put the object you chose in the middle of the
page. Draw the primary players around it, and connect them to your
object with lines. Draw the secondary players and their connections,
and so on. Try not to draw any player more than once, but draw
as many connections as you need. This is your “design ecosystem.”
- Hang your map up in the classroom for other groups
to see and discuss. How does your mindmap compare with the others?
Are there any shared connections? Is there a design in the Massive
Change exhibition that connects with the players in your mindmap?
Hydrogenic’s (formerly Stuart Energy) HomeFueler
depends on a number of industries, materials, energy sources and
human connections in order to operate. First of all, the HomeFueler
uses electricity. For electricity to be sustainable it must come
from renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind or the sun. The
HomeFueler also uses water and an electrolyte – a solution
that conducts electricity – or salt, to produce hydrogen. This
means the design depends on a pure water source as well as minerals
extracted from the Earth.
One of the goals of developing hydrogen fuel systems
is to reduce harmful greenhouse gasses by switching from cars that
use gasoline to cars that use hydrogen. So the design also depends
on advancements in the car industry.
The HomeFueler depends on people, as well. New
laws and other decisions made by politicians and other officials – such
as tax benefits or signing the Kyoto Protocol – could encourage
the use of hydrogen. So it makes a difference how people vote, and
how people vote depends on politicians' track records.
Finally, the HomeFueler depends on consumers and
whether or not they choose to commit to lowering emissions by using
clean alternatives to oil and gas.