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Disclaimer: All information posted in this blog are original unless otherwise stated and remains valid for as long as I have not yet thought of a better way to present them. They are not meant to be prescriptive and used rigidly without forethought.
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14 January 2013

Part 1/2: Theme: Definition + Exploration & Study


To cover the 'theme' thoroughly and to understand the 'theme' well, what does that require us to do? Some observations? Do some definitions? Give examples of them? What else?

To study and explore the theme is more than just pasting pictures and writing 'reviews' on what you see. It is not even just churning out on the next page or two of mood or theme boards mindlessly especially if you do not even know what they are for and what to do with them later; just your 'checklist' says so.

If you look at what you have researched and and find they hardly reflect the 'theme' clearly, you have not done any work. If you cannot explain your work, you have not done any work either.

You will be spending considerable efforts defining and understanding the 'theme'. This is an important base work and you got to do it well. 

Because that will be the basis to your entire coursework - for the 'theme' is the reason for your coursework which leads you to an identified need and then to a solution

You need to be reminded of the 'theme' throughout your coursework and not deviate from it. But you cannot to stretch this process for too long. You think about how long it requires to simply define and understand the 'theme'.



Defining the theme is one of the very first step you do before you begin exploring and studying the theme as widely as you can. 
  1. Making use dictionary definitions is one good way to begin.
  2. You should also offer your personal interpretation on what the definition of the 'theme' means.
You should use both illustrations (graphics) and annotations (descriptions) to present your definition as clearly and as widely as possible.  'Words only' definition presentations are boring and does not present ideas to be understood quickly and effectively.
  • Interpret your 'theme' with understanding
  • Comment on you research works (on data, facts, images, etc) showing meaningful interpretations and thoughts on them. 
How do you know if you have done a good job defining the theme? 

A very simple way to check. Give it to someone who does not know the theme. 'Hide' the theme (do not give the cat away), and get the person to guess what might the theme be after looking at your work. If the person guessed it right and gained good knowledge about the theme - You got it.

Click 'here' for examples on how how a theme can be defined.

An example theme starter


Planning for Theme Exploration

A Broad Plan is necessary to begin engaging the theme. 

Think broadly and quickly on what you want to cover and how you can approach studying and exploring the theme as widely as possible.

The above example shows a very quick draft on what I can include and find out in order to explore the theme. Point forms using a mind-map are very simple and effective to doOnce you have this draft, you can proceed with more in-depth exploration and study.

Note that you should cover the theme as widely as possible but you cannot possibly cover everything

However you also do not want to be seen as not having sufficient content

So sometimes it is about knowing what is necessary and how much is enough and to be able to balance between covering firstly enough 'breath' (widely) and secondly enough 'depth' (deeply).

Next, I'll show you a way you can cover both 'breadth' and 'depth' for any given theme.
  1. Begin with a Broad Plan (like the above). That will provide you with enough 'topics' to investigate and explore. Find out facts about those stuffs. Build up a good understanding on the topics you have noted. Make notes of interesting stuffs, products, events or activities along the way.
  2. When you begun exploration, you will notice that you will be covering some issues lightly and some more in-depth. Notice that you will only bother to cover a topic in detail if that interests you!
  3. You may have incidentally found or identified a problem area, an interest area or an area for improvement. Once you find those, you begin studying them in detail - 'Deeply'.
'Is there a particular technique I can use?' You may ask

One that will alway work in almost every situation is the 5W1H technique. 
the 'Who', 'What', 'Where', 'When', Why', 'How' Technique.

The 5W1H technique enables the explorer (you) to move between exploring the theme both broadly and deeply.

You can use the 5W1H technique repeatedly at any point in your journal where you need elaboration.

Next... Identification of Design Opportunities.

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