If you’re a fan of “Project Runway,” you’re no doubt familiar with Tim Gunn’s signature phrase. He employs this particularly around the point in each week’s process, where the designers have chosen their fabrics and made at least their first efforts at turning their design into reality. It’s at about this time in the process where the designers have to forge ahead or take the last chance to start over and re-conceptualize.
This week, it feels like that’s where we are with the FCL Lab. We’re about one-and-a-half years into our five years of funding, and about a year behind on technology development. Which means, we’ve got the ideas, and the materials, but haven’t really gotten as far along as we’d like in the actual putting it together.
For us, it’s a bigger problem, too; the development (in this case, the video booth as well as the exhibit itself) is holding up the research. As Shawn put it to me, we’re spending too much time and effort trying to design the perfect task instead of “making it work” with what we have. That is, we’re going to re-conceptualize and do the research we can do with what we have in place, while still going forward with the technology development, of course.
So, for the video booth, that means that we’re not going to wait to be able to analyze what people reflect on during the experience, but take the chance to use what we have, namely a bunch of materials, and analyze the interactions that *are* taking place. We’re not going to wait to make the tsunami task perfect to encourage what we want to see in the video booth. Instead, we’re going to invite several different folks with different research lenses to take a look at the video we get at the tank itself and let us know what types of learning they’re seeing. From there, we can refine what data we want to collect.
It’s an important lesson in grant proposal writing, too: Once you’ve been approved, you don’t have to stick word-for-word to your plan. It can be modified, in ways big and small. In fact, it’s probably better that way.