Gathering thoughts

Our post-it note research meeting in Brixton Market

It’s been a busy month for Makerhood. Just a couple of days before the fabulous Xmas card making extravaganza that Kristina wrote about earlier this week we held a small workshop with potential sellers and buyers about the Makerhood website. The website will be the heart of Makerhood and we’re keen to make sure it reflects and fits with the local community. With this in mind we asked Aoife and Anne (our friendly usability professionals) to help us organise a meeting to gather thoughts on different aspects of the website. The three areas we were especially interested in finding out about were:

What do you understand by local?
What kinds of items do you imagine will be sold on Makerhood? How do you imagine they would be organised?
How would you like to buy/sell items on the website?

Being the creative girls that we are we didn’t want to put these questions directly to our participants so we came up with some drawing and post-it note activities to help us collect participants’ ideas in a more conversational way. The meeting was held in Cornercopia’s lovely new dining room heated by wood-burning stove so we could all sit round the long table, stick our notes on the window and talk happily together about south west London, online shopping and making.

For the first activity we created a communal map of our ‘local’ areas. These reached much further than I imagined they would – from Camberwell to Dulwich, down past Clapham to Balham and Tooting and up to Vauxhall and the river. Interestingly, people described their ‘local’ area in terms of people and places they knew – places they had lived, shops they used and familiar routes to work.

Thoughts about local

Next we asked our participants to write down all of the items they would like to see sold on Makerhood. Once again, my expectations were completely wrong (which just proves the value of doing research..) Alongside the craft and gift and homewares products I expected participants also told us that mostly they shop local for services such as bicycle maintenance, plumbing and classes. The main reason for this seemed to be that you don’t want to have to go too far to find these services because many of them centre around the home.

OK, people did mention some products..

Finally, before we moved to the Dogstar and drinks and chat, we asked participants to draw a timeline of how they imagined a sale would take place on Makerhood either from the point of view of a buyer or a seller. In this activity we were interested in what participants thought would encourage them to make a purchase or, alternatively, what would put them off doing so. People talked about the importance of ratings and reviews from both the buyer and the sellers perspective, for instance, sellers may have concerns about biased reviews while buyers are interested in a sellers reputation. We will definitely be thinking more about this as we develop the website.

Thanks to Zoe from SW Craft Club, Fiona from Oh Sew Brixton, Maya, Anne and Aoife for taking part.


4 thoughts on “Gathering thoughts

  1. strategic planning with post it notes is a lot of fun. it’s cool what you found out about education and services. i’m thankful you you are sharing it even though i’m across the big lake and not ‘local’.

    i think the 3ws (www) does some interesting warping of what local can mean. there’s certainly a local feeling that comes though making significant virtual connections. it opens up a door to my sentiment of what local means. which for me contains an element of immediacy (closeness) and also connected relating.

    so, i’ve been kind of mulling this bit about local in our digital age especially around economies. and am thinking there’s room in local for folks from far and wide. do you know what i mean?



    1. Hey Amanda,

      Thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed the post-it notes. Part of the reason Kristina and I set up the Makerhood blog was to share our process and journey as we get the website up and running so you can expect numerous other posts on this topic as we go on!

      I think you make a good point about the feeling of ‘local-ness’ not necessarily being tied to geographical proximity these days and I love that. I can have a distributed set of friends around the world and they all feel close to me as if they were based locally.

      On the other hand I wonder if there’s an aspect of local-ness that can only come from being physically close which is the serendipity of bumping into someone when you pop out to the shops, or the school, or the bank. I’m not sure how / if this is possible on the web?

      With Makerhood we’re interested in how these two aspects tie together with the web helping people make significant relationships (as you say) but because the site is based around a geographical location these can then be strengthened by meeting up face-to-face. Or vice versa. Our feeling is that this crossover offers a new way for people to understand the place where they live and work and to become involved with other people who live there.

      Be really interested to hear your thoughts on this..


      1. A very interesting discussion. I think the question might be: how do on- and off-line localness interact?

        Our relationships are no doubt re-configured due to the web and many other things. We enjoy online “localness” increasingly with people (whom I agree we bump into lots at times!) while local in a physical sense is also changing (e.g. local shops replaced by supermarkets, choice of where to live based on affordability not community links). What is really interesting for me are different dimensions of this change – and ultimately, how can we feel part of a community in a world of so much change and instability?

        There is also a very material dimension to this – as humans, do objects and geographies matter to us at some deep, psychological level? The last 50 years saw a rapid change in the way we are able to relate to our physical environments. What are the implications of that?

        A conversation that brings together the economics, psychology and culture of our ways of living – and one that I’d love to continue over the coming months.


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