Pathfinders is an investigation into how design and design processes can be used to unravel and stimulate discourse. The conversation format is being redesigned by introducing objects that learn from the people that wear them and pass on that knowledge to the next. As part of a residency in the Unstable Design Lab, several intra-active concepts have been developed that come together in a boyscout/girlscout outfit that becomes the mediator.
The outfit symbolizes how we take on certain roles within society and this roleplay helps people find out their positions. The concerns around the topic (in this case; having children) are being represented in badges that can be added to a sash. The tie records the conversations and can interject audio segments that it recorded from previous conversations. This starts and helps the conversation along by offering people, who are facing this choice, new perspectives. In order to record, analyze and (re)actively playback audio, a combination of wearable microcontrollers and specific algorithms have to be used.
Because the topic is sensitive, people often only discuss it very privately. When they look for information online, they find statistics that might not necessarily apply to them or sources that are untrustworthy. Anecdotes from others help them to find a new way to relate to their life-changing choices.

Fako Berkers, with his project ‘Discourse Scope‘ (‘Debatkijker’ in Dutch), has made an overview and ranking of online articles surrounding the topic of “family models”. The way that we conceptualize “family” and how this affects our choice to have children is a key insight from the research done with ‘Pathfinders’.
The first set of conversations that form the initial anecdotal anti-data be found on Soundcloud: Pathfinders playlist.
This project has been supported by Creative Industries Fund NL and has been presented for the first time at Dutch Design Week 2018.

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