What Aspect Maps are
Aspect Maps are a type of affinity diagram used in the development of design fictions. They are a tangible outcome of a discourse and activity that employs critical thinking, reflection, notation and spatial arrangement techniques to help organise ideas and information. Aspect Maps help to depict a particular aspect of a design fiction world by attributing to an inscribed space the function of standing in for a particular topic. The topic ‘space’ is represented by a simple geometric shape, such as a circle, square or triangle, which comes to symbolise all that can be known about that topic in relation to the design fiction.
How Aspect Maps work
The sheet with its inscribed space provides a delimited work area where ideas and information inscribed on strips of paper or Post-It Notes can be arranged and where relationship with each other and their importance relative to each other can be explored. The inscribed space can be divided in any way. The importance of explicitly and visually depicting an abstract concept as an inscribed space is borne out by those who have used the maps in studies when they insist that an idea or piece of information belongs either in the frame or outside it. The map, then, goes beyond providing a means to arrange and store important ideas and information, it helps to mediate questions about the topic and about the way the group engages in a discourse around it.
How Aspect Maps are used
The example below was used in a design fiction workshop to explore the topic of emerging adulthood. The circular space is divided into quadrants with elements of the ‘real’ world in the left hemisphere and elements of the digital world in the right hemisphere. The upper hemisphere represents positive elements, while the lower hemisphere represents negative elements. In the centre is the graphical depiction of an emerging adult (story actant). The space around the circle is also a significant ‘live’ work area where related ideas and information can be posted and rearranged.