Guidelines: Adapting MO techniques
One possibility for your community group members is to participate in the four tasks outlined on the site in the exact manner that they are set out. However, we are also happy for your community group to adapt these tasks in a way that might make them more useful to your group’s needs.
Options for adapting MO tasks:
Instead of writing a day diary on a random day, your group might wish to pick a day of significance or even write over a longer period.
Whilst we have provided a historic MO questionnaire which you are welcome to use, for many groups it will make more sense to create an individualised list of questions. The MOCO team will help you upload the questions onto the site and your members will then respond directly to your group’s questionnaire.
Instead of observing life in a café, you may wish to suggest another location or event for your members to record – one that has more relevance to your group’s interests.
Instead of photographing streets or neighbourhoods, your group may wish to photograph an event or activity. Again, we invite you as group representative to specify if you want the group members to document something of particular interest to the group.
If you wish to alter any of the tasks, please contact the MOCO team at email@example.com to arrange this. Once you have submitted tailored tasks for your group, these will become available for the members alongside the general tasks presented on the website already.
Things to consider when adapting tasks:
1. What kind of material do you hope to receive back?
- What are the topics that you’d like your members to cover?
- What activities and practices you would like them to describe/observe?
- What access to the media or other information resources do you expect them to use, if any?
- If planning a written task, do you want contributions in other formats – photos, postcards, drawings, diagrams, web links, newspaper and magazine cuttings?
- What opinions and experiences do you want to hear about?
- If designing a questionnaire, what are the best questions to trigger or prompt contributions on those subjects and angles?
2. What is the level of personal self disclosure you hope for?
- What knowledge/cultural capital will your members need to draw on?
- What identities will they inhabit in completing the task?
- What might be sensitive areas and how will you handle that?
- Do you need to assure them that their privacy will be respected? If so how will you keep their writing anonymous?
3. Why are you interested in using MO techniques, i.e. questionnaires, diaries, observations and photography, to obtain materials?
- Think about identifying the value of the distinctiveness of MO to understand what you need.
- What will be the drawbacks or frustrations of using the MO approach and is there anything you can do from the start to reduce them?
4. If designing a questionnaire, have you thought about whether your questions are appropriate for the people whose replies you seek?
- Who might feel excluded (questions/subjects not relevant) and so not reply?
- Have you used language that will make sense to the people who’ll receive this directive?
- Have you based your questions too heavily on your own point of view and experience and not enough on how other people might respond?
- Is it too long and wordy? Can you improve or edit down your directive? (We recommend a maximum of 7 questions.)
5. Have you communicated all relevant practical information to your group?
- Are you imposing a deadline? Or a word limit?
- Have you explained why you are doing this and what their replies will be used for?
- How do you want them to refer to other people? (e.g. you might ask them to change names)