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When I die, I wanna be ... (Update: Website Feedback Session 08/07)

A reflection and information sharing platform to encourage people to think about their mortality and educate them about end-of-life methods

Photo of Burcu Turkay
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This idea aims to encourage people to think about their mortality and talk about it more openly. Most of the current body disposal methods separate human body from nature and its material cycle through, for instance, putting it in a sealed coffin, or through cremation. This project aims to create a way to restore the perception of “belonging to nature”.

Our bodies will be separated to its components by decaying processes and be part of other systems. This kind of thinking is a psychological relief where in an age religions are losing ground and “ecological immortality” is emerging as a new religion.   

The Early Concept

The idea is an online platform where people simply write what they want to become/transform when they die. Their answers are grouped into recurring themes that are symbolised as light balls. The more people give the same answer, the bigger the light is. Each and every answer connect with each other and constitutes a-web-like visualisation. This visual resembles a star map where we become stardust again and collectively form constellations. Participants will be able to see the others with similar wishes and see where the answers come from. This will make them feel connected and part a bigger whole, a system, nature. 

Further thoughts on communicating the idea (29/07/2016)

"Death makes everyone equal" said R. - an officer at a London crematorium - while pointing me to the wall memorials of his classmate and a famous British jazz musician next to each other. This might be a made-up story that he likes to tell crematorium visitors but underneath, is a  strong message that what is physically left of our bodies when we die is all the same between us humans. It is very logical to take this even one step further and say that our bodies, from a material perspective, share so much common with all the living beings on the planet. This is a powerful perspective that can potentially bind us back to nature and consider ourselves as part of the material cycle within the ecosystem surrounding us. Death has a special role in this cycle, it is a significant moment when our bodies as a whole return back to nature. However, it is not easy to consider death only as such a transformation, since it is a hard topic where emotions, beliefs, rituals, and several social and economic considerations are tangled up. Particularly on this aspect, design might have an important role in changing our perceptions of our bodies and altering our attitudes towards death, eventually helping us restore our bonds with nature in these days where we desperately need to rethink how we can sustain our species and our planet. 

Feedback Session in Calgary (07/08/2016)

One of the great things about OpenIDEO is connecting people around the world. I wouldn't have imagined my website would be used by people in Canada, while I'm sitting in my home, London. Huge thanks to Jamie Whittaker, OpenIDEO member and an end-of-life planner, who offered me a feedback session with her clients. 

She had one group of 4, one 1-on-1, and a pair, 3 men and 4 women with ages ranging from 26-32. (which is my target group).  All the feedback Jamie collected is very valuable but I want to highlight some of them here (The whole text from the feedback session can be found on attachments): 

  • The message resonates well. People are pleased with the visuals and the language used. 
  • It’s nice to see people are interested in the topic and they say they would make a deeper research about the alternative options (which the project aims)
  • The website can also be used as a communication starter by end-of-life professionals with their clients. Jamie says the website is preferable over just sending her clients the links of options since it is visual and interactive. 
  • There are feedbacks on page ordering (The “how” page could come earlier and additions to icons: comet, star, plants etc.) which will be considered for further updates. 
  • The objective was not clear for some - can be presented earlier on. 

User Experience Map (12/07/2016)

The target audience is young adults who care about the environment and don't aware of eco-friendly end-of-life methods. The user experience map helped to overview the whole process. 

Raising Awareness (23/07/2016)

A couple of weeks back, I conducted a survey about people’s end-of-life choices and their perceptions on new methods like biocremation etc. Most of the attendants were unaware of these new alternatives but highly interested. During follow-up interviews and informal discussions, the participants stated that the survey nudged them to investigate further on these topics. Even though some of these methods are just prototypes and may never see the light of day, I noticed that they serve great as a conversation starter and an appetiser to think about greener options. Hence, I thought I can add these ideas to the website to generate curiosity and spark new discussions to eventually raise awareness amongst the public. I will be testing the prototype with a small group next week - will share their reaction. 

Twitter account of the project: @GoingreenHello

Workshop / Prototype (Updated: 26/07/2016)

Yesterday I organised a small workshop to understand people's reactions to the idea. I simply asked attendants to write down three things they want to become if they consider their body as a resource for the other living beings. I used a simple cardboard version of the website for prototyping. After getting attendants answers, they filled a feedback form as well. Here are some insights from the event.

Insight: It took time attendants to adapt the idea at first. So I gave an example. After the example, they understood the idea better. In the feedback form, one attendant wrote she didn't care what to become at first (because she will be dead) But, after thinking for a while the event gave her a perspective. 

Learning: People needs time to grasp the idea. It might be a good idea giving an example in the intro and making the story clearer. 

Insight: The answers were diverse from "a ghost" to "a button". 

Question: Is it better to give the website users a pre-prepared list to choose or is it a limitation to their imagination?

Feedbacks: One of the attendants has a death anxiety. He said he is not comfortable talking about death. But, imagining the body as a resource is a calming way for him to think about death.  Another wrote after thinking himself as a resource for the future livings, the event made him question his attitudes towards his body and the environment. 

Website Prototype (29/07/2016)

A draft version for a website that prototypes the idea is accessible on this address:

Happy to hear any feedback!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

As a prototype -a physical chart board in a public space, where people can write down their answers, get some feedback.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

- I would like to pair up with someone from community to help with the technical part of the project (web-site, coding etc.)

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a product designer, doing my MA in Sustainable Design

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Attachments (1)


Join the conversation:

Photo of Manal

Hi Burcu. I love the amount of thought you have put into the website prototype and getting some initial user feedback. I am curious to know, what are some next steps you plan to take with this challenge? Have you thought about creating a pilot? 

Photo of Burcu Turkay

Hi Manal, thanks for your comment. For the next step, I'm planning to build the data visualisation part. The website is not actually working at the moment. It needs some advanced coding that i can't manage to do by myself. So what i'm hoping to find someone who can do the coding part and i am finally able to release the website pilot. 

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