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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:

www.burcuturkay.com/goingreen

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

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24 comments

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Photo of Manal
Team

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
Team

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. 

Photo of Jamie Whittaker
Team

Hi Burcu,
Your idea is beautiful, both literally and metaphorically. This is a lovely way to get people thinking about their mortality. I noticed that you reached out to a Death Cafe organizer to try to get feedback from them but that didn't work. I'd like to offer you, if you're interested, help on getting feedback. We could present your site and any questions you're looking for answers on to some of the clients we work with in our end-of-life planning program. We have a module on body disposition and we see your site as a great way to get people thinking about their options. We currently just send our clients a list of links of options, but your site creates an actual experience and I love that. We would absolutely use your website as a resource. If you're interested in having me collect some feedback for you, let me know! And no worries if not. No pressure!

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Dear Jamie, I’m thrilled with your comments !! Thank you for all your nice words. And huge thanks for you offer and yes, would love to get some help. The problem is, the website is not really working right now - it is still a draft. Users can select what they want to be but the data visualisation part is just a mock-up and there are also some missing links in the following pages, they are mostly still images. But hopefully, this should be OK. At this stage, some feedback on the intro (whether it is too long or not and is it clear to deliver the message or not) and feedback on the coverage of options would be great. And most importantly, I would really love to hear whether the message resonates with people. I would like to think about a couple of more points to think about but currently, I am writing up my MA thesis with a deadline on Thursday, so a bit short in time. Maybe we can discuss further after that? It would be amazing to see this being realised and instrumental in some way, really exciting! Can I add you as a team member?

Photo of Jamie Whittaker
Team

Hello! I think the website is excellent as it is in its draft state and it will work well to get feedback on. Good luck on your MA thesis- wow what a busy week for you! I would love to be added as a team member! I will start gathering feedback tomorrow (I'm looking forward to it) and we'll catch up after your big deadline. :)

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Great! Can't wait to hear the feedbacks. Could you also take some photos so we can upload them to the page? 
And thanks for the luck, I need it :) 

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Any news from feedbacks? I can't wait to hear  :) 

Photo of Jamie Whittaker
Team

Hello! Yes! I have feedback from 7 people (who all loved your website). I also have a few pictures. Would you like me to send you the feedback in an email? It's probably the easiest! You can contact me at jamie.whittaker@live.ca

Photo of Isaac GL
Team

I like the idea of returning where we belong, nature. 
I think that is a good to start treating death  as a natural process that brings meaning to the whole.

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Thanks for the comment, Isaac. 

Photo of Joanna Spoth
Team

Loving the updates, Burcu! And your idea for a light experiment as a chart to simply see how people respond is brilliant. Can't wait to hear how it goes!

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Thank you, Joanna! I will keep posting my updates about the experiment. Hope it will work out well. 

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Yes, really great updates Burcu! Were you thinking of creating a chalkboard like @"Before I Die" ? We'd love to see how you might prototype and simulate this idea without having to actually build out the platform. I think there are a lot of analogous and low-fidelity prototypes that you can create to simulate the user experience!

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Thanks for your comment, Shane. I have a problem to reach out people for my prototype. I was thinking of making a board with a world map where people can write down their answers on the countries they are from. My plan was using my university's crowd, but, everyone is on holidays at the moment. Then, I tried to get in touch with a Death Cafe organiser in my area, unfortunately, they are not interested in. Now, I will either prepare a digital survey - which is not my favourite- or test the idea with a small number of friends. 

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great update Burcu! I'm glad to hear how you're learning to pivot and adapt your prototype to the situation. Starting with your friends and immediate network is actually a great idea. You don't necessarily need a crowd to simulate an experience. Starting with a smaller group can be a great sample size to test out some assumptions. You'll be surprised to see that the feedback and observations from a small group experiment are actually not that far off from what you might get from a crowd. So go for it and keep us posted!

Photo of Joy Johnston
Team

I like the simple, clean interface and the star map concept is engaging and visually attractive, which I think is important for a topic that many may find unpleasant. 

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Thank you, Joy, for your comment. I hope people would like to engage more with simple visuals. I'm trying to test it at the moment - hopefully, it will work.  

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Mismak Zena Gessesse
Team

Dear Burcu, 

I think this is a simple but powerful idea for creating awareness among people that we are part of the ecosystem and that our bodies continue to interact with nature even after our death. I wonder what the barriers would be for actually implementing "natural" burials. What undesirable environmental/social impacts would there be? Are there any lessons from actual "natural" burials? Just wondering...

I liked the bit about "stardust" and "constellations". This would make for a fun movement. Good luck! 

Mismak

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Dear Mismak,
Thank you very much for your comment. Actually, it is really spot on. Natural burial is a hot topic which is researched widely these days and questions like yours are being discussed. Green Burial Council (https://greenburialcouncil.org) in the US and Natural Death Centre in the UK are working on different projects. I also have a Twitter account where I tweet about these kinds of projects https://twitter.com/GoingreenHello

Photo of Madeline Duhon
Team

I like your simple, imaginative idea. It seems that it would put people somewhat at ease about the unknown. Even if a person's beliefs do not necessarily include transforming into something after death, it seems like it could encourage people to be imaginative and perhaps hopeful or less fearful about passing.

Who do you envision making use of platform? Those close to end of life, or people of all ages? Looking forward to seeing your prototype!

Photo of Burcu Turkay
Team

Dear Madeline,
Thank you for your comment. I am planning to design this platform for people of all ages, especially young adults. My aim is to encourage them to think about their mortality in an engaging way. I have added a user experience map for detailed information.

And also thank you regarding your first comments on transforming, it made me realise that the idea might be perceived as associated with a belief. I conducted a survey few weeks ago on identifying people’s attitudes towards upcoming disposal methods. Projects that offer burials with a tree (capsulamundi.it) are seemingly getting highly positive reactions. My idea was sparked from these observations. I tried to reflect on these by using the “transforming into something” idea metaphorically rather than being close to a religion or a belief. I think I need to make this clear in the prototype.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Burcu! Here are some key questions and milestones we encourage all idea teams to consider in the Refinement phase:

1. How might this idea address the unique needs of the target audience you're designing for?
2. Clearly summarize the value offering of your idea in 1-2 sentences
3. Communicate your idea in a visual way with user experience maps http://ideo.pn/UX_Map
4. Identify assumptions that need to be answered in order to validate your value offering: http://bit.ly/1Oi8ZHu
5. Collect feedback from potential partners and users to answer the assumptions you’ve identified.

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 07/12" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Gary Skeete
Team

 Promote the transformation as a translational transitional formation with the outcome being the juxtaposition of virtual reality with the constructs of outer space at the mathematical coronation of string theory in different dimensions creating a new world of possibilities of survival and intact correlation with collider science rebuilding  New planets with laser trajectory and composition of DNA elements and trajectory into outer space for it habitable planet the trajectory including the juxtaposition of DNA RNA reproductive biology regenerative biology scaffolds self-assembly polymerization leading to homeostasis