Nov 19th, 2019

Field research report: Story Sharing Cubes pilot in Borderland and Burning Man 2019

The Story Sharing Cubes pilot was conducted in Borderland this summer which was followed by repeating the experiment in Burning Man. Stories artist-carpenter Kalle Oja and techie Peter Tapio build the cubes from the scratch and Dr. Heikkilä with Terje Toomistu went out to the field test out if and how the method works.

At Borderland, four of the cubes were placed in designated spots, camps, and five were sent out to rotate freely at the event. This being a pilot, we were not sure what would come out of this. Based on testings, the custom-made user interphase worked and the battery should hold for a while. The question setting, with background info and consent, was intentionally broad. We only played this round with a one question:

Share your most meaningful story from the current or past transformational event?

As the week passed by, challenges on batteries began to emerge and also lessons learned where people wish to share their stories. Its not in the camps, where there might be a lot of activity and noise. The cubes that rotated freely suffered from the size of the cube, its difficult to carry around and from maintenance point of view, its impossible to know the need to change the battery of the device. So the week passed on and indeed we got some exciting data! That will be shared to the community, transcribed, during forthcoming months. What was the most beautiful thing? All cubes got returned to the dropping point during the last days.

Story Sharing Cubes @ Borderland

At Burning Man some of the cubes were again placed in camps, resulting with very little or no data at all. Lessons learned, its good to do data collection outside the camps where people surely have other things in mind than interact (and find!) the cube. Cubes that were placed in deep playa were stolen, which is a big setback and something we are very unhappy about and we wont repeat this mistake again. IF you see this posting and have a cube with you, kindly contact us.

Story Sharing Cubes postplaya

Conclusion of this adventure is that, yes, the novel method works but its very challenging field research approach. We will continue exploring this path, if you are interested to hear more, share ideas or support us, email us at contact (at) and we will get back to you!