When I was a kid at primary school, a favourite project of mine was cutting out the word balloons from cartoon strips in newspapers, pasting the cartoon strip down on white paper, then rewording the balloons with a story of my own invention. I remember that the Fred Bassett comic strips were a particular favourite.
One of the initiatives I am looking at in my knowledge management work at The Fred Hollows Foundation is the use of cartoons for knowledge discovery and for use in simple interactive games. It’s not a big focus for me at the moment, but the thinking is working away in the background.
My thoughts were triggered by a discussion last week at the Cognitive Edge course in which we talked about the displacement of personal stories into another character, thereby overcoming the potential reluctance to reveal negative experiences, in a non-threatening way. One of the exercises we did at the course was in developing a set of representational characteristics to develop an archetype. I am not necessarily looking to do the same thing, but I am interested in exploring cartoons (especially the word bubble variety) to generate story fragments for learning and knowledge discovery.
Whether something comes of this interest in my current role remains to be seen. However, a cartoon character drawing of the iconic Fred Hollowswould be a great start (by the way, there’s a travelling information and photography display on tour through NSW public libraries about Fred – here’s the itinerary). Unfortunately, my artistic skills in caricature drawing are rather poor, to say the least!
My strong interest in the use of cartoons for knowledge discovery has an education side to it too. I remember many years ago when I worked at Australian Freedom From Hunger Campaign, we used a ventriloquist (his name was Kit, if I recall correctly) and his puppet to promote our development education message to primary school kids – a most successful and entertaining project for us.
From puppets to cartoons and comics, how effective can they be in today’s world? How can I use cartoons in the context of developing more meaningful educational engagement with school kids and the youth market, particularly in the area of international development, blindness prevention, and the work of The Foundation?
I’d be interested in hearing if anyone out there in the big wide world has been actively developing and using comics or cartoons in international development education or youth engagement projects. Please feel free to make comments on my blog (if you’re the first, click on the no comments tag to start the ball rolling).