“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Water is seen as a natural resource – like land and air. It’s a type of resource that most people feel should not be commodified as it is a fundamental necessity to life. Many feel that it should not be subjected to the same impersonal system that other goods follow. In other words, many people have grown up thinking it should be free. But this is where the problem lies. The notion of water being “free” in all actuality comes at a price. It’s common for the average person to have little to no idea about the conditions of their water systems, what it takes to sustain it and the effects of it outside their homes. And because of this, people tend to be upset when the governing body that manages their water increases their rates.
What I’m proposing, is to tackle the situation by targeting the younger generations between the ages of 5-9, and in turn, their parents. This will be done by simplifying the complexity of the economics of water to the point where even a 5 year old can understand it. The logic is that by teaching the child, we are able to shape this growing generation’s attitude to water so that they are able to understand and appreciate its value. This will then be done through the following three mediums: Hardcover book, Interactive Website & Animated Book Release Trailer.
To have a basic understanding of the economic problem surrounding water. This includes learning about the concept of scarcity, the value of water, government expenses on maintaining a potable water source, demand and supply and virtual water.
To have an idea on how water allocation and distribution works as well as why we need better water management. This touches briefly on the costs and benefits of water management and the impact of water allocation to human welfare and the environment.
Colloquial, informative, simple, fun
What’s in a name?
It was clear from the get-go that I wanted to develop a series of characters for a picture book. Finding names for both characters and book was a challenge I had not realised to be a rather difficult one. The book for the first few weeks was simply called Water Economics – for lack of a better word. Funnily enough, after a few more weeks of research, the title and character names ended up being derived simply from the etymology of water economics.
Oikonomia was the greek word for economics and this was broken down into the two root words oikos – meaning family, household, house, – and nomos – meaning managing, or to manage. Water in greek had a few translations, one being hydor and the other vero, which was pronounced as nero. And so the book was reborn with a new name – a far more child-friendly name than water economics for sure.
As my response to the brief, I have chosen a book, a website and a video as my three different mediums; each with the core principles of water economics instilled inside.
#1 – Picture book
Using the medium of a picture book was an easy decision to make due to the audience I have decided to target. It was a toss up between creating a print version or an ebook – with the ebook being of course, more aligned with my message as it has a far lower water footprint than that of its print counterpart. However, I had rationalised that even in this day and age, nothing quite compares to the charm of a physical book. And so I compromised by choosing to do both. The idea was to create a book with the same timelessness as many of your children’s classics, for instance, Dr Seuss, Winnie the Pooh and the Little Prince, just to name a few. These books managed to compress several layers of meaning into a single narrative, imbuing in the child a philosophy that stays with them as they grew up.
But unlike the books I had listed above, the tone the narrative took leaned more towards an educational approach. I had felt that this was more appropriate due to the messages I was trying to convey. The principles of water economics covered beyond the moral and ethical, but also the logic of trade, exchange, supply and demand. Thus, I reasoned that an informative approach with a light, fun tone would be my best option. The clean and simple lines of a vectored illustration was the style I had chosen for the series of deliverables, with flat, deeper pastel colours for the colour scheme. I felt that this best suited my purpose because the style lent a sense of clarity and simplicity that I needed.
#2 – Interactive Website
To accompany the first deliverable and to push the message further (as only so much can be covered in a picture book), an interactive website was decided for the second deliverable.
The website contains four separate sections: E-book, Games, Videos and Research. Though the website is accessible to anyone, not everything is available to the public. Only by inputting a serial code that is included in the purchase of the book can the user unlock the e-book copy, all the games, leveling up and saving features.
The E-book section is where the user can read a digital copy of the picture book. The format is derived from your typical e-reader, albeit even more simplified.
The Games section expands on topics such as Supply and Demand, Virtual Water, Water Allocation, Water Distribution and other fun facts. In playing the games, the child will be taught a little bit more on the specific topics mentioned above. The games vary from ‘fun’ to something akin ‘educational fun’. Through this experience, I hope to also promote tangential learning through the nuggets of wisdom scattered in the interface.
The Videos section contains the book release trailer and other videos relating to the book.
The Research section is an external link that will lead to a separate website containing information for parents and teachers.
A more detailed explanation is provided in the printed booklet below:
#3 – Book Release Trailer As with any product, a form of promotional advertising is necessary for its launch. For the third deliverable, I felt a video platform would be a good medium to choose as a form of animation would draw a younger audience better more so than a single static poster.
The video is a simple animation with background music and no voice over as I felt that a voice over would prove rather jarring. The teaser trailer is a simple message about the value of water and the idea of what goes around comes around.