for Cybersalon Future Wireless Event
Dana Centre, London 4/10/2005
Giles Lane, October 2005
Tapestries is a research programme exploring the potential benefits
and costs of local knowledge mapping and sharing, what we have termed
the public authoring of social knowledge.
- It extends
and further develops our earlier project Urban Tapestries (UT) which
created a prototype public authoring platform for spatial annotation
using high definition geo data with mobile and wireless communications.
- UT sought
to shift the debates around location-based services from one that privileged
traditional ideas of media content being delivered to people, and instead
focused on the potential for creating a 'public knowledge commons'.
research concluded that the key point for most people in using communications
technologies is that the provision of information is less important
to people than using these technologies to meet up and maintain links
between people and communities.
- A critical
problem with lots of R&D projects is that they focus too often on
scenarios and profiles of fictitious people and communities that tend
to reflect the assumptions and pre-conceived ideas of the researchers
involved. In investigating the possibilities of these technologies we
created analogue and digital prototypes and worked with a range of people,
from senior citizens and teenagers through the local community centre,
to local and central government, academia, artists, designers, business
people and technologists.
- In Social
Tapestries we are creating a series of collaborations with actual people
in real communities and environments to develop our technological solutions
for a knowledge commons in response to the needs and capabilities we
encounter. We are learning about the motivations for using or not using
technologies that different people have, and also that these motivations
change for individuals according to the different situations they find
themselves in every day.
is focusing on 4 areas for exploring knowledge mapping and sharing:
where primary and secondary school students can gather knowledge
about their local communities and environments as part of an associative
learning approach to education.
housing: exploring how new forms of neighbourliness and empowerment
for local communities could emerge through the mapping and sharing
of local knowledge and experiences.
engagement: exploring how creative uses of public authoring technologies
could enable people to participate in local regeneration and community
sector: where public authoring could be a means of forging a reciprocity
of trust between public services and citizens as a two way communications
- To achieve
this we have spent the last 18 months developing collaborations with
a number of communities and are beginning now to embed projects and
experiments with them, for instance:
working with a residents committee on a 900 dwelling 'sink' estate
in West London to assist them in their ODPM funded 'Right to manage'
process and estate regeneration plan.
Marks: working with a short life housing cooperative to use public
authoring to capture the memory of their 25 year history of managing
property and who benefited from it.
Hammond: collaborating with a primary school on designing how to
use public authoring as part of the core teaching and learning methods
adopted in the school. We are also hoping to extend this project
to one of the secondary schools it feeds students to to create a
joint programme across age groups and schools.
Robots: exploring how to hack together environmental sensors (Volatile
Organic Compounds etc) with toy robots and spatial annotation to
enable local people to participate in mapping and social activism
around local pollution issues.
Council: we are designing a collaboration with Kingston Council
as part of their Thinking Kingston programme to demonstrate how
public authoring can be a powerful tool for local communities to
develop social and creative networks through the sharing of local
knowledge and experiences, and the role of local authorities in
Future / Issues:
on technology deployments must go hand in hand with sensitive community
development work, otherwise there is a danger that only the 'early
adopters' and people most like those excited by the technologies
will participate and this will exacerbate a 'digital divide'.
technologies are plumbing – the focus on what applications
and services they will enable is critical. If all they offer is
untethered internet access, then what exactly is so exciting about
that? The services and opportunities that they give access to are
biggest hurdle seem to me to be orchestrating and mediating not
only the different technologies that wireless access could enable
but also the social, cultural, political and economic forces that
will shape and determine the uses of such technologies.
need to be developing projects which have not only a technology
factor, but also work closely with actual people and communities,
that understand the broader policy frameworks and how to lobby for
change; that understand and can envision a wide range of economic
benefits (tangible and intangible) and articulate their value in
everyday terms; and that add richness to the cultural background
of our society.