Tapestries is a Proboscis research programme developed as part
of our SoMa
research initiative. It builds upon Proboscis' projects, Urban
Tapestries (2002-2004) and Private
Reveries, Public Spaces (2001-2002), broadening the scope to explore
specific social and cultural uses of knowledge mapping and sharing in
partnership with other civil society, industry and academic partners.
The key areas
we are exploring are:
developing knowledge mapping and sharing techniques and tools as new
forms of associative learning and teaching methods for schoolchildren,
lifelong learners and teachers.
staging creative interventions with local areas and communities that
engage with regeneration and environmental issues to increase issue
ownership and people’s sense of agency and empowerment to act.
citizenship, neighbourhoods and public services
exploring how mapping and sharing knowledge and experiences within geographic
communities can enable new forms of neighbourliness to emerge. By stimulating
and inspiring habits of participation these informal knowledges can
assist in transforming relationships with key stakeholders such as local
authorities and public service providers to develop reciprocities
Observation for the 21st Century
Proboscis began trialling a new Urban
Tapestries public authoring platform in 2006 as part of several Social
Tapestries projects. However we found the system to be difficult to use
in many of the social and cultural settings in which it was being implemented.
Maintaining the system required significant resources beyond our ability
to support it, and we decided to develop a new approach that could take
advantage of the many new online services that had appeared in the years
since we began the original Urban Tapestries project. Since late 2006
Proboscis has been developing a 'scavenging' approach, using the concepts
and processes of public authoring to stitch together services that are
simple and free to use (such as photo-sharing sites, blogging tools, online
spreadsheets, video sharing platfoms and online mapping applications).
direction for public authoring is best evidenced in the Snout online sensor
mapping interface (http://snoutlondon.ning.com).
Hammond Primary School
Proboscis is collaborating with staff at the Jenny Hammond Primary School
in Waltham Forest, north east London to develop the Social Tapestries
frameworks for knowledge mapping and sharing into practical teaching and
learning methods. Three intensive workshops were held with students in
different classes between July 2005 and July 2006. The collaboration will
to begin incorporating some tools and techniques into the school's everyday
teaching curriculum in 2006/07.
System for TAgging Messages, Post-inferential Semantics
Proboscis is collaborating with researchers from the CRAFT (Computer Supported
Collaborative Learning) Lab at EPFL Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute
of Technology) to exchange knowledge and technical data for research into
spatial annotation and cognition. We are embarking upon a common analysis
of the relationship between semantic and geographical dimensions of message
distribution in space, based on the dataset provided by the 2003/04 Urban
Tapestries field trials.
Proboscis collaborated with Kingswood High School near Hull to design
a set of tools and activities that introduced the concept of local knowledge
gathering, mapping and sharing with Year 7 students (11-12 year olds).The
project aimed to enhance the relevance of learning by making it proximate
to the environment in which the students live.
PEOPLE & ENVIRONMENT
Proboscis is collaborating with inIVA and Birkbeck College to create two
prototype environmental sensor 'wearables' based on traditional carnival
costumes. The projects seeks to investigate how data can be collected
from environmental sensors as part of popular social and cultural activities.
Proboscis is collaborating with Birkbeck College Computer Science department
to develop a project to explore the social, cultural and ethical issues
associated with real-time data capture from bio-sensors worn by people
as part of 'healthy-living self-care' regimes. Such sensors are just beginning
to become viable but little or no research has been conducted into the
social, cultural or ethical effects and issues that tracking people's
health in real-time will have on society and individuals. Proboscis and
Birkbeck are proposing to develop and test a personal sensor network (using
near field communications, mobile data flows and GIS mapping) with a group
of people to begin to trace not just sensor reading but how such devices
may affect the well-being of an individual on a broader scale of reference.
Feral Public Authoring
Proboscis won an EPSRC award to host the renown artist/engineer Natalie
Jeremijenko of UC San Diego on a Visiting Fellowship during 2005. We collaborated
with Natalie to adapt her Feral Robots (toy robots reconfigured to act
as independent mobile pollution sensors) to create a model for using hobbyist
robotics and public authoring as social activism, and as triggers for
new social and cultural encounters. Other partners included SPACE Studios
and the London Knowledge Lab and a local community in Hackney. The prototype
public authoring feral robot was demonstrated in London Fields in February
2006, at the Science Musem in March 2006 and in Manchester in July 2006.
John Paul Bichard created a research project exploring the feasibility
of gaming as a social tool. The project looked at ways in which social
multiplayer games can be developed and sustained in a local neighbourhood
environment. The aim was to develop a games methodology that has the potential
to allow a broad demographic to play in the everyday environment across
race, age and gender.
A fundamental part of human social activity is play, whether private or
shared, solitary or in groups. Play functions on a number of levels, one
of which could be as a means of exploring, testing and defining the ‘neighbourhood’
as both a social place and an interpersonal mechanism. Neighbourhood
Games looked at a way of developing simple games layers within familiar
environments – in relation to the research carried out to date in
Urban Tapestries, drawing on notions of community, age separation and
hidden stories with an aim to establish clear directions for ongoing research
Nick West devised an experiment to research and demonstrate ways
to make and hear spatial annotations while driving. As an extension to
the Urban Tapestries system of marking and examining space, the annotations
would be created on the fly while driving or riding; they would also be
constructed or edited while on the web. Both drivers and passengers would
be able to listen to these annotations from a mobile device that is with
them in their vehicle. A Cultural
Snapshot by Nick is due to be published in 2006.
CITIZENSHIP, NEIGHBOURHOODS & PUBLIC SERVICES
Proboscis is collaborating with Kevin Harris of Local Level on a project
in a social housing estate which aims to enhance democratic engagement
at local level by stimulating the habits of participation. It is funded
by the Department of Constitutional Affairs’ Innovations Fund –
a programme of the Electoral Policy Division.
Proboscis is developing a series of small-scale collaborations with community
groups such as housing co-ops and associations, local community centres,
schools and youth groups. These are intended to help reveal the multiplicity
of kinds of local knowledge held and shared by individuals and groups
within geographic areas or communities. The first collaborations began
in summer 2005 with a series of bodystorming experiences and training
sessions in using the Urban Tapestries spatial annotation system.
on the Street
Proboscis explored a collaborative project with Citizens Online and the
Community Development Foundation on the potential and appropriateness
of social technologies to help address issues of liveability, and community
engagement in community safety. The intention was to work with people
in a specific neighbourhood to investigate the potential for systems like
Urban Tapestries to meet the needs of people in a community to have effective
'eyes on the street’, creating possibilities for new approaches
to neighbourliness, community reporting on local environmental conditions
and other social interactions. The design process will be adaptive and
people-centred, with the intention of creating appropriate uses and interfaces
for people with different lifestyles, capabilities and levels of interest.
This project developed into the collaboration with Havelock Independent
Residents Organization – Conversations
Proboscis devised (but was unable to implement) an experiment for a group
of people with physical impairments to use the Urban Tapestries public
authoring system to annotate access issues relating to the physical infrastructure
of the city. The aim was to begin to understand the everyday practical
issues faced by people with mobility difficulties in the urban environment
– providing key information to surveyors and mapping agencies about
what additional features needs to be mapped (such as kerb height), as
well as a public way of mapping and sharing locally specific information
crucial to a variety of communities.