UnBias Facilitator Booklet

July 3, 2019 by · Comments Off on UnBias Facilitator Booklet 

Our colleagues, Helen Creswick and Liz Dowthwaite, at Horizon Digital Economy Institute (University of Nottingham) have recently produced a new booklet for facilitators to accompany the UnBias Fairness Toolkit.

The booklet is the result of an Impact Study grant to run a series of workshops with people of different ages and to co-devise games and activities using the Awareness Cards. It also contains further advice and feedback for facilitators and other running workshops using the Toolkit, to guide them to what works best with different groups.

Download PDF versions to print out and make up

City of Refuge Toolkit

May 10, 2019 by · Comments Off on City of Refuge Toolkit 

This is a co-creative and participatory toolkit of relevance to researchers, civil society and institutions working with newcomers, migrants, refugees and those supporting them (citizen actors and organisations).  

The City of Refuge Toolkit aims to explore the needs these actors have: such as the resources they need, and the obstacles they face when they try to build inclusive, safe and equitable local and national communities and spaces. The toolkit brings people together to discuss and share their experiences, to build connections and find common ground. It asks participants to identify what an ideal City of Refuge would need to be a reality (the ‘ideal’ city of refuge could be adopted from neighbourhood-level to national level).

The toolkit contains:

  • Individual Task Sheets
  • Group/collaborative Work Sheets
  • A Workshop Facilitation guide for working with refugees/newcomers
  • A Workshop Facilitation guide for working with citizen actors
  • A Materials Guide suggesting icons and images for stickers

It is available in four languages – Arabic, English, German and Greek.

The toolkit has been devised and created by Giles Lane, with Myria Georgiou, Deena S Dajani, Kristina Kolbe & Vivi Theodoropoulou. 

Download the Toolkit Here (Zenodo) | Alternative Download

DOI

About
The toolkit has been developed for the study of the city of refuge and to understand how cities are shaped through migration as spaces of hospitality, collaboration but also of exclusions and restricted rights. The tool can be used in different contexts and spaces – from neighbourhoods to cities and to countries, depending on users’ particular focus. The principle remains the same: to co-create knowledge with those directly involved in identifying what makes (and/or hinders) inclusive and diverse spaces of belonging in the context of migration.  

The methodological approach integrates and promotes the principle of co-creative knowledge production with the people involved in processes of migration, either as those moving or as those receiving them. More particularly, the toolkit invites participants in cities (also neighbourhoods and countries) at the aftermath of (forced) migration to record their own understanding of needs, resources and obstacles that make hospitable and inclusive spaces of belonging. It comprises nonlinear tools for producing collective knowledge and capacity among those affected by migration to identify needs, resources and obstacles, especially in their attempt to build collective projects and resist exclusions from rights and resources on the basis of nationality and origin. 

The toolkit particularly challenges the linearity of narratives that have been privileged in representations of migrant and refugee voices, which are often narrowly defined through either “the refugee as a victim” or “migrants as assets for the economy”. Furthermore, the integration of visual tools in the toolkit aims to integrate participants’ diversity in terms of gender, linguistic and literacy skills. The different tropes used in the toolkit invite participants to work collectively and nonlinearly by writing, drawing and using stickers; in this way, the toolkit aims to tackle hierarchies among research participants, which lineal and fully narrational methods can reproduce.

Translations
Arabic – Dr Deena S Dajani
German – Kristina Kolbe
Greek – Dr Vivi Theodoropoulou

The City of Refuge Toolkit is published by Proboscis, and is an output of the “Resilient Communities, ResilientCities: digital makings of the city of refuge” project – funded through the LSE’s Institute of Global Affairs (IGA) as part of the Rockefeller Resilience Programme.

It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Migration and the Digital City

March 30, 2019 by · Comments Off on Migration and the Digital City 

I took part in the closing panel of this symposium at the LSE with Deena Dajani and Marcia Chandra, reflecting on the possibilities and challenges of cross-sector collaboration, especially with regard to the City of Refuge project. Joining us were Koen Leurs and Katja Kaufmann who also presented papers on their work with migrants and refugees.

It was a good moment also to reflect on how so much of my work hinged on a meeting I had almost exactly 19 years ago, in the Spring, with Professor Roger Silverstone at the LSE. From that meeting we went on to establish the SoMa (Social Matrices) think tank for culture – a groundbreaking collaboration between the LSE, the RCA (where I was a Research Fellow) and Proboscis. Roger’s support and trust in me and my idea that we could create new research trajectories through transdisciplinary collaborations has borne much fruit over almost two decades; and in this latest collaboration I think he would have been pleased to see another risky project realised with sensitivity, commitment to our participants and partners, and its results beginning to have effect in the wider world.

People Centred Practices

March 21, 2019 by · Comments Off on People Centred Practices 

Last October, as part of our work on the British Library’s Single Digital Presence project, I gave an internal training session on the subject of people centred practices. I summarised the talk in the booklet below which was published through bookleteer:

UnBias: Fairness in Pervasive Environments

December 18, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias: Fairness in Pervasive Environments 

Last week I ran a workshop at the TIPSbyDesign Symposium hosted by Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. It was the second symposium of the PACTMAN project, aiming to build a community of UK TIPS (trust, identity, privacy and security) researchers. There were 5 workshops run over two days, as well as two keynotes, one by Georgina Bourke of If on their collaboration with LSE Data and Society, “Understanding Automated Decisions”, and one by Prof Paul Coulton on “More-than-human centred design”.

Organiser, Bettina Nissen, invited me to devise a workshop that addressed the problem of designing fairness in ‘pervasive environments’ – i.e. spaces where technology is present and capturing data, but where we might not be giving our explicit permission for our data to be captured. Bettina was also keen to see and experience the UnBias Fairness Toolkit, so I devised a workshop that used its tools to frame a problem space and explore its implications; to define key concerns and values; and to develop some principles that could guide future design.

We began by imagining some actual ‘pervasive environments’ and chose three (airports, shopping centres and taxis) to explore in more depth. The 20 participants divided into 3 groups, each choosing one type of environment to explore – identifying the various ‘actors’ (those installing/imposing technology within the environment and/or capturing data from it) and those being acted upon (i.e. having data about them, their behaviours and potentially interactions with the devices being captured). To help with this, we used the Data cards from the UnBias Awareness deck, and to consider the consequences and impacts (potential benefits and harms) we used both the Factors and Examples cards. We also used the Rights cards to asses how rights and laws protecting individuals would come into play in such spaces.

The TrustScape worksheets were used to identify and communicate a key concern to be shared with the other groups:

After a break, we reconvened and each group passed their TrustScapes to another. We then used the MetaMap worksheets to respond to the TrustScapes, also using the Values cards to help guide the responses:

Finally, we discussed the outcomes of the exercises and used them to define 6 principles for designing ‘fair’ pervasive environments:

  • Allowing participants to opt out without missing out
  • Exposing the role and relationship to regulators for all actors and participants
  • Understanding the motivations of stakeholders who define and control such environments
  • Providing space for negotiating alternatives to standard Terms and Conditions
  • Providing transparency with regard to the bigger picture laws and rights governing public spaces and behaviours in them
  • Providing visibility of how power operates and what the imbalances are

The workshop was an intense process over almost 3 hours and I would like to thanks all the participants for their efforts and contributions making it such a valuable experience.

Cities of Refuge – Athens

November 26, 2018 by · Comments Off on Cities of Refuge – Athens 

Just last week I was in Athens as part of the LSE City of Refuge project team, where we repeated the process begun in London in July and continued in Berlin in October, to engage with refugees, or newcomers, and the citizen actors who welcome and support them. This involves building links with local organisations and activists, as well as the newcomers themselves, to hear their stories and to invite them into a process where we can learn from their experiences.

Much as in London and Berlin, I have supported and helped supervise facilitating the workshops I devised. These are conducted in the languages of the newcomers (mainly Arabic & Turkish) and the local citizen actors (Greek & English) and were all held in the multicultural 87th Elementary School of Athens in the Gazi district. This meant a partial re-configuration due to the wider mix of languages – with Myria Georgiou leading the Greek-speaking group, alongside her assistant PhD student, Afroditi-Maria Koulaxi and Dr Vivi Theodoropoulou. Meanwhile Deena Dajani and I led the English-focused group while local activist and teacher, Natasa Vourna, provided Turkish-language facilitation for the Kurdish newcomers’ group. Deena also led the Arabic-speaking group in the second session. As before Marcia Chandra has been a key part of the workshops as her series of portraits accompanying the project develops in each site.

The images of the worksheets below demonstrate, again, the strong levels of engagement and enthusiasm which all the participants brought to this process, capturing and sharing their thoughts, emotions and experiences. Many deeply affecting stories emerged: of difficult journeys across time and space, of acceptance and rejections, of exile and new homes. The range of places that people had originated from was also wider than we had encountered in London or Berlin, with new and different themes emerging which resonated but also struck different notes. One of the key differences was the international cast of citizen actors who had come to Greece to help support the steady stream of refugees. There was also a sense that the situation was more complex than we had previously encountered – against the backdrop of the continuing economic problems experienced in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, and the strong presence of international aid agencies in coping with the scale of the humanitarian emergency of people fleeing war and terror in the region. There seemed more fluidity in terms of what it meant for people to be ‘settled’ in Greece, and a multi-varied strata of access and opportunity depending on who you were and where you came from.

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The project will now go into an analysis and writing up stage, with outcomes due in the Spring – including an exhibition of Marcia’s portraits and stories. Combined with the detailed interviews this should prove to be a powerful examination of what it is like both to experience being a newcomer and to be part of the fabric of support that welcomes and supports them across the three cities, hopefully revealing insights that could strengthen international links between citizens and improve policies.

UnBias Showcase video

October 29, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias Showcase video 

A video with clips and brief interviews from the UnBias Showcase event on 1st October 2018:

See my clip at 5.05

Cities of Refuge – Berlin

October 22, 2018 by · Comments Off on Cities of Refuge – Berlin 

Just over a week ago I was in Berlin as part of the LSE City of Refuge project team, where we repeated the process begun in London in July to engage with refugees, or newcomers, and the citizen actors who welcome and support them.

This involves building links with local organisations and activists, as well as the newcomers themselves, to hear their stories and to invite them into a process where we can learn from their experiences. My role has been to devise and supervise the facilitation of workshops, which have been conducted mainly in the languages of the newcomers (Arabic) and the local citizen actors (German). In Berlin this has meant stepping back whilst Dr Deena Dajani (Project Research Officer) and Kristina Kolbe (PhD student and Research Assistant) take on the active role of facilitators and mediators of the activities in the workshops. Project leads Professor Myria Georgiou and Dr Suzanne Hall were also on hand to participate in the workshops, alongside artist Marcia Chandra who is creating a series of portraits to accompany the project.

The centre of of engagement process was Refugio.berlin, an organisation in the district of Neukölln that supports a mix of locals and newcomers with accommodation and other services. A number of residents there took part in the workshops, as well as others from across Berlin. Once again, we had a series of fantastic workshops with highly engaged participants who responded with great enthusiasm and energy to the questions being asked and the formats (worksheets and stickers) for capturing their thoughts, emotions and experiences. Some key themes emerged that mirrored the experiences we encountered in London – e.g. time, the weight of bureaucracy, language etc – but there were some marked differences too. The citizen actors displayed a much stronger sense of coherence and capability than in London, perhaps enabled by the much greater resources made available by the German government. The huge difference in scale of the acceptance of refugees between the UK (about 20,00 people) and Germany (around 1 million) was visible too, both in terms of the coordination and funding between state and non-state organisations, and in the expectations of integration into German life and culture.

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Next month we will be heading to repeat these workshops and activities once more in Athens.

Mapping Perception

September 16, 2018 by · Comments Off on Mapping Perception 

In memoriam Dudley Sutton:

MAPPING PERCEPTION from andrew kotting on Vimeo.

MAPPING PERCEPTION was a four year collaboration between Giles Lane, curator and producer (Proboscis), Andrew Kötting, the acclaimed director of Gallivant, This Filthy Earth and Ivul and Dr Mark Lythgoe, neurophysiologist at the Institute of Child Health, London.

MAPPING PERCEPTION examines the limits of human perception through an investigation of impaired brain function, making visible the connections between scientific and artistic explorations of the human condition, probing the thin membrane between the able and the disabled.

At the heart of the project is Eden, Andrew’s daughter. She was born at Guy’s Hospital, London, in 1988 with a rare genetic disorder – Joubert Syndrome – causing cereberal vermis hypoplasia and several other neurological complications. Eden thus participates in the project as both a catalyst and a cypher for a more general investigation into how we see the world and perceive difference.

MAPPING PERCEPTION had four main outcomes:

a 37 minute 35mm film
an immersive & environmental sensory installation
a book & CD-ROM
a website

UnBias Toolkit Workshops at V&A Digital Design Weekend

September 12, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias Toolkit Workshops at V&A Digital Design Weekend 

I will be running four workshops with Alex Murdoch exploring the UnBias Fairness Toolkit at the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd September. Each workshop is intended for different audiences and contexts in which the toolkit could be used.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Educators Workshop
Seminar Room 1, Sackler Centre for arts education
Saturday 22, 11.30-13.30
Algorithms, bias, trust and fairness: how do you engage young people is understanding and discussing these issues? How do you stimulate critical thinking skills to analyse decision- making in online and automated systems? Explore practical ideas for using the UnBias Fairness Toolkit with young people to frame conversations about how we want our future internet to be fair and free for all.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Industry Stakeholders Workshop
Seminar Room 1, Sackler Centre for arts education
Saturday 22, 14.30-16.30
The UnBias project is initiating a “public civic dialogue” on trust, fairness and bias in algorithmic systems. This session is for people in the tech industry, activists, researchers, policymakers and regulators to explore how the Fairness Toolkit can inform them about young people’s and others’ perceptions of these issues, and how it can facilitate their responses as contributions to the dialogue.

DESIGN TAKEOVER ON EXHIBITION ROAD
Sunday 23, 10.00-17.00
Celebrate ten years of London Design Festival at the V&A with a special event on Exhibition Road. Bringing together events by the Brompton Design District, Imperial College, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A, this fun-filled day of design, workshops and talks will offer something for everyone, and a unique way into the many marvels of Albertopolis.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Workshops
Young people (12-22 yrs) 12.00-13.30
Open Sessions 15.30-17.00
What is algorithmic bias and how does it affect you? How far do you trust the apps and services you use in your daily life with your data and privacy? How can we judge when an automated decision is fair or not? Take part in group activities exploring these questions using the UnBias Fairness Toolkit to stimulate and inspire your own investigations.

Download the V&A DDW Brochure

Colleagues from Oxford University and Horizon Digital Economy Institute will also be running UnBias activities as part of the event:

UnBias
The Raphael Cartoons, Room 48a
Drop-in from 12.00-16.00
How do you feel about fake news, filter bubbles, unfair or discriminatory search results and other types of online bias? How are decisions made online? What types of personal data do you share with online companies and services? Do you trust them? Explore these through a range of activities, from Being the Algorithm to Creating a Data Garden, and from Public Voting to making a TrustScape of how you feel about these issues. Suitable for families.

UnBias Fairness Toolkit

September 7, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias Fairness Toolkit 

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The UnBias Fairness Toolkit is now available to download and use. It aims to promote awareness and to stimulate a public civic dialogue about algorithms, trust, bias and fairness. In particular, on how algorithms shape online experiences, influencing our everyday lives, and to reflect on how we want our future internet to be fair and free for all.

The tools not only encourage critical thinking, but civic thinking – supporting a more collective approach to imagining the future as a contrast to the individual atomising effect that such technologies often cause. The toolkit has been developed by Giles Lane, with illustrations by Alice Angus and Exercises devised by Alex Murdoch; alongside contributions from the UnBias team members and the input of young people and stakeholders.

The toolkit contains the following elements:

  1. Handbook
  2. Awareness Cards
  3. TrustScape
  4. MetaMap
  5. Value Perception Worksheets

All components of Toolkit are freely available to download and print under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Download the complete UnBias Fairness Toolkit (zip archive 18Mb)

DOI


Cities of Refuge

July 16, 2018 by · Comments Off on Cities of Refuge 

Proboscis is one of the partners in a new project, Resilient Communities, Resilient Cities? Digital makings of the city of refuge, led by Professor Myria Georgiou of the Media & Communications Dept at London School of Economics. The project seeks to:

examine the role of digital communication in the making of cities of refuge. More particularly, it focusses on urban communities’ digital responses to sudden, unplanned and/or unwelcome change resulting from irregular migration into the city. The project zooms into urban neighbourhoods that receive large number of refugees and migrants. It examines how urban communities mobilise digital communication to respond to disruption and develop capacities to manage change. From the development of local networks in support of refugees, to local training into digital skills, cities’ resilience is tested in the capacity to sustain inclusive, integrated and prospering communities.

Our role is to design the engagement activities and direct workshop facilitation with the various groups taking part. The project will work with communities in 3 sites: London, Athens & Berlin over the next 6 months.

On Saturday we delivered the first workshop and engagement activities at the Chesnuts Community Centre in Harringay, working with a group of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to explore their needs, the resources they have access to as well as the barriers and obstacles they face in their new situation here in London. Drawing upon our previous experience of working with vulnerable communities in challenging circumstances we created a simple way for participants to discuss these issues and to begin mapping out and exploring connections between services, places, people, technologies and systems. We also provided ways for participants to reflect on how they perceive the relative values (in terms of safety and utility) of these things and some measure of where the things they value most sit in terms of emotional and physical proximity or distance.

The workshop was conducted in Arabic and the participants split into two groups, each with an Arabic speaking co-facilitator – Dr Deena Dajani & Haneen Naamneh – from the LSE. We used worksheets and stickers with familiar symbols, from app icons to common services, features and resources, to help make the process fun and visual as well as dynamic and open. It was particularly gratifying to see how enthusiastic the participants were to engage in these ways, and to observe how this kind of ‘asset mapping’ across individual experiences enables people to identify key areas of confidence as well as the gaps where things don’t work so well, don’t feel safe or where trust is uncertain. At the end of what became a long session, it was also great to hear how much the participants had valued this opportunity to come together and discuss things collaboratively. Despite having faced many challenges and obstacles on their respective journeys to this point, there was a palpable energy in the room of optimism and determination to make a new sense of home.

We will be working next with local Harringay residents who have been part of the community welcoming these new arrivals to explore these issues from their perspectives too, and a following workshop will happen later in the summer bring together a mixed group of different locals and new arrivals. In the Autumn we will adapt the process to deliver to similar groups in Berlin (Neuköln) and then Athens (Victoria).

TKRN: reaching another milestone

June 30, 2018 by · Comments Off on TKRN: reaching another milestone 

Recently a very exciting development has taken place which confirms our confidence in the usefulness of the TKRN project, and its potential to persist beyond the lifetime of the project itself. This milestone is the scanning and uploading of over 40 new TKRN notebooks created by people on the Rai Coast to the Reite village online library by Urufaf Anip, one of the Reite villagers, using the TKRN publishing kit we left in Madang for this purpose.

At the end of our last visit to Papua New Guinea, I spent two days in intensive media training with Urufaf and his sister, Pasen Anip. Neither has used a computer before, although both very familiar with smartphones. We started from basic introduction to the computer and how to switch it on, to exploring the file system and then to setting up email accounts. From there we progressed to using the web, and creating accounts for them both in WordPress so they could post material on the Reite online library site, and how to scan in completed notebooks as multi-page PDFs, name the files and generate images of the front covers.

As we were about to leave PNG, James and I put together a document (in both English & Tok Pisin versions) to remind them of the various steps involved in each process that they could refer to next time – knowing that a one-off intensive training session would never be enough to embed the learning required. Fortunately, the project has been supported by Banak Gamui of the Karawari Cave Arts Project based in Madang, who are hosting the TKRN publishing kit, providing internet access and help with using the technology. Banak’s assistance has been invaluable both in hosting the kit and supporting Reite people such as Urufaf to come into town and help with familiarising them with how to use the computer and the internet to scan in and store online versions of the books they make.

It has been a long journey since our first notebook experiment in 2012, but we have now arrived at a point where Reite people are able not only to complete the physical paper notebooks, but have the capability and competency to digitise them and upload them to the internet for long term preservation. Our trip to the village last month also bore witness to a resurgence in people’s desire to teach and learn their traditional local language, Negkini, as a crucial factor in cultural and social cohesion. There was lots of interest in using the TKRN books to begin writing in Negkini (something only first attempted a few years ago) – both by individuals in the community as well as from teachers at the local school. This suggests so much possibility for cultural renewal and enrichment, especially when combined with the digital skills and capabilities being demonstrated by Urufaf – indigenous public authoring is becoming a practical reality, much more than a vision for what might be possible, or a dream.

TKRN: Groundwork for Legacy

May 21, 2018 by · Comments Off on TKRN: Groundwork for Legacy 

Reite participants at TKRN Legacy Workshop, Bismarck Ramu Group, Madang

It is now more than five years since my first visit to Papua New Guinea and Reite village, on Madang Province’s Rai Coast. I’ve just completed my fourth field trip there with anthropologist, James Leach, where we have been conducting the first stage of a 2 year legacy and handover phase for TK Reite Notebooks, supported again by The Christensen Fund. Our aim is to establish a firm base for Reite people to have control over the tools and techniques we have co-developed with them, and for them to have both the confidence, capability and capacity to share not only their own Traditional Knowledge with others, but to train other communities, who wish to adopt it, in the TKRN Toolkit‘s use too.

Over the years we have been exploring potential partnerships with local organisations both in PNG and in Vanuatu, hoping to build a network of support for TKRN and those using it. Last year James met with Banak Gamui of the Karawari Cave Arts Fund – an NGO based in Madang – who is active in supporting traditional cultural preservation and regeneration initiatives in Madang Province, including the Madang-Maror Network. Banak agreed to help support Reite people continue to use the Toolkit beyond the project’s end, by hosting the basic publishing kit (laptop, printer & scanner) at KCAF’s office and strengthening Reite’s connections with other communities in the area also active in practising, documenting and preserving Kastom culture. In addition, Yat Paol, of Gildipasi/Madang-Maror, was also able to broker a connection with Bismarck Ramu Group, another local NGO which supports communities retain their land and water rights against extractive development. BRG agreed to host a 3 day workshop and 18 participants from Reite and its neighbouring villages, Marpungae, Asang, Soriang and Sarangama, travelled up to Madang to take part, along with Banak Gamui, Yat Paol and Catherine Sparks – formerly Melanesia Program Officer of The Christensen Fund.

Over these days, we increased the core group we had been working with from the village and undertook refresher training in making and using the notebooks co-developed previously. Much time was also spent in discussions about what exactly TK (Traditional Knowledge) means to people for whom it is still an everyday practice – rather than a ‘heritage’ practice as many Western traditions are often relegated to. One of our key Reite collaborators, Urufaf Anip of Marpungae, came up with a popular transliteration – Timbuna Kastom – which seems to capture much of what is both special and at risk about their way of life. Timbuna could be understood as the ancestor spirits which animate the bush, as well as descendants and those to come. Kastom is the traditional way of life that communities in PNG followed for countless generations before the arrival of missionaries and colonialism. As both Christianity, the money economy and industrial development (mining, logging, monocultural farming, factory fishing and other extractive processes) have supplanted traditional beliefs and ways of living, so more and more Papuans have found their connection to land, bush and water have been severed, and their lives made more precarious.

This connection is at the heart of what makes this project such a timely opportunity to revitalize social cohesion and knowledge transmission around the importance of those communities which have retained a strong traditional culture. The workshops also underlined the crucial importance of Tok Ples – local language – which is the blood of Timbuna Kastom/Traditional Knowledge’s beating heart. PNG has over 800 individual languages (not dialects) – with some ranging from just a few tens to thousands of speakers. Until very recently, communities across PNG were almost exclusively oral in culture, writing and literacy being a product of interaction with traders, missionaries and then colonial administration. But there is an intensely rich visual culture – each community creating unique designs reflected in their crafting of objects and decorations as well as styles of house building. Designs are often deeply symbolic, communicating specific stories and meanings, or relating to particular locations. Language and visual design are thus deeply intertwined with the particular geographies and environments which PNG’s many and diverse communities inhabit and steward. Maintaining and strengthening this diversity is as crucial as maintaining the diversity of plants and seed banks for genetic variety. PNG’s school system still teaches predominantly in English, and over the years Pidgin, Tok Pisin, has become the main national language, to the point now where children in many communities are not being brought up to speak their local Tok Ples first, but Pisin instead. As the unique relationships to place are loosened in this way, the connection to land slackens and people are persuaded to register and sell their land to outsiders. For a country where around 80% of people are still reliant on subsistence food production (through their gardens) this is clearly catastrophic.

On the wall of the BRG Community Room where we held the workshop, there is an inspiring quotation from PNG’s 1975 Constitutional Planning Committee:

This is placed next to a copy of the PNG National Goals and Directive Principles:

The workshop provided us with a space and place to collectively retread the ideas and experiments of the past 5 years, and to reiterate the aspirations and ambitions for what the tools and the continued practice of kastom means to traditional communities. Being held in a less isolated and rural setting it also gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the digital aspects that are harder to achieve in the bush: scanning in notebooks and uploading to the online library which we created for Reite. Although almost all the villagers have never used a computer before, are completely unused to keyboards and have only a slim grasp of the workings of file systems and structures, windows and desktop metaphors – they acknowledge the potential benefits that this form of recording and sharing can offer them and are quick to learn it use. Two people (Urufaf and his sister Pasen) were chosen to be the leaders of this activity and to receive additional training later in our visit.

Practising with TKRN notebooks at BRG

The workshop had been programmed to precede and important ceremony in the village, and on its conclusion the villagers, James, myself, Banak, Catherine and Yat’s wife and son made the day-long journey in two small dinghies across Astrolabe Bay and down the Rai Coast, then up 400m above sea level and 10km inland to Reite village, where we would be staying. Over the next days a series of ceremonies and events took place that demonstrated Reite’s strong hold on kastom, the richness of their culture, and just how keenly people wish to continue this way of life into the future and for the benefits of future generations. We took part in a night-time Tamburan event (a performance of secret, sacred instruments) that began in the bush before moving into a Haus Tamburan itself. This was followed the following day by a large kastom food distribution between one village and families of another, followed the next day by a reconciliation payment ceremony and the all-night Singsing to conclude the festivities. In amongst these ceremonies, James, Banak, Catherine and I were invited to address the local school (which James and I worked with back in 2015) about our respective projects and the importance of traditional culture, tok ples and caring for the environment.

The ceremonies over, we rested for a day then returned to Madang for a final couple of days intensive media training with Urufaf and Pasen. This involved introducing them both to the computer from first principles, getting them used to using it for scanning documents, file management, email and using the internet. With the assistance of Banak & KCAF in Madang, and from me remotely from the UK, we will be supporting them gradually take over the maintenance of the Reite Online Library – scanning and uploading completed TKRN notebooks and expanding the resource. As their confidence and fluency with digital technologies grow, there is the potential to increase their skills to include designing their own notebooks and using bookleteer to generate their own publications.

Urufaf & Pasen after 2 days media training

The success of the workshop at BRG and the excitement generated in the village during the ceremonies, has had a significant effect in making the longer term aspirations of the project begin to see light. Reite people are growing in confidence and desire to share this method of practicing and documenting culture and kastom to other interested communities in the region and, in so doing, to establish a name and reputation for themselves. Plans are already underway for a Reite to host a group of representatives from other Madang Province communities next year to demonstrate this and share the TKRN Toolkit and training.

UnBias: Our Future Internet video

May 21, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias: Our Future Internet video 

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Preview

March 13, 2018 by · Comments Off on UnBias Fairness Toolkit Preview 

Here is the presentation from a workshop held in London yesterday at which I previewed the Fairness Toolkit I’ve been leading the development of for the UnBias project. It still requires further testing and refining, so feedback and comments are most welcome:

UnBias Fairness Toolkit Workshop from Giles Lane

The New Observatory: installation images

June 29, 2017 by · Comments Off on The New Observatory: installation images 

Lifestreams at the New Observatory

May 15, 2017 by · Comments Off on Lifestreams at the New Observatory 

Lifestreams: lifecharm data objects (2012)

A selection of the data objects created for our 2012 project, Lifestreams, (and our film) will be exhibited as part of The New Observatory show at FACT from 22nd June to 1st October. Curated by Hannah Redler and Sam Skinner, the show “brings together an international group of artists whose work explores new and alternative modes of measuring, predicting, and sensing the world today through data, imagination and other observational methods.”

Data Manifestation Talk at Open Data Institute

December 21, 2016 by · Comments Off on Data Manifestation Talk at Open Data Institute 

Back in June I gave a talk on data manifestation and our Lifestreams project at the Open Data Institute :

Read Giles’ post, How Do We Know? for more details on the project.

TREsPASS Exploring Risk

December 2, 2016 by · Comments Off on TREsPASS Exploring Risk 

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This Autumn Giles has been working with Professor Lizzie Coles-Kemp and her team in the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway University of London to produce a publication as a deliverable for their part of the TREsPASS project.

TREsPASS : Technology-supported Risk Estimation by Predictive Assessment of Socio-technical Security was a 4 year European Commission funded project spanning many countries and partners. Lizzie’s team were engaged in developing a “creative security engagement” process, using paper prototyping and tools such as Lego to articulate a user-centred approach to understanding risk scenarios from multiple perspectives. The three books and the poster which comprise TREsPASS: Exploring Risk, describe this process in context with the visualisation techniques developed by other partners, as well as a visual record of the presentations given by colleagues and partners at a Summer School held at Royal Holloway during summer 2016.

The publication has been produced in an edition of 400, but all 3 books included in the package are also available to read online via bookleteer, or to download, print out and hand-make:
Exploring Risk collection on bookleteer:

We are now starting a follow on project to develop a creative security engagement toolkit – with case studies, practical activities and templates – which will be released in early 2017.

TKRN in Vanuatu Again

September 5, 2016 by · 19 Comments 

Urufaf Anip demonstrating TKRN folding & making

Urufaf Anip demonstrating TKRN folding & making

Just over a week ago the Tupunis Slow Food Festival on Tanna island, Vanuatu concluded. It was the first festival of its kind held in Melanesia – bringing together people from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, New Caledonia (Kanaky); the Solomon islands and Fiji to celebrate traditional ways of producing and preparing food as part of a redefinition of “development”; rejecting the simple monetary definitions (dollars per day) and exploitative, extractive industries that characterise what global institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF define as development in favour of alternative criteria that recognise the value of sustainable land and sea tenure, the qualities of organic grown food and traditional methods of preparation, and the richness of lives not governed by the need for money. The festival was organised by a coalition of local organisations (including Vanuatu Slow Food Network, Vanuatu Land Defence Desk, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Tafea Cultural Centre) and supported by The Christensen Fund as well as the Vanuatu Government.

As part of our TK Reite Notebooks project, James Leach and I travelled to participate in the festival along with three people from Reite village in Papua New Guinea – Porer Nombo, Pinbin Sisau and Urufaf Anip – with whom we have been co-designing the TKRN toolkit since 2012. Our trip was intended to bring the TKRN project and toolkit to a wider audience of Melanesians interested in documenting and preserving traditional culture – with the focus on presentation being led by Reite people themselves (rather than James and myself). Our role was to facilitate and support, with the key exchange of ideas, tools and processes taking place between people indigenous to Melanesia themselves.

This is a key aspect of the project for us – having our co-design collaborators from Reite village be identified and engaged with as cultural leaders in their own right who are actively taking steps to document and transmit their living culture and knowledge traditions to future generations in the face of extreme pressure from “development”. For most of our time we were also accompanied by Yat Paol, a PNG man of the Gildipasi community with whom we worked in Tokain village earlier this year (and a representative of The Christensen Fund in PNG). Yat’s insight and gentle wisdom concerning the importance of self-documentation of traditional knowledge as a means for indigenous people to empower themselves has been a source of inspiration and a great sounding board for us.

Porer and Pinbin represented Reite on a panel bringing perspectives from various Melanesian communities and spoke about the project and the importance of kastom, land and bush. For many people at the festival the emphasis was on a return to traditional ways of life – having two people who come from a community that maintains its traditional way of life speak about what it means to them and their families truly caught the mood of the audience and their response was fantastic, giving rousing applause.

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Porer Nombo introducing TKRN & Reite traditional knowledge

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Pinbin Sisau giving a rousing talk on preserving kastom culture

The festival ran over 5 days and had speakers from across the region, as well as performances by cultural groups, traditional crafts, music and demonstrations of new ideas for food preservation and health initiatives. Moreover, each day traditional foods were prepared and cooked by people from all the provinces and islands of Vanuatu (and New Caledonia) for attendees to sample. Thus we were feasted on a daily basis on everything from (and often in locally specific combinations of) taro, yam, manioc, tapioca, cassava, banana to fish, coconut crab, goat and beef.

The Vanuatu Daily Post’s Life & Style section has an article on the festival here, and Sista.com has an article with excellent photos from the festival here.

At the festival we connected with Canadian anthropologist, Jean Mitchell, who is running a project (Tanna Ecologies Gardens & Youth Project) with young people on Tanna documenting and recording kastom gardens and traditional foods. James, Urufaf and I ran a TKRN workshop with a group of them, teaching them to fold and make notebooks, as well as co-designing a new custom notebook for their project. A couple of days later we demonstrated scanning in the first few completed books and printed out copies for the young people who had made them. Our simple bush publishing set up of laptop, scanner and printer meant that we were able to do this quickly and simply – working in basic conditions on site and being able to carry all the equipment we needed in a couple of backpacks. Jean’s project is an extension of one she originally developed in 1997, the Vanuatu Young People’s Project, with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre. Over the next two years the young people on Tanna will be documenting as much knowledge about traditional kastom gardens as they can, using the TKRN toolkit as their primary tool. Jean has worked with them this summer to develop a questionnaire template which has been adapted for the notebooks:

Once back in Port Vila, Jean also arranged for us to train a couple of young people who will be sharing their skills with the men fieldworkers of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre at the annual fieldworkers’ meeting at the end of September. This will complement the work we did in March with the women fieldworkers and hopefully bring the TKRN toolkit to many different communities across Vanuatu.

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At the festival we also met and had great conversations with Dr Ruth Spriggs and Theonila Roka-Matbob from Bougainville (a semi-autonomous part of PNG), who are setting up an Indigenous Research Centre on the island, and Professor John Waiko of Oro Province PNG and his son, filmmaker and slow food activist Bao Waiko, from Markham Valley PNG (where he lives with his wife, Jennifer Baing-Waiko, also co-director of Save PNG). We’re hoping to share the TKRN toolkit with their initiatives as part of our next steps.

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L to R: Professor John Waiko; Dr Ruth Spriggs, Theonila Roka-Matbob; Betty Gigisi; James Leach & Bao Waiko

A highlight of our trip was a visit to Tanna’s famous Mount Yasur volcano, truly awe inspiring:

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Before attending the Tupunis festival, we took the opportunity to build on a relationship we had initiated with Wan Smolbag Theatre during our previous trip to Vanuatu earlier this year. Through co-founder Jo Dorras we were introduced to researcher Ben Kaurua and digital trainer Cobi Smith with whom we ran a TKRN workshop introducing the books and documentation process to a group of young volunteers who work with various island communities living in and around Port Vila, the capital on Efate island. (I had designed a very simple custom notebook for WSB in advance of travelling). We were also introduced to some local Chiefs from the nearby Lali community and were invited to attend a ceremony that was part of a boys’ initiation ritual. We left WSB with some new equipment to assist them in using the TKRN toolkit (a Polaroid Snap camera/printer & Zink sheet packs, as well as a low cost Canon combined inkjet scanner and printer) and are hoping to see some results in the future.


Porer speaking at IUCN

After the festival, while I returned to the UK and Pinbin and Uru returned to Madang, James and Porer continued on their travels to participate in the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. There they took part in a session on indigenous documentation to demonstrate the TKRN process and toolkit, and to discuss the complex issues facing traditional communities who wish to preserve their culture and values and to transmit them to future generations.

This trip was the final activity of our recent TKRN programme – we are now preparing a new programme of activities that aim to build a lasting legacy for the project and enable the establishment of a network of indigenous groups and local organisations in Melanesia to adopt and adapt the TKRN toolkit for themselves. Huge thanks are owed to Catherine Sparks of The Christensen Fund who made so much of this possible; funding many of the projects, organisations and the festival itself, as well as being the consummate connector introducing people and taking care so that everyone had the most productive time possible. Thanks also go out to Paula Aruhuri, Joel Simo and Jacob Kapere who were instrumental in inviting us, arranging travel and accommodation and making time and space for us on the programme.

More TKRN work in Papua New Guinea

May 27, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

Finisterre Mountains on the Rai Coast, seen across Astrolabe Bay from Madang

Finisterre Mountains on the Rai Coast, seen across Astrolabe Bay from Madang

I’ve recently returned from Papua New Guinea where, with James Leach, I have been doing field work for our TK Reite Notebooks (TKRN) project. This follows on from our work last year in Reite village on Madang’s Rai Coast, and also from our trip to Vanuatu in February, where we worked with a group of women fieldworkers and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre.

Having established the model of working with the notebooks with Reite villagers last year, the focus of our trip in this second year of the project was not to produce more books, but to explore how and if the model would work with other communities and, to find other local partners for whom the tools and techniques we have developed could be useful additions to their own methods and practices of documenting traditional knowledge.

Through our close discussions with Catherine Sparks and Yat Paol of The Christensen Fund (our project’s main sponsor), we identified some possibilities – the Research + Conservation Foundation (RCF) of Papua New Guinea (in Goroka, Eastern Highland Province); and Tokain village, Bogia District (Madang Province). Having arrived in Madang and met up with two of our key collaborators from Reite – Porer Nombo and Pinbin Sisau – we made plans to travel up the coast to the village of Tokain and stay a few days to introduce our model to local people. James and I then travelled to Goroka to spend a day at RCF meeting with their director, Sangion Tiu, education programme manager, Emmie Betabete, and resource officer, Milan Korarome. We learnt about RCF’s work in communities and in teacher training, and presented our TKRN approach. This resonated strongly with RCF whose staff spoke of the problem of documenting traditional knowledge in both school and village settings. It was a lovely moment when their enthusiasm for the books spilled over and we decided on the spot to co-design a new template with them. We then spent a while devising questions about climate change for elementary schoolchildren, which RCF will pilot this summer.

We returned to Madang after this highly successful meeting and the next day set out for Tokain with Porer, Pinbin and another young man from Reite, Urufaf, who has become a key proponent of using the TKRN books in his own community. Piling aboard a PMV (an open back truck with benches and a tarpaulin for sun/rain cover) we bumped along the highway following the coast north for about 4 hours before arriving. Many people from the village turned out to meet us and hear Porer, Pinbin and James introduce what the Reite villagers had done with the TKRN books and why it was important to them to preserve and transmit their culture and knowledge to future generations this way. The following morning we walked around different parts of the village meeting people going to market and in the community office, where they have a laptop and printer/scanner of their own, giving us an opportunity to demonstrate the whole cycle of printing off a PDF booklet, filling it in, scanning and storing it as a PDF on the computer and printing out another copy of the scanned book.

On the PMV, Porer & Urufaf

On the PMV, Porer & Urufaf

Tokain market

Tokain market

addressing Tokain's schoolchildren & teachers

addressing Tokain’s schoolchildren & teachers

Then we addressed all the students from the elementary and primary schools, their teachers and some of the village elders – again, the focus being on the Reite villagers explaining their use of the books and how the school in Reite had adopted the books as part of their own curriculum activities on environmental science and cultural heritage. This indigenous or local exchange of documentation practices (with James and myself taking a secondary role as facilitators rather than teachers) is very much the beginning of where we see the TKRN model developing in the future. The afternoon was spent workshopping ideas for the booklets and getting people used to the cutting and folding process for making up the books, as well as taking their photos to stick onto their books – always a popular aspect of the process. This continued well into the night with the convivial atmosphere of a house party surrounding the guesthouse where we stayed.

Porer Nombo explaining the TKRN books and method to Tokain villagers

Porer Nombo explaining the TKRN books and method to Tokain villagers

Dusk falls as people continue to gather to hear about TKRN

Dusk falls as people continue to gather to hear about TKRN

We left Tokain having agreed to meet up in a week or so’s time with a representative from the village who would bring us the first batch of completed books to scan and for me to build a simple website for – as I did last year for Reite (Reite Online Library).

Preparing the boat for the trip to Reite

Preparing the boat for the trip to Reite

From Madang we set off across Astrolabe Bay and down the Rai Coast to return to Reite for a few days and discuss with the community what had happened since our last field trip and what we proposed to do next. A meeting was organised and many people also came from neighbouring villages and hamlets: Sarangama, Asang, Marpungae and Serieng. Porer, Pinbin and Urufaf all spoke about the project, what was achieved last year, what we had just done at Tokain and how important it is for knowledge to continue to thrive and be passed on to future generations despite all the changes happening to the world around them. James also spoke of our visit to Vanuatu, how we had shared some of the Reite books with the indigenous fieldworkers there and we showed them some of the books made by the ni-Vanuatu people we met.

Public meeting in Reite

Public meeting in Reite

The response was dramatically positive, with people calling for a revival of teaching and learning in their traditional local language, Nekgini, alongside using Tok Pisin to document stories and practices. A core group of people interested in taking the lead to build up a library of traditional knowledge also emerged, a group who were also prepared to go ‘on patrol’ to other local villages to share with them the TKRN methods. We left over 250 blank books in the village, as well as a simple to operate Polaroid Snap camera (and several hundred sheets of Zink photo paper) to take and print out photos of people to stick on the front covers. By shifting the focus from the familiar and everyday towards the more esoteric, and perhaps endangered, types of knowledge of their environment that Reite people have, we are hoping they will be able to develop a truly unique and exemplary library that could inspire others across PNG, Melanesia and perhaps even farther afield to document their traditional knowledge before it is lost. We also took the opportunity to improve the design of the books, redesigning the front covers to allow for more contextual information about the author and the books contents, and rewriting the engaged consent statement on the front for better clarity.

Returning again to Madang we met with Ernest Kaket from Tokain and scanned in the books he’d brought with him from the village. These now form the foundation of their own online library which we hope to expand in due course.

Our next steps are to make a return visit to Vanuatu with a couple of Reite villagers to introduce their use of the TKRN model themselves; and to continue to develop the basis of a partnership with RCF as a means of extending the reach across PNG of the tools and methods we’ve co-created with Reite people.

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Dawn breaks across Astrolabe Bay

Lifestreams Redux

March 24, 2016 by · 4 Comments 

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This week I presented a new generation of lifecharm data shells at a symposium on ethics in data science for the Alan Turing Institute. The shells were created by Stefan Kueppers using the Lifestreams process for data manifestation, and used data from a research project led by Professor George Roussos at Birkbeck University of London which records symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease as experienced by sufferers.

These shells are an initial experiment flowing just 3 data sources into the shell growth parameters, which we hope to expand with further data sources and increase the complexity of the model in future generations. The aim is to capture the high variation in symptoms experienced by those with Parkinson’s as an alternative to the way in which patients’ complex symptoms are collapsed into the single summary statistic of the Universal Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale.

Read my provocation piece for the ATI symposium for more information.

Bookleteering with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre

March 14, 2016 by · 4 Comments 

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Over the past 2 weeks I have been in Port Vila, Vanuatu in the South Pacific with James Leach and Lissant Bolton (Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, British Museum) working with the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (Bislama for Vanuatu Cultural Centre). Lissant organised and led a special workshop with a group of women fieldworkers on the theme of current changes to kinship systems (supported by the Christensen Fund). The fieldworkers are ni-Vanuatu (local) people representing some of the many different vernacular language groups from across the many islands who do voluntary work to record and preserve traditional culture and knowledge. The fieldworker programme has been established and overseen by the Cultural Centre (VKS) for over 35 years and is a unique initiative where local people gather “cultural knowledges about all the aspects of the customary art of living of Vanuatu”. Each year the fieldworkers gather together to share their research with each other and contribute to the documentation held at the VKS.

Lissant had invited James and I to visit Vanuatu with her and introduce the TKRN toolkit and techniques to the fieldworkers participating in the kinship workshop, as well as to meet with others working on different projects at the VKS. The low cost and ease of use of the TKRN booklets – both for collecting documentation in rural settings as well as digitising and archiving (both online and as hard copies) – made it an obvious tool to share. Prior to leaving London, Lissant and I had made some initial examples of Bislama (the local pidgin) notebooks for Vanuatu similar to those created in Tok Pisin for Papua New Guinea. These would be tested with the women fieldworkers during the workshop and we planned to adapt them with their assistance, as we have done in PNG with local people from Reite village.

In Port Vila James and I were also were introduced to Paula Aruhuri of the Vanuatu Indigenous Land Defence Desk, an organisation that promotes awareness of indigenous custom and land rights across Vanuatu and campaigns to stop land alienation from traditional owners. With Paula we co-designed a simple reporting notebook for the fieldworkers who deliver awareness events to local communities that will assist the land desk in documenting local people’s concerns and how they might be able to help them. And we met with Edson Willie of the VKS Akioloji Unit (Heritage Unit), with whom we co-designed a notebook for fieldworkers to record heritage sites.

The women fieldworkers experimented with one of the notebook formats and helped us re-design the front cover and write up a more appropriate ethics statement that reflected their different concerns about sharing traditional knowledge. In this case they chose not to share their books online (as we did in Reite), but to have them scanned, re-printed and stored in the ‘Tabu Rum’ of the VKS, the audio-visual archives. Local concerns about rights to aspects of traditional knowledge in Melanesia are a major theme and extremely important to design for. Developing tactics and a strategy to enable clear documentation and permission for sharing has been at the heart of the TKRN co-design process. Lissant has written about this issue in the context of Vanuatu and it also reflects on James’ work with Porer Nombo from Reite on their book Reite Plants in this essay.

We are planning to return to Vanuatu later in the year with some Reite people to participate in a knowledge exchange around the TKRN toolkit and techniques with men and women fieldworkers of the VKS. In this way we hope to develop a model of adoption whereby communities learn from each other how to use and adapt the toolkit for their own purposes, with our role being more one of facilitation than education or training. As a toolkit designed from the grassroots up, I hope to continue expanding on the concept of ‘public authoring’ that has driven the development of bookleteer and the ‘shareables’ it enables people to make and share.

In late April James and I will return to Papua New Guinea to work with Reite villagers to introduce the TKRN toolkit to a couple of other villages in Madang Province – this should provide an good indication of the possibilities and limitations of how a model of community knowledge transfer and adaptation can work.

Reite Village Online Library

September 21, 2015 by · 4 Comments 

This website has been created as an online library of TKRN notebooks made by the villagers of Reite and its neighbours in Papua New Guinea’s Madang Province. These books were created during a field trip in March 2015 and we hope to add many more in the future. We aim to transfer management of the site to the villagers themselves in due course, so that they can continue growing the library for future generations. As 4G mobile internet service penetrates into the jungle where they live and more local people own smartphones and connected devices, this is an increasingly likely possibility.

Mixing the physical and digital in this way means that traditional knowledge and customs may be preserved and transmitted forwards by embracing some of the changes that industrialisation and urbanisation bring to traditional rural communities. By working alongside the existing relationships of knowledge exchange it offers new opportunities for inter-generational collaboration on self-documentation of stories, experiences, history and practical knowledge of working with and sustaining the local ecology and environment.

The site itself is extremely simple and uses only free services: a free WordPress.com blog as the primary interface for organising and sharing the books; and a free Dropbox account as the primary repository of the PDF files of the scanned books. It is a key component in our TKRN Toolkit, and closes the loop in our use of hybrid digital and physical tools and techniques.

The villagers themselves developed their own categories and taxonomies for cataloguing the books, which have all been tagged accordingly. The books are thus searcheable by title, author and subject(s). Many of the books include an author photo on the cover page; a thumbnail image of the scanned book was included in each post, and a blog theme chosen that presents the main page as a mosaic of images from the posts. For communities with highly varied literacies, it also enables visual recognition both of the author’s faces, and in many cases their handwriting or drawing style.

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