Visual Essay – Mapping

July 14, 2011 by · Comments Off on Visual Essay – Mapping 

“Space is a part of an ever-shifting social geometry of power and signification”, this is an inspiring  quotation    drawn from Doreen Massey’s Space, Place and Gender and immediately it puts light on two  major ideas  underpinning the understanding of space: its non-neutral and non semantically univocal  essence, and its intrinsic  conflict. Space harbours a wide spectrum of semantic nuances and potential  political definitions and thus produces  continual challenges in terms of interpretation and agency. “The  map is not the territory”, even if it is thought to be  so, but an interpretation, a graphic and linguistic  exposition of a portion of territory and how ever it strains to be  scientifically irrefutable, the discursive  component shines through mainly in the very moment such codes are disrupted. The elaboration of  alternative maps make overt that “maps, like art, far from being a transparent opening to the world, are but a particular human way of looking at the world”. The idea of embracing alternative tube maps came to my mind because I was already familiar with Alex Roggero’s Underground to Everywhere map where he replaced the tube stations with the immigrants’ city according to the main ethnic minority living in a specific area. This travel book is in every aspect an homage to the author’s wanderings across the city and a sincere admiration to the vibrant, Babylonic and multicultural London. The author himself mentions several alternative tube maps which have been produced during the years. The tube map itself is not scientifically accurate but it was designed in such a way, so readable and clear, that has become hugely popular and iconic. Moreover, a recent visit to the Museum of London gave me the idea to insert in my visual essay some samples of hand-drawn maps which are displayed at the museum entrance in order to further underline the discursive, subjective aspect of the act of mapping. In partnership with Londonist, readers were encouraged to submit hand-drawn maps, focussing on their own experiences and connections with certain areas of London and obviously the aim was not to provide a factual representation of the city but to capture the different and variegated personal projections on the cityscape. The galleries themselves, which go through London’s history from when London was just a piece of desert land to the very present, are full of fascinating maps, each revealing a peculiar sphere of London according to the point of view and the intention of the composer. Booth’s poverty maps, based on his survey into life and labour in London from 1886 to 1903, assess varying levels of indigence and criminality in different districts across London, graphically accessible through a colour code, so for example, dark blue stands for ‘Very poor. Casual, chronic want’, while black stands for ‘Lowest class. Vicious, semi criminal.’ The textual level of the mapping process discloses diverse perspectives on the emotional and biased degree involved in any act of representation and this leads us to think that the entity represented, in this case the city of London or at least a portion of it, is to be found where more or less codified and official discourses and a multitude of singular experiences meet. Regarding this, it is very illuminating to address Proboscis’ Urban Tapestries project which, combining mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems, looked at how people could actively map the environment around them and earnestly share this ever-evolving body of knowledge. This kind of collaborative mapping hints at another aspect implicit in the mapping process: its blatant lack of innocence suggests a potential political use, either as a tool of coercion and possession – unequivocal, for instance, is the case of Imperialism as Edward Said suggests – and as an instrument to reclaim and re-conquer one’s own right to the city and to build an alternative organic mutuality.

I see mapping as a central issue in Proboscis’ work not only because several projects have focussed on contemporary perceptions of the human, social and natural landscape around us – see for example the Liquid Geography ebooks series – as well as on fertile and rewarding ways to affect it, but their general conceptualization follows the mapping procedure. Proboscis’ approach simulates an unexpected plot, a thorough exploration, rich in ramifications, bends and junctions, sudden and unpredictable directions.

Enabling Consequences by Fred Garnett

April 15, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Enabling Consequences

A Critical Text about Proboscis by Fred Garnett

This is a critical text written to comment on the work of Proboscis in Public Sector Innovation with new technology from a cultural perspective. I was invited by Giles Lane to do this in late 2010 as I have followed the work of Proboscis since 2002 when I first went to a public event of theirs and have since appreciated the qualities of what they have done.

What I have decided to do in my Critical Text, Enabling Consequences, is to look at why Proboscis’s innovations, which from my perspective are capable of widespread adoption, have been insufficiently recognised and acted upon. I think this comes from both how they are conceptualised, through a process related to obliquity and how they might be adopted as a process of generative innovation; that is as a platform innovation that begets further innovations.

Brief History of Proboscis
Proboscis are probably best known for their work, Urban Tapestries, a breakthrough project (undertaken with collaborating partners such as Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, Orange, France Telecom R&D UK Ltd, Ordnance Survey and the London School of Economics), designed to enable the interactive city to emerge based on the pull of the participative strategies of active citizenship rather than push strategies of advertising.

They appear to set themselves the question “how can you double your intellectual quality every 18 months”. In part this is a response to Moore’s Law that states that the power of computer processing doubles every 18 months, but turned into a cultural question. In practical terms Proboscis ask themselves “how can you innovate at all times in terms of process, documentation and ideas”. They see what they do as pre-competitive research, what Steven Johnson has recently entitled the ‘adjacent platform’ of innovation. That is a process that occurs before any practical innovation actually happens.

Public Sector Innovation
I am particularly interested in Proboscis because I was also previously involved in an innovation project in the Public Sector, Cybrarian, which also failed to be recognised at the time. Cybrarian was a prototype ‘Facebook for Civil Society’, for which we created the high-concept description of it being an ‘Amazon for e-gov’ as the term social network didn’t exist then (2002). Some of us subsequently formed the ‘public technology’ group lastfridaymob, which spent some time trying to analyse why. We concluded that government didn’t have the relevant interpretive criteria to understand that new technology, created to meet public needs, namely creative, interactive and participative, and that these were three factors that government found hard to recognize. I always saw these three qualities in Proboscis’ work.

There is a deeper problem that new technologies are increasingly interactive and smart, demonstrating participative affordances, and the political context into which they are pitched are representative and hierarchical. So to unpick this problem of public sector innovation a little more lets look at how innovation occurs in greater depth.

Innovation Modelling
A typical way of modelling the Innovation process is in what might be called the 4i model; Ideas, Invention, Innovation, Impact. This typically argues that someone, possibly a researcher, has a bright idea which they tinker away at until an invention can be developed. An invention is the first instantiation of a new innovation, it can be a mock-up, a model, a design, a drawing, but it has been produced as a one-off, or prototype, often to demonstrate the potential, or some expected quality. The difference between an invention and an innovation is money. Someone decides that the invention, either because they see the prototype or drawing or a description, is so compelling that it will be worth spending a lot of money setting up a production and distribution system so a version of the invention can be sold as a product on a large scale. This innovation process is also often divided into product push, where the new technology itself is compelling, or market-pull, where demand has been detected. In organisational terms this often reflects a distinction between the research and marketing functions in companies who are concerned with innovation, or a culture, like the USA, which sees social and cultural value in the process of innovation. Successful innovations need to bridge the gap between the qualities of supply-side technology-push, and the interest of demand side market-pull.

When Apple decided to launch the iPod – in technical terms a fairly simple device made on automated production lines in China – they also needed new software to control the iPod – iTunes – and new distribution arrangements with the entire music industry, for the music, songs and albums needed to populate their invention with resources. The music industry were the very people who felt that Napster, an early peer-to-peer forerunner of iTunes, threatened their entire industry, but Apple found powerful arguments for getting them on board, part of which was that Apple weren’t the first to market, so could respond to their needs. So the issue of turning a simple working invention like the iPod itself, into an innovation, is massively complex however compelling the product on display. All products have hinterlands, which can seriously affect the way an invention becomes an innovation and also how it becomes a universally recognised and used product or process, as digital music now is today. However we have been discussing product innovations being brought to market, whereas Public Sector Innovation is more concerned with processes that enable infrastructural development, and this requires a more pervasive model of innovation.

Steven Johnson’s Reef innovation v Market Innovation
Steven Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From (2010) looks at ways in which innovation becomes adopted and contrasts the more typical 4i model discussed above, or market innovation, with what he calls reef innovation, what we might call infrastructural development. Steven Johnson is an American and writes about the US context, which is much more focused on invention overall than the UK and with a history of infrastructural developments coming through private sector activities; for example American utilities are generally private sector; gas, electricity, telephones etc. Whereas in the UK there has been a more mixed tradition of regulated private sector innovation, in the 19th Century, and state-controlled utilities, in the 20th Century. Following the privatisation policies of the 1980s and 1990s there has developed more of a regulated private-sector approach in the UK, returning somewhat to our 19th Century traditions.

Reef innovation is Johnson’s way of describing how a private sector model of development produces new infrastructure for society as a whole. This is a metaphor derived from how coral reefs accrete growth and so stay above sea level, as the volcanic rocks on which they are situated shift, in order to allow coral reef island life to flourish. He is discussing how the enabling utilities, such as communications technologies that lay beneath the functioning of everyday social life, evolve and grow. Johnson argues that society as a whole grows more through reef innovation; the slow accumulation of numerous utilities that form the infrastructure through which society functions, than through market innovation. So we need a more sophisticated view of infrastructural innovation, such as the reef model, to discuss public sector innovation.

However Johnson is writing of the American context where the accidental reef-like growth of market-tested processes of infrastructure accumulation is a useful metaphor, but it is not perhaps fully applicable in all socio-economic contexts. However with the concept of reef innovation Johnson is helpfully looking at systemic Innovation, rather than product innovation as the 4is model tends to do, and systemic innovation is particularly significant in times of systemic change, which we see now as we attempt to move to a Knowledge Economy, or the Information Society as the European Union calls it through its IST programmes for i2015 and i2020. However Systemic Innovation requires a still broader view of the transformational characteristics of systemic change.

Structural Innovation v Disruptive Innovation
Innovation that leads to transformational change is something that the economist Joseph Schumpeter (the so called “Prophet of Innovation”) writes about as he discusses the difference between Structural Innovation and Disruptive Innovation. Structural innovation is where the innovation extends existing uses of a product and should increase the numbers of users, such as lighter mobile phone handsets, whereas a disruptive innovation such as the mobile phone system itself, is one where the innovation changes how things are done, in such a way that challenges existing system processes. So transformational change, arguably a key feature of the coming Knowledge Economy in both the UK policy context and EU-IST programmes, actually requires the promotion of this disruptive innovation. At the governmental level this creates a problematic tension as governments are more interested in providing reliable infrastructure that changes little, but is increasingly used by citizens, rather than enabling systemic change through deploying new technology innovations.

Consequently government prefers to adopt disruptive technology innovations as infrastructure, such as websites, once they have attained widespread use and so can be seen as large-scale structural innovations. Thus a conundrum emerges in that technological innovation which enables often necessary social change comes in a disruptive form that is difficult for governments to deal with. However whilst governments are often interested in systemic change, say to improve social infrastructure during an age of global change and de-regulation, they are more comfortable with structural innovations which might extend their electoral support through greater use, rather than disruptive innovations which can alienate it.

Distinctive Features of the Proboscis Model of Innovation
However I think Proboscis are doing particularly interesting things in terms of innovation which don’t quite fit into any of these innovation models; reef, structural, disruptive. Firstly they are operating outside the boundaries of the 4is model, both in terms of generating ideas at the conceptual end of the process, and also in terms of offering processes of innovation at the take up end. Secondly they are developing innovations that are neither disruptive, nor structural, not least because Schumpeter’s models also emerge from an analysis of American economics. Proboscis are in the business of producing socially enabling participative innovations, which might be better described as enabling innovations, drawing their value from the degree to which they extend the affordances of the public realm.

I now want to look at three distinctive features, two intrinsic and one consequential, that can be identified in the Proboscis approach in order to examine what socially enabling participative innovations might mean in practice;

    a) Applied Heutagogy; namely thinking about projects in fresh ways before they begin, based on a guiding set of values, in terms of ‘moving criteria across contexts’ which might be described as providing an ‘ideas platform’ for thinking about innovation.
    b) Generative Innovations; creating innovative platforms that can then be used generatively to develop further uses by others in the public realm.
    c) Extending the Public Realm through Participation; the consequence of this approach to innovation, which emerges from using their models of thinking and applying their approach to public sector innovation.

Applied Heutagogy
I asked Giles if he thought his work fitted into the Blue-Sky model of thinking, which might be characterised as a model of brainstorming about what you do by removing under-pinning values that sustain the original work. It is thinking outside the box of existing limitations that is more likely to destroy the box than think of new uses for it. I suggested that we call Proboscis work ‘Pink-Sky Thinking’, meaning it was fresh but rooted in the original values that they started with. He declined to accept this and suggested that their thinking tended to be oblique. I think this is because they see their work as being of a piece and that Proboscis have extended their original vision by learning from their projects and the ways in which they have been implemented, Social Tapestries emerging out of Urban Tapestries for example.

Giles suggested that their approach was deeply rooted in their values of ‘moving criteria across contexts,’ which is the classic art school strategy of heutagogy. But Proboscis aren’t simply artistic provocateurs, they think deeper than that as their thinking is informed by a profound understanding of the public realm in which their innovations will be situated, so they are also thinking of consequences as well as creative solutions. Steven Johnson also talks of a process of moving criteria across contexts that he calls exaptation, but this is more limited than the applied heutagogy Proboscis use as it is generally the application of one new set of criteria to one new field of practice in search of innovation. Proboscis are more flexible than this, but I think they are engaged in a broader process of multiple exaptations in their thinking. This process of thinking through a multiplicity of strategies derived from a range of contexts I would characterise as an ‘ideas platform.’ This offers a richer conceptual mulch than the ‘adjacent platform’ model described by Johnson, as it is also takes account of the consequential use states and the state changes (Giles’s term) that might be enabled. It could also be described as thinking about where good ideas go to…

Generative Innovation
Kondratieff talks of long wave economic change coming from what he terms ‘meta technologies’, technologies that are embedded in other technologies like the steam engine and the microprocessor. However long-term social change comes from behavioural adaptations to the affordances of these new technologies, such as the car or the mobile phone. But social change also needs infrastructure that supports the use of the new technologies; for example, time was standardised across Britain in 1840 to meet the needs of the railways. In many ways since 1770 this infrastructure has been in the form of networks of new technologies; canals, railways, telegraph, telephone, roads, electricity, television, the Internet. However these networks have tended to be dedicated to a single mode of use until the Internet came along. Like electricity this enables it to be a multi-use network, but the Internet is also capable of supporting and distributing multiple formats. Thus across this network an almost unpredictable range of uses can be developed; the Internet enables a range of consequential uses, limited only by the design flexibility of the digital formats themselves. The World Wide Web itself is one such multi-modal consequence of the flexibility of the Internet, but it is possible to design with it’s almost endlessly consequential nature in mind and Proboscis seem cognisant of this.

A Generative Innovation might be described as an innovation that enables further innovations, as described above, not as an embedded meta technology but as a platform of possibilities. An interesting development in Proboscis work was the shift from Urban Tapestries to Social Tapestries, from a platform to a user environment and what characterises their user environments is their participative quality.

Arguably the Knowledge Economy and the Information Society are characterised by the participative qualities of the technologies used to build them, this has been particularly clear since the ‘architecture of participation’ that is Web 2.0 became widely available as a possible infrastructure platform. Proboscis’s work has anticipated this participatory quality due to the heutagogic nature of their thinking about creating generative processes. This thinking can be described as an ideas platform, which precedes the adjacent platform model of innovation as described by Johnson. Proboscis were used to playing with form, moving criteria across contexts as they describe it, at a time when new technologies capable of creating social transformation were emerging so, for them, the flexibility of digital technologies, their arguably ‘disruptive’ qualities, were already accounted for at the thinking stage.

Extending the Public Realm through Participation
So the combination of applied heutagogy and generative innovations has the Enabling Consequence of creating the possibility of extending the public realm through participation in this age of digital networks and use affordances. This is because Proboscis are engaged in flexible thinking about future possibilities whilst being aware of how implementation might extend and change the character of the public realm. They design for the participative qualities of digital networks and so capture what makes them so attractive to people in society.

[CAVEAT: I don’t want this to read like a testimonial, after all it is a critical text and not all of Proboscis’s projects have been unqualified successes, but this has been an attempt to capture both what uniquely characterises their approach and to also try and understand how public sector innovation might be made to work effectively in the UK in an age of digital flexibility.]

Conclusions; Enabling Consequences

Proboscis’ research model
Proboscis have a concern with public sector innovation in a time of digital flexibility, but are capable of absorbing the transformative potential of the evolving digital realm into both their thinking, as social artists comfortable with the heutagogic playing with form, and as visionaries, capable of thinking of how new platforms might enable greater engagement in and with the public realm. They bring this together in an unusually broad and deep way of solving problems, what I call applied heutagogy, addressing multiple perspectives not just the artistic one of playing with form.

The participative affordances of the technology and the heutagogic quality of their thinking, what they call ‘moving criteria across contexts’, combine to offer the possibility of creating generative infrastructure; infrastructure that begets further infrastructure. They work with the grain of digital transformation both conceptually and in terms of its consequences.

Public sector Innovation
Most public sector innovation emerges from a hierarchical policy process that has originated in one part of government and has a clearly defined and departmentally owned problem it wants solving. Public sector innovation typically, for a range of historical, political and cultural reasons, wants structural innovation that extends the relevance and influence of the owner of the policy and so sees innovation concerning ‘state changes’ as disruptive and out of scope.

Ben Hammersley recently highlighted this conceptual problem at the governmental level, what he characterises as the clash between hierarchical and network thinking, in his British Council lecture in Derry on March 25 2010. The problem Hammersley highlights is hierarchical thinking about networked contexts. The public sector wants innovation to be structural in order to count as improving their policy delivery in alignment with the current construction of existing policy responsibilities; it thus ignores the ‘state change’ potential offered by new network possibilities. In terms of innovation the public sector is, at best, involved in post-hoc legitimation but not in the creation of participation platforms designed to work in the emerging network contexts.

Innovation in a Transformative context
So we have an impasse; the opportunity for the development of a digitally flexible public realm capable of supporting a range of interdisciplinary models of innovation working across open networks, and a public policy context which is incapable of recognising networked and other new technology affordances. We can describe this as a clash between possible participative and traditional representative views, both of working processes and of society (and so of policy development); or more simply a clash of values. Proboscis want to ‘establish a discourse around values’ so that we might uncover where value is created, and also what those values might be, as we try to find ways of working with the digitally flexible and transformative characteristics of the emerging of participatory culture.

Hammersley somewhat ghoulishly, suggests that we first need the older generation in power to die off if fresh thinking capable of coping with a networked society is to gain traction in government in 2011. What Proboscis show us, less dramatically, is that with some applied heutagogy, thinking practically about how we might learn from ‘moving criteria across contexts’ at the start of a problem-solving process concerning public-sector innovation, along with some consideration of how we might create a ‘platform’ that could generate further innovative ‘state changes’, constrained by considerations of the nature of the public realm, then we can indeed enable public sector thinking that is in tune with the evolving networked society we live in at the start of the 21st Century.

Fred Garnett, April 2011

Autumn 2010 Special Offer/Fundraiser

October 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Last weekend the Proboscis studio was burgled for the 2nd time this year. As a result we need to install a new alarm and security system (costing over £2k) so we’re hoping to raise funds for it with a special offer on some of our publications.

We’ve bundled together 100 copies of the Social Tapestries Case of Perspectives, Alice’s Endless Landscape Magnet Set & the Catalogue of Ideas from our Being In Common project – all for less than 50% of their combined usual price.

The magnets and cards make ideal gifts, while the Case of Perspectives is a limited edition artists bookwork created by Alice and me as part of the Urban Tapestries and Social Tapestries projects.

*** Buy your set here ***

Urban Tapestries Cuts

September 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Urban Tapestries Cuts from Proboscis on Vimeo.

A film made in 2006 which demonstrates several of the interfaces – PDA, mobile, web and Google Earth – that were made for various tests and trial of Urban Tapestries. Also contains footage of participants in the trials and bodystorming experiences.

A Case of Perspectives

March 2, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Proboscis is proud to announce the publication of A Case of Perspectives – a limited edition artists bookwork by Alice Angus and Giles Lane, created as part of Social Tapestries. The bookwork contains a series of designed as well as handmade artefacts inspired by and responding to our experiences in the Social Tapestries programme of projects. 63 Tapestry cards are organised into 3 groups – 21 Endless Landscapes, 21 project photos and 21 Urban Tapestries mobile phone interface screenshots – the reverse sides printed with sections from a map of Urban Tapestries threads and pockets. Also enclosed are 2 StoryCubes, 1 containing images upload by UT trial participants and the other representing 6 principles of public authoring. A copy of the Atlas of Enquiry and a handmade eBook presenting an overview of the Social Tapestries research programme complete the box.

Numbers 1-21 will be sold complete with an unframed original watercolour painting of one of the Endless Landscape panels by Alice Angus. Price – £200 + shipping. Please contact us for more details.

Numbers 22-190 are available to buy online price – £40 + shipping.

Feral Robots

November 3, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Robotic Feral Public Authoring was a collaboration between Proboscis, Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab and Natalie Jeremijenko. Combining Proboscis’ Urban Tapestries public authoring platform with Natalie’s Feral Robot concept (first commissioned by Proboscis for Private Reveries, Public Spaces) to create a pollution sensing and mapping tool for local communities to discover more about their environments and correlate it with other local knowledge.

Working with local residents and users of London Fields in Hackney we built a feral robot to sense air pollution in the park, uploading the data via Mesh WiFi to the Urban Tapestries platform where it could be seen mapped against local knowledge about the park shared by residents. Space Media Arts provided a base for a bodystorming workshop and access to a local mesh wifi network.

Project website

Team: Demetrios Airantzis, Alice Angus, Camilla Brueton, Dima Diall, Natalie Jeremijenko, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, George Papamarkos, George Roussos & Orlagh Woods.

Partners: Birkbeck College (University of London), Space Media Arts.

Funded by EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

Social Tapestries

November 3, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Social Tapestries (2004-08) was a five year research programme of projects that grew out of our original Urban Tapestries project. The focus of Social Tapestries was to create a series of experiments in public authoring in challenging environments and with local communities that could begin to reveal the potential for emerging mobile media in enabling change through the mapping and sharing of knowledge and experience in everyday settings. We developed projects with two social housing groups (a residents’ committee and a short-life co-op), schools (a secondary near Hull and a primary in North London), residents/users of London Fields and people who lived and worked in Hoxton.

Project Website

Team: Alice Angus, Camilla Brueton, Kevin Harris, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, Sarah Thelwall and Orlagh Woods.

Partners & Collaborators: Birkbeck College; London School of Economics; Jenny Hammond Primary School; HIRO (Havelock Independent Residents Organisation); St Marks Housing Co-op, Kingswood High;;

Funded by Arts Council England, Ministry of Justice, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

Urban Tapestries

November 3, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 


Urban Tapestries (2002-04) was a ground-breaking project that investigated how the combination of geographic information systems (GIS) and mobile technologies (including ad-hoc WiFi) could enable people to map and share their knowledge and experience, stories and information – public authoring. The transdisciplinary team developing it wove together an action research process bridging programming, ethnography, visual arts, filmmaking, animation, product design, information architecture, concept design, rapid & paper prototyping and creative writing.

The project resulted in numerous events, publications, technologies as well as two public trials of the Urban Tapestries mobile platform for public authoring in December 2003 and June-July 2004.

Project Website

Team: Alice Angus, Daniel Angus, John Paul Bichard, Katrina Jungnickel, Giles Lane, Rachel Murphy, Roger Silverstone, Zoe Sujon and Nick West.

Partners & Collaborators: London School of Economics, Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, Orange, Ordnance Survey, France Telecom R&D UK.

Funded by Department of Trade & Industry, Arts Council England, Fondation Daniel Langlois

Art & Cartography

February 5, 2008 by · Comments Off on Art & Cartography 

Proboscis was invited to take part in the Art & Cartography symposium exhibition, zoom and scale, at the Academy of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle Wien project space, Vienna in January 2008. We exhibited a set of 27 StoryCubes exploring the Social Tapestries research programme, a set of 8 StoryCubes reflecting our creative practices and process and two films, Social Tapestries and Play to Invent.

Conversations & Connections Report

May 28, 2007 by · Comments Off on Conversations & Connections Report 

Social Tapestries: Conversations and Connections (May 2007)
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Shared Encounters Workshop

April 30, 2007 by · Comments Off on Shared Encounters Workshop 

‘Shared Encounters’ was a workshop which took place at CHI 07 in San Jose, California. CHI is the annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems and this one-day workshop brought together researchers from academia and industry to explore how mobile technologies might support shared encounters in urban environments. Karen Martin and Giles Lane submitted a position paper describing Proboscis’ Conversations and Connections project and the challenges and opportunities faced by projects which make use of, and develop, new technologies but have primarily social goals. 

You can read our paper here: Making Glue (PDF 150Kb)

This is the workshop abstract:
Our everyday lives are characterised by encounters, some are fleeting and ephemeral and others are more enduring and meaningful exchanges. Shared encounters are the glue of social networks and have a socializing effect in terms of mutual understanding, empathy, respect and thus tolerance towards others. The quality and characteristics of such encounters are affected by the setting, or situation in which they occur. In a world shaped by communication technologies, non-place-based networks often coexist alongside to the traditional local face-to-face social networks. As these multiple and distinct on and off-line communities tend to carry out their activities in more and more distinct and sophisticated spaces, a lack of coherency and fragmentation emerges in the sense of a shared space of community. Open public space with its streets, parks and squares plays an important role in providing space for shared encounters among and between these coexisting networks. Mobile and ubiquitous technologies enable social encounters located in public space, albeit not confined to fixed settings, whilst also offering sharing of experiences from non-place based networks. We will look at how to create or support the conditions for meaningful and persisting shared encounters. In particular we propose to explore how technologies can be appropriated for shared interactions that can occur spontaneously and playfully and in doing so re-inhabit and connect place-based social networks.

ST – St Marks Coop Report

October 15, 2006 by · Comments Off on ST – St Marks Coop Report 

St Marks Housing Coop Report (October 2006)

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Urban Tapestries: Public Authoring, Place & Mobility

October 15, 2006 by · 1 Comment 

Urban Tapestries: Public Authoring, Place & Mobility (October 2006)

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Experimental Ethnography

February 15, 2005 by · Comments Off on Experimental Ethnography 

Urban Tapestries: Experimental Ethnography, Technological Identities and Place (February 2005)    

An LSE Electronic Working Paper by Roger Silverstone and Zoetanya Sujon

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Urban Tapestries – Contexts

March 15, 2004 by · Comments Off on Urban Tapestries – Contexts 

Urban Tapestries Contexts from Proboscis on Vimeo.

A film exploring the wider contexts informing the Urban Tapestries project, setting out its key aim of exploring the social and cultural implications of public authoring and mobile technologies. Devised by Alice Angus & Giles Lane. Made by Alice Angus (2003/04).