When you’re doing research with communities, the first event is always the most nerve-wracking. You’ve made all the contacts, been to the community festival, dished out a small forest’s worth of flyers and posters, bought plenty of biscuits. But will anyone actually turn up?
In November, we kicked off Hacking for Situated Civic Engagement, a project funded by EPSRC to explore how hackathons can be used to design civic technologies with communities. Over the course of the project, we’ll be running a series of hackathons with the Ardler community in Dundee to identify and attempt to address some local issues with civic technologies. As the project gets under way, I wanted to explain a bit about the motivations for doing it.
We’re very happy to have had a paper accepted into CHI 2016 based on the makerspaces survey we carried out in the early stages of In the Making. Through site visits and interviews at makerspaces and similar facilities across the UK, we have identified additional roles that these spaces play: as social spaces, in supporting wellbeing, by serving the needs of the communities they are located in and by reaching out to excluded groups. Based on these findings, we suggest implications and future directions for both makerspace organisers and community researchers.
For the last five years, the Small Society Lab has brought together Dundee academics, creatives and members of the public around various topics affecting the small city of the future. It was born of a feeling that small cities and large towns don’t get the attention they deserve, despite a large chunk of the UK population living in them. This year we did something slightly different: teamed up with a sister event in Mexico City, another UNESCO City of Design, to run an entire weekend linking the two cities.
Over the past three months, I’ve been doing site visits to maker and hacker spaces across Scotland. For the first phase of In the Making, we’re surveying existing facilities in the UK to identify what opportunities and challenges they might present to disabled users. I wanted to share here some early findings about the different types of spaces and a particularly inspiring visit to Westhill Men's Shed.
For the past year or so I’ve been working with Aidan Moseby, Clive Gilman from DCA and my colleague Jon Rogers on a small project for New Media Scotland Alt-w fund. We were one of a number of projects comissioned to complement Ginsberg, a newly-launched app designed to improve health and wellbeing through mood-tracking and self-reflection. A few weeks ago we officially launched Sagacity at Edinburgh Science Festival’s LateLab, alongside Ginsberg itself and a number of other Alt-w projects.