Community Web2.0: creative control through hacking

Lead Research Organisation: Landscape Institute
Department Name: ESALA - Edinburgh Sch of Architect &Land

Abstract

The Community Web2.0: Creative control through hacking project sought to explore whether concepts and vocabularies emerging in relation to the Internet could usefully be applied to understandings of off-line contemporary community relations and practices. The project particularly focused upon the role of hacking and read-writing as a characteristic of contemporary online practices and how this is mirrored in aspects of actual life within and across communities.

The project was largely based within the Wester Hailes area of Western Edinburgh, where a network of residents and community based organisations worked alongside the academic team to establish design methods that put into practice the theoretical framework that had been developed through the project.

Using storytelling as an initial method with which to investigate social practices, the team identified the principle of 'writing back' to a subject as a form of hacking. Subsequently the team ran a series of workshops that encouraged community members to 'write' their memories of the area on to photographs that were taken from the archives of a local newspaper. As a result of this formative work, the team (including the community partners) developed two design interventions for the area that would offer 'write back' facilities as constructive hacking platforms.

Publications

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Description Through workshops with the community we collected a number of stories from the local community which resulted in a digital totem pole and Code Book created by a local volunteer.

The Wester Hailes "Code Book" is a 24 page A6 pocket booklet produced for use in conjunction with the local Health Agency's series of guided social history walks throughout the estate that have recently been added to their "It's Good to Walk" programme which are proving very popular. It is also intended to introduce i-Pads to these walks so that the guide can show participants additional online historical photographs & maps of the areas they are passing through. The purpose of the booklets is to enable these participants & other walkers to access their own relevant online information independently.

Another significant practical dimension of the Community 2.0 project involved the development of carved wooden Totem pole to provide a physical platform for 'hacking' images and sharing conversations about the area. The pole, designed and carved in collaboration with Scottish artists features QR barcodes that are gateways to cloud based material relevant to the location of the pole. People can scan one of the labeled tags and access and contribute to historical photographs, stories, video and audio clips. The intention is that pole will act as a social resource to help build connections between the people and the place, as well as drawing upon online resources.

WHALE Arts coordinated the production of a carved wooded totem pole that will be situated within Wester Hailes. Along with wooden carvings the totem pole includes 5 QR codes that give access to a variety of services and community members' stories and memories of the area both past and present.

Led by a professional artist, a group of 5 -10 people produced the carved totem pole.
Exploitation Route We have showcased the Code Book at a number of events and our volunteer has been in touch with other organisations who have been interested in carrying out similar projects.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.communityhacking.org/
 
Description The Community 2.0 Project introduced a critique of the rhetoric of the Big Society and Gov 2.0 that identified the selective qualities of each programme. Westminster's ideas of the Big Society and the American concept of Gov 2.0 embrace a vocabulary drawn from the success of network society in which sharing, reciprocity, social networking and communication were all constructive elements that would contribute to a new paradigm of local governance. The Community 2.0 Project explored whether concepts and vocabularies emerging in relation to the Internet could be usefully applied to understandings of off-line contemporary relations and practices. However the project posited that there was a broader vocabulary that was important to identify across 'connected communities' in addition to the positive terms, words such as: hacking, spamming, file-sharing, up-loading, down-loading, pirating and commons. Through close collaboration with key stake holders in the Wester Hailes area of Edinburgh: Prospect Community Housing, and Whale Arts, the Community 2.0 project identified an opportunity to explore a practical strategy that would not only build on the existing activism local residents but also offer a platform across which engagement and communication could be fostered that had 'read/write' characteristics. The team identified an emerging mobile platform that allows people to gain access to the internet whilst outdoors, and more importantly to be able to 'write back' to it. QR tags are gaining momentum as a popular printed barcode that allows people to link from a paper based advertisement in a newspaper or on a poster, to a related website. However, at present the use of the codes remains largely stuck in a Web 1.0 mode - read only. Through a series of workshops with the community organisations the teams developed a proposal for a physical interface that would allow residents and visitors to 'read' information about the neighbourhood and also 'write' back and contribute. The project focused upon the value of 'writing back' as an important aspect for fostering confidence and developing a sense of shared identity. The project capitalises upon technology developed through the Digital Economy/EPSRC funded TOTeM project (Tales of Things and Electronic Memory) see: http://www.talesofthings.com, and http://www.youtotem.com. The practical dimension of the Community 2.0 project developed an extremely simple approach to capitalise on user-generated and service based resources by bringing them 'down to earth' and providing a physical portal that allowed people to both read content about a place and more importantly, contribute to it - a 'digital pole' that is to be installed at a geographically and socially important location in Wester Hailes. The pole, designed and carved in collaboration with Scottish artists features QR barcodes that are gateways to cloud based material relevant to the location of the pole. People can scan one of the labeled tags and access and contribute to historical photographs, stories, video and audio clips. The intention is that pole will act as a social resource to help build connections between the people and the place, as well as drawing upon online resources. The pole builds on recent research such as the Talking Poles project developed by Moulder et al (2011) that transmitted local narratives by members of a community in British Columbia from a physical pole. Whilst the Talking Poles project was successful is was 'read-only' and the Ladders to the Cloud project offers the critical dimension of 'writing' as well as 'reading'. The content for the pole was gathered during this project and the pole itself was installed during the follow up grant - Ladders to the Cloud (AH/J006734/1)
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Title Walking Through Time: Edinburgh 
Description https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/walking-through-time-edinburgh/id381528712?mt=8 SatNav for historical maps: A phone app that combines GPS technology with old maps to allow users to walk through time. The Map set is for central Edinburgh although now features maps for Dundee, Glasgow and Perth. The app allows the user to see a variety of Historic maps from 1765 to 1939 and reveal the many changes of the cities over time. The application also comes with a set of narrated walking tours from the Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh World Heritage. Walking Through Time is a mobile application that allows iPhone users with GPS to not only find themselves in the present, but find themselves in the past. By making available historical UK maps, users will be able to scroll through time and navigate places using maps that are hundreds of years old. The maps are provided by National Library of Scotland, the Visualising Urban Geographies research group, and EDINA, overlayed with modern day maps. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Walking Through Time became a quick hit that demonstrated the potential for mashing up different maps and geographic data on the Apple iPhone. 1. Speed, C. 2012 Walking Through Time: Use of Locative Media to Explore Historical Maps, in Mapping Cultures, Palgrave Books, London. pp. 160-180. 2. Speed, C. 2012 Mobile Ouija Boards. In On Heritage. Edited by Giaccardi, E. London: Routledge. pp.179-196 
URL http://www.walkingthroughtime.co.uk
 
Description Time of the City, workshop for CityLink Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Time of the City, workshop for CityLink Festival
The City Link Symposium 2015 was a celebration of cities and the people and activity that shape them. They brought together speakers who in different ways have studied, considered, altered or impacted the urban environment.

Speed ran a workshop that reflected on the temporal issues running through the departments research.
Very positive engagement that identified time as a core issue within the digital economy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://city-link.org/event/city-link-symposium-2015-democratic-renewal/