Proboscis | Social Tapestries


Proboscis | Social Tapestries

Social Tapestries is a Proboscis research programme developed as part of our SoMa research initiative. It builds upon Proboscis’ projects, Urban Tapestries (2002-2004) and Private Reveries, Public Spaces (2001-2002), broadening the scope to explore specific social and cultural uses of knowledge mapping and sharing in partnership with other civil society, industry and academic partners.

The areas we are exploring are:

education and learning
developing knowledge mapping and sharing techniques and tools as new forms of associative learning and teaching methods for schoolchildren, lifelong learners and teachers.
community & environment
staging creative interventions with local communities that engage with regeneration and environmental issues to increase issue ownership and the community’s sense of empowerment to act.
housing & neighbourhoods
exploring how mapping and sharing knowledge and experiences within geographic communities can enable new forms of neighbourliness to emerge. By stimulating and inspiring habits of participation these informal knowledges can assist in transforming relationships with key stakeholders such as local authorities and housing providers.
public sector
assessing the impacts on communities of locally specific information gathered by, and for, public services; and local residents ability to interact with such agencies through public authoring systems (reciprocal trust relationships).

Community Collaborations
Conversations & Connections
Eyes on the Street
Jenny Hammond Primary School
Kingswood High School
Neighbourhood Games
Robotic Feral Public Authoring
Sensory Threads
Ongoing Public Trial – Mass Observation for the 21st Century
Proboscis will launch new Urban Tapestries interfaces for web and mobile phones (J2ME & WAP 2.0 clients) in Spring 2006. Members of the public will be able to sign up to Urban Tapestries to create their own online and searchable database of local knowledge about the architecture, communities and history of London. Over the lifetime of the Social Tapestries programme Proboscis will support this resource as a central repository of contributed knowledge in the spirit if the Mass Observation Movement.


Jenny Hammond Primary School
Proboscis is collaborating with staff at the Jenny Hammond Primary School in Waltham Forest, north east London to develop the Social Tapestries frameworks for knowledge mapping and sharing into practical teaching and learning methods during 2005/06. The collaboration intends to begin incorporating the methods into the school’s teaching curriculum in 2006/07.

System for TAgging Messages, Post-inferential Semantics
Proboscis is collaborating with researchers from the CRAFT (Computer Supported Collaborative Learning) Lab at EPFL Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) to exchange knowledge and technical data for research into spatial annotation and cognition. We are embarking upon a common analysis of the relationship between semantic and geographical dimensions of message distribution in space, based on the dataset provided by the 2003/04 Urban Tapestries field trials.

Kingswood High School
Proboscis collaborated with Kingswood High School near Hull to design a set of tools and activities that introduced the concept of local knowledge gathering, mapping and sharing with Year 7 students (11-12 year olds).The project aimed to enhance the relevance of learning by making it proximate to the environment in which the students live.


Sensory Threads
Proboscis has begun collaborating with Birkbeck College Computer Science department on developing a project to explore the social, cultural and ethical issues associated with real-time data capture from bio-sensors worn by people as part of ‘healthy-living self-care’ regimes. Such sensors are just beginning to become viable but little or no research has been conducted into the social, cultural or ethical effects and issues that tracking people’s health in real-time will have on society and individuals. Proboscis and Birkbeck are proposing to develop and test a personal sensor network (using near field communications, mobile data flows and GIS mapping) with a group of people to begin to trace not just sensor reading but how such devices may affect the well-being of an individual on a broader scale of reference.

Robotic Feral Public Authoring
Proboscis has won an EPSRC award to host the renown artist/engineer Natalie Jeremijenko of UC San Diego on a Visiting Fellowship during 2004/05. We will be collaborating with Natalie to adapt her Feral Robots (toy robots reconfigured to act as independent mobile pollution sensors) to create a model for using hobbyist robotics and public authoring as social activism, and as triggers for new social and cultural encounters. We are embarking on partnerships with SPACE Studios and the London Knowledge Lab to begin working with a local community in Hackney with whom we will identify a local environmental condition and develop a prototype feral robot to sense and map the pollution as part of a public event to raise awareness of and focus attention on the issue.

Neighbourhood Games
John Paul Bichard is leading a research project exploring the feasibility of gaming as a social tool. The project will look at ways in which social multiplayer games can be developed and sustained in a local neighbourhood environment. The aim is to develop a games methodology that has the potential to allow a broad demographic to play in the everyday environment across race, age and gender.
A fundamental part of human social activity is play, whether private or shared, solitary or in groups. Play functions on a number of levels, one of which could be as a means of exploring, testing and defining the ‘neighbourhood’ as both a social place and an interpersonal mechanism. Neighbourhood Games looks at a way of developing simple games layers within familiar environments – in relation to the research carried out to date in UT, it will draw on notions of community, age separation and hidden stories with an aim to establish clear directions for ongoing research and development.

Nick West is leading a project to research and demonstrate ways to make and hear spatial annotations while driving. As an extension to the Urban Tapestries system of marking and examining space, the annotations can be created on the fly while driving or riding; they can also be constructed or edited while on the web. Both drivers and passengers will be able to listen to these annotations from a mobile device that is with them in their vehicle.


Community Collaborations
Proboscis is developing a series of small-scale collaborations with community groups such as housing co-ops and associations, local community centres, schools and youth groups. These are intended to help reveal the multiplicity of kinds of local knowledge held and shared by individuals and groups within geographic areas or communities. The first collaborations will start in summer 2005 with a series of bodystorming experiences and training sessions in using the Urban Tapestries spatial annotation system.

Eyes on the Street
Proboscis is developing a collaborative project with Citizens Online and the Community Development Foundation to explore the potential and appropriateness of social technologies to help address issues of liveability, and community engagement in community safety. The intention is to work with people in a specific neighbourhood to investigate the potential for systems like Urban Tapestries to meet the needs of people in a community to have effective ‘eyes on the street’, creating possibilities for new approaches to neighbourliness, community reporting on local environmental conditions and other social interactions. The design process will be adaptive and people-centred, with the intention of creating appropriate uses and interfaces for people with different lifestyles, capabilities and levels of interest.

Mobility Field Experiment
Proboscis plans to run a small field trial in 2006 with a group of people with physical impairments. The participants will be able to use the public authoring system to annotate access issues relating to the physical infrastructure of the city. The aim is to begin to understand the everyday practical issues faced by people with mobility difficulties in the urban environment – providing key information to surveyors and mapping agencies about what additional features needs to be mapped (such as kerb height), as well as a public way of mapping and sharing locally specific information crucial to a variety of communities.


Conversations & Connections
Proboscis is about to begin a new collaboration with Kevin Harris of Local Level which aims to enhance democratic engagement at local level by stimulating the habits of participation. It is funded by the Department of Constitutional Affairs’ Innovations Fund – a programme of the Electoral Policy Division.


Filed under: academic, architecture, locative, research, social, space/place, technology, urban

One Response

  1. Azzurra says:

    Buon luogo, congratulazioni, il mio amico!

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