Playing with creative citizens in the open city (week ending 13072012)

The week auspiciously ending the 13th of July was also the 149th week of the operation of the DCRC. The week brought workshops on books & print and smart cities, as well as talks on gamification, interactive documentary and a visit from the university’s board of governors. 149 years ago in 1863 the first section of the London Underground opened and the International Committee of the Red Cross was founded. In week 149, the DCRC and the Centre for Fine Print Research held a two-day workshop on the future of the book and contributed to the Open City programme for the European Capital of Culture Guimarães 2012.

Towards the beginning of the week, DCRC Director Jonathan Dovey enjoyed a diverting day Leeds at the Transformations in Broadcast conference where the keynote from Graeme Turner and a paper from Michael Daubs helped him formulate a big chunk of literature review thinking for the Creative Citizens project which is kicking off properly now. Emma Agusita is appointed and we’re getting down to work with South Blessed and our national partners. The Creative Citizens site is now up and slowly getting populated.

The DCRC and the Pervasive Media Studio hosted an excellent event for the UWE Board of Governors on the 10th of July, with our Administration Manager Nick Triggs doing his usual amazing job hosting the event. Jon Dovey presented the DCRC’s headline successes from the first three years of the Centre and Clare Reddington, Director of the Pervasive Media Studio, spoke about the DCRC in the Studio. The Governors were able to meet our network of researchers and explore the Studio’s diverse range of projects and people. We were pleased to receive a very high level engagement by the Governors with our way of doing business. A great event for which Prof. Dovey would like to thank all who gave it a swing.

Parallel to the REACT Hub call for Books and Print projects, the DCRC and, sister research centre, the Centre for Fine Print Research ran a two day sandpit addressing the ‘Future of the Book’. Participants – including designers, small press publishers, coders, writers and academics from across the country – worked with books and print on the first day and ideas on the second, opening up some provocative questions:

  • If reading has been dwindling as a mainstream pastime for several generations, what does that tell us about our troubled relationship to digital texts?
  • Digital text is disruptive, and constantly in flux. That isn’t new though, so where does our pathological relationship to books as fixed, immutable objects, actually come from?
  • What is the grammar of the iPad? We’ve spent so much time trying to skeuomorphically force books into a new platform, have we ignored the formal and disruptive qualities that tablets offer to narrative storytelling?
  • The workshop produced a set of project ideas – potential new ways of working and considering digital and print. The research centres are going to do this again next year, and we’ll invite, as we did this time around, anyone that is interested in the future of the book to take part.

    Following on from a number of public talks concerning ‘Design Fiction‘ earlier in 2012, DCRC Research Fellow Sam Kinsley contributed to the ‘Smart City‘ Design Fiction commission, which is a part of the European Capital of Culture Guimarães Open City programme.

    At the heart of the commission was the ambition to work with local people to formulate a vision of a future Guimarães that is being translated into a quirky short design fiction film, all of which took place between the 12th and 19th July. Sam joined filmmaker Geoff Taylor, Director of the studio Clare Reddington and Open City producer Vanessa Bellar Spruijt to lead the activities in Guimarães. Clare Reddington and Sam led a workshop on the 14th of July with local citizens at the newly launched Design Institute in Guimarães to develop ideas for their future ‘smart city’. These ideas were distilled into a storyline for a design fiction film, being made by Geoff Taylor, with support from the very talented Mo. Ca., an Oporto-based design practice that creates beautiful furniture out of cardboard. The design fiction film will be shared at a conference this Autumn in Guimarães.

    Between the 9th and the 11th of July Judith Aston was in New York this work presenting her work at the International Visual Sociology Conference alongside her i-docs colleagues, Rod Coover (Temple University) and Sharon Daniel (USC Santa Cruz). The theme of the 2012 conference was ‘Re-visualising the City’ and the title of the panel was ‘Urban Dichotomies and Interactive Documentary Practices’. Within the panel, Judith’s presentation focused on ‘Antithesis and Parallelism as Rhetorical Devices for Interactive Documentary’. Judith reports that productive common ground was established around interaction design, memory and montage, forming a strong basis for ongoing transatlantic dialogue.

    On Friday the 13th Dan Dixon presented at the Perspectives on Gamification seminar at Lancaster University school of Management. Dan’s talk was entitled “Gamification to Gameful Design. Turning Bullshit into Meaningful Manure”, which was a close fit with the other speakers who were all also mildly cynical, but also excited by the possibilities of using game design thinking creatively in other contexts.

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