urban tapestries
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Public Authoring in the Wireless City
Urban Tapestries is the name of a research project and experimental software platform for knowledge mapping and sharing – public authoring – conceived and developed by Proboscis in partnership with collaborators such as the London School of Economics, Birkbeck College, Orange, HP Research labs, France Telecom R&D UK, Ordnance Survey. The original research project began in late 2002 and was completed in Autumn 2004, with a follow-on research programme of experiments with local groups and communities called Social Tapestries starting in April 2004 and completed in Summer 2007 (additional publications and outputs will be released in 2008).

Urban Tapestries investigated how, by combining mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems, people could 'author' the environment around them; a kind of Mass Observation for the 21st Century. Like the founders of Mass Observation in the 1930s, we were interested creating opportunities for an "anthropology of ourselves" – adopting and adapting new and emerging technologies for creating and sharing everyday knowledge and experience; building up organic, collective memories that trace and embellish different kinds of relationships across places, time and communities.

The Urban Tapestries software platform enabled people to build relationships between places and to associate stories, information, pictures, sounds and videos with them. It provided the basis for a series of engagements with actual communities (in social housing, schools and with users of public spaces) to play with the emerging possibilities of public authoring in real world settings. The projects are documented in a variety of ways - from essays, project reports and academic papers to videos, installations and software (interfaces and code) - many of which are listed below.

UT2 mobile client

Public authoring and the public knowledge commons
Between 2004 and 2006 Proboscis rebuilt Urban Tapestries into a platform to support various Social Tapestries projects. In June 2006 we began using the new system with several communities such as residents of the Havelock estate in Southall, St Marks housing cooperative in west London and for several tests of the pollution sensing feral robots of the Robotic Feral Public Authoring project.
[2007] The software platform is no longer supported or maintained for use with communities or in public settings, but limited access for research purposes may be possible.

Original Research Project Website
The website and links to the original Urban Tapestries research project can now be found at http://research.urbantapestries.net.


Date Title
March 2009 A Case of Perspectives
An Artists' Bookwork by Alice Angus & Giles Lane
March 2009 Measure once, Cut Twice: a case study of Snout
A Diffusion eBook by Frederik Lesage

November 2008 Social Tapestries
A Diffusion eBook by Giles Lane
April 2008 Experiencing Democracy
A Proboscis Report by Orlagh Woods, Giles Lane & Loren Chasse

download PDF (3.7Mb)| buy bound hard copy
January 2008 Snout Documentation
A project report prepared by Jenson Taylor with contributions from Alice Angus, Orlagh Woods, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, Dimitrios Airantzis and George Roussos
view online | download PDF (8.8Mb)
  Snout Sensing Platform Source Code
April 2007

Conversations and Connections
A Proboscis Report by Kevin Harris and Giles Lane for the Ministry of Justice

download PDF | buy bound hard copy

November 2006 Social Tapestries [4 mins Quicktime Movie 8.4Mb]
October 2006 Urban Tapestries: public authoring, place and mobility
A Proboscis Report by Giles Lane & Sarah Thelwall
with Alice Angus, Victoria Peckett & Nick West (revised complete edition)
download PDF | buy bound hard copy
  Social Tapestries/St Marks Co-op
A Proboscis Report by Camilla Brueton, Giles Lane & Orlagh Woods
download PDF | buy bound hard copy
September 2006

Everyday Archaeology: children's relationship to the environment
Activity & Impact Report

A Proboscis Report by Giles Lane & Orlagh Woods
download PDF | buy bound hard copy

June 2006  An Atlas of Enquiry
5 Maps about Social Tapestries. Limited edition of 1000.
download lo-res PDFs | buy print edition online
Public Authoring, Education & Learning (Social Tapestries Policy Paper 1)
A Cultural Snapshot by Megan Conway
Cultural Snapshot
May 2006 Common Knowledge
community development and communication on a housing estate

A Cultural Snapshot by Kevin Harris
Cultural Snapshot
Urban Tapestries KML network link for Google Earth
KML Link
March 2006  Public Authoring & Feral Robotics
A Cultural Snapshot by Giles Lane, Camila Brueton, Natalie Jeremijenko et al
Cultural Snapshot

Sound Scavenging
A collaboration between Proboscis, Loren Chasse and the Jenny Hammond Primary School
A Proboscis Report by Orlagh Woods, Alice Angus, Loren Chasse & Giles Lane

February 2006 Feral Robots Software
Feral Robots Technical Documentation
technical documentation
April 2005 Draft Non-profit/Non-commercial license for free access to National Mapping Agency GIS data, Giles Lane [RTF 17Kb]
February 2005 Urban Tapestries: Experimental Ethnography, Technological Identities and Place    
An LSE Electronic Working Paper by Roger Silverstone and Zoetanya Sujon [A4 PDF]
January 2005 Urban Tapestries: The Spatial and the Social on your Mobile
A Cultural Snapshot by Nick West [A4 PDF 80Kb]
Cultural Snapshot
October 2004 Social Tapestries: September 2004 Creative Lab Documentation
A DIFFUSION eBook by Giles Lane & Sarah Thelwall [A4 PDF 333Kb]

Urban Tapestries: a brief introduction for Archilab 2004: the naked city
An English/FrenchDIFFUSION eBook by Giles Lane & Nick West [A4 PDF 250Kb]

July 2004 Social Tapestries: public authoring and civil society
A Cultural Snapshot by Giles Lane [A4 PDF 167Kb]
Cultural Snapshot
Urban Tapestries: sensing the city and other stories
A Cultural Snapshot by Katrina Jungnickel [A4 PDF 209Kb]
Cultural Snapshot
March 2004

Urban Tapestries Contexts [Quicktime 6 mins 4.7Mb]

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