This morning we learnt with great sadness of the sudden death yesterday of Roger Silverstone, Professor of Media & Communications at the LSE. Roger was a friend and a collaborator, working with us over the past six years on projects like Private Reveries, Public Spaces and Urban Tapestries. Roger's support in setting up SoMa, his intellectual rigour, sense of fun and adventure were a key ingredient guiding our work. His passing leaves a void.
We will be presenting the public authoring Feral Robots as part of Off The Map for Futuresonic this coming Friday, at the Museum of Science and Technology.
Our presentation is scheduled for 3pm where we'll be projecting sensor readings taken around the museum on Friday morning in the Urban Tapestries sensor map interface, and adding in local contextual knowledge to map against the sensors.
We'll be bringing up copies of the Atlas of Enquiry (price £5) with us – 5 maps covering the terrain of our projects in public authoring over the past four years. Come and find us if you would like to buy a copy at the event.
This week we've been running a 5 day workshop with a class of 30 nine year olds in Year 4 at the Jenny Hammond Primary School with our friend and collaborator Loren Chasse. The workshop focused on 'everyday archaeology' – a term we're using to describe investigations of the local environment using a combination of Feral Robots, Urban Tapestries, Sound Scavenging, an Endless Landscape, StoryCubes and eBooks.
Over the course of the week we have been using everyday archaeology to teach the students about relationships between the environment and pollution. The students have been acting as scientists and archaeologists to gather evidence about the world around them to uncover causes of pollution. This has been a trigger for them to imagine what they could do to help the environment and think about the kind of world they want to grow up in. The students gathered audio recordings, photographic evidence and used the Feral Robots to detect air quality in a local park, wrote stories based on the Endless Landscape, designed their own robots and created structures and environments using the StoryCubes. The workshop covered a range of key skills and concepts from map reading, making media, storytelling, drawing and literacy to more abstract concepts, science and maths – an intense and broad immersion for the students, teachers and for us.
As we begin to evaluate the project, we have been inspired by the willingness of the students to engage, learn and share their experiences, as well as with the teaching staff who have woven our processes and tools into their own teaching. The excitement of the children has been infectious, not only for us, but across the whole school, including the staff. We hope now to develop a longer term collaborative process of weaving our tools, concepts and processes into the core teaching and learning methods used in the school.
Yesterday Proboscis organised an open dialogue on Cultures of Listening for Interdependence Day at the Royal Geographic Society. The dialogue took the form of a series of conversations between an invited group of artists, social scientists, teachers, researchers, curators and policymakers at a picnic in Kensington Gardens, just across from the RGS.
Our aim was to use the informal setting of a picnic and our role as hosts to bring together a diverse group and stimulate conversations, rather than hold a more formal debate or discussion. This placed the emphasis of the dialogue on being a culture of listening rather being about one. After an hour and a half of introducing people to each other and connecting conversations, the group came together to reflect on what we had heard and said, followed by more conversation and connections over lunch.
Last week we presented the Feral Robots and Urban Tapestries at the London Knowledge Lab as part of their Open Evening. The Knowledge Lab was opened in December 2004 and the event presented an overview of projects and work over the last two years. Birkbeck College's Department of Computer Science are one of the two partners institutions (with the Institute of Education) behind the Knowledge Lab and collaborated with us on designing and building the recent public authoring Feral Robots. We are currently developing our Sensory Threads project with the department, which we are fundraising for this year.