May 02, 2007

Public Authoring Special Offer

To celebrate the onset of summer and our recent public authoring activity at Enter_Unknown Territories we are offering a Magnetic Endless Landscape set, an 8 StoryCube StoryPack set and an Atlas of Enquiry for just £15 (saving £7.95) plus post and packing. Order here.

Posted by Giles Lane at 04:06 PM

March 06, 2007

Snout Performance & Public Forum

A 'carnival' performance and public forum


Venue: Cargo, 83 Rivington St, Kingsland Viaduct, London, EC2A 3AY
The performance will start at Cargo and the route will include Hoxton
Square and Hoxton Market
Dates/Times: Tuesday 10 April, Performance 10am, Conference 1.30-5pm.
Tube: Old St, Liverpool St
Admission: Free
Access: Limited, please call in advance for details
Information: +44 (0)20 7729 9616,,
Supported by Arts Council England & Esmιe Fairbairn

Download the eFlyer

With increasing concerns about climate change, individuals and communities are looking for new ways to take action and make a real and lasting impact.

In the Snout 'carnival' performance and public forum, artists, producers, performers and computer programmers demonstrate how to create wearable technologies from scavenged media, in order to map the invisible gases that affect our everyday environment. The project by inIVA, Proboscis and researchers from Birkbeck College also explores how communities can use this visual evidence to participate in or initiate local action.

The performance will show in action two prototype Snout sensor 'wearables' based on traditional carnival costumes. Carnival is a time of suspension of the normal activities of everyday life – a time when the fool becomes king for a day, when social hierarchies are inverted, a time when everyone is equal. Snout proposes 'participatory sensing' as a lively addition to the popular artform of carnival costume design, engaging the community in an investigation of its own environment, something usually done by local authorities and state agencies.

A public forum on 'participatory sensing and media scavenging' will be held after the performance. This will demonstrate the Snout wearables, discuss evidence collecting for environmental action and how communities can reflect on the personal impact of pollution and the environment. The forum, led by Giles Lane (Proboscis) and Dr George Roussos (Birkbeck) will look at 'participatory sensing' as a form of social engagement. The forum will share tactics on how to 'scavenge' free online services and resources, as well as exploring the relationship between information, aesthetics and design and how to make these ideas and issues accessible to more people.

Snout is a new collaboration between inIVA, Proboscis and researchers from Birkbeck College exploring relationships between the body, community and the environment. It builds on a previous collaboration Feral Robots (with Natalie Jeremijenko) to investigate how data can be collected from environmental sensors as part of popular social and cultural activities.

Posted by Giles Lane at 12:22 PM

January 08, 2007

Proboscis Store

Our first task for 2007 has been to create a single place on the Proboscis website where all our publications, creative tools and games can be purchased via credit card or Paypal account. From the StoryCubes and Endless Landscape Magnets, to COIL journal of the moving image, Mapping Perception and the Atlas of Enquiry.

We are also making available bound versions of our project reports for those who don't want the bother of printing out the free PDFs.

Posted by Giles Lane at 05:14 AM

December 16, 2006

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

From everyone at Proboscis

Posted by Giles Lane at 01:23 PM

November 13, 2006

Feral Robots: EPSRC peer review assessment

This morning we received our peer assessment on the Feral Robots project from the funder, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). We were delighted to learn that our 'overall assessment' was Tending to Outstanding, the second highest rating ('Outstanding' being the best), especially since the criteria for the assessment is focused on academic requirements and outputs rather than those of our own cultural/arts practice and community.

Of the seven criteria the project was assessed on (by three independent assessors unknown to us), the individual assessments were:

• Communication of Research Outputs

Tending to Outstanding
• Cost Effectiveness

Tending to Internationally Leading
• Research Quality
• Research Planning & Practice
• Potential Scientific Impact

• Quality of Training & Experience
• Potential Benefits to Society

Posted by Giles Lane at 04:33 PM

October 11, 2006

Human Echoes

Camilla's Brueton's commission for the Human Echoes event back in July is now complete and the digital element is available as two podcast files. The work is called The Human Echoes Archive and is a box of fictional and factual materials (drawings, maps, postcards, index cards, audio cd) that mimics the form, materials, structure and tools of archiving to reflect and extend the interconnected conversations of the event.

The Archive adopts a numerical ordering system to collect material relating to the people who were present, issues emerging and questions raised at the Dialogue. Like the informal pockets of conversation which took place at this picnic one can navigate freely between the material in the Archive rummaging, cross referencing and re-ordering or by using the the subject index and footnote references.

The podcast files are an edited version of the article contained in the archive with images of other material from it and, a layered audio piece of fragments of the conversations.

Posted by Giles Lane at 10:45 AM

September 18, 2006

Scavenging Media for Guerilla Public Authoring

During the summer we have been working on a 'scavenging' approach for public authoring that would not depend on having access to custom systems or services (such as Urban Tapestries). Our idea is that it should require no central resources but enable people to stitch together knowledge, experiences and information using free online resources – a kind of Guerilla Public Authoring.

Our concept of scavenging is to break down the core components of public authoring and devise a methodology for linking them together and sharing them. The method will be one that requires little or no expert knowledge to set up and which can be adapted to the local conditions depending on what resources are available to the community.

In the next few months we will be testing and refining strategies and tactics for guerilla public authoring with some of the communities we are working with. Our aim is to create and publish a 'handbook' or guide on scavenging for guerilla public authoring.

Update: David Wilcox has blogged a further exchange on scavenging over at
Designing for Civil Society

Posted by Giles Lane at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

Roger Silverstone (1945-2006)

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.

Posted by Giles Lane at 04:19 PM

June 02, 2006

UT Blog Sitegraph

Something summery for June, a sitegraph of this blog. Create your own here .

Posted by Giles Lane at 11:02 AM

March 23, 2006

Conversations and Connections

Proboscis has recently been awarded a grant from the Department of Constitutional Affairs' Innovations Fund – a programme of the Electoral Policy Division. Social Tapestries: Conversations and Connections aims to enhance democratic engagement at local level by stimulating the habits of participation.

The project develops our ongoing collaboration with HIRO and the residents of the Havelock Estate in Southall, west London, where we will be working closely with Kevin Harris of Local Level and Bev Carter of Partners in Change. Over the next 12 months we will be introducing to local residents a range of techniques such as Bodystorming Experiences, and tools such as StoryCubes, DIFFUSION eBooks and the DIFFUSION eBook Generator and, of course, the new Urban Tapestries system now nearing completion.

From our project proposal:

"By stimulating many more interactions and therefore a habit of participation in a low-income neighbourhood where insufficient numbers of people are geared-up to contributing, we expect to develop new forms of engagement with democratic decision-making processes. Our project aims to enable local people to build up an organic and accretive knowledge base of the issues and concerns at the heart of the community. This will encourage the conversations and connections that will engage residents to participate more fully in the democratic processes of managing their estate, relationships with the local authority and more broadly.

Our uses of different media, including emerging technologies and more traditional media, are designed to make the visibility and communication of these relationships and the knowledge and information they connect transparent and tangible to the participants in the project. By reflecting the needs and capabilities of the residents in choosing the types of media whereby they can contribute and access knowledge to start building the connections between them, we aim to encourage the widest possible participation.

In developing this project we will also offer a demonstration of the kinds of cross-sector thinking and transdisciplinary methods used by Proboscis and Local Level, and our role as critical intermediaries between people at grassroots and government policy."

One of the key challenges we will be addressing is what counts as democratic participation, who defines this and why. Our aim is to gently propose a richer and broader understanding of what participation can mean (beyond voting in a formal election or residents meeting) by working with different age groups and interests to reflect a variety of strategies for making a difference in the local environment. Specifically we will be focusing on what might be seen traditionally as cultural activities (music, video and image making) as vital and potent forms of democratic engagement.

Posted by Giles Lane at 11:08 PM

October 07, 2005

P/T Project Assistant: Application Period Closed

Proboscis received over 70 applications for the position, which means taking longer to asses them all and select a shortlist of candidates for interview. We now anticipate holding interviews in the week beginning October 17th and aim to notify interviewees by the 13th October.

Posted by Giles Lane at 02:08 AM

September 21, 2005

Part Time Assistant for Social Tapestries

Post: P/T Social Tapestries Project Assistant at Proboscis

Proboscis is looking for a temporary project assistant for the delivery of a series of Social Tapestries projects, workshops and events in community environments, exploring social and cultural knowledge mapping and sharing.
Approx 2 days per week over 6 months (flexible) based in Central London.

Full details and information on how to apply

Deadline: 3rd October 2005
Interviews the following week

Posted by Giles Lane at 03:33 PM

August 26, 2005

It's the system, stupid

Bill Thompson has written an article on the BBC website looking at the recent UT reports and the wider issues they address for society and technology.

Posted by Giles Lane at 01:12 PM

June 30, 2005

Social Tapestries Overview Leaflet

We've put together a new leaflet [A4 564 Kb] as an overview of some of the ideas and areas we're looking at in Social Tapestries...

Posted by Giles Lane at 11:22 PM

June 14, 2005

UT website move

The old Urban Tapestries website has been moved to a new domain - as we prepare to launch the public beta of the web interface to the new Urban Tapestries system (version 2.0). This web client will be the first of several new interfaces we'll be releasing over the coming months to facilitate the projects and experiments we're conducting for Social Tapestries.

The original Urban Tapestries system, its content, RSS feeds and Flash Browser will be kept online and will still be accessible from

Posted by Giles Lane at 02:43 PM

May 12, 2005

Social Tapestries website

Proboscis is pleased to announce that a new website for the Social Tapestries research programme detailing the individual projects, experiments and outcomes is now online.

Posted by Giles Lane at 12:49 PM

April 11, 2005

Social Tapestries Research Affiliates Scheme

Proboscis has established a new membership based scheme as a forum for bringing the results of the Social Tapestries experiments to relevant government and industry organisations. This forum will additionally support some of the experiments and bring together representatives from business and the public sector to both learn from our research and help define future directions. There are three levels (bronze, silver, gold) with varying access to private research reports, Creative Labs, Bodystorming Experiences and observing trials and tests.
For further details please contact Giles Lane [giles at]

Posted by Giles Lane at 11:19 PM

April 10, 2005

Social Tapestries April 2005 Update

Proboscis is continuing to develop a series of Social Tapestries experiments:

Architecture Week 2005
Proboscis is collaborating with Arts Council England to launch the new version of Urban Tapestries in June 2005 with a series of commissioned architectural 'tours' through London. The Ordnance Survey has provided 100 square kilometres of geographic information covering the whole of Central London, and we will be experimenting with both traditional drawn maps and satellite photographs overlaid with the pockets and threads created by the participants. This 'trial' will mark our largest so far, with members of the public invited to register for an account and to be able to author their own threads as well as view ones created by others through the new web interface. During Architecture Week itself, we also hope to run a small trial with a group of people with physical impairments mapping access issues and barriers in the city.

Feral Robots
A Visiting Fellowship with Proboscis by Natalie Jeremijenko ('Robotic Feral Public Authoring') is continuing apace. The experiment will attempt to bridge Urban Tapestries' spatial annotation abilities with Natalie's re-configurations of toy robots for social activist uses such as pollution sensing.The Fellowship is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Our collaboration with EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Lausanne, with whom we will be using UT to study semantic models for spatialised communications among groups, is also continuing to develop. EPFL intend to develop a smart algorithm for improving the ability of systems like UT to alert users to geo-annotations relevant to their context and situation. We are anticipating running several small trials over the next year in partnership with EPFL.

Eyes on the Street
Proboscis is developing a project with the Community Development Foundation and Citizens Online to develop issues of neighbourliness in social housing and community safety, looking at the potential of public authoring technologies like Urban Tapestries to create new modes of local knowledge creation and exchange, and its implications for community development.

Neighbourhood Games
John Paul Bichard is developing a research scenario and prototype for social gaming based around the concepts and capabilities of public authoring.

Nick West is developing a research scenario and prototype for a car-based audio annotation system.

Posted by Giles Lane at 03:31 PM

UT April 2005 update

System Development
The Urban Tapestries software platform has now been completely re-written and we are in the process of integrating and alpha testing the new web interface. The new system will make available much of the complete functionality and features researched and proposed over the last two years, as well as separate logging and analysis of patterns and usage that will be accessible to users.

Web Interface
A fully featured web client is in the last stages of completion and alpha testing. A period of beta testing during May will see additional features and functionality gradually brought online with the aim of launching public access to the new web interface in mid-June to coincide with the launch of Architecture Week 2005.

New Java Mobile Client
Proboscis has begun development of a new generic Java client for mobile devices, with versions prepared initially for two devices the Orange SPV M2000 (GPRS/WiFi/Windows Mobile OS) and the Motorola A1000 (3G/Symbian UIQ OS). We anticipate have prototypes working in June 2005 for a series of small field trials running throughout the remainder of the year.

Posted by Giles Lane at 03:30 PM

October 12, 2004

UT Web Browser & RSS Feeds Released

We are extremely pleased to announce that the UT Web Browser and location-based RSS Feeds are now available for people to explore content created on the system during the trials. We'll be adding further content to the system over the coming months to demonstrate a range of possible uses of public authoring. We are also hoping to run further trials in 2005.

Due to copyright restrictions (on our use of Ordnance Survey map data) users of the Web Browser will have to request a username and password.

Posted by Giles Lane at 01:15 AM | Comments (2)

September 26, 2004

UT Web Browser nearing completion

The web browser for Urban Tapestries is nearing completion and we should be able to allow access within a few weeks. For copyright reasons users will have to register to use it. Meanwhile here's a sneak preview of the interface:


The UT Web Browser has been programmed by Michael Golembewski.

Posted by Giles Lane at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

End of Summer Update

Field Trial
The field trial of the Symbian UIQ smartphone version was completed in mid-July and we are now evaluating the results. Our participants completed 6 in depth questionnaires and we are analysing these as well as the content they created on the system and log files of their usage to build up a comprehensive picture of what, why and how they used the prototype over the month of the trial.

System Development
Proboscis is finalising a UT Flash Browser to allow the public to search the content added to the Urban Tapestries, and we are also experimenting with making an RSS feed(s) available to RSS aggregators to see the latest pockets and content added to the system. The next stage of development (Stage 3) will be focused on building a fully featured web interface to the system (as well as functionality enhancements). We are also collaborating with other partners on creative applications of UT for different purposes, opening up the UT APIs to third party developers to explore how it can interact with other systems and devices.

Dissemination & Reports
A new film exploring the issues of public authoring is underway, and we are currently preparing two reports: a general one summarising the research and outcomes up to the end of Stage 2 and a White Paper aimed at policymakers and industry. Proboscis will publish a special limited edition artists' publication taking a more playful and inspirational approach in late 2004/early 2005.

Forthcoming Creative Lab
Proboscis and the London School of Economics are hosting a one day Creative Lab and Bodystorming Experience on the broader social uses of public authoring in civil society on Thursday 23rd September. This event will bring together participants from a wide area of practices and agencies and provide an opportunity for Proboscis to demonstrate Urban Tapestries and investigate scenarios for its use in civil society.

Archilab 2004
Urban Tapestries will be included in the forthcoming Archilab exhibition in Lyons, France from October to December 2004. Visitors will be able to browse the system content from the recent trials via the Flash browser as well as view the many films and items of disseminations produced for the project.

Social Tapestries
The Social Tapestries experiments are slowly beginning to take shape: our first is with a school near Hull where we will be working with Year 7 students for the 2004/05 school year, introducing the practices and creative uses of knowledge mapping and public authoring to make core curriculum subjects directly relevant to their local environment. The experiment is being co-sponsored by Creative Partnerships Hull.

The second experiment takes the form of a Visiting Fellowship by Natalie Jeremijenko: Robotic Feral Public Authoring. The experiment will attempt to bridge Urban Tapestries' spatial annotation abilities with Natalie's re-configurations of toy robots for social activist uses such as pollution sensing. The Fellowship is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Proboscis is also in discussion with the Community Development Foundation with regard to designing an experiment looking at the issue of neighbourliness in social housing, and the potential of public authoring technologies like Urban Tapestries to create new modes of local knowledge creation and exchange, and its implications for community development.

Posted by Giles Lane at 02:15 AM | Comments (0)