Article in Design Issues

Design Issues, Sum­mer 2017, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 25–36
Cover art for Design Issues, 33 (3) 2017

ABSTRACT — In his 2015 Research Through Design provo­ca­tion, Tim Ingold invites his audi­ence to think with string, lines, and mesh­works. In this arti­cle I use Ingold’s con­cepts to explore an ori­en­ta­tion to design—one that threads through both Ingold’s ideas and Vin­ciane Despret’s vivid and mov­ing accounts of human-ani­mal rela­tions. This is a “think­ing and doing” through design that seeks to be expan­sive to the capac­i­ties of humans and non-humans in rela­tion to one another.
I’m so pleased to final­ly have this arti­cle pub­lished in Design Issues, and very grate­ful to Abi­gail Dur­rant, John Vines, Jayne Wal­lace, and Joyce Yee for all their help with edit­ing my text and the Spe­cial Issue: Research Through Design: Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry Mak­ers and Mate­ri­al­i­ties.

In my con­tri­bu­tion, I’ve reflect­ed on Tim Ingold’s provo­ca­tion at the Bien­ni­al Research Through Design con­fer­ence, and tried to play around with open­ing up a more gen­er­a­tive kind of design. My exper­i­ment has been to put Ingold’s ideas of lines and mesh­works in con­ver­sa­tion with Vin­ciane Despret’s uplift­ing sto­ries of ani­mals and becom­ings. A strange mix, but one that for me at least rais­es plen­ty of inter­est­ing ques­tions — and isn’t it more ques­tions we need?!

For an ear­ly draft of the arti­cle see:  What lines, rats and sheep can tell us, Design Issues 2017

Surfacing Small Worlds through Data-In-Place

Very hap­py to have anoth­er pub­li­ca­tion from the mon­u­men­tal Teni­son Road project, this time in the Jour­nal of Com­put­er-Sup­port­ed Coop­er­a­tive Work (CSCW).

Lind­ley, S.E., Thieme, A., Tay­lor, A.S. et al. (2017). Sur­fac­ing Small Worlds through Data-In-Place. Com­put­er Sup­port­ed Coop­er­a­tive Work.


We present find­ings from a five-week deploy­ment of vot­ing tech­nolo­gies in a city neigh­bour­hood. Draw­ing on Mar­res’ (2012) work on mate­r­i­al par­tic­i­pa­tion and Massey’s (2005) con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of space as dynam­ic, we designed the deploy­ment such that the tech­nolo­gies (which were sit­u­at­ed in res­i­dents’ homes, on the street, and avail­able online) would work in con­cert, cut­ting across the neigh­bour­hood to make vis­i­ble, jux­ta­pose and draw togeth­er the dif­fer­ent ‘small worlds’ with­in it. We demon­strate how the mate­r­i­al infra­struc­ture of the vot­ing devices set in motion par­tic­u­lar process­es and inter­pre­ta­tions of par­tic­i­pa­tion, putting data in place in a way that had ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the recog­ni­tion of het­ero­gene­ity. We con­clude that redis­trib­ut­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion means not only open­ing up access, so that every­one can par­tic­i­pate, or even pro­vid­ing a mul­ti­tude of vot­ing chan­nels, so that peo­ple can par­tic­i­pate in dif­fer­ent ways. Rather, it means mak­ing vis­i­ble mul­ti­plic­i­ty, chal­leng­ing notions of sim­i­lar­i­ty, and show­ing how dif­fer­ence may be productive.

See more on the CSCW site here. See an ear­ly draft here.

Re-making places

At the CHI con­fer­ence this year, Clara Criv­el­laro pre­sent­ed this paper on our amaz­ing work at a regen­er­a­tion site on the out­skirts of Lon­don. The work touch­es on many issues that are impor­tant to me, from grass­roots par­tic­i­pa­tion and hous­ing to inven­tive meth­ods and techno­science’s pro­duc­tive possibilities.

HCI, ‘Com­mu­ni­ty Build­ing’ and Change

Clara Criv­el­laro, Alex Tay­lor, Vasilis Vla­chokyr­i­akos, Rob Comber, Bet­ti­na Nis­sen, Peter Wright

We present insights from an extend­ed engage­ment and design inter­ven­tion at an urban regen­er­a­tion site in SE Lon­don. We describe the process of design­ing a walk­ing trail and sys­tem for record­ing and play­ing back place-spe­cif­ic sto­ries for those liv­ing and work­ing on the hous­ing estate, and show how this is set with­in a wider con­text of urban renew­al, social/affordable hous­ing and “com­mu­ni­ty build­ing”. Like pri­or work, the research reveals the fric­tions that arise in par­tic­i­pa­to­ry engage­ments with het­ero­ge­neous actors. Here we illus­trate how mate­r­i­al inter­ven­tions can rearrange exist­ing spa­tial con­fig­u­ra­tions, mak­ing pro­duc­tive the plu­ral­i­ty of accounts intrin­sic in com­mu­ni­ty life. Through this, we pro­vide an ori­en­ta­tion to HCI and design inter­ven­tions that are con­cerned with civic engage­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tion in process­es of mak­ing places.

Published Data and life on the street

We’ve pub­lished a short com­men­tary on the Teni­son Road project in the new Big Data & Soci­ety jour­nal. Down­load it here (open access).
Tay­lor, A. S., Lind­ley, S., Regan, T., & Sweeney, D. (2014). Data and life on the street. Big Data & Soci­ety, 1(2).

Abstract: What does the abun­dance of data and pro­lif­er­a­tion of data-mak­ing meth­ods mean for the ordi­nary per­son, the per­son on the street? And, what could they come to mean? In this paper, we present an overview of a year-long project to exam­ine just such ques­tions and com­pli­cate, in some ways, what it is to ask them. The project is a col­lec­tive exer­cise in which we – a mix­ture of social sci­en­tists, design­ers and mak­ers – and those liv­ing and work­ing on one street in Cam­bridge (UK), Teni­son Road, are work­ing to think through how data might be mate­ri­alised and come to mat­ter. The project aims to bet­ter under­stand the speci­fici­ties and con­tin­gen­cies that arise when data is pro­duced and used in place. Mid-way through the project, we use this com­men­tary to give some back­ground to the work and detail one or two of the trou­bles we have encoun­tered in putting local­ly rel­e­vant data to work. We also touch on a method­olog­i­cal stand­point we are work­ing our way into and through, one that we hope com­pli­cates the sep­a­ra­tions between sub­ject and object in data-mak­ing and opens up pos­si­bil­i­ties for a gen­er­a­tive refig­ur­ing of the man­i­fold relations.