Cycling on up

I’ve been con­tinu­ing with my exper­i­ment­a­tions and thoughts on cyc­ling, and in par­tic­u­lar extend­ing my reflec­tions on my first Bor­is Bike’ jour­ney recor­ded in 2014 (see this chapter). There’ll hope­fully be more to come in the com­ing months that tie togeth­er the space‐times I tra­versed with oth­er records and dif­fer­ent accounts.


Newcastle APL Talk

Talk­ing to the good people at Newcastle’s School of Archi­tec­ture, Plan­ning & Land­scape (APL), I got the chance yes­ter­day to devel­op and share my slowly evolving thoughts on bike jour­neys, bod­ies and fab­u­la­tions.

Liv­ing Fruit­fully in/with the con­di­tions of (im‐) pos­sib­ilty


In this talk, I want to revis­it a piece I wrote in 2016. The piece, a chapter in Dawn Nafus’ book Quan­ti­fied (2016), was inten­ded as a story of prom­ise, a fab­u­la­tion about London’s bike rent­al scheme and how it might be used to re‐imagine new fig­ur­ings of human‐machine rela­tions. Think­ing across, askew, or athwart” (Hus­tak & Myers 2013), my exper­i­ment­ing with the rela­tion­al capa­cit­ies of bicycles, a city, (bio)sensing and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of data‐everywhere, aimed to res­ist the agen­cies of homo­gen­iz­a­tion” (Scott 1998) to explore the con­di­tions of pos­sib­il­ity for oth­er world­ings (Har­away 2016).

Reflect­ing on this work, I’ve felt a dis­sat­is­fac­tion with my efforts to throw togeth­er mix­tures of data at all scales, with the attempts at thick­en­ing and enliven­ing the rela­tions. It all felt too flat, too lack­ing in vital­ity. So, at the risk of appear­ing self indul­gent, this talk will present some early ideas for a dif­fer­ent story woven in and through the thick­et of rela­tions. Strug­gling to weave myself into London’s leg­acy with slavery and the viol­ent eras­ures of bod­ies and agency (Hart­man 2008), I’ll be try­ing to place myself at a much more fra­gile and tenu­ous junc­ture of space‐time, but at the same time still seek­ing to work fruit­fully in/with the con­di­tions of (im-)possibility.

Experiments in collective counting

Photo of contributions to self-service publication.

I’m really happy to have a short piece by me and Clara Crivel­laro included in the pub­lic­a­tion Self‐Service”, a col­lec­tion of con­tri­bu­tions respond­ing to . Kirsty Hendry and Ilona Sagar pro­duced the pub­lic­a­tion which was exhib­ited along­side their film screen­ing at the Glas­gow Inter­na­tion­al Fest­iv­al.

Photo of Experiments in collective counting, from the self-service publication.
Credits, from Experiments in collective counting.

In Exper­i­ments in col­lect­ive count­ing”, Clara and I write about the (ac)counting prac­tices on an estate in South East Lon­don and our efforts to inter­vene in a res­ol­utely sin­gu­lar logic of com­munity and value.

The Peck­ham Exper­i­ment was a social exper­i­ment tar­get­ing health. The Pion­eer Health Found­a­tion, the leg­acy to the exper­i­ment, describes it as an invest­ig­a­tion into the nature of health.” From 1926 to 1950 it was based in Peck­ham, south Lon­don at the Pion­eer Health Centre. For more inform­a­tion vis­it the Pion­eer Health Found­a­tion web­site.

Do data publics work?

I presen­ted at the Data Pub­lics con­fer­ence last week­end, at Lan­caster Uni­ver­sity. Got lots of help­ful feed­back to some early thoughts on pub­lics (think­ing with some of my old favour­ites, Despret, Har­away, Marres, Stengers, etc.).

Pro­voked by Vin­ciane Despret’s W for Work”, in What would anim­als say if we asked the right ques­tions?”, my start­ing point was the ques­tion:

Are we think­ing well
with data pub­lics?


Vin­ciane Despret (2016). W is for Work. In What Would Anim­als Say If We Asked the Right Ques­tions”. Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota Press: 177 – 184.

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.

An exten­ded engage­ment with a com­munity and its data

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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.

Presenting Data in place”

We’re present­ing a paper at CHI this year on Ten­ison Road.

Alex S. Taylor, Siân Lind­ley, Tim Regan, Dav­id Sweeney, Vasil­is Vlachokyriakos, Lil­lie Grainger, Jessa Lin­gel (2015), Data‐in‐Place: Think­ing through the Rela­tions Between Data and Com­munity, CHI 2015.

Here’s the abstract:

We present find­ings from a year‐long engage­ment with a street and its com­munity. The work explores how the pro­duc­tion and use of data is bound up with place, both in terms of phys­ic­al and social geo­graphy. We detail three strands of the pro­ject. First, we con­sider how res­id­ents have sought to cur­ate exist­ing data about the street in the form of an archive with phys­ic­al and digit­al com­pon­ents. Second, we report endeav­ours to cap­ture data about the street’s envir­on­ment, espe­cially of vehicle traffic. Third, we draw on the pos­sib­il­it­ies afforded by tech­no­lo­gies for polling opin­ion. We reflect on how these engage­ments have: mater­i­al­ised dis­tinct­ive rela­tions between the com­munity and their data; sur­faced flows and con­tours of data, and spa­tial, tem­por­al and social bound­ar­ies; and enacted a mul­ti­pli­city of small worlds’. We con­sider how such a con­cep­tu­al­isa­tion of data‐in‐place is rel­ev­ant to the design of tech­no­logy.

on Leakiness and creepiness in app space”

I recently had an email exchange with Irina Shk­lovski in which she kindly sent me the paper she presen­ted at the CHI con­fer­ence this year. It’s a great paper, with some care­fully thought through insights into the data we pro­duce and (often inad­vert­ently) share when using smart phones. 

Irina Shk­lovski, Scott D. Main­war­ing, Halla Hrund Skúladót­tir, and Höskul­dur Bor­gthorsson. 2014. Leak­i­ness and creep­i­ness in app space: per­cep­tions of pri­vacy and mobile app use. In Pro­ceed­ings of the 32nd annu­al ACM con­fer­ence on Human factors in com­put­ing sys­tems (CHI 14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2347 – 2356. 

The paper got me think­ing about some broad­er (and long‐standing) issues I’ve been work­ing through myself related to the researcher’s agen­tial (and often inad­vert­ent) role in empir­ic­al research. What fol­lows are some slightly amended com­ments I’ve shared with Irina. (more…)