Tag Archives: digital media

New paper on frictions in civic hacking

Drawing on postcolonial technoscience and particularly the notion of ‘frictions’, Sung-Yueh Perng and Rob Kitchin analyse how solutions are worked up, challenged and changed in civic hacking events. The paper is published in Social & Cultural Geography and is entitled Solutions and frictions in civic hacking: collaboratively designing and building wait time predictions for an immigration office. There are still eprints available for free via the link: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/SSWBCcCech3hezdgIFZp/full. For more details about the paper, the abstract is pasted below.

Abstract: Smart and data-driven technologies seek to create urban environments and systems that can operate efficiently and effortlessly. Yet, the design and implementation of such technical solutions are full of frictions, producing unanticipated consequences and generating turbulence that foreclose the creation of friction-free city solutions. In this paper, we examine the development of solutions for wait time predictions in the context of civic hacking to argue that a focus on frictions is important for establishing a critical understanding of innovation for urban everyday life. The empirical study adopted an ethnographically informed mobile methods approach to follow how frictions emerge and linger in the design and production of queue predictions developed through the civic hacking initiative, Code for Ireland. In so doing, the paper charts how solutions have to be worked up and strategies re-negotiated when a shared motivation meets different data sources, technical expertise, frames of understanding, urban imaginaries and organisational practices; and how solutions are contingently stabilised in technological, motivational, spatiotemporal and organisational specificities rather than unfolding in a smooth, linear, progressive trajectory.

Working paper: The spaces, mobilities and soundings of coding

A short paper has been developed as a pre-print for a chapter in an exciting book Experiencing Networked Urban Mobilities, edited by Katrine Hartmann-Petersen, Emmy Laura Perez Fjalland and Malene Freudendal-Pedersen.

The paper is concerned with embodied experiences, focusing on sounds, of interacting with code and discusses what happened in an introductory workshop to the programming language, Processing, organised by Coding Grace as an example. The paper demonstrates the complexity of organising one’s own experiences according to the logic and reasoning of a specific programming language. I was in the workshop, and the tutor, Stephen Howell, who is the Academic Engagement Manager at Microsoft Ireland, did a fantastic job explaining the code and navigating the participants through the problems they had. The workshop was well-paced, and Stephen planned ahead to ensure everyone could follow the instructions. Therefore, the difficulties that still emerged when participants engaged with the code tell something more than pedagogical styles or approaches. For example, writing code or setting parameters are much more contingent in civic hacking events. Decisions have to be made with partial or limited information, skill sets contingent upon the participants of the day, with time and resources constraints, without knowing fully about the individuals or organisations that can be affected, etc. Some of these issues are discussed in another working paper on the frictions and strategies in civic hacking (paper is here). Further, there are also the issues concerning who these programmers are; how they perceive themselves in relation to their skills and genders; how they organise communities and spaces to support themselves? These are something that Sophia Maalsen and I continue to work on and to share with you again soon.

Have a look at the paper here if interested, and let me know what you think!


Cathal Gurrin and Rami Albatal – Lifelogging: Challenges and Opportunities in a new era of Personal Data

On May 27th 2015, Cathal Gurrin and Rami Albatal visited the Programmable City Project and delivered a seminar on lifelogging, covering the history of creating lifelogs, technological developments in the field, the current state of the practice and future possibilities for comprehensive personal data.

The talk was extremely well received, and this video of the event should be of interest to anone interested in lifelogging, the quantified self, personal or wearable technologies or the emergence and possibilities of personal data.

Cathal Gurrin and Rami Albatal – Lifelogging – Challenges and Opportunities for a new era of personal data from The Programmable City on Vimeo.

You can also listen to the audio recording of the discussion afterwards on issues around privacy, surveillance and more here:


Event – Privacy: gathering insights from lawyers and technologists

privacy-law-highlightThe roundtable event ‘Privacy: Gathering insights from lawyers and technologists’ is scheduled for Wednesday 1st July 2015. The Event will be held at the Phoenix Building, North Campus, Maynooth University and has been organised by faculty at the University in conjunction with the British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association.

The event will bring technologists, legal practitioners, technology companies and academics together in order to address the common issues faced by the different parties. The goal is to facilitate the communication of differing perspectives in an effort to formulate a unified approach to developing privacy issues.

Confirmed speakers for the event are:

Dara Murphy, TD – Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection.
Helen Dixon – Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland.

Confirmed speakers for the first session of the event, “Privacy in a digital world: notions and understandings of privacy in a digital infrastructure”, are:

Confirmed speakers for the second session of the event, “The Right to be Forgotten, demystified…”, are:

  • Ronan Kennedy, Lecturer in Law, National University of Ireland, Galway.
  • Dr Michael Lang, Lecturer in Information Systems, National University of Ireland, Galway.
  • William Malcolm, Senior Privacy Counsel, Google
  • Rob Corbet, Technology and Innovation Lawyer, Arthur Cox
  • Eoin O’Dell, Associate Professor, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin

For further information and tickets to the event, please visit the project webpage or contact the organisers Maria Murphy or Leighton Evans.

New book: Locative Social Media: Place in the Digital Age by Leighton Evans

locative social mediaLeighton Evans‘ first book – Locative Social Media: Place in the Digital Age – has just been published by Palgrave.  A great achievement and a very useful addition to the literature, combining theoretical rigour with rich empirical material.  The back cover blurb runs thus:

Locative Social Media offers a critical analysis of the effect of using locative social media on the perceptions and phenomenal experience of lived in spaces and places. It includes a comprehensive overview of the historical development of traditional mapping and global positioning technology to smartphone-based application services that incorporate social networking features as a series of modes of understanding place. Drawing on users accounts of the location-based social network Foursquare, a digital post-phenomenology of place is developed to explain how place is mediated in the digital age. This draws upon both the phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and post-phenomenology to encompass the materiality and computationality of the smartphone. The functioning and surfacing of place by the device and application, along with the orientation of the user, allows for a particular experiencing of place when using locative social media termed attunement, in contrast to an instrumentalist conception of place.

Copies can be ordered from Palgrave, Amazon and all other book retailers.

Many congrats, Leighton.  Hopefully the first of many books.  Details on book launch to follow.


Videos and slides from seminar 2: Coding Play/Crafting Code in the City

The videos and sldes of the presentations in our last seminar are now ready! Enjoy!

Talk 1: Andrea Magnorsky, GameCraft and BatCat Games

Talk 2: Dr. Aphra Kerr, Sociology, NUI Maynooth

Our third seminar invites Dr David Prendergast to speak about Sustainable Connected Cities and the London Living Labs Project. Remember to add the seminar details below into your diary!

Time: 16:00 – 18:00, Wednesday, 19 February, 2014

Venue: Room 2.31, 2nd Floor Iontas Building, North Campus NUI Maynooth (Map)