Tender Shoots

Today my new role got under way as a Creativeworks Entrepreneur in Residence in School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Birkbeck University of London. Over the next three months I’ll be collaborating with George Roussos, Professor of Pervasive Computing in a very different way to how we’ve worked before (we collaborated on a couple of projects back in 2006 and 2008). This time we don’t have a specific project in mind, rather we have structured the residency as a way of embedding me within the department to bring some of my concepts and methods into the mix of practices already being used by staff and students. Specifically we are focusing on ideas around “data manifestation” and “embodying meaning” emanating from the Lifestreams project I led with Stefan Kueppers (in collaboration with Philips Research) – i.e. introducing some radical and dynamic ways of thinking about the nature of how we interact with “data” and computation.

This rather elegantly complements the other strands I have been developing and working on this year. A few months ago I was made an Honorary Research Associate of the ExCiteS research group at UCL, where I am collaborating with Professor Muki Haklay and Dr Jerome Lewis on exploring new ways of recording and sharing indigenous forms of knowledge for forest peoples. This is itself an extension of my ongoing collaboration with anthropologist Professor James Leach (University of Western Australia/CNRS Marseille) on indigenous knowledge documentation and sharing in Papua New Guinea with the people of Reite. James and I have recently been awarded funding from the Christensen Fund to continue our work in PNG over the next two years.

There are also very interesting cross-cutting currents with the project I have been consulting on this summer for Professor Helen Dawes in the Movement Science Research group at Oxford Brooke’s University. They are developing a Rehabilitation Tool to assist survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury in documenting and sharing their experiences of rehabilitation. I have been helping them devise a strategy for developing such systems from scratch to include not just the clinical and medical research perspectives, but fundamentally the ‘patient’ or TBI survivor’s perspective too. This is part of a large EU project, CENTER-TBI, so part of our work is in thinking about the implications for designing something that could potentially be rolled out across 28 countries and many languages, on top of the multifarious cognitive and physical disabilities that TBI survivors typically endure.

This last year has been a challenging shift for me, from being wholly focused on leading Proboscis and devising projects around a team of people with different talents and skills, towards a new horizon based on my own practice and how I can work personally with others. Its taken quite a while to pull enough things together to feel like I’m on solid ground again – and there are other irons in the fire that I’m hoping will begin to take shape over the next few months. I hope to be sharing more exciting projects and news as the year progresses.