Category Archives: Digital Innovation

Experimentation at Scale: Towards Urban Capacity Building for Citizen-Centric Innovation

Cities may be the most complex systems to manage because everyone has an opinion on how to do it best. And many options are always on the table. Instead of dismissing the ones and favoring the others, experimentation promises to provide a structured method of innovation where a large part of stakeholders can get their say, reveal their perception of a problem and commonly work towards a solution. The motto is to experiment locally, involve as many and see where the journey can link you up to other cities and their best practices. But you need to have a set of engagement principles in place to build trust in the process.

This paper presents findings from two projects where experimentation was developed into a viable method of citizen-centric innovation – Dampbusters using the Bristol approach and OrganiCity in Aarhus, London and Santander, building an Experimentation-as-a-Service platform across cities through co-creation. As a central outcome, the paper concludes that experimentation as an approach to innovation is most sustainable, when it has lateral effects: Besides the gains and insights of individual projects, experimentation-as-a-service needs to contribute to an institutional framework within city governance to support new forms of civic and technological capacity building. Start with the OrganiCity playbook and sketch your journey.

The article was part of a special issue on “Urban Informatics: Decoding Urban Complexities Through Data-Sciences”, edited by Nimish Biloria for Smart and Sustainable Built Environment and appeared in 2018.

Core Message

The scalability of urban innovation processes crucially depends on developing systemic capabilities to experiment within cities and in collaborations between cities to establish best practices, standards and ecosystems between actors and institutions.This is an ongoing process in which very different ecologies of actors and approaches for experimentation will likely emerge. A core area of future research and intervention lies in revealing the relation between translocal standards and infrastructures and their individual adoption in cities, their role in shaping actors’ practices around IoT data and community engagement as well as the larger digital transition that affects governance structures across city spaces.(p.160)

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how experimentation with open Internet of Things data can be institutionalised in an inclusive manner at scale.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach is conceptual, addressing key challenges discussed in the literature on experimental cities. This exposition of the problem of scaling experimentation is anchored in findings from two projects (Dampbusters and OrganiCity), which seek to implement experimentation as a practice of sustainable digital urban development.

Findings

One central finding is that local interventions need transferable frameworks and mechanisms to achieve scaling effects of experimentation as a practice. In addition, experimentation must embed common engagement principles, structures of data and interfaces, and governance principles across use cases to be scaled.

Originality/value

The authors outline how and why experimentation can be a useful approach to address challenges of implementing urban informatics into concrete uses and procedures for co-creation. Based on reports from two projects, the authors develop recommendations for experimentation at scale that reflect the need for engagement principles, the need for common data structures and interfaces, as well as governance principles.

Cite

Brynskov, Martin; Heijnen, Adriënne; Balestrini, Mara; Raetzsch, Christoph (2018). “Experimentation at Scale: Challenges for Making Urban Informatics Work.” Special Issue on “Urban Informatics: Decoding Urban Complexities Through Data-Sciences” (edited by Nimish Biloria). Smart and Sustainable Built Environment 7(1): 150-163. https://dx.doi.org/10.1108/SASBE-10-2017-0054.

The Bike-friendly City as a Communicative Object

In December 2017, Martin Brynskov and me published a collaborative and exploratory piece on communicative objects. The prompt was a special issue of the Brazilian open access journal Parágrafo, managed and edited by Rafael Grohmann, on “Boundaries of Journalism” (including – inter alia – contributions by Alice Mattoni, Nikki Usher and Rodney Benson). In our article, we address the complexity of a public issue like the bike-friendly city and the various sources of data and media we, as journalism and media scholars, can access to understand processes of public contention. Based on the case study of #Radentscheid in Berlin, we offer a basic contextual framing of communicative objects and develop a typology of such objects. A cornerstone of our article is a discussion of the methodological challenges when investigating public issues through communicative objects, which transgress established disciplinary boundaries and explanatory schemes because they are situated in overlapping social, medial and political contexts.

Abstract

This paper addresses the boundaries of journalism through a perspective of communicative objects. Introduced as a heuristic concept, communicative objects focus attention on the processes and practices of meaning-making inside and outside publics as much as addressing the materiality of these processes that take place in digital and networked media. As more and more platforms and services are developed to involve actors in different socio-cultural settings in forms of public communication, the concept of the communicative object accentuates the materiality and epistemologies of these settings. The article builds on the case study of a citizen’s initiative for a bike-friendly city in Berlin (Germany) to outline methodological inroads and theoretical implications of the communicative object. The aim is to problematize rather than resolve tensions between everyday usage of media technologies, journalistic professional expertise and the practices of meaning-making that exist and evolve outside of journalism. Through the concept we also address new epistemological challenges of analyzing digital media, which emerge as a result of new interaction potentials of communicative objects which we cannot capture in a document-oriented research methodology.

Here you go

Challenging the Boundaries of Journalism through Communicative Objects: Berlin as a Bike-friendly City and #Radentscheid

Cite as

The article was originally published in Portuguese. Please refer to the original source as Raetzsch, Christoph; Brynskov, Martin (2017). “Desafiando as Fronteiras Do Jornalismo Por Meio de Objetos Comunicativos: Berlim Como Uma Cidade Bike-Friendly E #radentscheid [Challenging the Boundaries of Journalism Through Communicative Objects: Berlin as a Bike-Friendly City and #radentscheid].” Parágrafo: Revista Científica de Comunicação Social da FIAM-FAAM 5(2): 110-127. http://revistaseletronicas.fiamfaam.br/index.php/recicofi/article/view/681. Published in English at https://futuremaking.space/blog/challenging-boundaries-journalism-communicative-objects-berlin-bike-friendly-city-radentscheid/

Journalism Studies beyond Journalism

In 2014, I joined a conference in honor of Michael Schudson at the University of Groningen (NL).  Some of the contributions to that conference are now published in a special issue of Journalism Studies titled “The Unlovable Press? Conversations with Michael Schudson” (edited by Marcel Broersma and Chris Peters).

This is what my article is about:

This article discusses the work of Michael Schudson and encourages research in journalism studies that addresses the formation of publics rather than only journalistic institutions. Reviewing Schudson’s work on the cultural history of modern journalism, the article focuses especially on the relation of journalism to culture and technology.

The first part argues that Schudson’s proficiency in cultural history distinguishes his writings as both profound, witty and appealing for expert and non-expert readers alike. His early works vividly explore the historical contingencies that defined modern journalism as an important site for cultural negotiation over what it means to live in the present.

The second part critically points out Schudson’s reluctance to theorise the relation of journalism to technology, even though he has implicitly interrogated the “content of the form” of modern journalism throughout.

The last part is a plea for an extension of journalism studies to understand processes in which publics are forming today. In regard of a radically pluralised field of public contestation in social media and other online platforms, Schudson’s insistence on the relevance (and privilege) of journalistic institutions should be amended by a methodological renewal to investigate new modes of public articulation—beyond journalism.

Article link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2017.1338151

See the response by Michael Schudson on all articles in the Special Issue: “Second Thoughts: Schudson on Schudson” (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1461670X.2017.1343931). Republished in Schudson, Michael (2018) Why Journalism Still Matters. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Image taken from The People’s Almanac, 1834. New York: David Felt. Double page spread and detail enlargement “Aspects, Holidays, Weather, Remarks, &c.” . Courtesy American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA.