Our techno-scientific world is a historical novelty, and it’s complex.
We humans did not evolve for this new world. We have not experienced the magnitude of it’s consequences (unintended or otherwise) and their harms.
I’m talking about things like environmental toxins, industrial pollutants, gamma radiation, and so on. I’m also talking about things we can sense, but can’t really get an accurate handle on, like mold, or noise pollution.
While we wait for our senses to catch up to the new reality, we can use technology to help us sense those unsensible things in our environment. Right? Not so fast. As you’ll hear in this episode, although the tech is there, it’s difficult to implement.
In episode 19 of the Working Together Podcast, I talk with Gui Seiz from Fab Lab Barcelona about a project they are piloting called Making Sense. As you’ll learn in this episode, it’s not the tech that’s the problem, it’s our ability to put it to use in a way that’s meaningful and lasting.
Although we explore the fascinating world of homemade sensors and citizen science, our conversation finds its gravitational centre in some big questions (some implied others not), like:
- What does it take to create a community of learners eager to articulate issues and design and implement scalable technical solutions to them?
- How can this learning and doing process be facilitated between experts and laypeople?
- What are the underlying mechanics for sustained community engagement?
- What happens after the project, or the initiative is over?
- How can we foster communities that are competent to begin exploring technical solutions to commons issues?
This episode reminded me of some of the group facilitation tools designed to help experts and laypeople work together. I’ve explored these tools in previous episodes: remember MASS LBP’s use of citizen reference panels (episode 6), or Patrick Condon’s work on design charettes (episode 11)? Where those tools were all about developing a sense of personal and political efficacy, my talk with Gui centres around the question of how to go about developing a sense of technical and scientific efficacy amongst the general public. I hope you enjoy it!
References, allusions, and mentions implied:
- Internet of Things (IofT)
- Citizen Science
- Fab Lab Barcelona
- Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
- Hakerspace (i.e. Makerspace)
- 3D Printing
- Fab City (Contributive Cities)
- Solutionism, the folly of
- Smart Citizen Kit
- Open Source
- 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
- Bell Curve
- European Union
- Making Sense’s Consortium: Fab Lab Barcelona; WAAG Society, Amsterdam; Peer Education Network, Kosovo; University of Dundee, Scotland; Joint Research Commission (JRC), Brussels.
- Community of Interest
- Community of Practice
- To Save Everything, Click Here by Evgeny Morozov (seems like a good balance to Kevin Kelly’s books!)
- Newspapers of the Future
- Penguin and the Leviathan by Yochai Benkler
- Governing the Commons
- Ideas for Change
- Open Source Business Models
- Exponential Growth
- Convival Toolbox by Liz Sanders
Credit where credit is due:
- Intro music: Kosmiche Slop by Anenon, licensed under CC BY 2.0.
- Outro music: Scattered Wave by Asura, licensed under CC BY 2.0.