Communities of Interest and Communities of Practice with Gui Seiz of Making Sense


Making Sense in Placa del Sol

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?
  • Etc.

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!

Have a listen to this and other episodes and subscribe to The Working Together Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and other podcast directories.

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