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Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment

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Considering Design as a set of practices that impact on the environment in which we lead our everyday activities, we assume that enacted narratives grounded on transmedia practices (formats based on audiovisual contents about communities and keeping with their surroundings) are able to support innovations stemming from local communities, as they constitute the most basic form of social life (Czarniawska, 2004). By presenting the case study of Plug Social TV, through which we experienced audio-visual languages and products in a collaborative process, we wish to discuss participatory design practices and storytelling both as opportunities for identity building and community engagement, and tools that can lead, support and amplify active communities' initiatives. By analysing the preliminary outcomes of this project, there can be identified two critical poles: on one hand, the design issue of having a strong communicative narrative structure within a participatory process; on the other hand, the lack of patterns recognition into a total fictional world, as a social issue. Our assumption is that the interdisciplinary work of designers, filmmakers and social scientists can build a setting enabling the inclusion of different kind of ‘usable knowledges’ (Fareri, 2009), facilitating interactions, enhancing reflexivity and generating feedback loops. Starting from the same case study, the paper presents a critical perspective on practices oriented to social innovation and on the use of storytelling in the design field and the of visual and narrative approach in social research.
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A Matter of Design|Proceedings of the 5th STS Italian Conference
A Matter of Design: Making Society trough Science and Technology
Proceedings of the 5th STS Italia Conference
Edited by Claudio Coletta, Sara Colombo, Paolo Magaudda, Alvise
Mattozzi, Laura Lucia Parolin and Lucia Rampino
An Open Access Digital Publication by STS Italia Publishing
Released: December 2014
ISBN: 978-90-78146-05-6
Publishing project: Paolo Magaudda
Editing and layout: Stefano Crabu
Cover design: Sara Colombo
Contact: STS Italia, Via Carducci 32, 20123, Milano.
Email: stsitalia.org@gmail.com
The 5th STS Italia Conference was supported by: Doctoral Programme in
Design - Politecnico di Milano, Fondazione Bassetti and Fastweb.
A pdf version of this publication can be downloaded at: www.stsItalia.org
This publication is licensed under the
Creative Commons: Attribution,
Noncommercial, No Derivative Works - 2.5
Italian License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 IT).
A Matter of Design|Proceedings of the 5th STS Italian Conference
TABLE OF CONTENTS
EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION
An ‘Epistemic’ Encounter between STS and Design
I
SECTION I
Design, Social Innovation, and Cultural Identities
Diachronous Dilemma: representing American hegemony in three centuries
of attitudes to design
Ted Cavanagh
3
Design Practice: Making Beyond Borders
Carla Cesare
17
‘We, L’Aquila’: Production and representation of urban space through a
social map platform
Manuela Farinosi, Alessandra Micalizzi
35
The game as social activator, between Design and Sociology: a
multidisciplinary framework to analyse and improve the ludic experiences
and their social impact
Enrico Gandolfi, Ilaria Mariani
51
Towards a transnational history of urban design
Michel Geertse
69
L’approccio storico al design. Stereotipi, aporie, paradigmi (?)
Giorgio Giallocosta, M. Cristina Tonelli
85
Valorizzazione, fundraising, design: un’innovazione sostenibile per il
patrimonio culturale italiano
Gianluca Grigatti
99
Identità visive generative. Programmare la corporate identity
Francesco E. Guida
111
Street Furniture and the Nation State: A Global Process
Eleanor Herring
127
Beyond social innovation: design as cultures active-action
Eleonora Lupo
137
(Dis)placement of/by Design: Social Construction of Pojang-macha
(Re)Designing in Seoul
Min Soo-hong
155
Cities transformations, social innovation and service design
Alessandro Deserti, Francesca Rizzo
169
Temporal merging of actantial models of space
Gunnar Sandin
185
Narrare il Territorio: Dispositivi e Strategie d'Innovazione per gli Spazi
Percepiti
Giovanni Baule, Daniela Anna Calabi, Sabrina Scuri
201
TABLE OF CONTENTS / INDICE
Social Design for whom and what purpose? Community network
knowledge, conversation-as-commoning and design research
Kaye Shumack
217
Otherwise Engaged: designing a post-digital Space of Appearance in
Auckland, New Zealand
Charles Walker, Dermott McMeel
233
SECTION II
Design, Creativity, and Process
A Manifesto of Change or Design Imperialism? A Look at the Purpose of the
Social Design Practice
Danah Abdulla
245
Exploring Model Making: Translating Intuitive Aspects Of Conceptual
Models Into Digital Realm
Elif Aktaş
261
L'immaginazione ludica, un sapere incarnato nella materia
Francesca Antonacci
281
Doing Stuff with Stuff: Designing for the Everyday Metamorphosis of
Collaborative Work Environments
Chris Berthelsen, Charles Walker
295
Designing the Body of Architecture Through Biological Analogies
Fiorenza Gamba
311
Are Open Innovation processes structured for disturbance?
Jan Eckert, Lukas Scheiber, Peter Schwehr
329
Innovative processes for jewellery production
Paola Garbagnoli, Maria Vittoria Diamanti, Barbara Del Curto, Valeria
Masconale, Maria Pia Pedeferri
341
Procedures for Community Based Parametric Design and Making
Jason S. Johnson, Alyssa Haas, Guy Gardner
351
Smart materials: development of new sensory experiences through stimuli
responsive materials
Esther Lefebvre, Agnese Piselli, Jenny Faucheu, David Delafosse, Barbara Del
Curto
367
Participating in infrastructuring. The active role of visitors and curators in
museums
Teresa Macchia, Lily Diaz, Vincenzo D'Andrea
383
The Human Creator as an Interface
Sandra Plontke
395
Research Through Design: What Does it Mean for a Design Artifact to be
Developed in the Scientific Context?
Selena Savic, Jeffrey Huang
409
A Matter of Design|Proceedings of the 5th STS Italian Conference
D-STEM: a Design led approach to STEM innovation
Anne Toomey, Veronika Kapsali
425
The ‘Makers contradiction’. The shift from a counterculture-driven DIY
production to a new form of DIY consumption
Alessandro Carelli, Massimo Bianchini, Venanzio Arquilla
439
Foretelling and Shaping the Future of Technology: the Role of
Communication Designers in the Design of Innovation
Margherita Pillan, Marco Spadafora, Annamaria Andrea Vitali
461
Break-it, hack-it, make-it: the ‘Hack-a-Thing’ workshop series as a showcase
for the integration of creative thinking processes into FabLab Genk
Katrien Dreessen, Selina Schepers, Danny Leen, Kris Luyten, Tom De Weyer
477
SECTION III
Digital Media and Knowledge Society
Designing Identities on the Digital Mirrors of Facebook: The Reflection &
the Real
Zeynep Arda
495
Quis Monet Ipsos Monitores? Motivations, methodological issues and
techniques for monitoring the controversy on surveillance as a topic in on-
line scraped textual data
Alberto Cammozzo, Andrea Lorenet
511
Affrontare il divario generazionale tecnologico attraverso il gioco
Giuliana Catapano, Ilaria Mariani
527
From bits to atoms: sensory displays for digital information
Sara Colombo, Lucia Rampino
547
The Big Data as ‘presentification’ of knowledge
Sabino Di Chio
569
Networked and Technological Paradigms of Digital Whistleblowing
Philip Di Salvo
583
Identità immortali. L’Afterlife digitale come estensione dell’identità
Fiorenza Gamba
595
Big Data and Nate Silver’s Computational Protocols: predictive Analytics
and innovative Digital Methods for the Study of the Political Trends. A
critical debate
Michele Infante
609
Towards a typology of materiality/corporeality of music in the digital
multimedia regime
Stefano Lombardi Vallauri
635
Borders. Visual analysis of Cinema’s inner dynamics and evolutions. A case
study based on the Internet Movie Database
Giovanni Magni, Paolo Ciuccarelli, Giorgio Uboldi, Giorgio Caviglia
647
TABLE OF CONTENTS / INDICE
Smart Meters as boundary objects in the energy paradigm change: the
CIVIS experience
Giacomo Poderi, Matteo Bonifacio, Andrea Capaccioli, Vincenzo D'Andrea,
Maurizio Marchese
667
The materiality of code: Towards an understanding of socio-technical
relations
Winnie Soon
681
Digital literacy e disuguaglianze tra i giovani: oltre le metafore
semplificatorie
Simona Tirocchi
697
Orientare l’analisi. Una semiotica critica e materiale è possibile?
Matteo Treleani
711
Mobility and the Smart City. Innovative Solutions for Responsive Urban
Spaces
Marco Zilvetti, Fausto Brevi
725
SECTION IV
Aesthetics, Narration and Critical Design
Narratives And The Co-Design Of Spaces For Innovation
Anzoise Valentina, Stefania Sardo
Lições de Salazar [Salazar's lessons] 1938: the role of progress and
technology on an authoritarian regime ideology
Carlos Bártolo
Experts, Expertise and Qualitative Judgment in Canadian Architectural
Competitions
Carmela Cucuzzella, Jean-Pierre Chupin
Il concetto di sostenibilità nella moda: il caso della lana rustica italiana
Monica Cariola, Greta Falavigna, Valentina Moiso, Elena Pagliarino
Estetiche dei futuri come estetiche dei contrasti. Processi design driven di
costruzione condivisa di scenari
Flaviano Celaschi, Elena Formia
The rhetoric and rhetoricality of Bio-Design
Marjan Groot
Chasing The Hobbit. The Cultural Contents Of Mainstream Media Products
Luca Guerrini
Design, scienza ed estetica nei territori dell’innovazione
Francesca La Rocca
The Human Emotional System and the Creativity in Design
Marco Maiocchi, Margherita Pillan
Autarchy: The Making of Dutch Design in Practice
Joana Ozorio De Almeida Meroz
A Matter of Design|Proceedings of the 5th STS Italian Conference
Interferenze digitali. Un'estetica delle pratiche digitali a supporto del
discorso di design
Elisa Bertolotti, Federica D’urzo, Francesca Piredda
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
Valentina Anzoise, Francesca Piredda, Simona Venditti
Today’s culture jamming aesthetics: an investigation to understand the
consumption of visual resistance
Andréa Poshar
Unpleasant Design. Designing Out Unwanted Behaviour
Gordan Savicic, Selena Savic
When Human Body Meets Technology: The Designer Approach to Wearable
Devices
Venere Ferraro, Matteo O. Ingaramo
Per una sperimentazione materica postdigitale. Oltre i bits, i nuovi atomi
Chiara Scarpitti
SECTION V
New and Responsible Socio-Technical Paradigms
Anticipating and Responding to Challenges Regarding Digital Technologies
and Valuing
Barbara Andrews, David Hakken, Maurizio Teli
Citizens’ veillance on environmental health through ICT and genes
Annibale Biggeri, Mariachiara Tallacchini
The Corporation and the Panchayat. Negotiations of knowledge in an Indian
Technology Park
Elena Bougleux
From physical to digital. A new way of interaction with an Integrated
System of smart appliances
Silvia D. Ferraris, Lucia Rampino
Grounded Reflexivity: an approach to the polysemy of Responsible
Research and Innovation
Robert Gianni, Philippe Goujon
La valutazione delle prestazioni urbanistiche dei parchi scientifici e
tecnologici: alcuni casi italiani a confronto
Giampiero Lombardini
Digital Makers: an Ethnographic Study of the FabLab Amsterdam Users
Irene Maldini
Collective decision making on risk management and sustainable
manufacturing of nanomaterials and the role of decision support tools
Ineke Malsch, Vrishali Subramanian, Elena Semenzin, Danail Hristozov,
Antonio Marcomini
TABLE OF CONTENTS / INDICE
RECYCLE TOOLKIT. Strategie per il riciclo di aree dismesse
Chiara Olivastri
In the Interior of Innovation: The FabLab Synthesis of Physical and Virtual
Environments
Ricardo Saint-Clair
Radical Innovation in Urban Development as Making Unfolds Its Potential
Peter Troxler, Gert-Joost Peek
SECTION VI
Health, Safety, and Wellbeing
The document use as a situated practice in pre-hospital emergency care
Petra Auvinen, Hannele Palukka, Ilkka Arminen
L’interpenetrazione tra valori e design nell’ideazione, implementazione e
funzionamento della rete di Telessaùde brasiliana
Carlo Botrugno
Una tutela ‘by design’ del diritto alla salute. Prospettive di armonizzazione
giuridica e tecnologica
Raffaella Brighi, Maria Gabriella Virone
The role of artefacts in the coordination of home care practices
Adeline Hvidsten, Antonalla La Rocca, Thomas Hoholm
Taking Care of Drivers/Taking Care of Technologies? Tensions and Promises
of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Oana Mitrea
Spazi di transizione tra strutture sociosanitarie e città. Condividere
funzionalità in ambiente urbano
Valentina Napoli
Design partecipato e pratiche della sicurezza nei cantieri
Silvia Pericu
Connective practices in the access of immigrants to healthcare services: The
role of the language and cultural mediator as a boundary subject
Paolo Rossi, Mara Tognetti Bordogna
Improving medical information of blood tests results through the
application of co-design
Mónica Santos, Susana Barreto, Katja Tschimmel
Enhancing Corporeal Boundaries through Technology
Secil Ugur Yavuz
Il progetto della casa sensibile Designing the Sense-Able Home
Niccolò Casiddu, Claudia Porfirione, Matteo Zallio
Organizzare la cura fuori dai contesti istituzionali: il caso dei pazienti anziani
con terapie complesse
Alberto Zanutto, Francesco Miele, Enrico Maria Piras, Claudio Coletta, Attila
Bruni
A Matter of Design|Proceedings of the 5th STS Italian Conference
935
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for
Community Empowerment
Valentina ANZOISE a, Francesca PIREDDA*b and Simona VENDITTI b
a Ca' Foscari University; b Politecnico di Milano
Considering Design as a set of practices that impact on the environment
in which we lead our everyday activities, we assume that enacted narratives
grounded on transmedia practices (formats based on audiovisual contents
about communities and keeping with their surroundings) are able to support
innovations stemming from local communities, as they constitute the most
basic form of social life (Czarniawska, 2004). By presenting the case study of
Plug Social TV, through which we experienced audio-visual languages and
products in a collaborative process, we wish to discuss participatory design
practices and storytelling both as opportunities for identity building and
community engagement, and tools that can lead, support and amplify active
communities' initiatives. By analysing the preliminary outcomes of this
project, there can be identified two critical poles: on one hand, the design
issue of having a strong communicative narrative structure within a
participatory process; on the other hand, the lack of patterns recognition into
a total fictional world, as a social issue. Our assumption is that the
interdisciplinary work of designers, filmmakers and social scientists can build
a setting enabling the inclusion of different kind of ‘usable knowledges’
(Fareri, 2009), facilitating interactions, enhancing reflexivity and generating
feedback loops. Starting from the same case study, the paper presents a
critical perspective on practices oriented to social innovation and on the use
of storytelling in the design field and the of visual and narrative approach in
social research.
Keywords: Narratives; social innovation; participatory practices; audiovisual
language
Introduction
Enacted narratives are actions which are discursively constructed and
undertaken, and can be considered as practices able to support innovations
* Corresponding author: Francesca Piredda | e-mail: francesca.piredda@polimi.it
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
936
stemming from local communities, since they constitute the most basic form
of social life (Czarniawska, 2004). With the notion of enacted narratives we
refer to the particular narratives ‘embodied’ and put into play by people,
which instantiate (fully or partially) the narrative structures that narrators
and listeners from the same narrative community share and can recognize as
cultural facts. Tales and myths are among the highest expressions of
narrative structures that circulate within a narrative community and that its
members begin listening as infants and continue listening, and then telling,
throughout their lives. E.g. probably most of European people know the tale
of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, and have - somehow - enacted this narrative
structure in their childhood (i.e. transgressing rules given by adults, etc.)
From the design point of view, a sustainable innovation process is a
‘social process of learning’ (Manzini, 2003). Different languages and formats
can provide support to pursue this aim, e.g. in the realm of scenario
building, visualizations of possible solutions and brief narratives describing
the deepest motivations for people engagement are always needed (Carroll,
1995). Indeed, the social benefit of narratives can be then identified into the
ability to create imaginary worlds that can be considered as reflective layers
of reality, from which the narrative structure is transferred to the current
context, generating actions which are driven by individual and/or collective
narrative logics (Lane, 2005).
Narratives and communities
Narratives – primarily because of their sense-making function and as
privileged ‘access’ to understand how individuals structure the unknown and
social change occurs – constitute powerful resources for ‘designed’ or
intentional action. Moreover, they help to explain the relationships between
events in a process and encode all kinds of data that are relevant for a wide
range of phenomena as they are among the ‘most widely used forms of
organizing human experience’ (Bruner, 1991, p. 9).
Therefore, narrative accounts are constructs that serve to ‘enable and
constrain further action and further accounting, regardless of who produces
them’ (Pentland, 1999, p. 721). They are especially relevant because people
do not simply tell stories, but they also enact them: being not just a form of
representing but also of constituting reality (Bruner, 1991). Moreover,
stories provide legitimacy and accountability for people’s actions as they
respond to a narrative logic that allows individuals to make sense out of
what is happening around them and to proactively plan and act even upon
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
937
arising challenges and uncertainties. Nonetheless, although narratives do
not just reflect process but also shape them, they have not equal
possibilities to drive changes: dominant discourses are inscribed in societal
institutions, in text and discourses, behaviours and material culture, giving
them enormous material advantages, whereby alternative discourses tend
to remain marginalized (Witkin, 2010). Indeed, each group’s narrative
privileges some voices and silences others: they are exercises of power.
Selective silencing is an unavoidable feature of narrative: finding the
silent voices and revealing the sources of power in a narrative constitute one
purpose of deconstruction. Moreover, the loose link between intentional
states and subsequent action is the reason why narrative accounts cannot
provide causal explanations, although we can come to know the reasons and
the interpretations given by individuals for things happening.
The elements sketched above lead us to the importance of detecting
(and supporting) narratives (either dominant or emerging) as they are the
basis of the construction and reproduction of communities and collective
imaginaries, i.e. a narrative community consists of – a group of people – no
matter if they have ever physically met each other, whose communion is
based on the sharing and understanding of a set of narratives (and narrative
structures). Just a limited number is at hands to produce the stories its
members share, but they are the focal pivots upon which the identities of
the group are constructed, actions are fostered and events are interpreted.
Therefore, the role of communication design in building and fostering
capabilities that support the understanding and construction of narrative
communities, is crucial.
Audiovisual storytelling and design for social
innovation
Quoting Carl DiSalvo (2009) we might say that communication design has
a crucial role in the construction of publics: because of rhetorical strategies
for opening up meanings and adapting them, the communication designer
can find the proper forms for re-shaping the artefacts and events produced
by users and communities, both tracing the conditions and the
consequences of an issue.
As designers and scholars with specific expertise in audio-visual
storytelling and transmedia strategies, we are experimenting the
contribution of communication within co-design process together with an
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
938
approach aimed at enabling social dialogue and the build up of shared
visions using the transformative power of stories.
We have been exploring envisioning and storytelling as design acts
towards a community-centred communication (Piredda, 2008; Galbiati,
Piredda, Mattana and Bertolotti, 2010). Referring to the term empowerment
as the process of enabling local communities to increase their active
participation in social life, developing projects for the community itself and
building a more liveable neighbourhood, we can describe audiovisual
storytelling as a tool for people empowerment.
The idea that storytelling can play a role in the realm of design for social
innovation is the main topic under discussion within the scientific
community of design at the international level being promoted by IMAGIS
research team - Politecnico di Milano, Design Academy Eindhoven and MAD
Faculty/LUCA within the DESIS Philosophy Talks’ series on Storytelling and
Design for Social Innovation (www.desis-philosophytalks.org): in Dublin
(November 2013), in Eindhoven (February and October 2014), in Milan (May
2014). In these contexts we have been discussing the topic of storytelling,
what we can learn from taking a philosophical perspective, focusing on the
role of storytelling in the practice of design for social innovation as enabling
the opening up of underexplored ranges of meanings in contemporary
society. Looking at the manifold ways design is using storytelling techniques
within its practices, the analysis of some examples coming from designers
themselves highlights the variety of styles and forms emerging both from
the professional and research realms, having stories at every single stage of
the design process for collecting testimonials, creating empathy or
experiencing user’s points of view embedding, performing or enacting their
stories, providing people with further tools for telling stories, envisioning
possible solutions or speculating about the future (forecasting).
For example, in the realm of scenario building, visualizations of possible
solutions and brief narratives describing the deepest motivations for people
engagement are always needed (Carroll, 1995). Quoting Nik Baerten’s video-
statement for the DESIS Philosophy Talk Storytelling #3, ‘On the one hand
[stories] can be considered tools to establish a common ground for
discussion; secondly, they’re tools in order to gain insight into people’s
perspectives; and last but not least, they’re tools to engage or move people.
[...] Stories could play a role bridging the existing situation, the world as
it is and the world that could be, allowing people and designers as well to
render tangible how they experience one and how they would like to
experience the other, with hopes and fears, establishing a sense of distance.
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
939
[...] Stories enable us to establish kaleidoscopic views on how the
situation could be in the future, establishing pathways of change and
engaging people to use their imagination’.
Furthermore, the DESIS in the Mirror project (Bertolotti, Mendoza e
Piredda, 2013) by IMAGIS - Politecnico di Milano and DESIS Network, focuses
on audiovisual storytelling in particular, discussing why video is such a
powerful communication tool, how social innovation projects are
communicated through video and what could be improved encouraging the
cross-fertilization of filmmaking and design practices. ‘Documentation and
audiovisual contents are a privileged way to capture transformations’, says
Andres Burbano Valdez (DESIS Colombia); ‘It is a very powerful way of
communicating complex ideas to people’, as Mugendi K. M’Rithaa (CPUT
DESIS Lab, Cape Town) underlines. Then, according to François Jégou (DESIS
Network - STS) audiovisual storytelling is able ‘to inspire all social innovators,
designers, architects, urban planners, politicians in changing the way they
invent new solutions or new policies’.
Participatory video is a social interaction process, which uses audiovisual
tools to enable dialogue within a community. By directly giving people the
management and the control of the expressive tool, they can discuss themes
and methods on how to face issues affecting the community itself.
In this field, different experiences share the use of documentaries in a
social-anthropological context, but they differ from a methodological point
of view since they use different and multidisciplinary techniques and
approaches, often merging them together.
Participatory video is a process born to support fieldwork (Collizzolli,
2010). Nevertheless, three main elements are common and peculiar: it is a
scriptless video process (audiovisual language is a key element of
expression, without any definition of the subject beforehand); it is directed
by a group of grassroots people; it moves forward in iterative cycles of
shooting-reviewing, activating mechanisms of internal dialogue and self-
awareness. Moreover, participatory video process generates both horizontal
feedbacks with communities sharing similar problems all over the world and
vertical feedbacks linking decision makers and the community itself.
Self-documentation and self-narration, within participatory video
processes, represent a way for people to express themselves and make them
able to spread their experiences as small but meaningful stories (Collizzolli,
2010). ‘As a mediation tool, the power of video was used to help resolve
conflicts, achieve consensus and find a common ground for collective action.
Video [...] demonstrates how powerful images can be used in documenting
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
940
realities, [...] using those realities to bring about significant changes’ (White,
2003). Participatory video could enter the early stages of the design process
developing an audio-visual text that claims to fit into a mainstream. Story
making and video-making as participatory processes need a strategy to
become scalable. They have then a cathartic role for the community itself,
facilitating interaction and enabling self-expression, but, in order to pursue
and widespread beyond the effective surroundings, narrative worlds have to
be unfold in transmedia storytelling. It is all about opening up and expanding
a storyworld across media platforms and engaging the audience within the
transmedia practices as open systems of participation (Gambarato, 2013).
Since video per se is not enough, we are experimenting Social TV as a
platform to foster feedback process between stakeholders, helping people
to become free not only to arrange their daily life with innovative
sustainable solutions, but also to nurture their projects step by step. Our
hypothesis is that such a platform could then give them voice, make them
able to share values and promote the evolution of ongoing initiatives.
Case study: Plug Social TV
Plug Social TV is an ongoing project whose aim is to experience audio-
visual languages and products in a collaborative process, using participatory
design practices and social media. The Social TV includes different formats,
such as web-series, short documentaries and talk shows, whose plots and
characters are based on real people and stories of a specific community
located in a suburban area of Milan, Italy.
The word ‘Social’, related to this project, has a double meaning: on one
hand it refers to Social Media as tools for supporting community building
and co-operation, since Plug is based on digital channels and Social Media,
using Facebook as the main platform. On the other hand, ‘Social TV’ is
intended as a Community Television since it refers to a specific community
showing contents of local interest.
The context in which the project takes place is that of a former industrial
area which has been redeveloped thanks to some urban renewals, and that
hosts a branch of Politecnico di Milano.
In recent years, a heterogeneous mix of inhabitants has populated this
area: former workers of local factories, first and second generations of
foreign citizens and the new community of out-of-town students. This
cultural mixture has amplified the gap between the former industrial
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
941
character focusing on the past and the new international and academic
identity looking into the future.
Furthermore, the introduction of such a huge educational structure into
a neighbourhood portrayed by industrial ruins and with a suburban identity,
has deeply modified not only the territorial configuration, but also the
relationships between citizens and their local district and between
permanent inhabitants and temporary city-users.
In this context, it is necessary to set up processes that are able to reflect
the new complex identity of the neighbourhood, crossing cultural and
generational boundaries, facilitating community relationships and driving
reciprocal exchange dynamics.
The main goal of the project ‘Plug Social TV’ is creating a platform for
dialogue and interaction which makes use of community-based narratives to
express the several identities of the territory and their perception, in order
to support the relationship among the neighbourhood inhabitants and the
students. The model of a participatory communication strategy has the aim
of offering forms and channels of expression for social groups, sharing
common interests and practices.
Second aim is building a 'narrative transmedia landscape' using digital
technologies and new media in order to engage people on a common
narrative about their local area.
Finally, the definition of a model of partnerships with associations of
citizens and local institutions is able to systematically drive citizens' actions
in the direction of a more participatory local administration.
Within the process we involved the neighbourhood associations who are
connected to city municipality, creating a scalable model, in order to give
voice to community’s needs, helping the inhabitants to understand and
address issues affecting them and driving their interests for more efficient
decision-making operations. We included the establishment of partnerships
with local service providers and retailers considering them as stakeholders
that can have an impact on the collaborative process of regeneration and
empowerment of local identity and community participation.
Process
Activities started in October 2013 with a one-day workshop in which
team-works of students and citizens worked collaboratively in order to
explore the neighbourhood in which our University is located, thus creating
a first connection and occasion of meeting.
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
942
A group of active citizens and two classes of students from the Master
Degree course in Communication and Interior Design participated. As
designers and researchers, we facilitated the workshop and we established
partnerships with some citizens’ associations who promoted the event
among other inhabitants and supported workshops’ facilitation.
The whole process counted three main phases: exploration of the local
context, concept and creation of the story world across digital media, video
production and feedbacks.
Aim of the first phase was to explore the local area and investigate the
perception that citizens have of their neighbourhood, asking them to share
needs and expectations. The nine mixed groups, composed by students and
citizens, went out in the neighbourhood and collected audiovisual material
(pictures, videos, interviews, tales from the inhabitants), they identified a
narrative environment and developed a community-based storytelling idea.
The work went on in the following months: students expanded their
short stories and created nine documentaries based on the material they
had collected during the workshop. They presented the documentaries to
the community in December, with an exhibition at the public library. During
the exhibition, students and citizens met again and started discussing about
the visual re-elaboration of the local area: citizens were able to see
themselves interviewed, as well as the people belonging to their community
of reference, they recognized their own voices and opinions in the
interviews and they were able to give feedbacks telling their impressions
and feelings.
The nine documentaries can be considered as mid-term results, which
are able to maintain the connection between the two communities and to
activate a self-recognition process through which individuals and groups can
see themselves as the main characters of a common story.
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
943
Figure 1 Plug Social TV: Timeline of activities and outputs
In order to maintain this dynamic feedback loop, students were asked to
set up the online community, creating the virtual identity for the web-TV
channel. They realized a brand for the web-TV, with a logo and a name (Plug)
and created the profiles on different Social Networks. Facebook has been
chosen as the main platform, but the system involves accounts also on
YouTube and Twitter plus an official landing page.
The use of Social Media as tools and methods for sharing and discussing
information as well as a way to distribute and spread contents of local
interest, have already been proved successful (Lachapelle, 2011).
The use of Social Networks helped us to involve citizens into the
activities, keeping them updated with news and information, giving them a
place – either virtual and physical - where people of the neighbourhood can
discuss, thus creating a basis for further participation and engagement.
In the second phase, students focused on the definition of the story
universe (characters, actions, environments, relationships, etc.) and its
distribution across several channels (online/offline) according to a
transmedia strategy.
The narrative elements that have been collected from the
neighbourhood are, in this second phase, re-elaborated and rearranged in
order to build fictional audio-visual artefacts whose plots are based on
reality. These fictional products are identified as formats that can be
distributed on Social Media channels and that have a transmedia structure.
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
944
For the production phase, students developed nine web-series, which
have different genre, language, tone of voice, media structure and degrees
of engagement and they produced the web-series promos.
Here, we want to focus on two of the productions realized.
The first one, entitled ‘Das de man’ (a dialect form for ‘Give each other a
hand’) has real people of the neighbourhood as main characters and shows
stories that are directly connected to their personal experiences. Locations
are real and plots of the seven episodes are based on specific themes that
are identified by citizens in a co-design activity.
Each episode is produced using UGC (User-Generated Contents): citizens
are taught how to use cameras and tools for video-production through
online tutorials and specific workshops, so that they are able to express
themselves using audio-visual languages.
This format can be considered as a hybrid between documentary and
fiction in which the citizens involved can be divided in two main groups:
those who have a story to tell about the neighbourhood but that are not
familiar with new technologies, social networks and audio-visual
productions and those who wants to represent creatively their own point of
view. The former group is given voice through the transformation of its
stories into fiction, and the latter can find a channel for its self-expression.
Despite the non-professional form of the final product, a strong sense of
belonging to a specific community of interests is activated by the recognition
of real characters, locations and stories.
On the other pole we have a format (‘Civico X’ - ‘House number X’) that
tells the story of an imaginary character, Mr. X, whose personal background
is strongly connected to the history of the neighbourhood.
By using an imaginary story, this web-series wants to address some real
community issues: the relationship between foreign and native citizens, the
generation gap between young and old people, the lack of public green
areas and other general themes as safety and mobility.
This is the case where it is more evident the use of transmedia in order
to fill the gap between reality and fiction: some of the products that appear
in the episodes are, thanks to partnerships with local retailers, produced and
put into the local market. Moreover, some of the characters have their own
personal profile on social networks and they actively interact with the Social
TV main platform, adding details and elements to their story.
The two formats described above can be recognized as two critical poles:
on one hand, the most participatory format involved citizens into the whole
creation process, from the script to the production of the episodes, missing
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
945
the goal of a strong communicative narrative structure. Based on personal
experiences and having a first person point of view, this format doesn’t
share a dramatic arc in which a character struggles and finally triumphs over
adversity. Moreover, as far as a design issue is concerned, the format
production process presents a lack of professional competences and
produces audiovisual outputs characterized by an aesthetics that announces
their bottom-up nature and reclaims a meta-narration of the process itself,
which has to be enhanced (design issue).
On the other hand, there is a total fictional format, which could present
a lack of patterns recognition. As far as the social issue is concerned, the
format is able to speak to a wider audience rather than the citizens of the
neighbourhood: the format is telling a mystery tale and is referring to
universal values such as love and the fight against evil power. Even though
the plot is based on historical facts and on the environmental issues
affecting a specific urban area, you don’t have to be a citizen of that area to
understand the story: it both fascinates the public and engages people in
being proactive, joining the local community, empathizing with citizens and
sharing similar experiences (social issue).
Discussion
Considering Plug Social TV as a case study, Communication Design has
the role of setting up the conditions so that reflective dynamics can be
activated and collaborations among groups of territorial actors developed.
Therefore, our mission is to orient the communication system towards
the construction of a narrative community, starting from the identification of
common interests and the setting up of collaborative communication
activities. The oral storytelling, together with its conceptual and visual
elaboration, the collaborative production of audiovisual artefacts - both
from the creative and technical point of view, the collective viewing in public
spaces of the neighbourhood, the distribution through Social Networks and
other web channels - which expands sharing possibilities and feedback
opportunities, all represent different occasions in which social conversation
can be built and carried on. Groups of citizens are both audiences and
storytellers, they are, together with the designers, the main characters of
narrative acts that require the selection of themes and topics to be
dramatized, goals and audiences to refer to and expressive forms to be
coherent with.
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
946
In this context, web-series are more than just entertaining products: they
deal with hyperlocal topics enacting universal themes and values, which are
discussed within the community of interests and practices that have been
reinforced through the practice itself of the production of audiovisual
artefacts. More than that, thanks to the narrative form, the community is
now able to shape its mission and goals, building networks and gaining
strength, going beyond localism. Thus, communication design takes part in
the co-design process with the aim to decrease the gap between micro-
narratives and mainstream.
Web-series as audiovisual products are addressing the local community
as general audience and local institutions as focus target, but processes and
narrative practices, from which the products come from, represent the most
meaningful aspect, which can attract the audience also outside the
community. They represent best practices to compare with and to amplify
by networking, linking and monitoring the development, also in terms of
social impact.
We can argue that local participatory experiences enabled by Plug Social
TV can build a widespread network of smart community TV all over the
world that is expected to develop micro-narratives beside the mainstream.
Even though it is an on-going project, we are already willing to identify what
could be the proper approach to evaluate the impact and the outcomes – in
terms of cascades of transformations produced and processes triggered - of
this activities, (e.g. the Dynamic Evaluation approach) specifically designed
to follow and support the development of innovation processes, within the
Emergence by Design project (MD, FP7- GA n. 284625
www.emergencebydesign.org). Moreover colleagues from MAD/LUCA in
Genk (Belgium) and Università degli Studi di Verona are already asking to
test this model of transmedia practice with other local communities in
collaboration with local stakeholders, in order to strengthen both the social
role of the academy and the relationship between the campus and the
neighbourhood by building a common narrative.
The narrative process that Plug as transmedia practice is unfolding opens
up new possibilities, according to one of the main characteristics of
participatory video: the original goals defined at the very beginning phase,
even if confirmed, often leave the stage to the brand new social and
communicative aims and solutions that the community of citizens and
researchers together might discover and experience along the way due to
the transformative power of stories.
Design Narratives and Social Narratives for Community Empowerment
947
On one hand, Plug Social TV can be considered as a cultural attractor
(Jenkins, 2006), able to set up the conditions for people engagement in
meaningful experiences. On the other hand, Social TV system scalability can
be possible if we consider it as a format made of practices and partnerships,
which are able to complete social values with the economic ones.
That means that we can refer to the Social TV as a narrative system that
enables communities (worth) and not just as an editorial product with a
commercial account (value) (Jenkins, 2013).
Plug Facebook page, in fact, provides qualitative information coming not
only from the insights, but also from the comments users post on videos.
Thus, they highlight the most meaningful matters: ‘What a thrill!’ (‘Che
emozione!’); ‘I’m so proud of living in this neighbourhood. Beautiful and
precious things are happening’ (‘Orgogliosa di abitare in una zona dove
succedono cose così belle e preziose’); ‘It was nice to meeting you, Mauro!
Good job, Plug, Thank you!’ (‘Che bell’incontro, Mauro! Bravi, Plug, Grazie!’);
‘Great!’ (‘Fantastico!’); ‘Ahah, that’s me and Micia [in the video]’ (‘Ahah, ci
siamo anche io e la Micia’).
Expected results and next steps
The next step of this ongoing project is the production of the web-
episodes together with citizens and partners, developing the participatory
process throughout the audiovisual pipeline and according to the
transmedia strategy. We assume that the different genres of the series
themselves will, in the next future, be able to activate different
communicative patterns and manifold expectations, propping up narrative
acts and enabling different nuances and approaches to participation and
engagement.
But how can we actually keep on monitoring the engagement? We must
consider both quantitative and qualitative results: by the end of February,
after the publication of the web-series promos, Plug Facebook Page had
more than seven hundred ‘likes’ and Plug Youtube channel counted about
two thousand views. Almost a half of Facebook fans were actually active
users, liking, sharing and commenting posts and videos.
What we can consider as a qualitative result is the fact that the most
commented and shared contents are those videos in which the presence of
the community is more evident: we can notice more interest towards those
clips in which citizens are the main characters of the story.
VALENTINA ANZOISE, FRANCESCA PIREDDA, SIMONA VENDITTI
948
Conclusions
We concentrate on the three key features of Transmedia Practice (Dena,
2009): first, the creation of a story world towards the construction of a
complex ‘mythology’ (Jenkins, 2009); second, the distribution of content on
different media with the consequent blurring of boundaries between fiction
and reality; third, the audience engagement, which allows people to
participate into meaning making processes becoming aware of their main
role in the media landscape (Ciancia, 2013).
Putting the project into practice requires a large productive effort, that
we are able to face thanks to the collaboration between students and
citizens. The business model can be sustained merging skills and resources,
which are already available within the community: partnerships, product
placement activities, sponsorships, service providing, stakeholders
involvement, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing initiatives.
However, the final result cannot reach a high quality aesthetical
standard: the online spread of UGC (User-Generated Contents) gets people
used to videos and products realized and distributed online despite a lack of
literacy that broadcasting editors would never distribute on mainstream
channels. Therefore, it is necessary to keep track of the process triggered
and to collect those practices, which are able to communicate and give value
to the social and productive context in which the project is considered as a
meaningful social experience.
The collaboration between professionals and non-professionals, then
needs to be designed: we need to document the process of engaging
citizens and making them become protagonists (both as main characters of
the story and videomakers). We have to film people filming themselves in
order to record the self-narration process, to provide them further materials
for self-expression and self-reflection, and to amplify the project itself and
the framework we are developing (meta-cinema, meta-TV).
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Narrative is especially relevant to the analysis of organizational processes because people do not simply tell stories-they enact them. Narrative data have surface features that are useful for description, but explanatory process theories must be based on deeper structures that are not directly observable. To address this problem and to facilitate better process theory, in this article I use concepts from narrative theory to create a framework for analyzing structural features in narrative data.
Book
Spreadable Media maps fundamental changes taking place in our contemporary media environment, a space where corporations no longer tightly control media distribution and many of us are directly involved in the circulation of content. It contrasts "stickiness"-aggregating attention in centralized places-with "spreadability"-dispersing content widely through both formal and informal networks,some approved, many unauthorized. Stickiness has been the measure of success in the broadcast era (and has been carried over to the online world), but "spreadability" describes the ways content travels through social media. Following up on the hugely influential Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, this book challenges some of the prevailing metaphors and frameworks used to describe contemporary media, from biological metaphors like "memes" and "viral" to the concept of "Web 2.0" and the popular notion of "influencers." Spreadable Media examines the nature of audience engagement,the environment of participation, the way appraisal creates value,and the transnational flows at the heart of these phenomena. It delineates the elements that make content more spreadable and highlights emerging media business models built for a world of participatory circulation. The book also explores the internal tensions companies face as they adapt to the new communication reality and argues for the need to shift from "hearing" to "listening" in corporate culture. Drawing on examples from film, music, games, comics, television,transmedia storytelling, advertising, and public relations industries,among others-from both the U.S. and around the world-the authors illustrate the contours of our current media environment. They highlight the vexing questions content creators must tackle and the responsibilities we all face as citizens in a world where many of us regularly circulate media content. Written for any and all of us who actively create and share media content, Spreadable Media provides a clear understanding of how people are spreading ideas and the implications these activities have for business, politics, and everyday life.
Article
Scientific work is heterogeneous, requiring many different actors and viewpoints. It also requires cooperation. The two create tension between divergent viewpoints and the need for generalizable findings. We present a model of how one group of actors managed this tension. It draws on the work of amateurs, professionals, administrators and others connected to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, during its early years. Extending the Latour-Callon model of interessement, two major activities are central for translating between viewpoints: standardization of methods, and the development of `boundary objects'. Boundary objects are both adaptable to different viewpoints and robust enough to maintain identity across them. We distinguish four types of boundary objects: repositories, ideal types, coincident boundaries and standardized forms.