Over a year ago, the EMAPS project started with ambitious objectives, a clear strategy, enthusiastic partners, two case studies as “fields of operation”, and a lot of uncertainties about what would happen. After this first year and the completion of the first case study on ageing in the UK, we have experimented (created ?) a series of collaborative practices which questions some formulations of the EMAPS strategy as described in the “overall strategy of the work plan” chapter (p. 20 of the description of work). It would be burdensome to define or to justify every aspect of the new strategy as we devised it during the meeting in London in December (it will certainly be partly discussed in the draft of the future article promised by Tommaso). I would like only to submit to you some remarks worthy to be noticed because either all partners must agree on them (including vote), or they impact the description of work and must be validated by the Commission.
Please react on this post, and use it to think of other changes which the new strategy involves, whether in terms of deliverables, timeline (gantt), resources etc. From this we will see how to implement the changes.
“interactive maps”/ “online communication”/ “in vivo”
In the case of ageing, we actually started off with an offline experiment (field investigation, face to face workshops, paper maps, round tables). The Internet was more the place we retrieved data from than the place we wanted to intervene into. Although “online communication” projects were indeed reviewed (Deliverable 1.1), we detached ourselves from the model of online debates, and got closer to online datascape vizualisations.
This was a quite a naive view, and we certainly moved away from that.
We discovered that the particularity of the EMAPS project was the question of the public : what if we take seriously the question of assembling the (deweyan) public around specific issues ? We are faced with a problem : the affected public is not an existing social community (cf Noortje Marres’ work) BUT in order to construct it, we must start from somewhere. We alone have no existence (we are not actors already engaged in the issue : we collectively are MAPPERS), so we must work with particular actors who will be our access points, our alpha users. However they do not represent by themselves a supposed community.
Taking up Lucy’s proposal to consider the specific assemblages “user + maps + data + methods”, the consequences on our method is that the objective of creating a single data set to start with just falls apart.
In other words : we had planned an integrated approach (to be extreme : one controversy, one dataset, one design process, one platform) even though we wanted to address different publics and not an “indifferentiated public” (cf. EMAPS description of work). However, we realised that we need to carry out differentiated processes with the help of alpha users from the beginning of the first step i.e. the choice of data, research questions and design strategy. Maps can not start by being autonomous and then attach themselves to users, but the reverse.
Now both the design of the whole platform, the dissemination and the participation of actors beyond the academic community is to be envisaged in a totally different manner.
II. New strategy
After discussion, and taking into account the preceding discussions and analyses of the challenges the project is facing, we have identified four “user+data” cases in the climate change topic where EMAPS researchers have opportunities (eg good connections or good data access),
The cases are :
- ONERC (the French national observatory on the effects of global warming) whose missions at the national level are : “
- weADAPT : an online community of adaptation practitioners
- The Guardian datablog : blog dedicated to data journalism and data visualisation.
- KomPass : “The Competence Centre on Climate Impact and Adaptation (Kompetenzzentrum Klimafolgen und Anpassung, KomPass; part of the Federal Environmental Agency, UBA) provides guidance and advice on adaptation activities in Germany. The Centre works with scientists, ministries and federal agencies and supports the implementation of the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate.”
For each case, the method will draw on what we have experienced with the ageing case study and includes developing relationships by the EMAPS partner who is already in contact with the organization (Sciences Po for ONERC and weADAPT, UvA for the Guardian datablog, TUDo for KOMPASS), to set up short (eg. 1.5 day meetings) attended by EMAPS researchers from different specialisms, all of which need to be present in order to create maps and tools within climate change: digital methods (SciencesPo, UvA, Barcelona Media); visualization and design (POLIMI); user perspectives and dissemination (YF); and climate change (TU Dortmund; SciencesPo). During these practical workshops we will aim to co‐design with these lead users possible maps of climate change, which we will then go on to develop. In some cases we will present maps we think of as “off the shelf” (ie we have something similar already or nearly ready). In some cases we will aim to create something bespoke with data they have.
The deadline agreed upon for the first iteration of the coproduction of maps is August 2013, with an intermediary step (i.e. getting in touch, “convincing” the users to collaborate and explaining what EMAPS can do with them in at least two different meetings) before the next EMAPS meeting, which was decided to take place in Amsterdam on April 16-17, 2013.
One measure of success for the final platform could be the fact that it attracts visitors which were not members of the four test communities which we will work with.