‘4. Platform Development’ Category

University of Amsterdam new strategy for the second year of the project

February 22nd, 2013

This blog post is a response to Axel’s post asking each partner to rethink their work according to the new strategy discussed in the project meeting back in December. It details the work that the University of Amsterdam will be conducting in this second year of the project.

Over a period of 16 weeks, which started in the first week of February,  the University of Amsterdam will be running the Issue Mapping for Politics course. The course takes students through four different mapping methodologies and theories: controversy mapping in the style of Bruno Latour and Tomasso Venturini, risk cartography using Ulrich Beck’s theories about global risks, critical and neo-cartography using Jeremy Crampton guidelines on the subject, and finally issue mapping techniques developed at the University of Amsterdam.

Students are encouraged to apply these methods and theories on mapping climate change. We are aiming to study climate change controversies through three periods: (1) climate change existence, skepticism and causes, (2) mitigation (personal approach and market approach), and (3) adaptation. This practical part of the course is where the University of Amsterdam will be implementing the new project strategy discussed in December. In each class we are inviting one issue expert: one climate change skepticism expert, one carbon trader, one carbon footprint quant, and one city auditor to talk to students about their work in these areas and about their mapping needs. The students are invited to produce maps and visualisations in response to these discussions with climate change experts. In parallel we will connect with the Guardian Datablog and other media organisations in order to understand mapping needs of yet another important category of users, and aim to collaboratively produce maps and visualisations that are of interest to the Datablog and other publications.

In terms of the project plan and description of work, there is one main change that we anticipate. According to the Gantt chart, in the second year of the project, the main contributions that the University of Amsterdam brings are the release of D1.2 “Recommendations and guidelines for the project” in March, which will consist of the ageing book, now in its final stages of production, and the work under work package 4, “Platform development and community building.” The UvA can include the engagement with expert users and production of climate change maps and visualisations in this work package. In this case, the starting date of the work package, which is now the second half of the year, would need to be changed to February 2013. The outcome of the work will be documented on the EMAPS platform and included in one of the final deliverables, due in the last month of the project.

Where we are, where we are going

June 9th, 2012

The London workshop will not start until next Wednesday, but I already want to express great satisfaction for process that led to this event. In a handful of months, we identified a number research questions, we collected and analysed the data necessary to provide some answers, we visualised the results of the analysis and we are now ready to share our maps with a real public. On a small scale, we already proved the worth of our consortium.
And there’s more: next week event is only a small test compared to the exhibition we will organise in London in the next fall, which in turn is only a small test of the online/offline platform we will develop on climate adaptation.

During the kick-off meeting, I said that our project is complex because it is experimental. I think we have found the good organisation to tame such complexity. The circle displayed in the image below (courtesy of Axel) describes the iterative process of questions-data-visualisations-tests that characterize EMAPS. What is most remarkable about this circle is that it reaches further every time we go through it. More then to a circle, our project resembles to a spiral where every coil delivers better maps and engages more people.
Accordingly, the success of EMAPS depends crucially on our capacity to multiply the iterations among ourselves and with our publics. To use a slogan borrowed from software development: “release early, release often!”

Acknowledging the spiralling nature of EMAPS transforms slightly but decisively the goal of the second day of our London meeting (see page 7 and 8 of the survival kit sent by Axel). At this stage, the priority is not to decide once and for all the precise focus of our project, but to set the mapping spiral into motion. What we need is to identify a first set of adaptation maps that are both interesting and relatively easy to produce.
To facilitate our work, I drafted a list of potential research questions and maps (see page 10-12 of the kit). Our goal for Thursday is to complete this list (because I certainly forgot something important) and agree on the interest and feasibility of each of the proposed maps.

This assessment will be the basis for the work of following months, which will consist in developing a first set of maps to submit to a first sample of public in order to produce better maps to submit to a larger audience and so on and so forth. So the spiral goes, so the project advances…

Visualizing processes

March 26th, 2012

Each year we ask our students to visualize the protocol they followed.

We think that visualizing the way we collect data is important as representing the data itself: “how do you get this results”? is one of the most common questions that arise. Process communication is the first step to gather credit from our audience.

Each protocol isn’t a linear process: parts of it are “dead-ends”, they are experiments by which we try to understand if they’re or not useful for our purposes. Some visualizations simplify the process, removing the dead-end paths, and focusing on the final result. Some others represent all the work done, showing errors useful to identify the right solution. We choose some of them as examples of different way to visualize a protocol. (more…)

New ideas from the past

February 27th, 2012

To develop new ideas, it can be worthwhile to look into the past for inspiration. Visual representations have played a role in conflicts, controversies, and power struggles over the course of history, but these roles have varied from case to case.

This presentation is a loose collection of commented images from the last 1000 years that stand as examples for the complex relationship between conflict and visual portrayals of many different kinds.

Many of these images are not only original in terms of visual technique but also in how they related to their subjects and how they try to intervene.


An introduction to controversy mapping

November 26th, 2011

The pre-prints of two article I have published on Public Understanding of Science that provide a basic introduction to the observation and representation of controversies.

Venturini, T. (2010). Diving in magma: how to explore controversies with actor-network theory. Public understanding of science, 19(3), 258.

Venturini, T. (2012). Building on faults: how to represent controversies with digital methods. Public Understanding of Science, (forthcoming)