By François-Xavier de Vaujany and Viviane Sergi

 

Our learning expeditions and field trips following the OWEE protocol have often resulted in co-produced traces by means of various tools: posts on blogs (e.g. RGCS WordPress, the Conversation, LSE Business Review, LSE impact blog…) written by coordinators during and after the event, social networks (in particular Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), geolocalization systems (e.g. Samsung health systems) but also more specific collaborative technologies such as Stample or Framapads. The use of these tools aimed at narrating our events as they were happening, learning and reflecting from them, searching for political impact through better integrative and connective narratives.

We would like here to give a short feedback about two technologies we used: Framapads and Twitter and how they help us to co-produce reflexive traces of our events.

 

  1. Framapad: great open technology, but atmosphere and animation are key

 

Framapad is a great open source technology developed by Framasoft* (a fantastic project which was highly inspiring for our first White Paper). This associative network offers various open technology which are seen as a way to ‘degoogle’ our societies and bring control and power back to citizens themselves. Framasoft offer thus numerous alternative to Google Technology such as You Tube, Google doc or the Google search engine.

Since one year, we have had the opportunity to use a technology called Framapad to a dozen of reflexive processes before, during and after our learning expeditions. Framapad is an on line word processor that makes it possible to write and record what is written. All participant just need to know and access the Framapad set up for the event. Then, everybody can write directly in the document including our not a pre-defined structure. Interestingly, each participant has a specific color once s/he starts writing, and can link this color to his name. A history of the document s continuously kept, and the process of writing is extremely horizontal (no particular privileges linked to the person setting the link or an administrator).

After numerous frustrations expressed after our events (and the traces we kept from them), Framapad seem to be a very interesting way to co-produce a trace. Based on the events during which we used it, we see three main practices which can be enacted from Framapad (see table 1). Each of this practice is likely to make more collaborations in the event, and to produce more narrations in it likely to extend, to connect it to other events.

 

PRACTICES BASED ON FRAMAPAD 

DESCRIPTION

LIMITATIONS

Practice 1: Onsite emulation with projection on a wall

Projecting the Framapad during its use Onsite (e.g. a seated discussion, the concluding discussion in a seminar room or a collaborative space). It incite people to write something and see their colour appearing on the wall. It is emulating. If two or three people start playing the game (and this can be agreed), the dynamic can come very quickly.

The size of the projected screen makes that quickly it is not possible to see the all the dynamic. This can be a good thing (then people look at their smartphone or laptop) but also very quickly… this can become distracting.

Practice 2: Writing of a collective summary and report of the event

People can write collectively a summary of the event, during and after it. This is a way to create a common memory and a common at large.

Very quickly, 10, 20… 50 (we have experimented different sizes) of people writing together creates a messy result. Creating (even after a collective loop) a first structure can be manipulative. Creating a set of different Framapad (i.e. introducing a revise and re-submit process with different versions) can be facilitated by the tool itself (you can come back or selection versions). But this requires a community management is one or two leaders… likely to push their own view of the topic. And conversely, no trying to look for community managers can make the process… unfinished. The document is never cleaned and remain very messy and unreadable (which has been the case in several of our experimentations).

Practice 3: Coordinating the walk and the all process

 

 

People comment, criticize, guide, deconstruct, loudly the process of walking, visiting, discussing of the visit. It turns to something between a reportage and a ‘command car’.

The Framapad is then just a way to have a trace of some hot, live decisions and reflexivities.

  • Table 1: Framapad based practices of co-producing traces

 

All three practices have their advantages and their drawbacks. We did not find a stable path to collective narrations our OWEE based learning expeditions. But one key lesson keeps coming back from our experimentation: the general mood of the experimentation (bienveillance…) and the community management (and his/her bienveillance) are keys in the process…

 

  1. The use of social media: combining walked with digital navigation

Social media (in particular Twitter) have been at the heart of our experimentations since the beginning. We have always tweeted our events since the beginning (e.g. our two first event in Berlin and Barcelona). Creating a specific hashtag, diffusing it to the participants ahead of the event and to all people likely to be interested has always been part of our processes (with  a couple of exceptions at the beginning).

Interestingly, we quickly noticed that the use of Twitter was not limited to communication, and included a few other practices. It was also a narration we could play with, a set of narrations we could combine and re-introduce later in the flow of later events. Based on our experiences, we identified a number of key practices, as summarized in table 2. This list is not exhaustive, and other practices could emerge in other events.

 

TWITTER PRACTICES

DESCRIPTION

LIMITATIONS

Practice 1: Commenting and sharing the walk and process of the learning expedition

Participants can share on-the-fly observations, take pictures and videos of what they see, hear, feel… and comment on the visual elements they have captured. They can also share their general experience, and include more global reflections about what they are hearing, seeing and discovering.

 

The use of the Twitter account can be a way to re-tweet, combine, comment the comments and put (or not) some directions to it. However, the sum of the tweets rarely create a coherent narration per se. Unless some kind of analysis is made after the event, the traces left on social media remain slightly disjointed.

 

Also, the challenge of tweeting while listening to a presentation and even more while walking should not be underestimated. Users that have already learned the codes of Twitter will be more comfortable in developing their comment in the format of a tweet and also in playing with hashtags.

 

Practice 2: Putting publications in the live tweet

Books, articles, scientific interviews and podcasts, research posts… have often been put in the line of tweets by participants and community managers. We often noticed that it attracted a new readership. Tweeting research in context… makes it more contextual.

Choosing one research instead of another is not neutral. And tweeting too much research can be counter-productive. A balance must be found between references and on-site observations.

Practice 3: Connecting the event in time and space

We re-tweeted videos, posts, articles about past events in context which made us remind them. We also diffused information about future events (RGCS events or non RGCS events) in the live tweets. We used as much as we can this flow of attention.

Talking too much about the past or the future can cut from ongoing experience and maybe favour disembodiment.

Practice 4: Building the RGCS network itself, cultivating a sense of belonging and happening

We mention as much as we could RGCS coordinators and RGCS friendly people… This was a way to connect with them and indirectly, a powerful maintenance or developmental practice for our network. Sometimes, we wonder if Twitter is not also great for ‘internal’ communication.

This practice can also result in a ‘club’ atmosphere and can become be non-inclusive.

  • Table 2: Twitter based practices in our learning expeditions

 

 All practices described in table 2 have been largely present in our last OWEE events. In the context of events like learning expeditions, social media like Twitter offer an easy and very flexible way to integrate comments, photos and short clips while the learning expedition is happening – and also to ‘naturally’ create a timeline of the event, from multiple viewpoints. With the exceptions of its technical limitations (e.g. the number of characters), Twitter allows for a wide variety in style, when it comes to the content that is shared. Hence, one of the most interesting effects from using this platform is the accumulation of tweets that have spontaneously been produced by different participants without any form of coordination, each with their personal voice and their own specific message. Using these public platforms also makes visible the OWEE approach, making it known in the community, and generates inputs that might become data for researchers who may or may not have participated to the event. Having a main account, like that of @collspaces is a useful complement to the accounts of individual participants, as it can be used to curate the content that has been produced. It can be used to amplify some tweets (like, for example, the ones that have captured a key feature of the event), to disseminate the main observations and reflections and also to summarized what might have been expressed in several tweets. In this, the importance of hashtags should not be downplayed. On Twitter (it would also be the case on Instagram), hashtags are crucial – especially having a devoted hashtag for the event, which will allow to trace back all the content produced during the event. The main hashtag for the event should hence be carefully chosen, and communicated in time and clearly to the participants.

* Please donate to Framasoft, a generous, open, responsible project!

 

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