Design in Communal Endeavours

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* Dissertation Expanding Design Space(s). Design in Communal Endeavours. By Andrea Botera. Aalto University, 2013.



"The present study explores collective design processes that both closely tied communities and emergent collectives are increasingly engaging in. The hypothesis was that collaborative design in these settings is better understood at the intersection of the evolution of the every-day practices and the shared new media forms that emerge, since both of these aspects shape and give direction to each other.

Based on two case studies of fledgling communities (seniors aging together) and emergent collectives (citizens and city officials linked by locative media), the study shows how continuities and collaboration can be achieved between design and life-practices. Particular attention was paid on expanding what comprises the design spaces of these communal endeavours to capture a wider interplay of possibilities: practices, partly assembled technologies, as well as the developing competencies and social arrangements emerging. These are all found to be the basis for ongoing design choices.

The work introduces some resources and strategies for organizing extended collaborative design engagements in practice, in particular when it comes to new media for supporting and carrying out communal endeavours. The examples illustrate the importance of setting the context (grounding the collaboration setting) and cultivating new forms of design work (identification of design seeds, following of indigenous spin-offs, facilitating forking) and some of the required learning strategies (partial failures, reflective practices) to pay attention to. The repertoire of practices and strategies documented (e.g. infrastructuring and midwifing) offer guidance to the sorts of activities and venues needed to allow ongoing collective media design processes room to breathe and grow." (