[ssf] Fwd: RE: [Bitpart] events upcoming

Alan Dawson aland at burngreave.net
Fri Jun 3 10:34:50 BST 2005


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Reply-To: Burngreave IT Partnership <bitpart at burngreave.net>
 Subject: RE: [Bitpart] events upcoming
      To: Burngreave IT Partnership <bitpart at burngreave.net>


> Anybody going to.....


Technology and Social Action:
Designing a future

Sheffield, UK, June 20 & 21, 2005


Citizen involvement in civil society goes far beyond just voting. Social
action takes effect by capturing the imagination of
individuals, engaging in dialogue, galvanizing direct collective effort and
bringing about change. Trade unions, residents'
associations, environmental and development groups, voluntary & community
organisations, campaigns for freedom of speech or human rights: all express
the vital role of social action in society.

The global diffusion of communication technologies in society has changed
the speed with which situations of social need are
noticed, and the ability of social actors to respond. Logistics and
coordination within and between groups benefits from
technologies, from mobile phones and email, from a simple spreadsheet, to
complex project management software. How can
technologies and organisations be designed to facilitate effective social
*	How can individuals and organisations (NGOs) maximise their benefit from
technologies: e.g. online networks, electronic
petitions, (e-)participation, online fundraising, organisational learning
and development?
*	What risks accompany the promise of technology to serve social action? How
can organisations respond to the different
technical experience of different members?
*	How do technologies relate to organisational aims and open democratic
*	How can emerging social technologies (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking
etc.) be used to promote effective knowledge
sharing and networking for positive change?
*	How should organisations respond to the very different attitudes to
technology amongst their members & supporters?
*	How do technology costs and developments such as open-source software
impact on the work of organisations?
*	How do current trends in technology impact on different groups in civil
society? How can organisations respond to these
trends and set out alternative directions?
*	How can designers and design skills help improve the effectiveness of
social actors? What is the role of the arts in
supporting social action?


We wish to bring together people involved in social action, as individuals
or as members of groups, to explore the potential of technology to assist
their actions, and the design challenge of finding effective ways to utilise

The Second Workshop on Technology on Social Action will take place at
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield on the 20th and 21st of June 2005.


The workshop will be organised around three themes.

Free / Libre and Open-Source Software (FLOSS)

Open-source software might offer social action organisations lower software
costs, and shares similar values of openness and
knowledge sharing with the social action sector. But how well are current
open-source projects matched to the requirements of
organisations in the social action sector? Are there unmet requirements, or
unrecognised opportunities for innovation? Where can organisations turn for
advice? This theme will explore the current scope of open-source software
and services in relation to the needs of the social action sector, and
develop an agenda for future developments. For more information about this
theme, please contact Andy Dearden (A.M.Dearden at shu.ac.uk)

STORYTELLING: narrative and drama to galvanise social action

People relate to one another way in all kinds of ways. Whenever calls to
take action are in the air, relations are more likely to be passionately
animated than colourless and objective. The conflict of voices wanting
different things can mean some people are put off entering the arena, and
that energy fizzles out before action can be taken. People have stories to
tell and to share, to mutually appreciate their excitement and their
grievances. The ability to engage through storytelling could be a way for
communities to build momentum, and to galvanise their efforts. This theme
will focus on innovating online environments that create opportunities for
dramatic and narrative storytelling and exchange. It will ask how to create
new electronic media that are designed for joint participation in
writer-reader, publisher-subscriber, actor-audience roles. The outcome will
be a set of design challenges, relating to technological opportunities, the
nature of social action and understanding of conflict, narrative and drama.

For more information about this theme, please contact Leon Watts
(L.Watts at bath.ac.uk)


While there is a large body of research and knowledge to inform those
concerned with the design and use of digital technologies in business and
government, there is much less for those involved in social action settings.
The purposes, contexts and values of ICT use in social action are frequently
radically different, limiting the extent to which useful knowledge can be
inferred. Hence, effective evaluation can play an important role as a
vehicle for social and organisational learning about technologies and their
use. This theme will focus on exploring issues in the philosophy, design,
conduct and dissemination of evaluation of technology-related projects. The
objective is to ensure both that lessons are learned and are presented in
forms which can be applied in different social action settings. The workshop
will use one or more case studies through which to identify key issues in
T&SA evaluation.

For more information about this theme, please contact Steve Walker
(s.walker at leedsmet.ac.uk)


Participants in the workshop will be invited to work with a sub-group on one
of the three themes. Each sub-group will collaborate over the two day
workshop to:
1.	Share understandings of issues, drawing on historical and current
2.	Explore potential innovations in relation to the theme
3.	Establish realistic design goals for the short and medium term.
Plenary sessions will permit the groups to share their findings, debate and
gain feedback from a wider audience.


If you participated in the first Technology and Social Action Workshop (Held
at Leeds earlier this year), then please email Paul Manning,
p.manning at shu.ac.uk, identifying which of the three themes you are most
interested in pursuing.

If you have not previously participated in the project, to apply please
email Andy Dearden: a.m.dearden at shu.ac.uk briefly
explaining your relevant interests and background in technology and social

Financial support for travel and accommodation is available but preference
will be given to members of voluntary organisations.


We are the organisers of the Technology & Social Action project.

We have been funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board and
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to advise them on the
design & technology research agenda for the 21st Century. We are committed
to finding out and properly communicating the needs and aspirations of the
social action user community for the design of sensible & usable

Andy Dearden, Sheffield Hallam University.
Mike Press, Director, Grays School of Art, Aberdeen.
Steve Walker, Leeds Metropolitan University
Leon Watts, University of Bath.

David Wilcox, Partnerships Online http://www.partnershipsonline.org.uk

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"If you make decisions about software -- or anything -- based solely on
short-term cost and benefit, someone with a longer view can easily
manoeuver you into a trap from which it is hard to escape."  

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