Zumio

Meaningful innovation

Urban water workshop

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending a workshop organised by the wonderful Dr Zoë Sofoulis and Justine Humphry of University of Western Sydney. Zoë and Justine have been working as part of the National Water Commission Fellowship for 2010-11 on the Cross-connections: Linking Urban Water Managers with Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Researchers (PDF 311 KB) project.

As the title of the programme suggests, the focus of the workshop was on how to connect social researchers with the water industry. It was a very interesting discussion, looking at the challenge from a variety of perspectives. For me it was an invaluable insight into the challenges of bringing the social sciences into a field that is largely driven by a more quantitative and engineering focused approach.

As part of the days proceedings, Zoë invited me to present a short segment on the use of design research methods for communicating and engaging with ethnographic and qualitative research. My presentation looked at mobile diaries (for which I recommend Penny Hagen and Natalie Rowland’s excellent Johnny Holland article as a backgrounder), personas, infographics and visualisations, customer journey mapping, storyboards. I also used Smart Design’s wonderful work for the FastCompany Biomimicry Challenge (embedded below) as an example of envisioning using video/animation, of particular relevance given the focus on urban water.

IBM Biomimicry Challenge from Smart Design on Vimeo.

Part of what Zoë and Justine have been working on is a Directory of Social and Cultural Research on Urban Water. Their work to date has focused on researching and collating the data for the directory, but they will soon be turning their attention to publishing it. It was during discussion on how this might be advanced that I was reminded again how valuable social technologies like wikis and rapid development frameworks like Ruby on Rails or Django can be in providing low-cost publishing methods for this kind of work.

Thanks to Zoë and Justine for the invite — I’m looking forward to continuing the dialogue into the future.

Web Directions South Government – Workshop notes

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Yesterday I lead the Social media and government workshop that was part of the Web Directions South Government conference. I hope the participants enjoyed and benefited from our time together as much as I did – it was a great day from my perspective. Thanks again to those of you that attended.

Thanks also to Maxine, John and the Web Directions team for the opportunity to meet with you all and for putting on such a great day.

As promised, here are the workshop presentation with associated notes (PDF 12.8 MB). I didn’t put this up on Slideshare as it was designed to support the workshop across the day and doesn’t really “read” as a slideshow. (If you think I should put it up anyway, lemme know…) Video slides have also been removed…

There are a number of links in the notes to further information and sources. Unfortunately the links aren’t clickable (does anyone know how to get that to work in Keynote?), but you can copy and paste into your browser to access. I hope that you find the slides and notes useful.

Update 28 May 2008: In the presentation notes I state that MySpace is larger than Facebook. Seems this is no longer the case.

The results of the “Live Wiki” exercise, where we brainstormed the many benefits of social media are also available for download (PDF 40 KB).

I will write up the brainstorming session ideas in the next few days and post them here once they’re done.

One of the side effects of a great brainstorming session is that there are a lot of notes to write up! Sorry for the delay – you can now download them from here (PDF 88 KB).