Some of the AZ Labs folks just spent 10 days in artistic residency in Guimarães focusing on the theme of Creative Politics, how to bring the people back in touch with politics and engage them in political issues.
Many ideas were discussed, you can access more info at our wiki.
Here is a short description of the projects we focused on:
Hacking Urban Knowledge
Ana Palma, Filipe Pais, Peter Westenberg and Tiago Serra focused on developing a guide on hacking urban knowledge, as a grassroots approach for citizens to question and intervene in urban policy at a local level. You can find the guide at the wiki.
They developed concepts like the open news reporter, a way to capture news at a local level from local sources, using low cost technology to capture, open source software to transcribe it as speech to text and upload it to a server online for public access at a macro level.
An example of re-using urban resources is to use old public spaces as originally intended, in the test case they adventured them selfs in a public laundry, learning the trade from the people who still use it. In a time of automatized labour and individualistic consumerism one can learn about society and technology by regarding manual and traditional culture transactions. The target public of this intervention is anybody without access to a washing machine or anybody looking for a chat and some human contact.
An example of re-appropriating public and abandoned resources is their real estate for abandoned houses project. They made up a real estate agency, whose graphic image reminds an already existing one, to publicize abandoned houses around the city. The action intended to call attention to the large number of abandoned houses that exist in Guimarães, and in Portugal in general, and in an amusing way spread the idea that they could have new, temporary, functions and serve low income communities within a legal and organized framework. Sheltering homeless people with the consent of the owners at the expense of simple renovation works in the houses and creating public vegetable patches are two possible functions. The real estate agency would then be a platform devised to map abandoned houses and serve as an interface between owners, future tenants and the council.
Another concept developed was the hacking of city maps to include additional information that could be useful for homeless and people in financial troubles. Listing night shelters, charity institutions, government institutions, food distribution locations, meeting areas, available land for growing vegetable patches, etc.
Ana Lobo and Filipe Cruz focused on unraveling the state of Open Data in Portugal.
The main purpose was to document the current state of the art, you can find that in the newly created blog at opendata-pt.blogspot.com.
The secondary goal was to try to answer the question on how can we get citizens more engaged in Open Data. When explained the purpose of Open Data to citizens they agree it is something useful, but they lack the motivation to get involved directly for not seeing any direct benefit from doing so. In other countries this problem is being address by governments, universities and media entities with campaigns, competitions and organized meetings. In Portugal the government has been developing platforms to empower the use of Open Data such as dados.gov.pt, but the main driving force to get people and developers involved with Portuguese open data seems to be coming from the citizens with projects such as Transparência Hackday.
Ana Lobo, Filipe Cruz and Pedro Ângelo worked on the concept of doing new media that brings awareness and hopefully more engagement to social and political causes worth supporting. Sadly without time to do any proof of concept.
Pedro Ângelo was working on the concept of making an hip-hop album where each track would state the point of view of different political party, to raise awareness and curiosity amongst young people on what political party diversity there is and how they relate with each other in a more engaging manner.
Filipe Cruz focused on testing the use of the Songify and Auto Rap tools developed my smule/khush. There was some prior work done about corruption in Portugal, and some new tests were made about how it can be applied to tell people about the usefulness of Open Data. The next step is making a viral video with such type of soundtracks.
Filipe Cruz, Pedro Ângelo, Ricardo Lobo and Filipe Pais collaborated on the concept of a Political Manager webgame, where the user would take on the role of a politician on the rise and have to deal with issues regarding popularity, finding a job, an higher education, dealing with corruption, getting involved in elections at different levels and the problems with keeping their promises. The work done was more of a conceptual nature, brainstorming on gameplay and storyline possibilities.
Ricardo Lobo and Mécia Sá focused on the comparative news project, where the goal is to help citizens understand the trends and tendencies in the political discourse that the media present to them everyday. The strategy is to compare different sources of information, like newspapers, radio and television using data visualization. The intuition behind this project is that comparing sources enable people to see the big picture, to identify what’s important and what’s not. You can find a schematic illustrating the concept of the project here.
Forest Fire Data
Mónica Mendes and Pedro Ângelo also focused on finding out what data is available about Forest Fires in Portugal, especially how much money is spent. This info was wanted for use on their installation project Play With Fire