söndag 17 mars 2013

End-User Development and hacking sustainability

Only a week ago, I wrote about being the opponent at Jorge Zapico's "final seminar" and about his draft ph.d. thesis "Hacking for sustainability". This week me and Jorge have written and submitted a workshop position paper together. The paper, "Hacking sustainability: Broadening participation through Green Hackathon" actually has no less than four authors (in order): Jorge Zapico, Daniel Pargman, Hannes Ebner and Elina Eriksson.

We sent the paper to a workshop that is organized in conjunction with the Fourth International Symposium on End-User Development (IS-EUD) and the workshop is called "EUD for supporting sustainability in maker communities".

The story behind the paper is pretty interesting and haphazard. I forwarded the workshop call to a colleague who then asked whether I was going to the workshop or not. I was just in the process of writing an e-mail back, saying that I wouldn't go, when I just stopped in my tracks and realized a topic for such a paper. This was less then 10 days before the workshop deadline. The process since then has been extremely effective and we managed to whip together an 8-page paper in no time at all.

Yet, one or two more days would have been beneficial for the quality of the paper. Should the paper be accepted to the workshop, we have asked for the chance to revise the paper before it is further disseminated.

Still, it was pretty impressive to draw up a frame for the paper and divide the work up before getting to work on the shared Google document. The workshop invitation starts as follows (see our abstract further below):

There has been a recent proliferation of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) communities that can broadly be included under the maker movement umbrella. Many of these groups are engaged in DIY projects in areas that relate to sustainable living, such as urban gardening groups engaged in growing their own food in urban areas, home energy monitoring communities interested in improving their homes to support a more energy efficient living, and textile crafts people who engage in home production, as well as recycling and upcycling of textiles. Spurred by the possibilities of digital fabrication and the Internet, the maker movement has a great potential to support sustainable living by fostering related innovations, fostering their appropriation and propagating their practical use. However, technology-driven maker communities associated with FabLabs or Hackerspaces are often perceived as places for tech-savvy people and have difficulties to instantiate a sustainable dialogue with the society at large. Hence, attracting wider categories of public, as well as sharing innovations created by users are still seen as challenges.

Green Hackathon is an international series of coding events with sustainability purpose. Developers, researchers, environmental practitioners, and anyone interested, work for a limited and focused amount of time to create innovative software solutions for sustainability. These events have explicitly invited a broad spectra of expertises besides technical ones. This article presents the experiences and tensions of including these end users in a mostly technically oriented event, and discusses how end-user development could be used for a more reflective practice empowering broad participation and interdisciplinary collaboration at these events.

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