Theory and practice towards a fairer world using research and technology.

Creating a low social capital social network for Manchester.

I’ve spent the last 9 months working with PHASE@MMU, CityVerve, and Manchester City Council to deliver PlaceCal, a crowd-sourced community events calendar. It’s been an extremely busy time with a lot of learning in a very short amount of time, and as we head into Phase 2 of our development I thought it’d be a good time to recap the process so far.

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We need a roadmap towards truly community-owned technology.

The shift in internet and technology culture over the last decade has been phenomenal. Most of the services we use today haven’t been around long at all — Facebook is thirteen years old, Twitter ten, and Instagram six. The first iPhone — and arguably with it the modern concept of an “app” — was released in 2007. And yet despite all this technology that’s supposed to bring us together, social isolation is a major player in the current epidemic of depression, loneliness, eating disorders, suicide, and other social problems. How has this happened?

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We have the data, but who is listening?

I went to a film screening and discussion last week about Mark Duggan’s shooting by the police, and the conditions surrounding him and his family. The event was one of the best I’ve been to. The documentary itself was authentic, engaging, and honest, showing a slice of life in London in a similar fashion to an episode of The Wire.

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Don't confuse fact and fiction when creating ad-hoc user stories.

User stories are meant to be non-fiction. We should not be in the business of giving any more airtime to fictional user stories than we need to, given how easy it is to gather them.

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