Research Methodologies

The research strands of Performing Memory and Open Data will employ and expand different research methodologies that are innovative from the perspective of social interaction, technological applications, content generation and knowledge development.

Living Archives will build upon (1) the research process as a collaborative effort spread among the participating researchers and their respective competences; (2) ideas envisioned, prototyped, and explored in a hands-on way early in the design process; and (3) a research process characterized by human-centeredness, empathy and optimism.

The Performing Memory research strand will employ artistic research methodologies and participatory design methods. The artistic research methodologies will be phenomenological approaches to reflection on the lived experience of bodies in multi-sensory contexts (Kozel 2010c, Kozel 2007). The Living Archives project is distinct because the archival content, the mobile device applications and the physical/visual/imaginative processes of the participants will be in a state of development simultaneously. This means that a particularly sensitive approach to the uncertainty and flux of qualitative data needs to be cultivated, as well as a multi-layered process for sensing and observation that will include first, second and third person perspectives (Varela & Shear 2002). We will rely on the reflection and feedback from all participants of the process, from the tech developers to the workshop participants, from those observing at a distance to those actively generating material. Artistic Research methods will converge with Participatory Design research methods in Living Archives – and part of the scholarly research of this project is to reflect upon the complementarity of these closely allied approaches to making and reflection.

Participatory Design (Ehn 1988, Greenbaum & Kyng 1991), which has its roots in action research (Agyris et al., 1985), emphasizes that all relevant stakeholders engaged in the design process can influence what is to be designed. The tradition sees design as a collaborative learning process between communities of practice as defined by Lave and Wenger (1991) that challenge each other through open-ended processes of negotiation, partially through artifacts. Participatory processes typically include ethnographically inspired studies of the practices (Blomberg 1993), interviews and dialogue through for example design games. In addition to using participatory design methods to refine the questions and roles of archives in peoples’ lives, these methods will be used once we have prototypes of applications or practices. Simple low-fidelity prototypes, as well as high-fidelity prototypes, will be used in the midst of practice through on the spot experiments (Björgvinsson & Hillgren 2004). Through these design artifacts the different stakeholders can engage in design-by-doing and by active engagement with the artifacts create an overlap and deepened understanding across communities of practice.

The Open Data research strand will also employ participatory design methods, to, e.g., explore how to build applications on open data and archive content as well as increasing public participation in metadata creation. Furthermore, agile development methods (Cockburn 2006), which are especially suitable when there are evolving requirements and solutions, will be used to create prototypes and software applications. Through this iterative and incremental software development, we will examine different approaches when it comes to, e.g., the architecture of the software, the representation of the data and metadata, and the user interaction.

Deliverables of the project will be two sided: (1) theoretical, reflective and analytical, and (2) practical through the means of concrete online prototypes, mobile applications and embodied social practices. The theoretical deliverables include scholarly publications, and general interest publications, discussions, interviews and conference presentations. The practical output will include refined workshop methodologies, performance practices using newly developed mobile applications and metadata applications. The practical deliverables include the technological platforms we may develop or help to refine, and the social movements we may initiate.

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