back on the researchAgenda

I did a post a few years back about a sketch service I was toying with, researchAgenda.

I have not done much else with the idea, apart from on occasion something similar in idea, the opening up for collaboration in, not just doing research, but finding what to do the research on, comes up. I found a few sketches and briefly inked them. I may add some more notes to this post over the next couple of weeks, to get all the thoughts down in one place to make it easy to point at.

An early sketch on #researchAgenda system

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#researchAgenda detail 1

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#researchAgenda detail 2

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#researchAgenda detail 3

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Designing new maker spaces

Last year I was designing new maker space possibilities and other pop-up urban interventions at Ravensbourne College, designed to extend the college into the peninsula and the publics that use, work and live in the area.





The new space became a challenge when the original, physical space to be used fell through. So in the interim we started developing some alternative activities. These included developing a course to introduce Hydroponics, taking over a rough piece of land to develop a growing space and an outdoor space for the Architecture students to build and show structures as well as investigating the possibility of setting up outside Kilns and glass blowing infrastructure.

From Soil to Water
One of the initial hopes was to have elements of permaculture and care of the land designed into the space. On the peninsula this has its own unique challenges, the land is reclaimed from industrial land, new topsoil and the hope that all the poisons are well buried. It is not a space to grow food.

What was developed was a set of ideas around Hydroponics instead. Initially an introduction course to hydroponics, aimed at all ages and one that could be run in an afternoon.

The next step was to set up some hydroponics growing inside the College building

Food pod 1

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Placing units around the building in common areas

Green City

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Using Ikea hydroponic equipment, we set up a couple of growing ‘pods’ around the building and eventually harvested the crop, which was donated to the cafe that is run in the front of the college building.


Before cropping above, and below after cropping


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There were at least two of these metal trays harvested.

We have two containers like this, one for each hydroponic frame

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The cafe made salads and soups from the crops.

Then further work was done to investigate using arduinos and raspberry pi computers to control aspects of the growing, including lighting, so that in future the architecture students, for example, could embed the growing environments into their structures.

White light Red light

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Placing the neopixel strips against the structures.

Experimenting further

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Hacking small test insalls

Trying stuff out

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This led to speculative work on how the building could start to embed growing spaces within its fabric.

Hmm, but that's a silly idea mark

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sketching how things might be different

It's an idea …

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The Creative Passport, Design and Making

I am currently working with the rest of the Mycelia team to develop the Creative Passporand get it running for Imogen’s upcoming world tour.  The concepts of Mycelia and the passport are well documented elsewhere what I wanted to do here was touch on where it goes beyond the music industry.

I tutor at Central Saint Martins on the MA Industrial Design course, on aspects of digital and IoT related design, how does this model, work for product designers, or say, fashion designers? This differs from photography or music, or even fine art.

So to start the thinking I have gone back to Papanek, in The Green Imperative, he wrote about designing a small trailer for a client, to help in a small waste collection service that he had started. The trailer was a success for them, so they wanted to buy the design so that they could manufacture more and sell them to other such groups.

Papanek agreed with conditions, they could make no more than 200 units a year and only sell them in a 200 mile radius.

IF they found someone who wanted to do the same elsewhere they could re-approach Papanek to get the rights to do that.

Over the next couple of years, there were trailers made in more than thirty small communities and with adaptations to the original designs made according to local environments.

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In a world of local manufacture and the possibilitiy of ‘smart contracts’ (or programmable transactions, because at the moment these blocks of code are not smart, nor are they contracts) this model tried by Papanek could be tried out.

Its not prefect, how do you enforce things at the end when the purely digital part of the transaction is finished? This is where work by the likes of Mattereum on the design of the contracts and the linking between code and existing legal structures will come into play.

This model can also extend and support alternative licencing, like Creative Commons and Open licences (Open Hardware etc). The Creative Passport is designed as a way for the individual creative to assert and manage the rights they wish to express and protect over a work, to be transparent on the collaborative aspects of much creative work, where support in, co-production happens, and how this is acknowledged and revenue shared.

geekyoto – creative securities studio

Born out of research at Royal Holloway University, the ‘Creative Securities’ approach to understanding risk and issues in cyber security has been developed by Professor Lizzie Cole-Kemp and her team over the last few year. By taking the tools and methods usually associated with co-creative design thinking, post-its, card games and creative modelling exercises into organisations, the team have created a methodology that allows for understanding of risk to be modelled and created by everyone in the organisation. Having worked with this team, Geekyoto is now offering this approach through the design consultancy.

creative securities studio



to discuss workshops and facilitation through the creative securities studio please contact mark

Notes for a lighthouse artistic director

A good few years back I was asked by a friend to chat about ideas to help launch the Brighton Photo Biennial, something including mobile phones and the city. I had a few chats with the people involved but my slightly strange vision of turning the city skyline of Brighton into something more like Akira’s Neo-Tokyo didn’t really work.

Within Brighton though is a beacon of creativity, and what the creative response means to a community, multiple communities, how they can intersect and share as well as have their own identities. The Lighthouse is a creative cultural institution and for years now it has been promoting, supporting and commissioning challenging, creative, cultural work on the current state of the world.

The most current artistic Director, Juha van’t Zelfde is about to move on, so an opportunity now exists for someone new to take the artistic direction of this institution into a new age.

Right now, in the world as it is now, I want to imagine how an institution could start to evolve itself to support the critical art and communcations landscape of the urban environmnet, to be a beacon of hope to so many people, not just in this country but across the channel into europe and beyond, not as an imposer but as a cultural learner and reflector, a new institution to help weave the new needs for interlectual and critical thinking back into the fabric of our modern lives. To use the urban fabric of a city in ways that have not before, to enhance the safety of the communities and their ability to talk and share with each other, to discuss, argue and agree, to

This isn’t an artistic manifesto for such a new director to do, its my grab bag of ideas that might just stimulate better ones in shaping what this institution can and will mean to so many people.

Progaganda & News

Right now, the culture of trust around news is broken, the words fake news bandied about and basic fact checking ignored. Even the concept of a fact appears to have been brought into question. We live in both a world of Newspeak from 1984 but also the numbing entertainment pacification industry of Brave New World. Language is quickly subverted and broken. Propaganda, advertising even art brought into play to create the spaces of obviously broken ‘knowledge’ yet no matter how much the hollowness of the representation of reality is questioned it continues to be accepted.

In the UK, the press is more right wing, reactionary and delivering the agenedas of rich owners that almost any other western country.

Can this be changed?

Can a ciy, which is possibly the new political power block reject these agendas and create new spaces of information, discourse and communication?

Juha’s work at Lighthouse has started to look at propaganda in its new forms, the next step is to take the counter actions into the streets and pave the city with a new way of understanding and reading the news.

In some of the ways I have started to talk about with new news labs, to make the processes of journalism more transparent, to present stories alongside analysis, to show ownership and influence and interests and for a city to shun the wrong and the bigoted. Liverpool still shuns the Sun because of the way that paper treated the Liverpool fans over Hillsborough, yet that paper across the rest of the country pedals its lies, as do many others. Can critical spaces be created that do not welcome these papers?

In 2004, Dan Gillmor said ‘We, The Media’ yet if we look at ourselves should we be proud or ashamed of that media. Can we develop new norms?

Lighthouse is well placed, its network is across all media, across all kinds of creative practice. In theory if someone walked in that door with an idea, Lighthouse and the amazing team that works there could connect the relevant people to make it happen. This is such a valuable community resource, a route for enabling and amplifying the voices of those who are being ignored and sidelined.

Lighthouse does a lot of community and charity work and hopefully the new Artistic Director will support and enhance this, creating new oppotunities to involve these communities and to open access to the worlds of media and cultural industry which might previoulsy have been closed to many.

Could they support the likes of Arts Emergency, Anti-University and others in opening up access and support networks to those that want to study liberal arts, creative work. Can the work they do already in supporting Maker communities further push the reach of these spaces and activities into different classes, for example how to include the elderly or even support the work of Design Against Crime in developing the concept of creative and design teaching in prisons.

I am looking forwards to what happens with this beacon by the coast, i’m putting a lot of hopes into it.

a public news lab

A proposal

Embed the new news room within a local community. Use design to create an inviting space to allow people to experience and participate in the discovery and production of news.

The proposal is to develop a physical space, open to all that is focused on news.

A number of props and tools can be developed and deployed in the space including:

The Issues Board

A space for people to add their issues and concerns

News Clippings

Encourage visitors to select their story of interest, add their thoughts

News Tree

Who owns / makes the news, visualisations to show how the news industry works, locally and nationally.


In many ways similar to the GlassRoom in NYC recently, a space to explore data and privacy, The News Room should be about what news is, what data is, what are facts , what is journalism and storytelling. It can be quite broad, images to words.

A physical space can host events, including:

Hacks/Hackers – A regular meetup.

A 1000 Words – invite people to talk about a single image and what it means, to them, to the world.


The (in)securities of everyday life.

I am revisiting a question I was asking myself a while back, what do some words mean to people. Words that feature heavily in the current narrative of our world.

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Power
  • Protection
  • Intimacy
  • Trust
  • Community
  • Privilege

If nothing else just the fact that the English / Western language dominates the conversation in IT and the west (with Privacy Policies and the like). So I want to ask you what does one of these words actually mean to you.

You can fill in a form here:

You just describe one word per submission, you don’t have to do each word, you can do it as often as you like, you don’t need to leave a name and email, just tell me what that word means to you.

I hope to create a small body of work, using photography, from this initial question, so if you do leave an email I may be in touch to discuss that, but otherwise your name and contact details will not be used for anything else.

Please let me know what these words mean to you and ask others to do the same.

A small research project proposal

In the current climate, it is quite reasonable for someone to decide that they need to secure their digital environment. In fact there are plenty of good reasons for doing this anyway and there are many occupations where such thinking about security should be part of the job. What I want to pose is the idea that someone, anyone decides that they want to do this.

Now I want to set some constraints, they are not overly technically savvy. They do not live in the computer science world. They know how to use a computer and more specifically have been exposed to systems and tools such as Tor and Qubes.

But given this if they had to go and buy equipment from the highstreet, what would they pick? How can they evaluate what they need to do to protect themselves online? Do they need Qubes or is it best for them to know secure practice on Windows and if they did need something like Qubes how do they evaluate hardware in the shops against the hardware support list as published on the qubes website.

As a project this would cover a wide range of disciplines, from understanding the technical abilities and compatibilities (and possible risks) from off the shelf, domestic hardware through to technical and social guidance on how to secure your digital life.

Co-Op Kit

What is the minimal technology set that could be made available online to allow you to create a Co-op based service?

That is the basic question that I think I am trying to ask right now and most of it is probably out there just not collected together. So how can it be brought together?

Lets say, ok, lets say I want to create a co-op uber type service. Taxi service for an area, a community of location. What would you need to design such a service, what are the core technical enablers to quickly get from paper to service.

I know that there are uber style co-ops out there already and lots of pondering on what an co-op uber would look like. Part of the question is, is it a federation of local ubercoops or a larger entity that works locally? Uber is mostly what it is because it got investment (which expects a healthy return on that investment) to quickly get running in lots of places, scale. It has to channel the money back into the central point to return on that investment. An Uber co-op, well money would stay within the community.

(In fact from a quick search this post discusses this in some interesting detail).

I’m just wondering where in the tech bits we can grab some common infrastructure, then build the unique bits of a service and roll it out, to the benefit of all, maybe by community, it would allow it to get to the scale it needs to be.

Peer Economy Research Proposal

[For many reasons I can’t go into my current affiliation would not be able to help me get this proposal in and fully signed off for the FuseLabs current call.

So I thought I would post it here, its still a draft as I can’t submit it but think that its an interesting problem that could do with investigation.

If you know of any links or work that should be looked at regarding this (either bits already done, or work that could relate) then please leave a comment.

I’ll try and do the work as and when I can, or when some funding for time can be found. If anyone else can do it then please let me know what you find out:]

Proposal for FuseLabs Research 2015 Peer Economy Research Awards

The language of the Peer Economy is one of sharing, sustainability and resilience. It is targetted at users who believe in a community, yet one who sees all items as a commodity.

Whereas before we would have looked at an object and when it was not in use it would remain in a number of possible states:

  1. Ornamental
  2. Functional – Potential
  3. Functional – Dormant

Many of the platforms that are now described as part of the Peer or Sharing economy try to make use of these objects so that they remain in these other states for less time.

In the process many of these platforms assign a value to these objects, so that there can be some kind of transaction in return for the use of the object.

This project aims to prepare a number of mappings of this economy, to examine the physicality of the organisations, users and objects across the globe and understand the boundaries of the communities of presence for the objects.

It also aims to map the flows within the platforms, of the data and interactions as well as the financial flows. Where does capital, the value designated within the objects end up?

Finally we look at the language used in description of the platform, particiaption (e.g. terms of service, policies and sign-up forms).

This is then presneted as an atlas of the Peer Economy, where necessary noting the potential mappings into the exitsing capitalism markets, where the perception of sharing and peer may differ from other uses.


design for everyday life