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Creating Shared Memory Spaces

Finally for this COST298 session we move on to James Stewart; his interest is in how we create place and space, especially in the context of using personal ICTs (pICTs). This also ties into the question of user co-creation, of course, especially where it is looking forward towards future uses. The research project took place here particularly in the context of branded meeting places - locations which were clearly marked as governed by an established brand (e.g. Starbucks, McDonald's).

Some interesting activities here included linking online and physical spaces, and connecting with Twitter and Facebook in order to enable group interactions. The 'virtual' and the 'real' are increasingly blurred in the process; in practice, they are linked by electronic gateways. The idea of tagging emerged as a very important practice in this (tags understood here as anything from metadata tags to signs, logos, stamps, barcodes, and much more) - we appropriate the world by tagging, and we can see our and others' tagging activity for example in map-based representations.

Flickr photos act as personal memory trails in this context, for example, and it is also possible to access other users' photos which were taken near one's current location - this provides a kind of x-ray view into the buildings on the street which a user may be walking down at present, for example. This also extends earlier practices, including pin boards and photo albums, of course - today, these memory spaces have multiplied, are online, and are networked.

As part of its work, the project created a tagging and connecting toolkit which could be used to create and share location-specific information. This could be applied to the organisation of academic conferences, for example, which are also a shared memory space - and project participants brainstormed to envisage the conference of the future, using such technologies and thereby tracking the informal knowledge creation and sharing which takes place at conferences. More work to be done!

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