Einar's "Adventures in Urban Computing"

Einar Sneve Martinussen reports on the completion of his thesis project "Adventures in Urban Computing" from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. I’ve been peripherally following his work ever since we first met when I was at the AHO for a NordiCHI workshop on near-field communication.

Einar describes the project this way:

This diploma project is an expedition into urban computing, an emerging multi-disciplinary research field that focuses on computing and digital networks in urban contexts and on the cultural and social impact this has on the city..The first half of the project is a theoretical approach to the field where urban computing is placed, traced and discussed within a framework of current writings on ubiquitous computing, urban studies, technology and design. The second part of the diploma is a set of practical explorations The second part of the diploma is a set of practical explorations that take these reflections as its starting point. These explorations investigates how mobile devices can be used to gather and provoke opinions about the city and how this can raise the awareness of daily urban environments. They focuses on how digital networks and information technologies can be used in collaborative city studies and in strategies/concepts for citizen participation. The outcome of these studies is the Interruptor experiments.

The Interruptor is a curious device, one we should see more of, that turns distraction into moments of and opportunities for observation and participation with the city. What I find intriguing is the integration of a designed object to express his insights and thoughts related to the underlying “theory” that he excavates in the first section of the thesis paper, a point that I think is crucial to the best kind of undisciplinary design.

The Interruptor experiments have been a combination of devices, interactions, tasks, workshops, discussions, observations, opinions and urban environments. The design of all the different aspects has shaped the overall experience. The process has been an attempt at designing a participatory urban study. It has not just been about gathering data and observation, but about building engagement and participation.

In other words, the Interruptor is a process rather than an outcome — a mechanism that is integral to defining the experience (writing, thinking, crafting) as much as it defines a curious new human-sensor form of observation and study.

Congrats Einar!