An overview of the most notable research projects I have led/coordinated/worked on
CultureLabs – Recipes for Social Innovation (European Commission Horizon2020, 2018-2021)
Role: Principal Investigator at SHU/Senior Advisor
CultureLabs explore how culture and heritage can be instruments for social inclusion. It will develop a digital platform to support those heritage institutions such as libraries, museums and theatres who wish to work with communities from immigrant, refugees or migrant backgrounds to share cultural heritage and understanding. A quick description of the project’s aims can be found here. Nine partners are working collaboratively across six countries and particularly on four case studies, two in Italy, one in Finland and one in the UK. This is a new approach to social engagement with new citizens and it’s about sharing information and culture both ways: with new residents learning the cultural heritages of their new homes and sharing information about their own history with their new communities. CultureLabs supports participation in culture and the primary focus is on approaches that build positive awareness about communities’ own heritage and memories, and engage their members as bearers and producers of culture. The CultureLabs platform will be used to enable community participants to document, share and reconfigure their own cultural content. Digital technology will be used to create dialogue between communities and it will be designed with the end-users in mind. More information on: https://culture-labs.eu/
COST Action “From Sharing to Caring: Examining the Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy” (European Cooperation in Science and Technology, 2017-2021)
Role: Core Group Member, Ireland Representative, Short Term Scientific Missions Chair
The terms “Sharing Economy” or “Collaborative Economy” have been commonly used in recent years to refer to a proliferation of initiatives, business models and forms of work. The main objective of this action is to develop a European network of actors (including scholars, practitioners, communities and policy makers) focusing on the development of collaborative economy models and platforms and on social and technological implications of the collaborative economy through a practice-focused approach. Main goals are: to develop a deeper understanding of the collaborative economy phenomenon in all its aspects, by studying in-depth the sociotechnical systems and human practices involved, comparing and reflecting upon local, regional, national and international initiatives; to discuss and critique elements of the current discourse on the collaborative economy, and proposing a richer definition and characterisation of the phenomenon; to formulate a European research agenda for the socio-technical aspects of the collaborative economy, including specifically the design of future technological platforms, the technical infrastructure, their legal, ethical and financial implications; to articulate a European research perspective on the collaborative economy, based on EU values of social innovation, and in line with the Europe 2020 strategy objective to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020. More information on: http://sharingandcaring.eu/ and http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/ca/CA16121
meSch (EU FP7 DigiCult, 2013-2017)
Role: Senior Researcher & Deputy Coordinator
meSch – Material EncounterS with digital cultural Heritage – had the goal of designing, developing and deploying tools for the creation of tangible interactive experiences that connect the physical experience of museums and exhibitions with relevant digital cross-media information in novel ways. A wealth of digital cultural heritage content is currently available in on-line repositories and archives, it is however accessed only in a limited way and utilised through rather static modes of delivery. meSch bridges the gap between visitors’ cultural heritage experience on-site and on-line by providing a platform for the creation of tangible smart exhibits, that enables heritage professionals to compose and realise physical artefacts enriched by digital content without the need for specialised technical knowledge. The meSch envisioning and realisation approach was grounded on principles of co-design, the broad participation of designers, developers and stakeholders into the process, and on a Do-It-Yourself philosophy to making and experimentation. Three large-scale case studies in different museums provided test beds for the real-world evaluation of meSch technology with the public and cultural heritage stakeholders. meSch involved 12 European partners including universities, independent research institutions, SMEs and Heritage Institutions. It was coordinated by Sheffield Hallam University. More information can be found on the meSch website.
NOMADIC WORK/LIFE (HEA-PRTLI, 2008-2012)
Role: Project Co-Director
The Nomadic Work/Life in the Knowledge Economy project was a joint project between the Departments of Sociology and Computer Science and Information System (CSIS) at UL. Co-directed by myself and Dr. Breda Gray (Sociology).
Ireland is a leading ICT exporter, operating in increasingly competitive environments. As the national economy is further integrated in the global knowledge economy, new forms of work and professional practice are noticed in high-tech, finance, research and other ICT-centred industries. The knowledge economy is thus marked by intense flows of capital, goods, people and ideas. As such, mobility becomes a critical feature of contemporary life for individuals, organizations and nations, not only internationally but also at personal, local and regional levels. The NWL team’s research focused on the mobility of highly-skilled professionals in the sectors of ICT, creative industries and academia, all of whom work in information-intensive environments. In particular, the team examined how mobile work affects non-work activities, and how it correlates with technology-mediation and gender differences in the workplace. For more information on this project, go to the NWL Website
REMINISCE (Faílte Ireland-UL Seed Funding, 2007-2011)
Role: Project Coordinator/Principal Investigator
A thematic grant funded by Failte Ireland explored possibilities for new forms of technological support to visitors of cultural heritage attractions in the Shannon Region. The project focused particularly on Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. The IDC team, in collaboration with the Centre for Tourism Policy Studies and the Wireless Communications Centre at UL, has conducted observational field work and interviews in Bunratty in order to document current visitor experience of the site and identify possible roles for interactive technologies. Through the UL Seed funding initiative, the team subsequently developed the interactive installation “Reminisce @ Bunratty Folk Park” whereby visitors could explore the open-air museum on the move and contribute opinions and memories evoked by the site. You can read a paper giving an overview of the project here.
SHARED WORLDS (Science Foundation Ireland, 2003-2007)
Role: Research Fellow, Coordinator of the “Shannon Portal” Project
SHARED WORLDS investigated the development and use of novel interactive technologies within public spaces – such as museum galleries, shopping malls, airport passenger areas, and libraries. We have explored how people can not only use technologies, but how people might begin to live with them in their everyday lives. While we are working with the latest ideas in information and communications technology, such as ubiquitous computing, meaning computing power everywhere, we take our starting point in an understanding of how people live, work and play in the everyday world. This research was based on what is known as a human-centred computing perspective, where technological developments are based on both a theoretical and practical understanding of human activities in the world. The project included the deployment of these new interactive technologies in two installations in the field that will be open to the public for use.The first installation was based in Shannon Airport in the summer of 2006, the second in the Milk Market in Limerick during January 2007.
NOMADS (Science Foundation Ireland-IRCSET, 2004-2006)
Role: Principal Investigator
The NomadS Project (“Re-Shaping spaces into Places for Nomadic Users of Interactive Artefacts”) investigated how nomadic workers conduct their daily activities through a variety of locations, how they make a work-place of these locations and what tools and information they need and use within each. As people move through different spaces, they associate to each different sets of meanings, activities and values. Also, they take advantage of the particular resources each location has to offer. Instead of the current paradigm of “everything, everywhere”, we were interested in developing interactive artefacts that would adapt their function and appearance according to the place. In this respect, our work was based on the notion of “place”: the concept of a space that includes dimensions of use by its inhabitants. The relationship between people and the physical environment is an experienced one which it is articulated around the presence of others, the physical layout of a locale, people’s individual and cultural features. Some of the activities that the project engaged in were: * studies of nomadic work practices * evaluation of existing mobile technologies * design and development of prototypes of interactive artefacts
SHAPE (EU-IST, 2001-2004)
Role: Research Officer
“SHAPE – Situating Hybrid Assemblies in Public Environments” was an EU funded research project within the European initiative “The Disappearing Computer”. A team of researchers at the University of Limerick’s Interaction Design Centre collaborated with European partners from the Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden), King’s College London and the University of Nottingham (UK) in the development of the Project. SHAPE was devoted to developing and evaluating assemblies of hybrid, mixed reality artefacts in public places. Hybrid artefacts exhibit physical and digital features and can exist in both physical and digital worlds. They combine interactive visual and sonic material with physically present manipulable devices. Hybrid artefacts can combine to form room-sized assemblies that provide groups of people with a rich sensory experience of a large-scale mixed reality. These assemblies can be deployed in public spaces such as museums and exploratoria as new kinds of engaging and educational social experience. The Consortium of partners combined social and computer science expertise and was concerned to motivate innovation through studies of people’s activity in public places and techniques of participatory design. Researchers at the IDC had a major role in studying human interaction within public environments, analysing the context (in particular museums and exploratoria), envisioning user-scenarios and educational contents for the media, proposing a framework for the exploration and development of technology, and evaluating it against a set of requirements. ‘Living exhibitions’ , where results are shown direct to the public, were held at selected European museums which had agreed to participate. The Hunt Museum in Limerick hosted the final Project Exhibition, “Re-Tracing the Past” in June 2003.
COTCOS (EU, 1996-2000)
Role: Research Assistant
The Cooperative Technologies for Complex Work Setting (COTCOS) project was a research training network funded by the European Commission (Contract number: ERBFMRXCT96014). One of the main aims of the ECs Training and Mobility Program is to improve European collaborations through exchange of students and researchers. The network comprised a total of eight European academic partners (CNRS Aramiihs, France; University of Limerick, Eire; University of Sussex, UK; King’s College, London, UK; University of Liege, Belgium; University of Siena, Italy; Technical University of Denmark; CNRS Dyalang, France) and was coordinated by Bernard Pavard of the Aramiihs Laboratory, France. COTCOS brought together researchers from many different disciplines (eg. sociology, cognitive psycology and ergonomics, ethnomethodology, computer science, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics, etc.) who were devoted to the study of cooperative technologies in complex work settings. The academic partners worked closely with industrial partners from many diverse domains (air traffic control, museums, urban and freight transportation, emergency control centres and broadcasting, etc.).
HIPS (EU IST Esprit, 1997-2000)
Role: Research Assistant
The HIPS project (Hyper Interaction Within Physical Space) aimed at developing new interaction paradigms for navigating physical spaces. The objective of the project (involving partners from Italy, France, Germany, Norway and Ireland) was to enrich the “user experience” of a city by overlapping a further dimension with the physical space: contextual and personalised information on the human environment The main issue of this project was therefore to allow people to navigate both a physical space and a related information space at the same time, with a minimal gap between the two. This would make it possible to take advantage of an extensive electronic database about a place, while carrying out everyday working or leisure activities without being dependent on a desktop terminal or any kind of classic information system. An electronic tour guide (to exhibitions, museums, archaeological sites, exposition distributed over a city and to cities themselves) was envisaged and developed to empower visitors to determine themselves the structure of a tour, according to their own criteria and needs.