Lessons from the real world on community engagement

An interesting insight into last week’s tuition fees protests in London can be gleaned from the protesters’ use of a ‘Live protest map’ on Google. The minute by minute updates, provided in real time by the demonstrators, provide an extremely compelling account of the day, made all the more so by the brevity and to-the-point nature of the individual  observations (e.g. ‘Escaped Police Horse Victoria street’). While I could write at length on the merits of the protests themselves and the impact of the vote in Parliament, this blog is about locative technologies… and this map shows, in microcosm, the great power of combining timelines with maps for illustrating complex events with multiple histories. And, as in this case, to serve specific purposes – real time information sharing among those involved. There are lessons to be learned, I think, for those responsible for the development of websites that seek to document and describe histories such as this with user generated content, particularly of urban areas.

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