Service Design in Heritage Day 2

Friday was the final day of the Service Design in Heritage workshops hosted by the Life Rewired Hub at the Barbican.

We once again started off with the ideation session but this time during the mapping data workshop, we were able to try creating a hypothesised user journey and associating touchpoints with different parts of the organisation. It was a really interesting contrast with yesterday’s mapping data workshop where we focussed on taking a deep dive into the structure and associated data. Personally I think it shows the difference that the nature of the ‘How might we…?’ challenge makes. Even though many of the challenges had similarities in concern, the nuances that were added through the ideation process can result in quite significant differences to the nature of the project (something that is totally the norm from a complex systems perspective!)

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Service Design in Heritage day 1

See, I’m getting better at this insta-documenting lark!

Today was the first iteration of Service Design in [Arts, Culture &] Heritage workshop(s), held at the Barbican Arts Centre in the Life Rewired Hub. Borne out of some great conversations with Kristen Alfaro about common difficulties with designing holistic, inclusive services when working in a Cultural institution – be it a museum, an art gallery/space etc – the goal is to introduce some service design techniques and approaches and providing a space for participants to learn by doing.

Thanks to lessons learned from previous workshops e.g. at Wild Conference, this was split into two workshops, partly to give people more options but also because even doing half a design jam is still quite intense!


Session 1 focussed on collaborative ideation techniques; session 2 on data/insights mapping and introduction to prototyping.

Much like the neo-mmanwu workshop, the structure was half a presentation type lecture sort of thing and half actually trying out the particular methods that would be used at that point of the design process.

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Trip to V&A – Modernities aboundeth

Had a working from home day and spent the afternoon at the V&A fuelling more thoughts on a presumably upcoming article/talk on digital materiality.

Ventured to the rapid response and modernist collections which I don’t often do. There’s always something fun about analysing the material product through the theoretical framework of the designer/maker in question.

A photo of the display of 'The Toaster Project' by Thomas Thwaite. There is a homemade toaster and the associated casing. Around it are all the tools used to create the casing, to smelt the metals and so on.Really dug Thomas Thwaites ‘The toaster project’. Design often obscures the truth about thermodynamic symmetry – that time and effort saved at one end of a process will incur a cost at another. This is one reason why the question of ethical design or ethical tech is either insultingly trivial or stereotypically complex – the time saved in a washing machine (for example) is taken in the form of excavating, purifying and shaping metal ores to provide circuit components. To reiterate a question asked at Sheffield’s doc fest panel, asking whether a particular example of tech is ethical requires a strong stomach.

The conservation of energy has financial as well as work-based components. The fact that a cheap toaster costs £120k to reproduce by hand speaks volumes about the hidden siphonings throughout the process.

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Hanging out with the Makerversity at ‘Remaking Place Civic Hack’


Although I ended up not being able to make it on Friday (the problem when work becomes a temptation is that for someone like me, work will always win out!) I did eventually head out to the City co-labs: Remaking place Civic Hack hosted by Makerversity at Somerset house.

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Building without bias – digital technology and architecture for the post-binary: In the shadows of hateful glass

Wednesday I was at the Building centre as part of their ‘Building without bias‘ event, chaired by Vanessa Norwood and curated by Hannah Rozenburg whose research and practice explored methods of tackling and subverting gender bias in architecture.

The production of architectural space in the digital age is increasingly reliant on automated technologies which infer that data is truth. But this ‘truth’ is saturated with the bias and prejudice inherent in contemporary society, with serious implications for the design of our built environment.

Hannah Rozenberg’s award winning research project, Building without Bias, found that artificially intelligent technologies understood ‘architect, steel, cement and screw’ as terms most associated with males, while ‘tearoom, kitchen and nursery’ were among the most female. With algorithmic design methods set to increase, what will be the implications for architecture and our urban fabric?

In the shadows of hateful glass was my contribution very much inspired by certain musings as I wander through Southwark and the rapidly regenerstagnating Southbank. You can read through the slide deck embedded below (or linked in text if that’s not quite working!)


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Close Your Eyes and Think of Yorkshire? Working-class Women and Sexuality in Early Twentieth-Century Yorkshire — NOTCHES

Claire Martin When she was ten years old, May Owen (b. 1895) moved with her family to a small mining village near Sheffield, in South Yorkshire. In an autobiographical letter she wrote some seventy years later, she still vividly remembered her initial shock at a particular custom in the community: “If a woman misbehaved herself,”…

via Close Your Eyes and Think of Yorkshire? Working-class Women and Sexuality in Early Twentieth-Century Yorkshire — NOTCHES

Inspirational pre-20th century Black heroes

Part of my research for ‘The Very Devils‘ is looking into examples of black people from Africa and the diaspora who worked against slavery before the 20th century Civil rights movement. Owing to the difficulties some of my characters will face, finding precedents and understanding how people in our timeline managed to accomplish the amazing feats they did is invaluable for the project.

Coming across this article is great timing – some might appear as their alternate history selves.

Notes on urban sociology from La Gidis

So I’m working on a novel, ‘Chizoba of the Black Hills‘, the setting of which is a futuristic Enugu and Guangzhou. As such I’m doing a lot of reading on potential precedents – saving snippets from news articles etc.

Came across this on the voiding of restrictions on freedom of movement during the monthly clean ups that apparently take place throughout Lagos? Would be interesting to know how the law cane about in its original form to begin with:

Although subject to a possible appeal, it may be a legal victory for the plaintiff but certainly does not remove from the morality in the idea of citizens observing that exercise especially since the public interest is served by it. The sanitation exercise is, of course, a positive index of good governance that should be encouraged, the Court’s decision notwithstanding….


Should residents take refuge in the Court’s decision, filth and garbage would once again take over the streets as people would not have time to take care of their surroundings any more. It is good enough, therefore, that the Lagos State Government has appealed the verdict to seek redress in the public interest.