PhD thesis

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This post is about a first version of my thesis, which I changed quite a bit. Both versions are fully written. This one is more eclectic and creative, the other is more orthodox and less complex (here).

This thesis examines the intersection of social technology and open storytelling. At its core is what drives experimental co-creation among creative entrepreneurs. Open storytelling is a field of interactive arts that seeks new methods and contexts for co-creation. Opening access raises questions around promises and discomforts of such seemingly unplannable co-production. A central theme is self-organization through performance and exchange. The core problem is: How does a focus on innovating process shape the way individuals approach life and work? Answers can be found in this ethnographic case on the design and performance values expressed by members of the Reboot collective. Reboot attracts collaborators, who come to learn, imagine, do and share.

Each chapter indicates a field of tension in which principles of co-creation are discussed and evidenced by practice and design examples. Chapter B takes [play/labour] as a framework and looks at civic engagement and project organization (learn). In chapter C, the bracket [discipline/affect] offers a view on aesthetic reasoning through the principles passion and empathy (imagine). In chapter D, the bracket [story design/performativity] highlights principles of incompleteness and synaesthetic mimesis, poiesis and kinesis (do). In chapter E, the bracket [potential space/affordance] delineates community cultivation and project-based co-entrepreneurship (share). At a meta-level, five axioms can be derived: (a) practices corroborate synaesthetic reasoning to make sense of the digitized world; (b) activities are situational and ephemeral, defying systemic stabilization; (c) online and offline practices open up an omnidextrous third space through which techniques flow across from one domain to the other; (d) if constraints are not outside the body they come from inside (self-discipline) and in-between (empathy); (e) incomplete designs invite engagement.

As a theoretic framework, the author develops a dyad concept drawing on Kress and Leeuwen’s multimodality and Lury et al. and Lash’s notion of topology. Her methodology uses a rigorous and multi-layered activity research design, which adds new perspectives to current academic practices in media and design ethnography. Spanning media, arts, design, social sciences, cultural studies and anthropology, the thesis is placed amongst – and adds rich insights – to current debates on human activity in socio-technical environments.


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2.1 Reboot Creativity
2.2 Creativity as Play
2.3 Creativity as Remix
2.4 A Taxonomy of Co-Creativity
2.5 Co-creativity is Emergent
3.1 Considering Design and Process
3.2 Cultural Topology
3.3 Topology as Abstract Language
3.4 A Fledgling Pattern Language
3.5 Style and Reflexivity in a Topological Approach

// LEARN – Subversive Play: Free Labour as Civic Engagement
2.1 Pervasive Play and Free Labour
2.2 Serious Play and Experiential Learning
3.1 Principle 1 – Deviate: Disruption and Intervention
3.1.1 Trad-Schooling
3.1.2 Alt-schooling
3.2 Principle 2 – Improvise: Speculation and Grit
3.2.1 Contingency
3.2.2 Complexity
3.3 Principle 3 – Augment: Iterate and Transform
3.3.1 Prototypes
3.3.2 Dehabituation

// IMAGINE – Affective Reasoning: Heuristic Sense- And Decision-Making Through Empathy And Passion
2.1 Affect
2.2 Self-Discipline
2.3. Between Affect and Discipline
3.1 From Meme to Theme
3.2 Conceptual Language
3.3 Balancing Literal And Associative
3.4 Empathy As Compass
4.1 “Choosing” Intensive Engagement
4.2 Hurdling the Arduousness of Self-Discipline
4.2.1 Deep Affect: The Personally Meaningful
4.2.2 Fleeting Affect: Collective Momentum
4.3 The Power of Oscillating Discipline and Affect

// DO – Performative Storytelling: Narrative Design As A Purposeful Utility
2.1 Performativity
2.2 Purposeful Storytelling
2.3 Design
2.4 Narrative Design as Performative Agency
3.1 Focus on Poiesis: Incomplete By Design
3.1.1 Science-Fiction, Otherness and Imagination
3.1.2 Story Beats
3.2 Focus on Kinesis: Intervention by Design
3.2.1 Messiness
3.2.2 Hacking
3.3 Focus on Mimesis: Appropriation
3.3.1 Transportation and Transformation
3.3.2 Declining Performativity?

// SHARE – Community Cultivation: Co-Entrepreneurship By Affording Project-based Micro-Businesses
2.1 Potential Space
2.2 Commons-Based Peer Production
2.3 Affording A Common Potential Space
3.1 Franchise: Network and Change over Income
3.2 Incubation: Social Good over Monetization
4.1 Power Share: Letting Go of Control (Individual)
4.2 Goal Share: Balancing Self-interest & Commonality (Collaborative)
4.3 Skill Share: Lending Talent (Collaborative)
4.4 Knowledge Share: Circulating Assets (Public)

// CONCLUSION – Learn, Do, Imagine, Share: Towards A Collaboration Methodology
1.1 Recap Cardinal Principle 1: Learning
1.2 Recap Cardinal Principle 2: Imagining
1.3 Recap Cardinal Principle 3: Doing
1.4 Recap Cardinal Principle 4: Sharing

Tags: outside the box, design fiction, purposeful play, participatory storytelling, design thinking, media ethnography, new media, new commons, indie punks, share culture, networked economy, collaboration, co-creation, experiential learning, liminal threshold, activity based learning, DIY, peer production, social innovation, artistic research, digital boheme, crowdsourcing, crowdsharing, social experiences, agile management, social entrepreneurship, collaborative entrepreneurship, Gen Flux, creative entrepreneurship, media commons, labeling, digital humanities, human-centered design, storification, avant-garde

learn do share #5

It amazes me every time how much love and imaginence DIY Days participants give to make these books happen. This edition is special as we evolve our format. It features the 1st out of 4 steps of our EDIT co-design process: E stands for Empathy, the following books will cover Define, Ideate and Test. In L.A. we collaborated with the Goldhirsh Foundation to substantiate the empathy phase. Looking into an extensive report on the status quo and trends for L.A., our group discussed, mapped and created 9 new projects that are well and truly underway now. You can get in touch if you’re keen to shape the world around you!

LearnDoShare_LAbook_5Another treat are the metamaps that are scattered throughout the book. The entire event, and most importantly, our design challenges, were mapped as browser-based amplified mindmaps on If your work is related to sense- and decision-making, you should check it out!

Lastly, a big shout out goes to Designful Studio for giving the book an absolutely loveable design and helping us re-brand Learn Do Share. We think they captured LA’s “diversity as identity” in every aesthetic stroke.

You can open the book by clicking on the image. And see our previous books here.

learn do share #4

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With no resources, just passion and purpose an amazing group of people created another book, and we remain stunned by the impact of open collaboration.

Learn Do Share is a book, a documentation, reflection and learning resource about narrative experiments and social innovation efforts ventured at diy days New York City. We explore participatory systems, collaborative spaces, share culture, and self-propelled creativity. Written and designed by volunteers, the aim is to spread storytelling, empathy and collaboration as a way to “learn, do and share,” and to have a positive effect on creative communities within an open design environment both locally and globally.

Diy days is a social innovation hub and a vehicle for creative sustainability. It is an internationally roving gathering for those who create, free to participants and run by volunteers in the spirit of collaborative culture. Reboot stories designs these gatherings around sharing ideas and resources that help creators to fund, create, distribute and sustain their work. its experimental elements are attempts to explore the future of co-creation embedded in talks, networking and collaborative activities that are meant to spark the imagination of many.

[click image to download book]


urban game: enter the tengu

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Enter the Tengu is an urban game, a digital scavenger hunt that uses technology and other objects to lead two players from a mysterious starting point to a locked treasure box at the end of the journey.

Tengu are a class of supernatural creatures. Long held as demons and harbingers of war, their image softened into one of protective, if still mischievous, spirits of the mountain forests. Tengu have been called arrogant, mischievous, self-centered and dangerous; their appearance being a bizarre combination of human and bird with fearsome eyes shining with the mischief. They enjoy spreading chaos and confusion among humans, punishing the vain, kidnapping the foolish and playing on the weak.

However, the Tengu’s way – as resentful as it seems – bears an important lesson. They serve as mentors to humans they find worthy. They remind us that we should be free to do what we want, be playful and take ourselves and out surrounding not too seriously.

This game was designed by myself and Claire Marshall as a surprise for Jordan Bryon for her 30th birthday. It began White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney – and lead the participants through the back streets of Chippendale to visit unusual locations, meet interesting people and encourage their inner Tengu to break free.

[click image to download walkthrough.]

a case in design and behaviour: generation 20+

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How do millenials use media? And how do they produce media?

Generation 20+ answers parts of these questions and explains an unusual ethnographic process developed to find deeper answers to recent media developments. The year-long project was developed at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in conjunction with Raimo Lang, Head of Content Development at Finnish Public Broadcaster YLE. The program included a conference, focusing on emerging media formats in a converging media landscape, and workshops, diving into qualitative research done by students on user profiles and media habits. I documented and interpreted the whole process and am very excited to share the results.
{click image to download pdf}

premiering the world’s first story-led open design game, maybe

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Imagine a neighbourhood being collectively evicted. Councils have tried and failed to come up with a solution that alleviates gentrification; urban planners have given up, other authorities shun responsibility. What if the answer can be found in a simple game that can be applied to any problem? A fun game that can be downloaded and printed at home, a collaborative game that ignites the greatest power we all have: our imaginence (imagination + intelligence). Could local solutions created by friends and neighbours trigger landslide change?

Vivid Ideas in Sydney invited us to play the game with a groups of 19 participants from policy, social housing, and areas such as architecture, filmmaking, arts, media, and social work. They joined us in the ambitious endeavour to co-design solutions to developments issues in Australia’s social housing policy.

Inspired by 1-hour prototyping workshops, the game itself works like a handbook that guides players and can be applied to any problem. Combining storytelling, collaboration and game mechanics, the concept uses absurdity to inspire divergent thinking, and applies design principles to ensure realistic outcomes. By also creating a collective narrative that explains the solution, it can be easily explained to outsiders, so the ideas can travel. Results are creative commons and can be shared on a website to increase chances that solutions are implemented widely. We premiered in June 2013 at Vivid Ideas in Sydney.

The game was developed to help neighbourhoods, friends and other communities to come together for a social night to ideate and create around shared concerns. Therefore, the game itself is released under a non-commercial share-alike creative commons license, so you can download, print and play, no pay! (Warning: at the moment the game still needs facilitators, who know a bit about open design. We’re working on it.)

The concept was created by Ele Jansen and Lance Weiler, both Reboot Stories. Additional game mechanics were designed by Deepti Raavi and Purnima Iyer, Pinaka Interactive. Graphics by Northern Army (wishforthefuture logo) and Monique Coffey (game boards, The specific session at Vivid was co-created with Jordan Bryon, who works with members of Sydney’s housing communities in a participatory storytelling project called TURF.

This game is part of Reboot Stories’ and will be available on the site once it is ready to be played without a facilitator.

The game can be downloaded at

keynote at diydays new york

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These are slides I made for my first ever keynote. At diy days New York City 2013 we shared a day around the themes creative entrepreneurship, open design and foster care. In my talk I’m walking through my PhD approach, doing ethnography on open design, using pattern language to detect dynamics and relationships between collaborating creatives. With a look towards power I discuss what it means to balance introvert and extrovert. Suggesting new forms of work organization, I conclude listing collaboration fundamentals, suggesting that my observations indicate the need for new social contracts.

THNKR filmed the entire event and will publish the talks on their channel soon.
[click image to open prez in a new tab]

new changemaker conversation


In this episode of our learndoshare Changemaker Conversation I asked Dr. Joanne Jakovich (Sydney) and tech visionary Gunther Sonnenfeld (L.A.) to share their experiences with design thinking, big data and social innovation in a collaborative times. Joanne comes from an urban development perspective and Gunther brings in a tech and business development stance. One factor that unites them is their constant search for creative ways to changes people’s ways and ethos when working together.

{Start audio}

Dr Joanne Jakovich is an architect, facilitator, researcher, educator and exhibiting artist specialising in crowd-share innovation. She is a co-founder of u.lab at UTS and producer of a new generation of urban engagement projects such as Groundbreaker, BikeTank and CitySwitch that embed design-led innovation and entrepreneurship into the city.

Gunther is internationally consulting in social technology and business innovation, running labs in a variety of markets. He has co-developed over a dozen proprietary platforms in the search, social media, business intelligence, digital content and analytics domains, and has won several awards for his innovation work, including a Forrester Groundswell Award in 2010. As a Venture Partner at K5, a startup accelerator based in Southern California, Gunther advises a number of disruptive startups, along with his strategic efforts for the Fortune 1000. He speaks around the world on the topics of digital convergence and emerging markets, and has keynoted alongside of visionaries such as Sir Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Arianna Huffington and Jonathan Harris. He is currently co-writing a book entitled “The Big Pivot”, a blueprint for companies looking to build sustainable customer relationships and sustainable markets within this shifting media and technology landscape.

In their 35-minute conversation, Joanne and Gunther discuss
– public-to-private crowdshare innovation at Sydney’s u.lab
– collaborative decision-making and hierarchies
– coalitions with ownership of domain
– new hybrid of coalition and committee
– multiple stakeholder cooperation
– open design and people sourcing
– bringing big data to physical open design
– network analysis: digital anthropology and the big data value of social media tribes
– socializing intelligence

You can find more on Joanne’s and Gunther’s work here:
Joanne: and

case study: robot heart stories

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A tweet of 140 characters sent out to a community of creatives marked the starting point of a storyworld that engaged two classrooms in Montreal and LA for a 10-day period in October 2011. The students and 50+ collaborators from eight countries helped shaping both story and project. Initiators Lance Weiler and Janine Saunders were interested in experimenting and rapid prototyping, so their team created a lose framework that allowed participants to step in and create both the project and the story itself.

The goal was to apply storytelling as a purposeful means to improve education. This case study outlines the build of the story with a special emphasis on collaboration. It’s part of my PhD research and aims to share process and show how 21st century storyworlds can be a tool for experiential learning through creativity. Enter: Laika.

[click image to download]

A short survey made by Anthea Foyer and Siobhan O’Flynn is available on the {TMC resource kit website}.


and another book

LDS#3 cover

Learn Do Share Gothenburg is out! Coooooooeeee!

This is the 3rd book in a series about global diy days events run by Reboot Stories and collaborators. This edition was produced in Gothenburg, Sweden, and it is free to download. Big thanks to Jasmine Lyman and the talented team of collaborators, who dedicated time and love to share their knowledge!

[Click image to open pdf]


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