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Notes on project AJI (part 1)

Next to our work with clients, we regularly initiate research projects. Their aim is to investigate subjects in the fields of society, politics, policy etc. that spark our interest. We use our research projects to contribute to debates in these areas by creating playable prototypes.

At the moment, we are working on AJI. This is a project about civil disobedience and public protests. The idea to work on this was sparked by recent large-scale protests that return public squares to their function as platforms for civic resistance while making heavy use of social media. This pattern has been effectively captured by Dan Hill with the hashtag #piazzaplussocialmedia.

We’ve been working on AJI since the beginning of July and are making good progress. A first software prototype has been played with and iterations are underway. In the meantime, we thought we’d share some notes on AJI’s background.

This post is a bit of a conversation between Alper and myself and we’ll publish it in three parts over the course of this week.

Alper, to kick things off, can you talk a bit more about some of the precedents I touched upon in my introduction? What are recent examples of public protest relevant to AJI?

Alper Cugun: Living in Berlin and working near Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg protests are a part of daily life. You can’t drop a hat without encountering a protest—this happened just underneath my studio—and there’s no cause too small for it not to have a solidarity rally associated with it. The scene doing this is relatively big but simultaneously it is limited to a group of people for whom this is a lifestyle.

Her yer Taksim, her yer direniş. (Though it's a bit of a marginal affair over here.)

As a spectator of demonstrations and protests of all sorts I questioned what the rationales are behind participating in a protest and on what factors participating in a protest depends. Besides the practical considerations of place and time, the topic and ideology of a protest and the position of your social circle on the subject seem to be large influences.

Then suddenly Diren Gezi Park happened in Istanbul. This took place in a country whose language I speak and with an ideology of pluralism and non-violence that I subscribe to. I spent a lot of time trying to keep track of the happenings via Twitter and other channels and was mildly successful. I even got featured in the Times with a tweet.

Taksim Olayları Photo by Eser Karadağ

This led me to wonder if we could pick up our old thinking on the topic of cities, play and civics and apply it to this space. Kars, what do you think back to if we talk about that string of presentations we prepared in the last couple of years?

Continued in part 2.

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