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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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