Overview of the challenge
In 2016, a group of five universities and a number of non-university based collaborators came together to explore the role of arts and creativity within diverse communities. The three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research project focussed on how marginalised communities use the arts, media and creativity to challenge exclusion. The project produced outputs including academic articles and publications, a theatre production, films, a photo exhibition and digital installations.
The team at the Creative Interruptions project approached Kinseed to assist them in creating a platform to allow researchers to collaborate on materials and research findings, save their academic work for future use, and help communicate findings and creative outputs to a wider audience around the world. Working with a limited budget and to a tight timeframe, the team were keen to use very modern digital platforms to achieve a great deal with their research publications and materials, without the traditional expensive IT outlay or difficult tools and systems to navigate.
Microsoft Office 365 Empowered Workspace
As a first step, Kinseed implemented a workspace built around the Academic SKU for Office 365, building on the great toolchain provided by Microsoft for collaboration and information management. A rapid cloud-based setup meant the team were able to quickly get working, while Kinseed built out specialised areas within SharePoint, Office 365 Groups, Teams, Yammer and PowerApps – allowing for information to be stored, categorised, backed up, shared and dissected with minimal friction or effort.
A core part of this rollout involved creating a robust information architecture – from day one, the team identified there were a number of shared properties, categories, tags and types of information across an extremely diverse set of data sources and types. Kinseed focused on building a consistent set of columns and properties across all Office 365 tools, allowing the team to rapidly re-surface information and “take the pulse of the project” through the use of expositional tools like Delve and PowerBI.
Once the team had started uploading information and collaborating together, a next “stage” of the rollout of the project commenced – building a simple “information pipeline” centred around PowerApps and Flow, which allowed for documents, creative outputs and more to be marked for onward sharing or categorisation – allowing the team to rapidly surface content on their website without any heavy lifting or manual effort required. This saved the team a great deal of time and effort, allowing academic researchers to concentrate on generating valuable insights and outcomes, instead of a large administrative overhead.
Geospatial Information Management
Part of the project involved gathering memetic components of culture from around the world, and identifying commonalities and themes across key “workstreams” regardless of geographic divide. Kinseed built a specialised geographic information portal for the team, based around simple open web standards and the Google Maps API engine, allowing for each “piece of culture” to be plotted on a map for all to see and interact with. By building in modern Web 2.0 and Social components to this tool, Kinseed enabled the consumers of the Creative Interruptions project to focus in and understand the cultural aspects of the creative works, without having to hunt through difficult to navigate libraries or folders.
Outcome of the project
The Creative Interruptions project was a great success, and surfaced a lot of extremely insightful and powerful context to culture and divide in today’s world, especially through the lens of media and the arts. As a result of the brilliant research conducted by the academic and collaborative participants in the project, the wider community as a whole has been able to understand more clearly some of the challenges faced by those who are impacted by social, cultural and socioeconomic divide, and to be able to recognise some of the markers and identifying elements in media and artistic outputs to identify, challenge and explore the surfacing of these divides in modern cultural idioms and communicative means.
The amazing work resulting from the project was entirely the output of the academic and collaborative participants of the project. Kinseed is proud to have worked with such a passionate, diverse and forward-looking team on this project: our implementation of appropriate technology platforms and communicative media allowed the team to focus on what was important, without having to think or worry about how their IT is working on a day to day basis. This project highlights one of the key concepts of Kinseed’s focus on Technology – that when it is implemented right, end users should hardly notice it is there – and instead be empowered to create an impact on the world around them in a more viable and vibrant way.