Networks of Excellence do not just need senior academics or established practitioners; to flourish, they also need to engage in a dialogue with graduate students, junior researchers, and budding practitioners. In an interdisciplinary field as dynamic as that spanned by Convivio, the transfer of new ways of thinking to the ‘next generation’ is vital; and equally vital is the influx of questions and ideas from people young enough (or new enough to the discipline) not to take anything for granted.
The Convivio network has taken this need for “mutual education” seriously from its first beginnings: the Split summer school was Convivio’s third successful summer school in two years. As before, the school’s participants (44 in total) came from many different countries (including 14 from nearby Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Romania, and some from more distant countries such as India, China and the US) and ranged from MA students to junior researchers and young designers. The school offered different learning formats, with lectures in the mornings and “hands-on” ateliers in the afternoons. The 10 days were characterized by a spirit of collaboration, with lecturers visiting ateliers, engaging in discussions and offering advice where appropriate.
The school, which received extensive coverage in the Croatian press, aimed to familiarize its students with new approaches to the design of interactive systems, emphasizing the importance of paying attention to users’ needs. The school focused particularly on ICT systems developed to support communities by strengthening their identitym making them more open or creating distributed, augmented places for them.
The school’s theme, “Communities in Transition”, reflected this focus, and was most apparent in the atelier projects, which all involved the people (inhabitants, visitors) of Split. The following projects – each developed by a group of 11 students – presented their results at the end of the summer school:
• Ajmo Splite! (Come on Split!): Split inhabitants (adults and children) giving city planning input via a playful kiosk;
• Spirits of Split: a historical puzzle that involved collecting pieces from different parts of the city, with dressed-up representatives of historical areas of Split;
• OLAF (All of us): leaving and retrieving traces for tourists by means of things like digital beer pads;
• Split Stories: digital locations for collaboratively writing/expanding stories, collected and turned into performances.
Towards the end, it felt as if the summer school itself had turned into a small but sustainable community. Many people deserve thanks for their contribution (some of them are mentioned below). Special thanks are due to Ivica Mitrovic who coordinated the (brilliant) local organisation with efficiency and hospitality. Split, with its historic city centre and palace and surrounding sea and archipelago, provided a wonderful backdrop for two intense but very successful weeks.
Yngve Sundblad and Riccardo Antonini