Chris and Joel have been in the United States during August, presenting about the #thismymob project, and the successful launch of the app prototype with the five participating mobs. Their first stop was in Irvine, California where they met up with Professor Paul Dourish from the University of California Irvine, who is a partner investigator on the project. The discussions there were about post-colonial computing and how the project team can further investigate co-desiging technologies with Indigenous people and ‘coding for culture’.
The next stop was to San Francisco, California where they presented the project to Google. The presentation was held in the San Francisco office and was also broadcast across to all Google offices around the United States. Google staff were very interested in the project particularly around ‘coding for culture’ and ensuring that technology is designed with Indigenous people to be culturally sensitive and appropriate.
The next presentation was at MIT in Boston, which sparked interesting conversations around cyber bullying and how apps, such as #thismymob can be used as safe space for Indigenous people to connect and communicate with each other. The final stop was at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, where Chris and Joel presented to Australian Embassy staff, and representatives from Embassies from New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and Peru.
During July, five Indigenous communities have begun pilot-testing the first release version of the #ThisMyMob smartphone app. Chris, Joel, Tuck, Aimee and Greg have held workshops in Sydney (Eora and Jumbunna communities), Portland (Gunditjmara), Lombadina (Bard) and Bathurst Island (Tiwi). Community members are now using the app in a pilot study that will run for several months. Already, mobs in diverse regions of Australia are connecting through this exciting new technology.
working with community for a better app development
During June, Associate Professor Dr Christopher Lawrence and Dr Joel Fredericks traveled south, to Portland Victoria.
Together they ran a workshop with community partners to recruit participants. During this workshop, they discussed the future functionality of the #thismymob application.
These workshops are fundamental to the development of the app as it allows the researchers and developers to work with Indigenous communities across Australia and gather experiences and feedback about the app.
During the workshop, community members are encouraged to provide feedback about what they think would improve the app, and how their community would respond to it.
We look forward to doing more work with communities in the future of the app’s development!
In May 2018 Associate Professor Tuck Leong met with Professor Yu-Yang Liu from the College of Education of the University of Taipei, in Taiwan. Professor Liu talked about his long-term and ongoing research with different Indigenous Taiwanese groups which has been going on for over 10 years. In terms of using IT to support these Indigenous communities, the main efforts have been to use IT to help preserve different Indigenous languages. This has led to the creation of a large numbers of language learning games, storytelling videos, and language resources. A large effort is focused on reinforcing a standard phonetic written form of these oral languages. Through this, the very grammatically complex languages can be more easily taught/learned, and preserved.
The Indigenous groups he worked with, especially the elderly use mobile phones primarily for their communication and via texting. Not all would use smartphones. However, those using smartphones would almost certainly be using the Line messaging app as the main channel for communication. While Indigenous people, in Taiwan, especially the younger generations, use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, these platforms cannot rival the dominant use of Line. The language learning site sponsored by the Council of Indigenous People is, http://klokah.tw
The other is sponsored by Taipei City Hall is, http://taipei.pqwasan.org.tw
Chris, Tuck, Aimee and Greg hosted a full-day workshop on Digital Land Rights and Reconnecting Indigenous Communities at OzCHI 2017, Brisbane, on Tuesday 28th November. It was a great success, with talks by Prof. Paul Dourish, Prof. Michael Christie, A/Profs. Chris Lawrence and Tuck Leong, Jennyfer Taylor, Dr Dana Bradford, Aimee Woods, Dr Sojen Pradhan and Dr Greg Wadley. The day closed with a discussion on “How can Irani et al.’s ‘Postcolonial Computing’ perspective inform our research?” We plan to host similar workshops at future OzCHI conferences.
During Oct-Dec 2017 Chris, Tuck and Greg conducted the first round of fieldwork for the #thismymob project. We faciliated design workshops in a range of Aboriginal communities that represent some of the diversity of Indigenous Australia – from the remote communities of Lombadina (on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome, WA) and Wurrumiyanga (in the Tiwi Islands north of Darwin, NT), to the regional community of Portland (the Gunditjmara people of western Victoria) and finally to urban Sydney.
We learned a lot about how people use an array of digital technologies to address the challenges they face in daily life. We discussed how the #thismymob platform could provide a useful addition to this existing array of technologies and how it should be designed to be tailored to the needs and empowerment of Indigenous communities. Participants affirmed a need for a safe space for Indigenous users. The #thismymob project received strong support, and we collectively agreed on a tentative design.
We plan next to create a working prototype and deploy it for trial in mid 2018.
#thismymob has been awarded funding as part of the ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme to design and test technology to improve health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities. We’ll work with communities at several locations in urban, regional and remote Australia, using participatory methods to create and trial mobile, Internet-based technology.