Narrative ecologies

The course: Ecology of Narratives (Note: Course number in Tallinn University IFI7106)

Kai Pata


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Introduction edit

Ecology of narratives course offers an opportunity to participate in hybrid environment in the real time metadesign experiment which uses the cultures of participation approach for design for accumulating the geolocative narrative datasets and for analyzing how such datasets may be used.

The course is based on the ideas of designing the narrative ecosystem through communities of users, exploring its functioning by participation, and analyzing the system using the accumulated data from the course participants.

Ways of application of such design ideas are tourism, marketing, history, social participation, learning etc.

At previous years we have constructed a hybrid ecosystem by bottom up approach, using,,, and (or other blog). In this system datafeeds (tagfeeds, friendfeeds) can be mashed, monitored, and data can be aggregated using different methods. This allows the participants to monitor in realtime the narrative ecosystem, perceive and analyze swarming phenomena etc.. Swarming phenomena are discussed from the point of view of marketing ideas, brands, places.

Two full contact days are planned in the beginning and end of the course to design the experiment and analyze the results. In this part of the course students work in groups and in a wiki page they will compose the ideas what they expect from experiment, and what they experienced technically and emotionally, and how the results could be used. Remote participation will be possible (we try to broadcast all lectures).

Second activity in his course is individual. Each participant is supposed to contribute weekly into the narrative activity (images, tweets, texts). The topics and the areas from where to upload are not determined. Students' workload is to upload every day something (some photos, tweets using Brightkite, Twitter and Flickr) and to do at least one summarizing post in the corse Facebook page to reflect their experiences in this system. Participation in the experiment is encouraged at any location of the World. New participants may be involved into the experiment.

Part of the grade will be: a) participation in group-work and writing this evaluation and b) individual reflections and uploading pictures/tweets.

Course settings edit

Tallinn University main Building Narva road 25 and remote places, such as:

Course Facebook and interconnected social software and geographical places (see figure).


For group-work we will use Wikiversity pages

Aims of the course edit

  • To give learners an authentic experience of planning and participating in an ethnographic experiment exploring the ecology of narratives.
  • To develop competences of conducting meta-design research.
  • To develop competences in analyzing geolocative data using the ideas from soft ontologies.
  • To involve students into research initiatives that can be related with their master projects.

Brief outline edit

  • I) Contact day 1:

Lecture part: Introduction to the narrative ecology and its application possibilities. The meta-design framework for cultures of participation. Groupwork: Planning the meta-design experiment (ideas how to use swarming and self-organization for example for marketing and branding with narratives, deciding necessary aspects of data-collection that will answer the needs of this experiment, interconnecting personal tool-settings). After 1st contact day, students work individually and augment a social narrative into their chosen settings in hybrid ecosystem.

  • II) Daily self-organized narrative activity in the hybrid ecosystem places: An interconnected hybrid ecosystem will be developed with students to monitor and interact with each other. They will try out the activities planned in the metadesign experiment, and collect evidences for their groups' research questions.
  • III) Weekly postings about personal data-collection experiences in the Narrative Ecology Facebook page: Meta-design as a method for cultures of participation in virtual ethnographic settings. This means evolving the design ideas, reflecting about them, keeping the others aware about their perceptions during the activity.
  • IV) Contact Day 2:

Lecture part: Introduction of the data analysis methods, including soft ontology methods. Groupwork: Evaluation of the experiment in hybrid ecosystem. The groups will select and discuss the data collected in the meta-design to answer their research questions. After 2nd contact day the groups analyse data and prepare a report.

Grading edit

  • 50 % active participation in experiment planning, conducting and analysis.
  • 30 % preparing the short report consisting of initial narrative, observations from the experiment, analysis of final narratives.
  • 20 % formative peer evaluation of reports.

Design experiment groups edit

Here will appear the group-work with design experiments

Outline and resources edit

DAY 1 edit

Theoretical introduction edit

1. What is narrative ecology? Hybrid ecosystem concept. Positioning narratives in hybrid ecosystem. Enaction and embodied simulation.

2. Swarming as storytelling in hybrid ecosystem. Swarm marketing for ideas, brands, places and stories. Example cases. GIS and affordances of places

3. The meta-design framework for developing narrative swarming. The principles of meta-design for cultures of participation.

4. How can we initiate swarming in hybrid ecosystem. Combining the tools, planning the interactions.

Introduction to design experiment edit

5. Forming teams for meta-design. For understanding hybrid ecosystem, it must be tested in action in a meta-design experiment.

The teams will discuss:

1) How? This practice is derived from geolocative m-learning studies, Web 2.0 storytelling, emerging standards

Students start thinking, what is an applicable solution for urban hybrid narratives – who will participate, why, where, what tools are needed, how stories become visible for collaboration, which are new story-telling formats

a) Which new ideas for swarm marketing can be generated for hybrid ecosystems?

b) Which locations and information channels within and across software in hybrid ecosystem will initiate swarming?

2) What? This theory is derived from ecological thinking, enacted learning, embodied simulation forms

Students start thinking what can be discovered and explored with this design experiment about cognitive interaction with stories.

What possibilities there will be to collect data for answering the following research questions:

a) Which narrative triggers (themes) in hybrid narrative ecosystem will initiate swarming?

b) Which swarming phenomena can be recognized?

c) How do participants perceive swarming phenomena in narrative ecosystem?

Seminar outline:

  • The design session is started with theoretical questions.
  • Discussing and deciding the topic of the individual/collaborative narrative and documenting the discussions in the group wiki pages
  • The available personal environments are listed, connected, discussed and tested. Please consider interconnections between groups as well!
  • The design session is finalized and the groups will prepare preliminary design framework descriptions in wiki page.

List of Tools edit

compatible with yahoo_id (flickr), twitter, brightkite

The groups present their design ideas in wiki edit

Discussion: how the work continues for running the design experiment (monitoring and data-collection, how much narrative-writing and reflection is expected for the last contact day. )

Individual and collabrative work edit

Monitoring what is going on edit

Personal sites are connected together (links, mashes etc.) to monitor the activity online Participants will monitor the storytelling.

Narrative activity in hybrid ecosystem edit

Data collection as personal narratives and swarming type of activities on stories.

Students’ weekly reflect postings edit

Writing weekly impression in course Facebook page, e.g. relating postings geolocatively with the artifacts from their personal narratives (data collection of cognition).

DAY 2 edit

Data analysis edit

Conclusions of the design experiment. (we will use group wiki)