Negotiating Digitalisation in Commuter Trains
Bertha von Suttner Privatuniversität
FH Technikum Wien
This transdisciplinary project explores how socio-technical realities are negotiated and (re)produced in digitally augmented public spaces.
Starting from questions of social participation and visibility, we design digital interventions in transient physical spaces that allow participants to explore both “layers” of data in terms of digital realities, as well as their mutual relations through them. In selected compartments of commuter trains, changing social groups of participants have the opportunity to interact through projections and use an augmented reality app to explore and negotiate with each other those data that describe train passengers in their interconnectedness with technology and the passing environment. In the context of critical design interventions, novel hybrid “agoras” emerge that trigger processes of negotiation and critical reflection on the role of humans within those socio-technological entanglements that establish order and normalize social power relations.
The interdisciplinary cooperation between social sciences and computer science was already profitable for gaining knowledge in the process of the joint application work. The start-up funding provided the framework for a productive discussion, within which it was possible to systematically develop the innovative project idea on the negotiation of social norms and power in hybrid realities and to pursue it in a manner appropriate to the complexity of the subject area. On this basis, the foundations of a project proposal could be worked out, the orientation of which pursues a new and ambitious approach in both the national and international fields.
In early 2021, the project team submitted an application for further funding to the FWF, proposing a participatory model to explore the relationship between “humans” and “technology”. Using a transdisciplinary approach, the team designed a research project to investigate interactions on commuter trains using an augmented reality (AR) platform. The aim was to investigate how social norms and power structures are negotiated in this environment. The team wanted to investigate what information participants were willing to make visible in this hybrid digital reality against the backdrop of the partial and/or complete anonymity of digital realities such as social media platforms. In this way, they hoped to gain a broader perspective on the relationship between “humans” and “technology”.