Andrea Botero defended today her PhD thesis "Expanding Design Space(s) - Design in Communal Endeavours". Dr. Monika Büscher (Lancaster University) acted as the opponent and Prof. Lily Diaz as the Custos. Botero started her lectio precursoria by a personal anecdote. She described her experiences giving a birth in a baby-friendly hospital. Here it means Kätilöopisto Maternity Hospital with its family-friendly special unit called Haikaranpesä (Stork's Nest). She concluded the description by stating that giving and assisting a birth is neither a miracle nor a routine thing to do. Many partnerships of many kinds are needed that extend well before and after the birth. A lot can be achieved through companionship and caring. This is issue of caring became one of Botero's main interests in design research.
Botero continued by presenting two case studies of fledgling communities (seniors aging together) and emergent collectives (citizens and city officials linked by locative media). Particular attention was paid on expanding what comprises the design spaces of these communal endeavours to capture a wider interplay of possibilities including practices, partly assembled technologies, as well as developing competencies and social arrangements. Related to the first case study, Botero discussed experiences in developing and using Miina, a web-based everyday life management system for the Loppukiri residents in Arabianranta.
The opponent raised discussions about a number of topics including unintended consequences and the role of designers in collaborative design. The interesting book "Ignorance and Surprise" by Matthias Gross was touched upon in the discussion. Another theme was how to create trust in collaboration. Openess regarding one's goals and motivations was emphasized as an important factor. Regarding solving problems in the world and a designers' role in it, Botero provided a nice formulation. One does not need to go to the people and tell them that they need to save the world as they are doing it already. One can just offer help for them. Starting from Bruno Latour's matters of concern and discussing further Pelle Ehn's and his colleagues' work, matters of care were mentioned and everything that we do to sustain life.