Not Another Tool’s primary goal is to look into the cohabitation of digital and physical space as a design opportunity. Investigating street movements/protests as a design context is the focus and throughout this investigation, new technologies are the main design characteristic. Hence, technology, the marriage between digital and physical, and street protest are three major aspects of the project. Mahan Mehrvarz, through his Master’s thesis, seeks to understand how the application of communication technologies, the internet of things, pervasive computing, and sensory devices can create a mixed-reality urban environment, which provides the opportunity for protesters to remain in the streets and act and respond to authorities more effectively within public spaces.
New technologies have played a substantial role in the recent street movements, from Green Movement in Iran and Arab Spring in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt to Occupy Wall Street Movement in New York City (Massey and Snyder 2015, Nabian 2015). In these movements, streets became hyper public spaces where people used digital and physical components or environments and created a new reality.
Street movements provide a good setting to practice, design, and benefit from Mixed Reality environments. Street movements have been traditionally taken place within the physical realms of cities, and often start or end with a form of civil disobedience.
Considering the integration of new technologies in our daily lives, in 1994, Critical Art Ensemble – a group of tactical media practitioners – stated in their Electronic Civil Disobedience manifesto that:“…Streets are dead capital and nothing of value to the power elite can be found in the streets. Resisters should find something of a value to the power elite” (Critical Art Ensemble 1994).
However, more recent movements (from 2009 to 2012) around the world showed that fully-virtual civil disobedience model that Critical Art Ensemble pictured in its manifesto does not meet protesters’ desires. Additionally, these recent movements did not follow the traditional civil disobedience model (like storming bastille).
Instead, the recent social movements and civil disturbances (of any form and in any geographical region) have been following a model that includes both digital and physical components. To re-emphasize, this fact demonstrates the role of digital spaces in this millennium.
Riot Control tactics include riot-control scenarios and a number of tools (traditional and technological) associated with each scenario. To resist, people have also developed ad-hoc tools that neutralize the control tools. However, there is a noticeable difference between the number of technologies that authorities have access to and those available to protesters during street protests. On top of the shortage in resources that protesters have to deal with, there is a lack of advance planning and design for street protests as a spatial collective activity. It seems that designers have never considered this condition as a design problem.
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