Centre for Innovation & Research in Childhood and Youth

Interdisciplinary, international & in the real world

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Digital bubbles, networked publics and sonic bridges

I spent a really interesting day at a University of Sussex event in the ESRC funded Digital Bubbles series exploring interdisciplinary perspectives on autism and technology enhanced learning. I was invited as a sociologist to say something about how research into young people’s digital culture can shed light on the wider question and I presented a draft version from our forthcoming book based on the Face to Face and Curating Childhoods project looking at how ‘research’ itself has become an integral part of young people’s digital cultures: be that obsessing, stalking and fan-girling a band or showing off skills in homework projects. I was given the final slot of the programme which is always a bit gruelling but meant that I had the pleasure of listening to the other contributions of the day.

First up was Yvonne Rogers, Professor of Human Computer Interaction at UCL. Whose research involves making things that might disrupt or change the individualising attention economy which she illustrated with a picture of a line of teenagers all staring into smart phones. These are the ‘digital bubbles’ that Yvonne wants to disrupt, encouraging us to ‘look up and out’ from our devices and pay attention to co-presence and face to face interaction. Her amazing projects include wiring up a forest and creating collaborative devices that incite pair collaboration in order to probe and measure the environment, collecting data that can be aggregated and reflect on by the group, revealing new ways of thinking about spaces. Continue reading

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Toy memories

I very much enjoyed a study day at the Brighton Toy & Model Museum showcasing the work of their Heritage Lottery Funded project Toys in the Community which has lots in common with our approach to using ‘favourite things’ as a way of finding out about children’s lives. The overall aim of this project was to encourage community engagement in the toy museum, using a methodology of inviting adults to talk about the toys that they cherished as children – with a focus on teddy bears, dolls and construction toys. These testimonies were filmed and edited and a wonderful website has been developed to showcase the material: http://toysinthecommunity.org/about/

At the study day I met Annebella Pollen who lectures in History of Art and Design at Brighton and was one of the interviewees for the project, where she reflects on her childhood collection of ‘gollys’, black-faced dolls and other memorabilia. Her interview is fascinating, and her presentation pulled out key themes including how ‘unstable’ her memories are of her collection (she can’t actually remember playing with them, just having them). What ‘difficult objects’ they are and were, and how as a child she came to piece together an understanding of the racist discourses that shaped the figure of the golly that she was so attached to. And then the ‘complicated feelings’ that this produced along the way and continues to produce for her today as she reflect on her toys. Continue reading

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Bred, By Rachel Thomson

“If you’re reading this, you’re in Bred… We’re an interesting bunch of people. All of us think about sex, all of us talk about sex and there’s a rumour that some of us have actually done it. Tonight is the party of the year and everyone’s invited; from the posh knobs from Upper Crust down to the lost souls in Crumbs. Tonight, everything changes, but remember, once it’s been lost it can’t be found and once it’s stolen it gone.”

I went to London on Friday night, heart in mouth, to see the opening night of Bred, the Tricycle Theatre’s Young Company takeover show exploring sexual attitudes and dilemmas. We had started talking to the Tricycle a long time ago about how we might connect research about teenage sexuality with performance, even using performance itself as a vehicle for new research. The appointment in 2015-2016 of Tom Bowtell as director in residence with the youth company – someone with a background in immersive theatre – provided the impetus for making this happen. Continue reading

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MA in Childhood and Youth Studies Dissertation refelctions

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It’s our Masters Graduation on Friday the 22nd and we’re looking forward to celebrating the graduates of MACYS 2015.   We wrote to some of our graduates and asked them to reflect on the process of writing their dissertations.  Candice and Claire both received awards for their fantastic empirical research projects.  Below they briefly describe their work and have a few handy tips about approaching a masters thesis.


Claire Durrant – ‘An exploration of the emotional health and well-being of severely dyslexic children in mainstream primary school and the role of teachers in supporting them.’

My main motivation for conducting my research project was a personal one. When my severely dyslexic son’s needs were not met at mainstream primary school he developed extremely low mood and self-esteem and became very anxious. Through my involvement with online forums and local support groups I became aware of other severely dyslexic children who have had similar experiences. With one in ten children in the UK affected by dyslexic (Dyslexia Action, 2014) and around 4% experiencing it severely (National Literacy Trust, 2015), I felt that the emotional health and well-being of severely dyslexic children was an issue of wider significance. Continue reading

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Mass Observation and the ‘My Object Stories’ Hackathon

In the second of a series of blog posts, Suzanne Rose and Anthony McCoubrey from the Mass Observation Archive reflect on their participation in the ESRC Festival of Social Science event: the ‘My Object Stories’ Hackathon and the significance of ‘object stories’ for the Archive.  Re-blogged from Everyday Childhoods Blog



This was the third year in a row that the Mass Observation Archive (MOA) has taken part in the ESRC Festival of Social Science, which takes place nationally to promote social science research to non-academic communities and the wider public. The MOA hosted two events, which were part of a programme of over 200 events taking place across the country celebrating the social sciences.

'Mo', the Mass Observation Archive mascot, volunteers to pilot the fiducial tracker.

‘Mo’, the Mass Observation Archive’s teddy bear mascot, volunteers to pilot the fiducial tracker.

This year our events we focused on engaging young people with the MOA  and considered how archives relate to the digital age. One event was a day long workshop for pupils from Ratton School at the MOA at The Keep and the other was the My Object Stories Hackathon. This was designed to be a public event targeting young people, which would provide an opportunity for them to develop their understanding of the MOA and experiment with digital technology.

 

Working in partnership with CIRCY, the Department of Social Work and UoS Humanities Lab, provided a fantastic opportunity to engage the young people with the latest technologies and to invite them to share their objects and their stories with the archive in unique and interesting ways. Continue reading

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Hackathons as participatory methodology?

Reblogged from Everyday Childhoods blog

by Liam Berriman

Hackathons have become an increasingly commonplace methodology for exploring and experimenting with data. Recent examples of this trend have included calls from archives for programmers and software developers to come and ‘hack’ their collections, and the growth of competitions where young people are invited to play with open-access datasets. Bridging these events is a growing sense of hackathons as a space for playing with archives and data.

The ‘My Object Stories’ workshop was my first experience of organising (and taking part in!) a hackathon. Over the past year, I’ve become interested in hackathons as a methodology for engaging young people with their own research data – providing a creative space for playing with the re-animation (or ‘hacking’) of data (McGeeney, 2014). Continue reading

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Talk to me.

Reblogged from Everyday childhoods blog

by Rachel Thomson

On Saturday 14th November I had the pleasure of taking part in an event billed as a ‘Hackathon’ hosted by the Sussex Humanities Lab, CIRCY and the Mass Observation Archive. Hackathons are ‘events in which computer programmers and others involved in software development and hardware development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects’.

The day was called ‘my object stories’ and the shared project was to explore ways in which we could bring to life young people’s stories about favourite everyday objects – building on work that we have been doing as part of the Curating Childhoods project which is creating a new multi-media collection within Mass Observation called ’Everyday Childhoods’. The shared task was to invent strategies through which everyday objects – cherished by young people – might talk to an audience and enrich the archive. This might be a pair of Dr Martens boots, a book, a guitar, plastic animals…. Continue reading

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