Case Study: Dr Chris Speed

Reader, Edinburgh College of Art

Chris is a research active designer working within the field of Digital Architecture, Human Geography and Social Computing and has sustained a critical enquiry into how digital technology can engage with the field of architecture and human geography through a variety of established international digital art contexts.
Chris is currently working on a project exploring electronic tagging technology and the public perception of this. The aim is to ask the public to contribute to tagging knowledge and to take ownership of the technology. Chris feels that public engagement in this area is important as the perceptions of the technology is generally negative. Chris is now exploring how to engage with the public when they are disengaged or uninterested.

As an artist I thought that we were public communicators, but through the Edinburgh Beltane I am re-thinking the level to which artists actually do engage with the public.

Chris has also received an Edinburgh Beltane Public Engagement Challenge award to run an event in partnership with NO2ID to discuss public fears on tagging and debate the technology. Chris will also be involved with creating a paper based on the events findings which will be presented to the Scottish Government to inform policy decisions.
Although Chris has had no formal training in public engagement skills he feels that going out and getting experience is the best way, whether this is good or bad. He feels that everyone learns to speak to a specific audience, but that the more audiences you talk to the further you need to develop your skills.

I think you learn by mistakes. The best effect I have has was to actually become involved with people directly rather than behind technology