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Taggin' Tallinn

by Mauri Kaipainen last modified 2006-12-28 11:11 AM

Study, research and development framework

Taggin’ Tallinn is a framework of citizen-driven locative media concepts. The core idea is that inhabitants and visitors tag places in the town, that is, make virtual notes that establish links between physical places or tracks in the city, contributor’ identities, tagging times, own contributions of multimedia content, and a virtual collaborative community with meaning-building activities on that type of content.
Collaborative communities may involve thematically structured content sharing, public discussion about joint creative projects, events, exhibitions and festivals, traffic, or they may even be forums of citizen participation, elaborating, say, political initiatives, assessments, or campaigns. They can also serve as bulletin boards for place-specific information, such as historical facts, events, news or offered services. Each community has its own constraints concerning the accepted content, and each has a set of rules on how it manages memberships and content in terms of acceptance, priorization, updating and joint activity. Each community is a separate project by itself and has its own web site, structured, for example, as a wiki, or a shared blog, or a game. Each is also legally responsible for its publication policies, has its own funding, internal organization and moderator.
Tags can be submitted and viewed selectively in situ using appropriate map access software. At the core of the concept implementation there is a central database of links, structured by means of a metadata and ‘soft’ ontology system specially developed in Tallinn University to serve the needs of dynamically evolving people-driven content and meanings. The constantly accumulating database amounts to a rich citizen-driven geographical guide to the city, serving both inhabitants and visitors.
For the university, the research objective of the project is to establish a living laboratory of locative content and community design. The methodology relies on observing the success of different virtual community concepts, enabled with a set of technical solutions and social software. There is a direct and constant feedback from the activity and needs of the people for further improvement and innovation of the concepts.
The research issues of such a laboratory include:
•    How to support knowledge and meaning building in virtual communities?
•    How to connect community activities meaningfully to places and urban environment?
•    How to design virtual communities with internal quality control and moderating dynamics?
•    How to support inhabitants virtual activity so as to overcome isolation and social problems, and how to avoid and overcome digital divide?
•    How to structure metadata and ontologies of the emerging people-driven media?
The research agenda relates to a range of research disciplines, such as communication, pedagogy, social sciences, urban planning and cultures research, semiotics, and computer sciences, and thereby forms natural contexts of interdisciplinary research. It also links to many areas of activity and economy in the city, most prominently tourism, culture, organizations, mobile operators, mobile device manufacturing, positioning techniques and geographic information systems, related to which it will generate new activity models and business logics.
The framework calls for collaboration with a range of different agencies, including organizations, enterprises and educational institutions. From the point of view of the city, Taggin’ Tallinn serves as a means of promoting its reputation as an ‘intelligent city’  and leader of the European e-democracy development. It will be an internationally visible demonstration of Estonian innovation and expertise in the fields of virtual community design and analysis, positioning, geographic information systems and mobile communication. It is also a way of bringing together local knowledge, history, and services, and thereby it also serves the tourism industry. It is the proposal of Tallinn University for a framework of research collaboration, as well as for a major Cultural Capital showcase.

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