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Finding new ways to design

Volunteer students who will be taking part in the Participatory Design Conference (PDC)

Volunteer students who will be taking part in the Participatory Design Conference (PDC)

The Participatory Design Conference (PDC) will be taking place for the first time in Africa, under the theme of “reflecting connectedness.” The conference takes place at Safari Conference Center, from 5 to 10 October and will be co-hosted by the Polytechnic of Namibia and University of Namibia.
It is an important platform for international discussion of the collaborative, social, and political dimensions of technology innovation and use.
Dr. Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, General Chair of the Conference said, “New techniques, technologies, research results and perspectives that underpin participatory design are shared in vibrant and critical debates, presentations, and panel sessions. An exhibition of art works, inspired by visual and digital media, performance arts, installations, communication technologies, touch, sound, industrial design and any other genre allowing for participants’ interactions, will be experienced during the conference.”
Since 1990 the conference is held every two years. In 2012 it was held in Roskilde, Denmark and in 2010 it was in Sydney, Australia.
“The conference enables collaboration between international and local researchers, industry practitioners from commercial, government and not-for-profit sectors, as well as interaction designers and artists around the topic of participation.” she stated, “ The mutual exchange of practices and knowledge will benefit the academic community as well as industry practices. Besides computer scientists, artists are engaging the audience in a novel form of art, namely interactive art installations where the audience experience it rather than just watch it.”
The highlight for this year, she mentioned, “For the first time ever, PDC 2014 introduces local Participatory Design Challenges. Together with designers from all over the world, local stakeholders will design solutions for the Participatory Design Challenges chosen for this year.

7 challenges were chosen from an open call although the challenges are very specific to Namibia, we expect that the design processes and solutions found will be applicable to other countries. A number of workshops are scheduled to tackle the challenges together with local stakeholders, looking at unemployment, improving reading culture, social activism and civic participation, as well as industry-academia relations via internships.” She added that this year the conference will also include an extensive interactive art exhibition, “Both local and international artists have contributed with impressive interactive art installations and performances, tackling social and global issues such as global warming, pollution, Gender Violence, but also reconnecting to nature and humanity.” The exhibition will be open to the public on the 10th of October from 15h00-21h00 with live performances. Conference participants are academics, industry representatives, artists, who work with any form of participatory methods. “Many participants have submitted academic papers, workshops proposals, industry case studies and art installations which went through a thorough review and editing process. Participants are from all over the world, the majority is from SA, Scandinavia and Namibia, with a total of 30 countries represented, from all continents.”

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