Readapting Propp's Character Archetypes to Explore the Relational Dimension of City Data: A Design-oriented Approach a design-oriented approach

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Lucia Lupi
Alessio Antonini


This paper presents the approach and tools created to critically investigate the roles and relationships among city stakeholders regarding data-related processes, in order to inform future design solutions for open data portals. The approach to explore the relational dimension of data in local activities is based on mapping the operational roles of the organizations involved in the city data ecosystem throughout a set of archetypes readapted from the characters found in Propp's theory on the narrative structure. A probes toolkit associated with storytelling techniques helped to test the proposed approach during a workshop organized in the city of Milton Keynes. The authors present their motivations and constraints, as well as the rationale regarding the definition of the approach and the construction of the toolkit as part of a design-oriented strategy of inquiry, and discuss the insights gained in the testing experience.


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How to Cite
Lupi, L., & Antonini, A. (2020). Readapting Propp’s Character Archetypes to Explore the Relational Dimension of City Data: A Design-oriented Approach: a design-oriented approach. Diseña, (16), 200–229.
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Author Biographies

Lucia Lupi, Politecnico di Torino

MA in Architecture, Università La Sapienza. Postgraduate Diploma in Technology for Development, Politecnico di Torino. PhD candidate in Urban and Regional Development, Politecnico di Torino & Università di Torino. She works as a systemic design researcher in urban informatics, specialized in Participatory Design. She collaborated with the Department of Computer Science of the Politecnico di Torino in the design of civic technologies and urban governance platforms. She is a Visiting Researcher in the Knowledge Media Institute at The Open University, involved in design research for city data platforms. Her research interests include: a design-driven strategy of inquiry across informatics and urban disciplines, the role of technology to enable social innovation processes, and the design of multi-stakeholder cooperative systems. Some of her recent publications on these topics are: 'City Data Plan: The Conceptualisation of a Policy Instrument for Data Governance in Smart Cities' (Urban Science, Vol. 3, N° 3) and 'Building City Mirrors: Structuring Design-driven Explorations of Future Web-based Technologies for Local Development' (IASDR Conference 2019).

Alessio Antonini, The Open University (UK)

MA in Computer Science, Università di Torino. PhD in Computer Science, Università di Torino & Université du Luxembourg. Research Associate at the Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University. His professional experience as a designer and web developer covers geographical systems, e-government technologies, social networks, and collaborative platforms. He is currently involved in planning and designing technological solutions in two European projects: READ-IT and Gatekeeper, focused on digital humanities and smart communities, respectively. His research interests include the modeling of social artifacts, and the role of philosophy and theory-driven approaches to inform the design of technology. Some of his recent publications on these topics are: 'All We Do is “Stalking”: Studying New Forms of Reading in Social Networks' (with G. Gómez Mejía and L. Lupi, in Hypertext Conference 2019) and 'Developing a Meta-language in Multidisciplinary Research Projects: The Case Study of Read-It’ (with L. Lupi, in CHI 2019).