By moving away from the rhetoric of compassion (Rogers, 2013), where older people are often seen as passive receivers rather than agents, this project intends to explore the role of ICTs in promoting and supporting agency of older people in civic contexts.
The main scenario for the project is a neighbourhood in the Sant Andreu district in Barcelona (Spain), wherein the City Council has adopted measures to attract people related to the Creative Industries and stimulate their development, while aiming to promote active participation of citizens in this new initiative. The pilot project has been developed around the concept of local communities creating a geo-localized game of information about their neighbourhood as a means of promoting the sharing of information between visitors and locals. The pilot aims to foster collaboration among local (inter-generational) communities, to limit and/or decrease new local disparity, and stimulate social development. The pilot would involve different types of communities, from old-age pensioners associations (e.g., Casal de Gent Gran (elderly) to Diablos (mainly young people) and AMPAs (parents of school-age children).
The main objective of this project is to empower older people as civic agents through the creation of IT-based urban leisure. With the concept of civic agents, we aim to explore how older people exert their agency in an IT-enabled scenario, and to understand how such agency unfolds within a community (civic) context, which extends beyond the specific ageing domain and includes matters and actors of the whole society.
We address our main research objective through the aforementioned case study conducted in the district of Sant Andreu in Barcelona (Spain). Within this case study we conducted participatory design activities designed to have older people and neighbours of different ages involved in the creation of the contents of the game. We expanded this case study by looking for other possible case studies that manifested themselves over the course of the project duration. For instance, we engaged with a book reading club of Àgora adult educational centre. This group of passionate readers showed interest in using our developed system to create routes around the cities about the books they were reading. We also draw upon our previous studies conducted over the last 10 years in order to unveil elements that contribute towards understanding further how older people manifest agency through the use of technologies in a variety of everyday situations.
Throughout the project, we adopt a research-through-design approach which regards design as an inquiry tool that enables to explore future and potential practices and realities. We adopt an ethnographical perspective on our design activities in order to gain a deeper understanding of the contexts in which the studies is carried out, and also to challenge, expand and reflect on our research goals.