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Making is Connecting: the social meaning of creativity

I spent Christmas in Sydney, Cape Breton. While there, I had the time to read David Gauntlett’s book ‘Making is Connecting’. Gauntlett is Professor,  Creativity and Design at the University of Westminister, UK. He starts with an analysis of the craft movement in the mid-nineteenth century then steps forward to consider crafts today in both the non-digital and digital  world. They range from knitting and DIY through to Web 2.0 and YouTube.

Book Cover: Making is Connecting

If  you want to dig further there is a wealth of material about Gauntlett online: web sites, TED talks and YouTube videos. For me, the book raised the question: How do crafts and creative arts relate to Geomatics and GIS? Given these tools, what might we make or build for the benefit of society as a whole?

I came up with three examples for general consideration:

Mobile GIS app for the craft beer industry in Nova Scotia

Graduates from COGS (College of Geographic Sciences) will know that the village of Lawrencetown has few amenities or commercial services. Well, they have just announced a new craft brewery in the village: Lunn’s Mill Beer Company ( http://lunnsmill.beer), the first in Annapolis County (supported by AIRO). It is located in the old CRIA building on Highway #201.

Why not build a mobile app. that shows the location and growth of the craft beer industry in Nova Scotia? The map would show not only the location of the facilities, the web site and product list, but also outlets where the product can be purchased.

Of course, the app. could be expanded to include other compatible rural products e.g. distilleries, wineries.

Crowd sourced web app. for Plein Air artwork.

Edward Wedler, friend, ex-RS instructor at COGS, entrepreneur and businessman has been a strong supporter of  En Plein Air art in Nova Scotia. En Plein Air art is where the artist paints outside in the landscape (see photograph below). He wants to develop a web site of all Plein Air paint-out sites (globally), links to the paintings produced by the network of artists and links to the artists’ web sites. It would be searchable by location, artist and theme.

As an entrepreneur, Edward is especially interested in the potential of crowd sourcing to fund the maintenance and upkeep of the web site.


Poppy Balser painting at the Digby wharf (https://poppybalser.com/)

Community mapping and Open GIS

Instructors and students at COGS have been supporting community mapping for a number of years (http://mapannapolis.ca). This includes maps of historic buildings in the region. The database of these buildings has been created by volunteers living in the region.The challenge is to make the web development independent of the college, and sustainable by members of the community.

MapannapolisWhat can be created? Does it require an Open GIS  approach or can it be sustained by the community within the ArcGIS world?

For myself, these three examples illustrate the potential for community engagement in the creative rural economy. To fulfill Gauntlett’s challenge that ‘Making is Connecting’, we need a forum that brings together educators, students, engaged citizens as well as business and government interests. I would suggest that we might indeed want to reverse Gauntlett’s title, namely ‘ Connecting is Making’. We certainly have some very powerful communication tools for making things.


David Gauntlett. 2011. Making is Connecting: the social meaning of creativity. Polity Press.

2 comments on "Making is Connecting: the social meaning of creativity"

  1. The watercolour work of Nova Scotia artist Poppy Balser is truly stunning. She captures landscape about the Fundy shore with remarkable interpretations. Her website is worth exploration.

    Further, we need more than sites that display photos of an area. We need to showcase how artists interpret our geography and what better way to introduce us to that world than through a mapping portal.

  2. Poppy Balser says:

    Hi Bob,

    I think an interactive map of painting sites that allows viewers to see what has been painted there is a fantastic idea! I have suspected that it is technically possible to make such a thing, but have not the expertise to do so! I sure hope that you or Ed come up with one! How cool would that be?

    Thanks for writing about this!

    PS For anyone who is curious about the painting I was working on in the photo above: I put up a photo of it on my blog.

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