On Monday I ran a workshop with Tony Hirst on the Art of Guerrilla Research. This was a vague idea I'd floated a while back, and Rhona Sharpe of ELESIG got in touch, asking if I could run one of their masterclass workshops on it. This was a good opportunity to think through the idea with others.
With tongue a bit in cheek I proposed a manifesto for Guerrilla Research which was:
- It can be done by one or two researchers and does not require a team
- It relies on existing open data, information and tools
- It is fairly quick to realise
- It is disseminated via blogs and social media
- It doesn’t require permission
It is that last one that is most significant I think. This is stuff you can just do, it doesn't require funding, permission from IT services, access to privileged data, etc. It is thus more exploratory in nature, Tony used the phrase 'recreational research' (I hope Tony blogs his slidedeck soon). Another point I was trying to explore is one I've made before, that we have become enculturated into thinking about research in a particular way. What constitutes research is the 2 year funded project with a journal article at the end. Like much else to do with digital scholarship, it is not the case that this traditional approach is not valid, but rather that we now have a much more extended toolbox and set of possibilities. But culturally we still fall into a certain set of behaviours.
It was interesting that a lot of the people at the workshop classified themselves as being outside traditional academic roles, so couldn't engage in traditional research anyway as it wasn't part of their remit. For these people guerrilla research is all they've got.
The slidedeck is below: