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Infrastructure parkruns

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This is the lightning talk I gave at EMF2018 Eastnor Castle.

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Infrastructure parkruns

  1. 1. Infrastructuring parkrun: Seven things that make it run a lightning talk given on 31st Augut 2018 at EMF2018, Eastnor Castle Dr. Yuwei Lin yuwei@ylin.org Disclaimer: This talk and research are not sponsored by parkrun.
  2. 2. parkrun  free, weekly, 5km timed runs, which are open to everyone  safe and easy to take part in  Began in the UK in 2004  A steadily increasing number of participants  Why parkrun? What makes parkrun special?
  3. 3. Existing studies on parkrun A study funded by Cancer Research UK in 2014 concluded some lessons for “citizen led community participation and prevention”. https://www.parkrun.com/research/current-projects/lessons-from- citizen-led-community-participation-and-prevention-how-does-par krun-create-active-and-inclusive-physical-cultures/  The researchers used surveys, in-depth interviews with parkrunners and organisers, and participatory action research approach to ‘work with’ parkrun and community organisations.  They concluded that parkrun creates active and inclusive physical cultures. parkrun’s approach can help a cross- section of participants from diverse social backgrounds, as well as people who didn’t previously identify as runners.
  4. 4. This talk is based on  my unstructured participatory observation  insights from sociological theories about infrastructures, time, organisations, culture.
  5. 5. “Infrastructures” in a sociological sense  The sociology of information infrastructures  SL Star and Karen Ruhleder (1996) ‘Step toward an ecology of infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces’ – The authors analysed the levels of infrastructural complexity involved in system access and designer- user communication, the connection between systems development aimed at supporting specific forms of collaborative knowledge work, local organizational transformation, and large-scale infrastructural change.  Edwards et al. (2007) ‘Understanding Infrastructure: Dynamics, Tensions, and Design’ https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/49353 – History and Theory of Infrastructure; – Lessons for New Scientific Cyberinfrastructures"  Social and historical analyses reveal some base-level tensions that complicate the work of infrastructural development. These include:  Time, e.g. short-term funding decisions vs. the longer time scales over which infrastructures typically grow and take hold  Scale, e.g. disconnects between global interoperability and local optimization  Agency, e.g. navigating processes of planned vs. emergent change in complex and multiply-determined systems.
  6. 6. What makes parkrun special? 7 Things that Make parkrun different. It is not just yet another 5k run at a local park.
  7. 7. 1. Standard format  Every Saturday 9:00 start (some local variations may apply (9:30 in Ireland and Scotland!)  Predicable.  Easy to set up. Standardised signs, cones, barcodes (No barcode, no time).  Even the run director’s speech is based on the same script.
  8. 8. 2. Start-up event budget  Financial support - a budget of £3000 to set up a new parkrun.
  9. 9. 3. Going digital  Parkrun websites with published recorded time.  Databasing  App scanning  App timing
  10. 10. 4. Community  Volunteers  Various podcast series to make it more fun – Free Weekly Timed – parkrun adventurers (Australian parkrun podcast) – The parkrun show (discontinued) – ‘With Me Now’ – Marathon talk (related)
  11. 11. 5. Support from public authorities  Local councils (Little Stoke parkrun cancelled due to the parish council wanting to charge runners, see https://www.theguardian.com/uk- news/2016/apr/15/little-stoke-parkrun-on-what-it- means-to-them)  NHS GPs, nurses and physiotherapists who “prescribe” parkrun to their patients (http://blog.parkrun.com/uk/2017/12/04/survey- reveals-healthcare-professionals-prescribing- parkrun-to-boost-the-nations-health/)
  12. 12. 6. Branding and marketing  Logo (need to change barcode tokens because of rebranding)  Sponsorship: – Para-Olympics, – NHS (e.g., NHS’s 70th birthday https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/the- running-blog/2018/jun/11/parkrun-the-nhs-a-mutual-cause-for-celebration),
  13. 13. 7. Keep it free  Free as in free tea and coffee.
  14. 14. A sociology of parkrun  Controversies? – Participation of disabled people? – People with childcare or other carer responsibility? – How to get to a parkrun? Having to drive 20 miles to a parkrun? No public transportation. Congestion en-route or having to pay for car parking?  Sense of belonging (community) and achievement? How deep?  Organisational culture: localised practices  A sociological inquiry will help move beyond symmetry and neutrality, and improve the ‘infrastructure’. – e.g., shared childcare facility, car pool, better public transportation, free parking, free tea and cake!!!
  15. 15. The concept of ‘infrastructuring’  Infrastructuring other events such as 10k runs, marathons or hackerscamps  For creating evaluation tools for assessing and comparing existing infrastructure projects  For improving infrastructural practices  For enhancing resilience, sustainability, and reach - “Infrastructures develop by creating links among varied systems. Social scientific studies like this one can help to recruit under-represented groups and institutions, as well as to create partnerships with organisations that have substantial existing expertise in areas complementary to scientific research” (Edwards et al. 2007).
  16. 16. Parkrun is like Marmite But you won’t know til you try. Join us tomorrow for Tewkesbury parkrun. Leaving EMF site 08:00 See Wiki for car share etc: https://wiki.emfcamp.org/wiki/Interest:Parkrun

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