A community platform which connects those working across traditional disciplinary bounds
The complexity of the problems facing society today, such as sustainability, population balance, and conflict resolution, require a multidisciplinary approach integrating diverse perspectives, methods and values. Increasing research evidence and industrial innovations (e.g. mobile computing, social media, etc.) point to the success of collaborations across sciences and the arts in stimulating creativity and purposeful innovation. This emerging hybrid community of scientists, artists, engineers and designers are producing novel and entrepreneurial research across multiple sites of inquiry including health, education and environmental change. Key challenges facing this diverse network include establishing a cohesive and dynamic view of the field, rapidly disseminating research outcomes, and creating open and self-organizing collaborative structures supporting curricula, career and research development.
XSEAD is a large-scale multisite initiative supported by the National Science Foundation. The goal of this work is to develop technology solutions to supporting networks of creativity and to build understanding of the communities collaborating across traditional disciplines.
Building upon lessons learned from previous efforts (see sidebar), coupled with the identification of opportunities for creating benefit both to the art-science community and the broader public, we have developed XSEAD - an online platform supporting networks of creativity and innovation across science, engineering, art and design. XSEAD aims to expand traditional academic approaches to documenting and disseminating work by offering diverse ways to participate and present richly mediated integrative works at multiple stages of development. The platform combines key characteristics of social media networking applications to help incentivize participation, strengthen engagement and support dynamic community organization. To respond to the needs of the interdisciplinary art-science community, key goals of the XSEAD initiative are to:
- enrich understanding of the nature and foundation of deeply integrative arts-science work through interdisciplinary communication and engagement;
- create a comprehensive, cohesive and accessible archive of work in the field; and
- support the multimodal documentation and rapid dissemination of current and ongoing innovative research outcomes.
In so doing, XSEAD enables research exchange and in-depth discussion between leading and emerging researchers and practitioners, while introducing general non-expert audiences to the evolution and potential of collaborative research across science and the arts. To achieve this, XSEAD integrates several key social media networking characteristics to foster and maintain participation across four independent but highly integrated layers.
- The community section enables rapid dissemination, discussion and critique of current and completed projects through community contribution.
- Showcase provides a curated representation of highly influential work to demonstrate value and impact of collaborating across disciplinary bounds.
- The resource section offers extensive databases of content of collective value.
- Finally, the forthcoming knowledge layer will offer a venue for multimodal documentation of research outcomes and rich modes of integrative scholarship.