Learning Through Failure workshop - Autopsy of Failed Community Projects

The workshop will aim at learning from failure.
Firstly it will encourage each of the participants to examine a failed community project which they were involved in order to see what lessons can be learned from it.
Secondly, the participants will share these lessons with each other and try to find the wider underlying issues that lie beneath their individual experiences
Thirdly, if we decide that these issues are important we will devise a process for documenting them.

Ideally there will be no audience for this event, just participants. Each participant will have a story to tell about a project which they were involved with that failed in some way. This does not necessarily mean that the project collapsed without achieveing anything. Failure in this context can also mean that a project set out to do one thing and ended up doing something completely different. In other words, we can define failure in relation to the project’s initial goals and not just in turns of its outcomes. A project that set out to do something, and failed to do it, might nonetheless have brought together a group of people who went on to do something completely different. To give an historical example, the team that created Flickr came together to make a huge game that completely failed. At the end, in desperation, they took the storage system they had built for players in the game and launched it as a photo service. In terms of their original ambitions the group failed.
It is my belief that the documentation process should be a work of media art in its own right – that is it should be (or become) its own project. It would be useful if this documentary project failed in some ways (while succeeding in others), thus becoming an example of what it is talking about.

Tomas Träskman and Owen Kelly will devise a format for the evening that will enable everyone to explore and then share their own experiences. It will be useful if participants arrive with some material relating to the failed project they wish to explore. This will let people show-and-tell which will in turn allow other people an entry point into the discussion. Material might include posters, reports, photographs and videos, links to online resources, hats and badges, timtetables, minutes of meetings, and souvenir mugs.

This workshop is free of charge!


Owen Kelly worked as a community artist in England, and later as a web and multimedia designer. He wrote “Community, Art and the State”. He currently lectures in online media at Arcada, and has recently completed his doctoral thesis on “Ambient Learning and Self Authorship” at Aalto University.

Tomas Ivan Träskman is is an art historian, curator and lecturer at the Department of Culture and Communication of Arcada. He works in the borderlan between design, architecture, media and art.