Yes, the title is somewhat pretentious. I am not really an engineer. I consider it a missed vocation, and wish I could go back and interpose myself between my thirteen-year-old self and that poster of a woman standing in front of a suspension bridge with a hard hat, clipboard and winning smile. I wish i could send my young self to her local hackerspace. At least her equivalent today, would be able to do so.
Francis Irving of ScraperWiki recently used the term “civic hacktivism”. I like it, but feel one should be doing civic engineering, rather than activism; movement from the inside. At best I’m an aspiring civic engineer. I have some background in open data projects, but none of them really had a practical turn, but were all infrastructural. Now, I suppose, there’s enough data to take a practical turn.
This won’t all be empirical, we will be looking at a bit of holistic inference, drawing conclusions about the large from the small, and vice versa. From a doorhandle and a shower fitting, tales about NHS management and culture could be told. Everything from business plans and biographies to common land and communal recycling. The issue of work, the nature of the way we work, keeps looking central.