A free magazine in digital and paper format to promote the folklore heritage and natural attractions of the Valle dei Mocheni: a first result of the "P4P: Participatory Design for Public Good" project funded by Caritro Foundation and stemmed from the scientific collaboration between the interdisciplinary research group of Vincenzo D'Andrea, professor at the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science (DISI), and the Trentino software house e-Tour, which has decades of experience in the tourism sector.
The project aims at applying the Participatory Design approach for the common good in the Trentino area. “Participatory Design” - explains Linda Tonolli, DISI researcher and project coordinator - “is a methodology that focuses on developing technologies and services together with their end-users. The process that we intend to improve is the touristic offer of the Valle del Fersina, called Bersntol, and known in Trentino as Valle dei Mòcheni, through the development of virtuous relationships between the three principal actors involved in the project: the guests, the residents, and the tourism organizations (including public administrations).
In this project, DISI researchers support tourism innovation by operating as social and technological enhancers of the initiatives proposed by the actors. In this way, a resident could become an Ambassador of the territory and actively contribute to redesigning the touristic services of the valley.
Due to the Covid-19 emergency which forcibly limited participation, the focus of the project mainly involved the residents of this valley.
The first technological output developed is ‘Tolstimm’, a free magazine- in digital and paper format- that shows the story of the Fersina Bersntol Valley, created by the people of the valley, for the valley. The brand-new name of the magazine is the result of the participatory process between the inhabitants of Bersntol and the project stakeholders, who proposed and brainstormed names and ideas until choosing the name Tolstimm, which is a new word coined for the occasion that means “Voice of the Valley” (from Bersntolerisch “tol” = valley and “stimm” = voice).
"After the launch of Tolstimm" - says dr. Linda Tonolli - our activities now focus on managing the contents of the magazine, and on providing constant feedback to e-Tour on the usability of the digital interface. Furthermore, we continuously collect ethnographic annotations that will be used to plan the next strategic choices”.
"In such a difficult time for tourism due to the health emergency" - concludes the researcher - "I think the Participatory Design is really becoming an accelerator and enhancer for the tourism of the valley, redesigning a new bottom-up approach and facilitating the sharing of objectives between inhabitants and institutions ".
Participatory Design is the approach that focuses on the collaborative design of technological products and services together with the users who are the direct recipients. It originates in the manufacturing and tertiary sector as the need of workers to improve their working conditions, starting from the self-determination of the technologies they use daily to carry out their duties. From its birth in Scandinavia in the 1980s up to now, the Participatory Design has evolved outside its geographical and thematic contexts, first in working and unionized environments, such as printing factories and hospitals, then in many different areas such as local administrations and public bodies and communities, characterized by different factors, such as age (children, adolescents, elderly), origin (natives, immigrants, refugees), interests (profession, active citizenship). The Participatory Design has historically moved from the secondary and tertiary sectors towards the public sector, by defining the new research area of Public Design.
Linda Tonolli, a design researcher, has been involved in Participatory Design with urban and rural communities for six years. She is a research fellow with a Ph.D. degree in Information and Communication Technology at DISI. In 2018 she defended her doctoral thesis on Participatory Design and Design Research, entitled “Designing for the Common in precarious contexts. Notes from a feminist perspective".