Papa-app Blog

Thoughts behind an App-Platform for Parallel Participation

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February 2nd 2013, 16:25 by jaap

Occupy heralds the definitive downfall of the uniform city. Cities today exist not by identity but by struggle for identity. If a city is forever the capital of cheese, one has to seriously doubt its vitality.

Occupy equips you to enter into the conquest of your city, neighborhood or street. You make stairs into skateramps. You make parks into soccerfields. You make the pavement a terrace. Occupy helps you become the city planner you really always were.

Occupy recycles public space and opens it up to new uses and functions. It is a place to share new ideas about the way we occupy public space. It is also a tool to make these ideas into realities.

Occupy unfolds a map of local initiatives and events, right in front of your doorstep. This app may well change the way you interact with your environment, the way you spend your weekends and the things you do on a free afternoon.

Occupy connects friends and strangers in places that cannot be found anywhere else online. Until occupy the internet was focused on street addresses. Now you can start meeting up near the old oak tree in the park.

project by Harmen de Hoop konninginnedag project by Maider López
November 7th 2012, 14:49 by dirk

The Occupy App, which is still under the radar –hush hush–, is currently being prototyped into a ‘clickable demo’. Expect nothing fancy. Our alpha-testers won’t be able to actually use the app or contribute to the community. The interactive sketch will just be used to demonstrate the principle behind the idea of the app and to get people interested.


For this demo we will be needing a list of areas which could be reused for something else. This re-appropriation of an area during a specified time, we call an occupation. In the comments underneath this post, I invite you to submit your occupations.

Since there is no useful form or widget yet to submit these occupations the format in which they must be supplied is rather strict. As an example of this strict format, the first comment below is the occupation of the Dam square as a free parking spot, next weekend. Of course the Dam square won’t be a free parking next week, so don’t take this as a excuse to fill it with cars ;)

Example as a template

The example below is to be used as a template for your own occupation. All the bold words and numbers are to be replaced with your own settings.

The list of points are the corner points that define the area. Of course there doesn’t have to be that much per area, 3 or 4 points already define a triangle or a square. To find these lat & lon (latitude and longitude) coordinates, I used the website.

Try it!

August 30th 2012, 16:42 by dirk


Since feedback and input from users is so vital in participation, comments and editablity were a feature very important for this blog. It is always great to receive feedback from the team and users. And working iterative means that this feedback flows directly back into the product.


I started with a simple comment text field, in which you can use the same Markdown syntax as in the normal articles we write. But to prevent massive amounts of spam, I had to limit access to this feature to only logged-in-people. And this is where more hair-splitting decisions and efforts began.

Access for everybody

Because, when you limit this feature to only some users, the question is: which users?
And how should they be able to sign-in, sign-up and be granted access? I didn’t want to write a complete registration system, ‘cause I figured this would be too much work, but also because making such a system reliable and secure is really too much work. And to not demand users to remember yet another password for our system, I decided to hand off this authentication process to some social services many us us already use, like Google, Facebook or GitHub. Setting that up was also no easy task, but now it all seems to work.

So, try it out. Click on the Register or Login to leave a comment button and choose a service to register with. You can then leave some fine comments below ;)

August 30th 2012, 11:29 by tabo

Welcome to the team

Let’s introduce the team. It’s a peculiar bunch. Three guys with different backgrounds with different skills and talents. But together they form a great team.

Jaap Warmenhoven

is a singer and consultant.
Jaap is employed by Twynstra Gudde and works on new ways to work on complex societal and organizational questions. At Twynstra Gudde he is founder of Geen Kunst, a unique cooperation between artists, designers and consultants. Jaap has a master degree in political science (UvA, 2005) and likes to work on projects related to participation and cooperation between public and private parties.

Tabo Goudswaard

is social designer.
Tabo develops creative strategies for social issues. He designs services, platforms and processes in multidisciplinary teams in which stakeholders have a shared role in the realization of the result. The effect of his work is on a relational level. New relations are being generated. Some results of his work are a new Art prize, a long-distance walking trail, a web-shop and a real life soap. In 2010 he finished the Masters program for ‘Critical Social Designer’ at the No Academy, a Laboratory for Art & Society in Amsterdam. He graduated in 2009 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, Fine Arts department. Before this he earned his HBO diploma in Cultural and Social Design at the Ichthus Hogeschool in The Hague.

Dirk van Oosterbosch

is interaction designer.
Dirk provokes active user participation by making modern complex technologies accessible through well designed intuitive interfaces.
At the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, graphic design he used the computer as a tool to create a myriad of other tools, like VJ-kits for ixopusada collective or a social network browser. During his MA media design at the Piet Zwart Institute, he developed intellistener, a tool for hyper audio.
Dirk is occupied in the field of networked and physical computing. He is an active member of meta (making electronic thingies in Amsterdam), a frequent participant to Social Hacker Camps  and the interface designer of Fritzing. He develops applications which run on the web and on small devices, like the iPhone platform.
Currently Dirk, together with a team of designers / developers, is making prototypes, to help enterprises and startups to get their concepts into a practical form, to allow them to test their product ideas and assumptions.

June 26th 2012, 00:00 by jaap

PaPaPlatform - Introduction

PaPaPlatform is an online platform for initiatives in parallel participation. We long for a more intuitive practice of participation in society, our neighbourhoods, our lives. We don’t want to ask for permission. We will not be channeled into a passive membership of the bureaucracies of the welfare state. We are Tabo, Dirk and Jaap. We have guns and we don’t know how to use them.

Background – Mission Statement

We often experience our urban lives as hectic and busy, filled as they are with friends and ambitious endeavours, hard work and responsibilities to our loved ones. Sometimes we are so immersed in the pursuit of our direct personal interests that we might feel selfish and disconnected from large parts of society, or our neighboorhoods. Still it’s not hard to surpress our desire to go beyond those lives and the interests that drive our everyday choices and agenda’s, to produce the extraordinary behaviour that policymakers like to coin “participation”. In fact we have better things to do on our free tuesday evenings. Don’t we care about the people and issues outside our personal realm? And if so, could we? Could we connect to them in more meaningful ways? Do we need more time and opportunity? Too often, we feel discouraged, powerless even, in a large, dominant and definite system. Can we reframe the way we look at, experience and practice participation, so we can lead more meaningful lives?

Historically, we have come to depend on the governmental organizations of the welfare state for a wide range of social tasks. However, over the past twenty years these organizations have come to realize they need us, the citizens, for support, expertise and cooperation. Sadly, participation as a practice often involves going to community centres or townhall meetings on our precious weekday evenings, which are already filled with the meriads of things that seem like more straightforward means to look after our interests. We rather leave the practice of participation to so called participation professionals, thus adding to the participation paradox: possibilities for participation create a new participation elite of the grey haired.

So here’s our mission spelled out: we are determined to reframe, redesign even the practice of participation, into a less politically correct, more intuitive means of conduct. Participation is what we do, there’s nothing mystical about it. The Papa-Platform is not a political movement. We don’t want to tell people what to do. We are social designers. In fact the PaPa-Platform researches how common everyday behaviour of people can function in the domain of participation. (Our common behaviour: we do it anyway, we experience it as useful and we are good at it.) This creates the new, more reflective and expressive attitude of Parallel Participation: how can our common everyday behaviour function as a part of the “public domain”, without having to make extra contra-intuitive efforts. Thus reframing participation, away from the more bureaucratic notions, we find ourselves talking and acting differently. We start exploring our everyday behaviour. We realize what our interests really are, and how they connect us to the people around us. We start to participate.

Photo’s by Jan-Dirk van der Burg from the series “De Inspraakavond”.

Jan Dirk van der Burg Jan Dirk van der Burg Jan Dirk van der Burg Jan Dirk van der Burg jan Dirk van der Burg Jan Dirk van der Burg