Example A collaborative writing project

Boards of resistance: skater-space and the spectacle of a subculture in Bristo Square

What the student said about this:

Three of us did this project together. We took lots of photos because this helped us to visualize the space that we were writing about. We all found the collaborative writing difficult because we really wanted it to have one voice. Because there were three of us writing this we found it difficult to make it coherent. When you are writing on your own it's much easier to have a direct angle on something than when you are writing together. On the other hand, although it is difficult writing with lots of people it does help you think about things in other ways because everyone approaches things differently.

Extract from 'Boards of resistance: skater-space and the spectacle of a subculture in Bristo Square':

The space

We chose to study Bristo Square because of the large numbers of skateboarders that practise there. Bristo Square is the only place where skaters (and likewise rollerbladers and bikers) can practise freely in central Edinburgh. The nearest skatepark is in Livingston, but in the past 20 years Bristo Square has become the focus of skateboarding activity and social interaction in the city.

The square is located in the centre of Edinburgh within the university complex. It comprises of a slightly sloping paved area of approximately 20 metres square surrounded by wide ascending steps creating an arena effect. There are five entrances to the square, but apart from this it is a relatively enclosed space. In the south-west corner of the square stands a monument (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1 An aerial view of Bristo Square taken from the north-east

The square is primarily used by young males, whose ages range from 8 to 25 years (although the majority fall into the 13-18 age range). These boys use the square for the recreational activities of skateboarding, biking (on BMX bikes) and rollerblading. The skateboarders are by far the largest group using the square and as such they dominate the space. The square is also used by the wider public, in particular students, who sit on the steps at the sides, often whilst eating lunch. Pedestrians regularly cross through the square. A number of teenage girls also frequent the square, often to watch the boys, although a small number do participate in the activities of skateboarding and rollerblading.


Although the students wrote this project together one cannot detect their different voices. One interesting thing is the way in which they have used a photograph to do some of the work that a written text normally does. This is something that we are unlikely to find in a traditional essay. Although there is some description of the square and its occupants in the text, the picture does a lot of the work for the reader, so that the students do not have to rely solely on their descriptive powers.

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