This article was originally published on the EXPERIMENTDAYS 2012 Blog and was subtitled as “Where “Open” Society meets Creative Sustainability.”
When I look at my experiences from last week’s experimentcity camp and the following EXPERIMENTDAYS in their 10th repetition, I can easily argue that there are changes going on in this world. We don’t understand them completely until now, yet the visions provided in their multiple contexts allow a glimpse of what might become our everyday lifeworld in the future.
The id22: Institute for Creative Sustainability understands itself as being situated inside the tension of public policy frameworks and the diverse network of civil society collectives. Hereby we seek to research the possibilities of individual self-organisation to substitute institutional forms of governance in addressing the global change to a sustainable world.
In our understanding, the peculiar work of organized networks is one of the key vectors to follow that will help to establish an “Open” Society. Creative Sustainability is then a certain notion by which social, economical and ecological requirements are being met.
Thus, another world is possible.
With the broad distribution of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and new media practices since the early 2000s, we observe the creation of an incredible high amount of new collaboration tools that refer to the network metaphor by their technological propositions. These tools organize human’s affairs mostly incommensurable to methods of hierarchical organization. The network topology is inherent through the use of Internet Protocol (IP) based applications and reshapes our imaginaries of ‘the social’.
This organizational form can be called an ‘organized network’. They stand in opposition to the commonly known ‘networked organizations’, who share representational hierarchies to embody division of labour and decision making processes. In usual collaborative processes between institutions, i.e., managers of bigger companies talk to higher administrative employees. In both institutionalized bodies very similar organizational structures exist and are recurringly reproduced. Public Administration, Companies, Universities, etc. share the representational tree structure of social organization. This leads in a second step to the continuing reproduction of this metaphor by human exchange between education, business and state agencies.
At this point I am demanding a non-representational democracy : a disorganization of the social body to adapt to new communication and organization possibilities. To nurture this process, it is our work to show the effectiveness of organized networks. I can only repeat myself, but I have got the strong impression that the EXPERIMENTDAYS only represent a glimpse of what is going on out there.
It’s still, but not exclusively, about the use of money, but also about the sharing of resources and ideas between different models of organized networks in conjunction with classical institutions. The diversity of examples is sheer endless : from social business models, revisiting publicly visible interventions in urban space to workshop’ed distributed learning or even several cultural activities, not-insignificant parts of the urban population experiment and construct around the collective idea they share, often mediated by sophisticated ICT.
In the late 1990s we witness the growth of public awareness on Open Source and Free Software. Ranging from common use of Linux operating systems, like ubuntu, in public administration and on private computers to the everyday use of programs like Mozilla Firefox, this idea of decentralized production and distribution of high quality computer programs, embedded into a more general discourse of Openness [see References], infected the public debates:
Creative Commons [media licences], Open Access [research & education], Open Data [freely available, tax paid or commercial data], Liquid Democracy [distributed, non-representational decision making], Open Source Hardware [shared construction plans for physical artefacts] and Open Governance [administrative and governmental transparency], just to name a few, represent only the top of the iceberg. In the last decades, many thinkers around the globe carried the idea of shared production out into non-technological contexts, where it, due to its adaptability, easily gained attention from many sources. Political sciences and especially Marxism don’t have to be mentioned explicitly, as they already carry these questions of property, labour and democracy within themselves.
What we are looking at is a wider use of free software development practices taken into different contexts with diverse tools. Electronic communication tools like E-Mail, Google Docs or Trello supplemented by self-controlled infrastructure and mobile devices deliver a never-seen-before informational flow. Privacy, transparency and traceability, i.e. of decisions in organized networks, allow “less is more” approaches towards organizational design: users deliver themselves with the information needed and a more desynchronized, in terms of space and time, distributed way of working can be established.
This great project, the “Open” Society, might be to resynchronize the distributed efforts of many and to retell a common narrative in which individual, activist’s interventions gain sufficient expression and acknowledgement. Our aim could be the tickle-down of distributed, collaborative practice into the so-called mainstream culture. The questions remaining are then these of scale, commensurability, participation and, economically, precarity.
Obviously, we’re facing many other big questions that coincide with the proclaimed global change: poverty, housing, ecology, climate, crisis, urbanity, demography and so forth. Those are subsumed under the term Sustainability, which stands for a regard on social, economical and ecological aspects in every human action. This triage serves as a reflection and (self-)critique basis for future-oriented, sic!, sustainable practice.
With creative impulses coming from many sides nowadays, it seems possible to connect diverse, experimental phenomena and utilize them for developing solidarity on many scales while maintaining ecological survival. Best Practice examples like Upcycling initiatives, CoHousing projects and Urban agriculture next to more artistic urban interventions or academic discourses on The Commons (air, water, land, trash, …), urbanity and participation, can provide us with a pragmatic guideline:
How to create (in the sense of gestalten [German]) diverse neighbourhoods and global justice without destroying the earth’s ecosystem.
Rossiter, Ned (2006): Organized Networks. Media Theory, Creative Labour, New Institutions. Amsterdam. : http://nedrossiter.org
“Brundtland Report” : Brundtland Commission (1987): Our Common Future. Oxford. : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Common_Future
id22:s activities support these endeavours in many flavours:
experimentcity > for a sustainable urban development culture