RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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10 Spatialities of Co-Creation, Collaboration and Peer Production in the Digital Age (1): Collaborative Spaces
Affiliation Geo: Geography and Environment
Social and Cultural Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield, UK)
Marc Garrett (Furtherfield, UK)
Penny Travlou (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Chair(s) Tatiana Bazzichelli (Disruption Network Lab, Berlin, Germany)
Timetable Wednesday 27 August 2014, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Room 120
Session abstract This session looks at novel models of creativity in reference to collaborative practices, co-creation and peer production focusing on their spatiality within a transglobal and digitally-fused environment. Within this context, creativity is understood as a synergy of spaces, practices and artifacts, interlinked in such a manner that their singularity(-ies) form an assemblage. We can consider creativity, and subsequent knowledge formation, as forms of social interaction rather than the outcomes of social activities. Whilst we commonly perceive creativity as the product of the individual artist, or creative ensemble, from this perspective creativity can also be considered an emergent phenomenon of communities, driving change and facilitating individual or ensemble creativity. Creativity can be a performative activity released when engaged through and by a community. Creativity, thus, can be also regarded as an emergent property of relations, of communities. As James Leach (2004), the British anthropologist, suggests creativity can be proposed as a collective becoming where the creation of new things, and the ritualized forms of exchange enacted around them, function to “create” individuals and bind them in social groups, thus “creating” the community they inhabit and generate new places in the landscape.

Following this theoretical framework, this session looks at the spatiality of novel forms of creativity presenting examples of creative landscapes. The selected papers focus and reflect on one of the following issues:

1. Case studies on spaces of collaborative and co-creative practices such as hackerspaces, fablabs, co-design studios, co-working offices, online forums and collaborative platforms, social innovation hubs, DIY biohacking labs etc. We will particularly welcome papers that reflect on spaces of co-authorship and co-production where authority and voice of the persons involved may shift towards horizontal structures of power and control.

2. The methodological framework(s) that best accommodate(s) these insights on the spatialities of creativity as an emergent property of assemblages (e.g. collaborative & peer-to-peer ethnography, co-design and prototyping, research by design, digital research methods, multi-sited fieldwork).

3. Insights and reflections on the current theoretical approaches on co-creation and peer production in the digital (network) age: collaboration, Do-It-With-Others (DIWO), hacktivism, open source and free software movement, heterarchy, peer-to-peer culture and the commons. Special focus will be on the linkage of the above concepts to current theoretical debates within cultural geography.

The session will also include a fieldtrip to Furtherfield Gallery and Furtherfield Commons in Finsbury Park. Furtherfield is a "dedicated space for media art", providing a platform for "creating, viewing, discussing and learning about experimental practices in art, technology and social change" (www.Furtherfield.org). Unlike commercial private galleries, however, Furtherfield functions as a non-profit artist-run space, aiming to "initiate and provide infrastructure for commissions, events, exhibitions, internships, networking, participatory projects, peer exchange, publishing, research, residencies and workshops" (www.Furtherfield.org). The scope of the field visit is to look at a ‘creative’ space that champions co-creative and peer production practices where digital artists, audience and local communities work together through cultural practices and creative processes exploring ways to establish contemporary commons.
Linked Sessions Spatialities of Co-Creation, Collaboration and Peer Production in the Digital Age (2): Collaborative Research Tools
Spatialities of Co-Creation, Collaboration and Peer Production in the Digital Age (3): Creative Networks
Spatialities of Co-Creation, Collaboration and Peer Production in the Digital Age (4): Field Visit to Furtherfield (starts 17:00)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Make-shift” – performing spatialities of collaboration and co-creation in domestic networks
Paula Crutchlow (Blind Ditch / University of Exeter, UK)
This paper will consider ways in which 'make-shift', a long-running series of international, networked performance events, brings spatialities of the global domestic into direct and sometimes troubling relations with the 'imputed backgrounds' (Thrift, 2004) of our everyday lives. 'make-shift' is constructed as a temporary assemblage, telematically located between two ordinary houses (usually in different countries), and an online performance space accessible to anyone with a broadband connection.

Event 'brokers' Paula Crutchlow and Helen Varley Jamieson (one in each house), work with on-site and online participants to collaboratively 'stage' the event within and for these 'ordinary' homes. The aim is to engage participants in lively and personalised discussion around the social-natural nexus of plastic marine pollution. To this end, intermedial performance modes such as webcam videography, digital imagery and avatar puppetry, integrate with collective making/crafting processes and open systems of interaction, to engage participants in a discursive co-authorship that re-imagines the private actions of our domestic lives as multiple, interconnected and with global consequences. Each 'make-shift' event is a messy, complex, unpredictable and unstable affair. As a site responsive event, domestic settings produce and anchor its meaning, relevance and resonance.

As a digital intra-action, it relies on the internet's penetration into the home for its structuring and methods of audiencing. Both online and on-site 'audience' participation are crucial to the becoming of each unique performance/discussion, with responsibilities for event gestures being both dispersed, and collectively co-produced between remote and physically co-present people and 'things' to create an affecting and effective metalogue.
unMonastery: Scaling community-led networks
Kei Kreutler (UnMonastery)
In February 2014, the first unMonastery opened its doors in Matera, Italy. Conceived as a residency for committed, skilled individuals, the project aims to reproduce the best of the civic functions of the traditional monastery while addressing the interlinked needs of empty space, unemployment, and depleting social services. Through self-sustaining practices, an unMonastery offers a reduced need to generate personal income so time can be dedicated entirely to serving the community and contributing to global efforts in creating new digital tools.

unMonastery in-a-Box is a toolkit developed from the prototype in Matera enabling others to start their own unMonasteries. Consisting of two components, a card deck developed in collaboration with MethodKit and a pattern language wiki, the toolkit serves as an open source blueprint, providing insight on extending the ethos of hackerspaces and peer-to-peer collaboration to an infrastructure for living.

This contribution will entail a narrative case study of the project, emphasizing scalability through unMonastery in-a-Box’s protocol and documentation. As the project now begins to scale, launching a network of spaces throughout Europe and interlinking with the partnership between Matera and EdgeRyders LBG to build a civic innovation network, the talk will focus on the nature of co-working spaces and social innovation when they enter into—and are sustained by—a contract with their local and global community.
The value of co-working: a study on knowledge work and co-working practices in Milan
Alessandro Gandini (University of Milan, Italy)
Adam Arvidsson (University of Milan, Italy)
The urban area of Milan is experiencing a growth of freelance work in many aspects of post-industrial production in an unprecedented way, especially as concerns the knowledge sector. In this context, the diffusion of freelancing is paired with the emergence of co-working spaces where freelancers participate to share a suitable workplace. Co-working spaces appear to be the physical deployment of freelance work, and it appears particularly interesting to look at how value is created in these environments where independent knowledge workers get together to entertain profitable relationships and cultivate their professional networks.

This contribution will present the results of a large-scope study on co-working spaces in Milan, brought along in partnership with the local public institution (Comune di Milano). The study focuses on the processes of value creation across such environments where knowledge workers participate and live their professional lives. It combines survey data with interviews, participant observation and digital ethnography to make sense of highly-connected environments where interaction is both digital and physical at once, and which allow to think of the workplace in terms of new modalities of space, time and relations.

The city of Milan is currently one of the richest in Europe in terms of co-working experiments. These initiatives are especially incentive by a recent legislative act issued by the Italian Government (known as “Decreto Sviluppo”, DL 18-10-2012 n° 179) through the institution of “contamination labs” for innovation and reduced fiscal regimes for start-ups and SMEs.