Making sense of 1st final term project

During the past weeks I have been trying hard to converge into a topic to be the focus of my final term project. During that process I synthesized a map with the different terrains that I have been exploring since I started this learning journey. 

Problem space for the project of the first term

I am very happy that after struggling a bit I have found a problem space that seems reasonable to me, motivates my learning and seems to be of common interest in the age of crisis that we are living.

Most of this first term I have been involved in understanding the fading limits between individuality and collectivity, between self and otherness, and how they entangle to each other in the process of change. Being certain about our collective need to reimagine our futures and materialising them I have been trying to understand how system level change happens. I have been exploring the adaptive dynamics of complex systems and which agencies we can exert in order to push alternative potential states. I have also been exploring the phenomenological experience of change, of learning, of imagination, of making sense… And finally I have been exploring process facilitation. How, as an interdependent individual, one can participate in the enactment of change. All in between this topics I have been surfing the potentialities of design as a culture of change trying to find questions and answer around how design can contribute to the kind of worlds that I am willing to make.

As I stated in the foundations of the open master, I want this learning process to be incarnated. Not to be uniquely involved at an practical-intellectual level but to compromise my wholeness into it. This past weeks have been emotionally very troubling and have make me question myself and my relationship to others, specially those who I love. I have been ruminating a lot around who(s) I want to be, which I want my role to be in the world, which new narrative I want to bring to myself… 

I love as much as I suffer processes like this in which I am involved right now. Anxiety and goosebumps alternate rapidly. The feeling of being lost and without direction overlays with some amazing discoveries and mental connections that emerge. Few weeks ago while reading about the narrative brain and how it affects our perception of the world I came across the work of George Monbiot and it resonated a lot with the ideas I have been involved with this past months. One of Monbiot’s recurring ideas is that we have been dealing with a lack of imagination in what he calls the restoration stories of Keynesianism and Social-democracy. In his last book “Out of the Wreckage” he calls for a new story one that builds into the politics of belonging. All this readings vibrated in a frequency familiar to me. From my teenager years learning about mutualism from the hands of Kropotkin to my newer fight against the dialectic of capitalism vs. communism from the hands of Murray Bookchin. Somehow I realized that emancipation, auto-organization, direct action, prefiguration… was something that seemed to me like essential for realizing the alternative imaginaries that I was craving for. All this reflections helped me build a first couple of frames for the project.

How might we design for alternative imaginaries around politics and aesthetics of self-organisation?

How might we prioritise soft technologies and the enchantment of the collective self?

Few weeks ago we had the chance to meet with Becoming collective with whom we would like to kickstart a collaboration. During the conversations several threads started to connect and a possible intervention was collectively sketched. While conversing we transited two ideas that were central to the identification of that opportunity:

  1. Self-organization / participatory / social movements are characterized by a mainly conversational based decision making process. Many of them based on consensus (see Seeds of Change work) and/or consent (see lazy consent by Ouishare). During last weeks I have been exploring negotiation processes and “stretch collaboration” in cases where consensus is not an option.
  2. The diversity of social movements is a necessary characteristic of  healthy democracies, although the relative disconnection between social emancipation processes leads to slower and more energy consuming processes that lead to the feeling of everytime starting all over again. We have the intuition that the social (and historic) capital of self-organization in Catalunya could be leveraged to activate a social learning process.

After this reflections, some possible interventions in the space of conversational interfaces were upheld in the context of pervasive “listening” technologies such as Alexa, Google Home….

How might we reconquer technology for common good?

How might we leverage on social learning supported by AI for invigorating emancipatory and self-organization processes?

As a result from the conversations few interventions were suggested, being the first one to be able to pitch the general conceptual frame in Decidim fest which will be held in Barcelona in October. The idea would be to present some kind of performative intervention involving some kind of diegetic prototype that may help us pitch the future scenario. This presentation could be a good starting point for setting a proto-consortium of interested parties to participate in a futurible european project. Many cities around Europe have already implemented Decidim platform into their municipalities. Some representatives of this governments will be present in the fest. We have the intuition that our intervention can click some keys.

The project/intervention suggested above is a mid-term one. Following my self-imposed rule of the materializing a project every quarter I, hereafter, develop some possible deliverables that can contribute to the general goal and are attainable during august.

  • Article/declaration of intent for the tech/ai for good
  • Fiction for a future scenario of reconquest of tech

One of the initial statements of my process was that I wanted it to be situated and involved with the community. After speaking with Adrià I think it would be a would idea to converge a little bit more the problem space to self-organization in housing space. This also has to do with benefiting from the work that has been done with the guide.

Threads to keep pulling:

  • Perception of time / Tyranny of productivity 
  • Rituals and objects
  • Other grammars for participation (constructionism, embodied intelligence…)

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