Collaborative prototype workshop and international symposium
Madrid Urban Laboratory seeks to explore the relationships between the city, digital culture and the common good through a programme that includes a collaborative production workshop and a series of conferences and debates, in which international and local experts will be invited to examine the meaning of the common good and digital culture within the context of the evolving city.
The call for project submissions is finished
(Text by Juan Freire)
We live in turbulent times, where financial turmoil converges with transformation, the obsolescence of a range of social, political and economic values and practices, and the chaotic emergence of new practices that are laying the foundations for fresh models. The city is undoubtedly the main arena where this process is taking place. Madrid has developed into an unplanned laboratory for citizen projects of all kinds, exploring the possibilities and boundaries of our new social culture, in particular the open/free culture as a means of configuring public spaces and the resulting social, economic and political relationships.
In Madrid we encounter a range of social movements that are standard bearers for a number of demands; amateur and professional groups using action to investigate the public space and public engagement, as well as diverse public laboratories that bring together communities who, through action, reflect on the city or economics. And all this is happening while public and private operators, government and businesses, seek to understand their raisons d'être, and in some cases seek to transform themselves, either through necessity or opportunity, into platforms for creating communities, or to insert themselves into existing communities.
If there is one thing that characterises this process, it is its apparent, and possibly real, chaos: the difficulty of grasping the deeper significance of these movements and understanding their ultimate causes. Of course, the medium and long-term consequences are even less predictable. The result is a mixture of contrasting emotions, ranging from panic and a feeling of hopelessness to excitement over the prospect of real change. All of us are involved in this clash of emotions: agents of the old establishment and activists behind what might be the new system; the marginalised and the decision-makers...
If anything might be able to bring cohesion and some sense to what is happening, it may be the very concept of the common good. We are now rediscovering the power of what lies, to use a negative definition, between the public and private spheres. That enormous space where we live out our lives, and which for decades was censored and was thought to not exist. Only by naming and understanding that space can we begin to grasp the emerging phenomena. And only by understanding what the common good is and how it works can we comprehend the chaos that is generated by a complex, diverse and sophisticated system of governance, which bears little relation to traditional political and corporate systems.
The other concept that may help us to understand our present scenario is that of digital culture. Technology has empowered us by establishing an infrastructure of basic knowledge and relationships. But its role is not only instrumental, as important as it may be. For decades communities have been actively working with technology, consolidating new practices and values that until recently were considered marginal and perhaps even dangerous. But now openness, transparency and collaboration are watchwords for those seeking to embrace institutions, as well as for companies that want to join or even co-opt, for better or for worse, this new reality.
Madrid as a laboratory
Madrid is an excellent example of a juncture between the city, digital culture and the common good. It represents an emerging laboratory of public innovation and governance. Medialab Prado supports this exploration, establishing itself as one of the city's community generators, as well as itself reflecting the contradictions and opportunities so characteristic of the current scenario, as a public initiative that represents a laboratory of the common good, housing communities of amateurs and professionals alike.
The international Madrid Urban Laboratory initiative seeks to explore the relationships between the city and the common good, employing the focus and methods used in recent years by the projects Interactivos? and Visualizar. What can Medialab bring to an issue that is already extensively developed in the city of Madrid? Madrid Urban Laboratory seeks to explore the relationships between the city, digital culture and the common good via a programme that includes a collaborative production workshop and a series of conferences and debates in which international and local guests examine the meaning of the common good and digital culture within the context of the evolving city. The aim is to create synergies between existing initiatives and to reflect on the consequences of such processes.
Deadline for submissions: 8 May
The programme and the call for submissions are structured into three themed sections:
- Open infrastructure for mobility, energy management and consumption, public telecommunications networks, alternative public information networks, etc.
- Bringing back the Agora - new uses for public spaces by citizen groups
- Building cities based on the ephemeral and transitory: pop-up logic, tactical urban planning, temporary autonomous zones, games in public spaces.
- Urban economies of the common good: time bank, urban vegetable gardens, bartering networks, etc.
- Stories and memories of the city as a common good
- Diseño inclusivo de los entornos urbanos, accesibilidad, diversidad funcional.
- Childhood and the city
- The elderly and the city
- Networks of citizen collaboration and knowledge in the local setting
- Data gathering and distributed analysis
- Technological development of low-cost hardware and software, based on free licensing and open-source systems for citizen science projects
Of the submitted projects, a maximum of 15 will be selected for development in the workshops, which will be held in two phases: 28 May-1 June and 1-5 October.
All those submitting projects must be open to collaboration with other interested parties, in order to develop the same at the workshops.
Initiatives may be submitted individually or collectively. Each participant or team may enter as may submissions as they wish.
Once the ideas have been selected, a registration period will open for those who want to take part as collaborators in each. The registration period for collaborators will open on 13 May via the Medialab-Prado website.
The ideas will be tested during the workshops, with prototypes developed in interdisciplinary groups made up of the collaborators and coordinated by the project developer. The groups will benefit from support and advice from guest technicians and professors, and will have access to all the space, equipment and materials that they need to develop their projects.
While the most intensive workshop periods come in May and October, when all the teams will be working side by side, the groups may also work independently using the Medialab-Prado space during the months of July and September.
We assume that any work done in the workshop will use free and open software, that the projects will be based on open standards and that the results will be available under licensing that allows re-appropriation, reuse and distribution of the same.
The workshops will be run in English and Spanish, with no formal translation provided.
The workshops are mainly aimed at projects and collaborators based in Madrid. Should projects or collaborators not based on Madrid take part, each participant will have to cover their own travel and accommodation costs.
Madrid City Council is making the Open Data Portal (http://datos.madrid.es) available for use during the event Madrid Urban Laboratory.
For the current information society, the most important thing is to be able to get data in order to be able to build new commercial, non-commercial, educational and research products and services. In this context, we are providing the Open Data Portal for its possible use by any workshop within this event. On this portal, there are 98 data groups, with over 175 different files that can be obtained and downloaded, with information on the City. Amongst these, there are data groups with information on the environment, traffic, economy and trade, culture, urban development, transport, diverse kinds of city facilities, etc.
Madrid City Council is available to help solve any doubts that may arise when using the data, and also to use the portal to promote the resulting initiatives of appropriate quality.
For further information and any queries: talleres(at)medialab-prado.es