The Journal of Peer Production - New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change
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JoPP Signal:
15/15
Title: Collaborative Online Writing and Techno-Social Communities of Practice Around the Commons: The Case of Teixidora.net in Barcelona
Author/s: Mònica Garriga Miret, David Gómez Fontanills, Enric Senabre Hidalgo, Mayo Fuster Morell
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Abstract:
Teixidora.net is an informative, participatory initiative in the Barcelona area, which arose from a desire to follow the intense activity around the local commons and technosocial issues. Emphasising ethical and emancipatory viewpoints and encouraging criticism, Teixidora fosters debate, thought and knowledge. It is also a tool (with a digital semantic wiki platform at its centre) conceived to apply collaborative live-writing in events based on community mapping, engagement and participation. Analysing Teixidora’s participation in three specific events during its first year of existence, the article applies Foth and Hearn’s (2007) communication ecology framework to Teixidora. Through observational analysis and other conceptual frameworks, like urban informatics or Commons peer-production, the paper identifies some aspects of its social, technological and discursive layers, and the intersections among them and with each of the three events. In these cases close-knit relationships arise in the three different layers of the communicative ecology, with four transversal elements related to the commons: collective dimension, experimental dimension, sharing and re-elaborating. Three levels of learning are extracted in relation to: governance of the text, mapping communities of practice and interest and practising synchronous collaborative documentation of events. Finally, as a conclusion from these lessons, new means of action and development for the project are offered, and questions are raised regarding future research.

Keywords:
Patterns of commoning, collaborative writing, note-taking, communities of interest, knowledge sharing, mapping of events, action research, transdisciplinary activism, ICT-mediated peer production, innovative P2P practices, self-organisation and community, semantic wiki, mediawiki, commons.

JoPP Signal:
14/15
Title: Urban Imaginaries of Co-creating the City: Local Activism Meets Citizen Peer-Production
Author/s: Carlos Estrada-Grajales, Marcus Foth, Peta Mitchell
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Abstract:
Urban activist groups challenge the status quo in city governance and demand their ‘right to the city’ as city co-producers. The specific forms in which such movements engage, plan and activate different participation mechanisms to contest local dominant power structures and governance practices are, as yet, not well understood. Scholarship on the topic has mostly gravitated around the structural influence of private corporations and governments, as well as their role in the global urban crisis as the rationale for socio-economic interventions in urban governance. Yet, the dominant belief remains for local governments to retain sole control of city futures. The aim of this study is to examine citizen demands for new dynamics of engagement and participation in decision-making mechanisms that co-produce the city. We present Right to the City – Brisbane as a case study activist organisation aligned to these citizen-led demands for more agency in local governance. An ethnographic approach involving participant observations, in-depth interviews and analysis of social media and printed media identified the urban imaginaries produced by Right to the City – Brisbane. The objective was to understand how group members construct a narrative of their struggles against exclusion practiced by government agencies and private developers, as well as of their visions and desires for shaping the future of Brisbane. We found that this activist group engages with the city and residents through playful practices, envisions a fair and sustainable city, and crafts a future of Brisbane privileging a DIY activist approach. This study concludes that a citizen-led peer-produced urbanism, based on methodologies that relate directly to citizen needs and desires, constitutes a valuable contribution for expanding and reshaping urban governance policies and practices in modern cities.

Keywords:
Urban imaginaries, Right to the city, Activism, Peer-production, City co-production, Civic engagement, Political participation

JoPP Signal:
10/10
Title: Commoning the City, from Digital Data to Physical Space: Evidence from Two Case Studies
Author/s: Adrien Labaeye and Harald Mieg
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Abstract:
This article describes the phenomenon of commoning the city. It is understood as the co-production of new resources and/or the process of reclaiming existing assets (public or private) as a commons. We report on two original case studies (in New York City and Berlin) where the constitution of a data commons has been the starting point of a wider process of commoning the urban physical space: vacant public land on the one hand, and public fruit trees and other urban edibles on the other hand. Commoning the city in the digital age is therefore described as a hybrid process spanning over from the digital to the physical urban space, online and onland. In contrast to the smart cities approach, it lays a more citizen-oriented narrative of the impact of digitalization on urban life. This article addresses the research questions: How does the hybrid commoning process of (1) data and the related (2) public space take place? What is the role of the grassroots providers of the collaborative mapping infrastructure? Methodologically, the case study analyses are structured following existing adaptations of the Institutional Analysis and Development to the specificities of knowledge/information commons by Frischmann, Madison et al. (2014). Results show that, beyond appearances, the commoning of data is mostly a means, attracting visibility and attention, for an end: the wider commoning of urban land. The true focus of the action arena resides around the self-governance of land and trees and the constitution of local communities. A trend in the evolution of the role of local authorities towards a more collaborative state is confirmed and seems partly explained by increasing financial austerity forcing local governments to rely more on local civic actors. Another reason is that data makes city government more porous to bottom-up action. However this requires good practice in opening urban data sets, the existence of local civic capacity, and active community organizing (much) beyond the digital world. We conclude by suggesting an analytical departure from the IAD framework and its naturalist conception that approaches the commons as a resource and, as a consequence, forces an artificial divide between the intangible and tangible dimensions of the commoning process. Subsequently, we recommend approaching the phenomenon we identified as ‘commoning the city’ as a living practice of collaboratively producing a shared experience of the place, where the intangible (data) and tangible (land), the human and non-human, are seen as a whole.

Keywords:
Commoning, Public Space, Knowledge Commons, Open Data, Diverse Economies, Grassroots Innovation, Urban Foraging

JoPP Signal:
10/10
Title: Design Experiments and Co-governance for City Transitions: Vision Mapping
Author/s: Darren Sharp and Jose Ramos
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Abstract:
This paper explores enabling experiments for social innovation that can support cities as transition arenas. We review how the co-production of urban experiments takes place through collaborative mapping which enables communities to peer produce urban space for diverse economies and citizen-based visioning to engender inclusive images of the future. We evaluate Vision Mapping, a hybrid methodology to produce new urban imaginaries through a case study of the Future Economies Lab for the Future Melbourne 2026 public consultation. Vision Mapping uses collaborative mapping, strategic foresight and human-centred design within an appreciative inquiry framework to co-produce new urban imaginaries and prototypes of city futures. We consider how Vision Mapping could be democratized through co-governance for greater citizen empowerment and design for social innovation through platforms to enable ongoing experimentation in city-making.

Keywords:
Urban experiments, collaborative mapping, visioning, co-production, co-governance, Melbourne

JoPP Signal:
12/15
Title: Spatial Practices, Commoning and the Peer Production of Culture: Struggles and Aspirations of Grassroots Groups in Eastern Milan
Author/s: Nadia Bertolino and Ioanni Delsante
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Abstract:
This paper reports on a case study of the Milan-based collective Macao to examine whether its commoning practices and governance model allow for processes of cultural peer production and their degree of engagement and inclusiveness on various scales. In 2012, Macao occupied iconic spaces in Milan and became rapidly a significant urban movement that gathered a large number of members and supporters. The activists eventually settled in the former Slaughterhouse Exchange Building in the Molise-Calvairate-Ponti neighbourhood, an area characterised by a large number of abandoned and underused sites, inadequate provision of affordable housing and issues around the social integration of immigrants and ethnic minorities (Milan City Council, 2010; Caffa, 2016, 2017). Drawing on foundational studies on urban movements and the role of the creative sector in urban struggles, the paper first contextualises Macao within the broader framework of grass-roots initiatives in Italy since the 1970s before investigating the controversial relationship between the collective and the local community. The gaps we note between them provide a better understanding of the complexity of the actual social, economic and political struggles in Milan, and how ‘right-to-the-city’ aspirations are differently interpreted. By analysing Macao’s experience through the lens of the commons, the paper provides insights into whether its key features and governance aim at activating inclusive practices of cultural peer production. During two field work periods in February 2016 and April 2017, data were collected through mixed methods that included visual mapping, semi-structured interviews with representatives of Macao and local stakeholders and a multi-activity participatory session with a group of Molise-Calvairate-Ponti social housing tenants.

Keywords:
urban movements, alter urbanisation, urban commons, cultural peer production, right to the city

JoPP Signal:
8/10
Title: Listening in on Informal Smart cities: Vernacular Mapping in Mirpur, Dhaka
Author/s: Liam Magee and Teresa Swist
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Abstract:
Community mapping, FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) and participatory design belong to a wider group of methods and platforms that address limitations and critiques of older forms of Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D). Produced by local citizens adding and editing data to participatory GIS platforms such as OpenStreetMap, counter or vernacular mappings diversify means of recording city habitats and pathways. These amplify alternative claims of authority and expertise, advocating informational rights to the city and, in more prosaic terms, addressing service discovery and navigation through detailed maps, databases and social media. Yet, and as it is often acknowledged, the conjunction of urban communities with technologies and other NGOs and corporate actors can generate tensions. Notions of the double bind, developed by cybernetic psychologist Gregory Bateson, seem apt to characterise these tensions in extremis. We review how double binds entangled utopic designs of mid-twentieth communist urbanism and cybernetic economies, under conditions of both greater political scale and vastly reduced informatic capacities. We then introduce and discuss Kolorob, a participatory mapping project based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Through focus group discussions and participant observation, we show the project to be an illuminating case of peers producing technological artefacts, and yet one which also faces financial and political limits that threaten the durability of these accomplishments. An acknowledgement of the double bind structure at work in this project, inherent also in the wider dialectic of freedom and constraint at work in informal smart city developments, involves a necessary recognition of the sometimes partial, temporary or intangible benefits of urban peer production. We conclude with considerations of whether the informal smart city entails the disorienting experience of a double bind, and the resources communities themselves deploy to manage its effects.

Keywords:
Vernacular mapping, OpenStreetMap, informal settlements, smart city, cybernetics, Dhaka

JoPP Signal:
8/10
Title: Seeking Other Urban Possibilities: Community Production of Space in a Global South City (Rosario, Argentina)
Author/s: Diego Roldán and Sebastián Godoy
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Abstract:
This work reflects on certain ways of producing space through hybridization of some global urban development trends and some local cultural expressions. Its purpose is to contribute to the conception of models of urbanization that make participation something more than a subordinated inclusion, whose aspiration is not to assimilate and dominate the other’s potentialities, but to collectively produce a city as a ‘meeting place’ where its value in use becomes a priority. Here, we study the process of occupation, eviction, dispossession, and concealment of two experiences of production of urban space in a Global South city: Rosario (Argentina). We focus on the Paraná River waterfront, the home of two collective subjects: okupas (Spanish word for squatter) and local artisanal fishermen. Both communities presented alternative ways of producing and imagining urban space and brought up the need to generate differences from the corporate tendencies that commodify the city, its culture, and its ways of life. They also collectively came up with new forms of producing and sharing knowledge in order to strengthen their self-organized communities. Through their practices and everyday resistance, they showed alternative possible paths and futures in a genealogy and a cartography of the urban present.

Keywords:
right to the city, production of space, occupation

JoPP Signal:
8/10
Title: The Theater as Commons: The Occupation of the INBA Theater in Ciudad Juárez
Author/s: Carlos Hernán Salamanca
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Abstract:
On October 6th, 1990, a group of artists and intellectuals chained themselves to the doors of the INBA Theater in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua’s Zona Pronaf ('Pronaf Zone’) in order to protest the privatization and potential demolition of the building. That evening, the growing crowd of protesters gathered outside of the theater decided to occupy the building itself in order to force the municipal government to undo its privatization. The occupation lasted until May of the following year and ended without the use of violence on part of the Ciudad Juárez municipal government. This paper argues that, in its early stages, the occupation of the INBA Theater formed a challenge to the hegemony of the city’s economic elites in two ways. First, by framing the INBA Theater and the broader Zona Pronaf as representative examples of municipal corruption and asserting the occupation as the pueblo (people) reclaiming space for themselves, the occupation’s organizers assigned a new urban meaning to the INBA Theater and proposed an aspirational urban meaning for the rest of the city. Second, by engaging in ‘commoning’ practices, the occupation’s organizers introduced citizens to a horizontal democratic form of self-governance that stood in stark contrast with the dominant forms of urban governance in Ciudad Juárez. This paper forms part of a larger project that aims to map the political development of Ciudad Juárez’s community of cultural producers. Understanding this development in terms of hegemony, urban function, and urban meaning enables us to read it as a process involving actors that learn from their successes and failures in order to more effectively build a movement aimed at ‘refounding the city’.

Keywords:
right to the city, occupation, commons