Call for papers: Political Forms and Movements in the Digital Era - Deadline for abstract submission: FEBRUARY 28, 2017

Hi @Alberto, @Nadia, @Noemi , @Amelia , @melancon and whoelse it may concern,

i know you are all busy with the beginning of a brand new year. Anyway, is somebody interested in the call of the title?

I think the Areas of research (The equipment of democracy in the era of "open", "hack" and "tech", Mobilizations in the era of “doing together” and the commons and The making of opinion and its ecology) may fit to OP3NCARE research experience and narration.

Some information:

"Abstracts (max. 500 words) are due by February 28th, 2017. They should be sent to the following address:

The proposal, written in English or in French, will mention the research question, the used methodology and theoretical frame. It will highlight the scientific interest of the submitted article in regard with the existing literature and the call for paper. It can be accompanied by a short bibliography. We wish to draw the attention of the authors to the rubric « updating the classics », which aims to revisit classic authors and theories in social sciences through the prism of the Internet."

The link in english:

The link in french:



Why not?

Alberto's picture

@Ezio Manzini , could this be a way to start thinking about the famous paper?


"Doing together" track

Noemi's picture

Hi @Federico Monaco, thanks for bringing this forward, I would be interested as this gives us a chance to  look deeper at the data we are collecting. 

My preference would be to not stick to our telling of the methodology - what you've seen a lot of earlier in Milan, but use the preliminary data we have to say something about how collective capacity can be sustained, indeed with a vehicle like opencare and digital networks. It's why I would go for the second theme and use ethnographic results. Let me know what you have in mind or if you'd like to talk and flesh this out?


I agree with Noemi that we

melancon's picture

I agree with Noemi that we should go for the "Doing together" track with focus on, as Noemi puts it, "how collective capacity can be sustained". That being said, we might want to have a section describing how technology is used to reach our goals, and how -- t som extent -- it plays a most useful role. I am willing to cintribute to the abstract, although I beleive the lead should be taken by a "ethno-centered" collaborator.


"seeing like OP3NCARE"

Federico Monaco's picture

Dear @Noemi, i agree with you: a) show some results and b) describe how OP3NCARE functions among people as collector, what solutions have been co-produced by participants, technologies, processes, reverse salients. In short terms: "the winning collective tactics to tackle health issues in the age of networks". ...could it be a good title? :)


Toolbox for a Post-Democracy area

Yannick's picture

hmm interesting, 

I was just studying the subject around new tools to make democracy more in line with the new emerging models.  I'm having a transition year on political level by not reacting anymore on sociatal subjects by searching for the solution inside our classical democratic system, but by studying the possibilities that new technologies give us. Going back to some of the Athenian Democracy logic while implementing new tools to do so could be one of those solutions i would like to study further. 


Biopolitics and health as a common

Federico Monaco's picture

Dear @Yannick, yes! It would be heaven: a part in the paper about network politics and healthcare would be of great contribution i guess. The challenge is intimately political when it come to bodies, related practices and healthcare institutions and agencies. I find the big problem today and the mistake enacted by healthcare systems and theories of caring is to put the patient at the centre, while i think the paradigmatical change will happen when patients will reach a symmetrical positions to health professionals and practitioners by a open care (!) approach. I see the cure/care at the center as issue and patients, care givers, professionals and practitioners around negotiationg practices, outcomes, data, etc... Madeleine Akrich has a very useful approach for all this. Would you suggest me some reading about what you have in mind?  Let's keep in touch!



Alberto's picture

@Federico Monaco this is your idea, so you have last word. My suggestion is that you cooperate and co-sign with @Ezio Manzini and (if they are interested) others who know much about online/onsite cooperation, like @Noemi and @Nadia . If you (Federico) agree, I'll put you in direct contact and you can take it from there.

Ezio wrote me that he is interested. Beware: if this goes ahead it is going to be highly interdisciplinary (ethnography, design, social sciences). This makes it very interesting, but also a source of headaches. 

@Yannick I do not understand if you are just "thinking out loud" or proposing something? Remember, we are not native speakers of English and can miss out or misunderstand. 


Sounds great.

Nadia's picture

Good idea to do this and thank you for thinking of me. I can participate in a highly limited capacity as Im travelling and already have a number of commitments which will take up most of my time.


thanks for the suggestion ..yes, headaches

Federico Monaco's picture

Thanks @Alberto There is already a lot around in this thread: heterogeneity and interdisciplinarity are the key-stone of a possible essay if we describe "how the infrastructure solves tensions between global and local", how practices and objects (digital ones too) are being trafficked, who takes charge of what; mainly how openness and interoperability of identities, objects and relations are related inside OP3NCARE. In this way we turn from headache to a ethnography of infrastructure (how categories, values, objects and identities shape and design the infrastructure used to produce new ways of caring

What inspire me a lot is how different people with different backgrounds see same objects and concepts in different ways and how concepts like "open", "objectivity", "data", "care", "design", etc.. so different people from Computer Science, Open Design, Edgeryders staff, Healthcare and Medicine, Political Sciences, Anthropology, Sociology, etc.. can give a great contribution in describing how all this works and interoperates to make OP3NCARE emerge.

The next moves and some (fictitious) deadlines might be:

end of january - a) some keywords from the participants to be included in the abstract

                          b) a literature review (some references from different fields of research)

                          c) authors list and tasks

When possible in Rome (feb 1st and 2nd) and for whom will be there around, we could have a short and light face-to-face working session (in a pub?)

mid february - abstract and paper structure drafting

end february - abstract due

@Ezio Manzini   just a first proposal on how to move on.. or how would you proceed with so many different disciplines and people?




Homework: Lit review

Noemi's picture

@Federico Monaco sounds like a plan! Do you have relevant studies you can share to started on reading and a common base to start from? I'm way behind on academic literature..! I think setting up a working google folder where we can each upload things would be useful. If you can start I will jump in and invite the rest.


Just thinking out loud

Yannick's picture

Hey @Alberto i was just thinking out loud, letting know also that if you needed some readers about the subject i'm willing to participate because i will into that kind of thematics this year :)


wake me up!

Federico Monaco's picture

Dear @Yannick

I'm very interested. Please share any good reading! :)


At the moment doing my research in Dutch, but will try to switch

Yannick's picture

here is my first storify on what i found:

will publicize another one today, but in english then :)


geen probleem!

Federico Monaco's picture

Dat valt mee. Ik ga mijn nederlands oefenen.

Thanks for the insight about your post-democratic approach. I find it very useful in the debate about future healthcare policies.


Paper contribution

Federico Monaco's picture

Hi @Yannick

within one week we should get to a final draft of the abstract.

Would you like to contribute? The field of the Political Forms and Movements in the Digital Era should be of interest for you as far as i have understood.

Here you find the call.



Timing doesn't work out

Yannick's picture

Hey @Federico Monaco it will not be possible to contribute because timing is not right at the moment. Hope to help next time.



Federico Monaco's picture

Hi @Yannick

in case you would like to be part of the authors, february 28th is only the deadline for the abstract (you could provide a reference about open democracy for instance, that would be enough for now).

You could certainly contribute to the paper in the coming months (deadline June 10th, 2017) with a paragraph about open democracy to fit to the abstract and the call, which i think be very tuned to your field of research.

In case you agree we can still count you in.

If you need more information we can have a videocall in the coming days.

Tot zo



Ezio Manzini's picture

@Alberto, I agree with your proposal. If @Federico Monaco agrees too, we can start to discuss. What could the next step be?


of course i agree

Federico Monaco's picture

Nice to meet you @Ezio_Manzini. I appreciate your interest in my proposal.



I guess

Alberto's picture

Set up a Skype/Hangout and exchange ideas about where to go. One thing that you will decide in the call is who is going to do what towards submission. For example, one way would be to open a Google Doc and use it to write the abstract. In my experience it is best when someone takes the lead to be the main writer, while others can make edits and comments. 

If the abstract is accepted, then we'll act accordingly. 

Question to @Federico Monaco : is the journal Open Access?


is it Open Access?

Federico Monaco's picture

@Alberto i agree on what you say. Google doc fiat!

yes, is OA


Happy to contribute

Amelia's picture

Agree with @Noemi and @melancon that the second track is most promising. I've got a lot on my plate until January 20, but after that I will be free to contribute more fully. An abstract of 500 words by end of Feb is definitely manageable.


Thanks for joining in

Federico Monaco's picture

Thanks a lot @Amelia




Ezio Manzini's picture

Hi  @Noemi, and all, this is a first contribution moving from your proposal.

But a premise is needed: I am interested to participate to the making of this paper, and if useful, I can take some responsibilities in it. But, given that my background is not ethnography as you and @melancon asked (but it is design theory and practice), and given that my presence and role in, and knowledge of, Opencare is marginal, I don’t know if it is possible for me to propose myself as team leader or co-leader.

Given that, and starting form practicalities and moving to contens:

1. Roadmap. Given that the deadline is at the end of February and that we have to write only a 500 words abstract, I think that we can spend 2 weeks for a conversation, via mail and, at a given point via skype, aiming to clarify what we want to do and who is going to really contribute to the writing.

2.  Track and theme. @Noemi proposed to go for the "Doing together" track, and “to use the preliminary data we have to say something about how collective capacity can be sustained, indeed with a vehicle like opencare and digital networks”. @melancon openly agreed with Noemi. I agree with Noemi too and my present contribution intends to move in this same direction.

3. My way of dealing with this theme. In my understanding and moving from my background, the question “how collective capacity -in the field of care- can be sustained” can be situated in a thread of studies and experiences grounded on the three notions: infrastructuring and designing coalitions.  I don’t know if you are familiar with these terms (the space of knowledge is so large!), in any case, shortly:

  • Infrastructuring is a term introduced by Leigh Star* and taken up by Pelle Ehn and his school in Malmö University” ** it refers to a process of open collaborative design, aiming at creating an environment in which new matters of concern may emerge, designing coalitions may be started and specific projects may be enhanced.

* S. L. Star and K. Ruhleder, “Steps toward an Ecology of Infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces,” Information System Research 7 (1996), 111–134; S. L. Star and G. C. Bowker, “How to Infrastructure,” in L. A. Lievrouw and S. L. Livingstone, eds., The Handbook of New Media (London: Sage, 2006).

  • Pelle Ehn, “Participation in Design Things,” Participatory Design Conference Proceedings, 30 September–4 October 2008, Bloomington, Indiana.


  • Designing coalitions: networks whose members collaborate to achieve shared results***. They aggregate around a matter of concern, and promote and enhance coherent design initiatives. Coalition actors come together with the potential to articulate, negotiate and collaborate (or not) in address to issues of concern to them. *** Ezio Manzini, design when everybody designs, MIT press 2015
  • NB.Bruno Latour and then others, use the term Thing ****. I prefer to refer to the notion of ‘designing coalitions’ for reasons that are discussable, but that are to long to be explained in these initial notes). **** Pelle Ehn, Thomas Binder, Per Linde et al, What is the object of design? (2012)

It comes that the infrastructuring activity can be seen as an open-ended ‘horizontal’ project, where different coalitions that aggregate around specific matters of concern may start and enhance a diversity of specific ‘vertical’ projects. (in realty, things are more complex than this, but, for the moment, let’s keep it simple, adopting this dualistic, horizontal/vertical, duality).

Using this background and this language, the original Noemi’s question, “how can collective capacity be sustained?”, could become, and be articulated in, something like that:

  • How, up to now, the infrastructuring activity done by OpenCare succeeded in creating a favourable environment where different matters of concern have had the possibility to emerge, designing coalitions to be created and specific vertical’ projects to be started and enhanced?
  • Which are the lectures we can learn from what has been done until now? How could limits be overcome? How could opportunities be better understood? How this experience could be improved and relicated in different contexts, and in realtion to different themes?

To answer these general questions, some first steps should be done, considering and analysing the nature of both the Opencare’s infrastructuring activity and the specific conversations and activities that happened thanks it.

  • Opnecare’s infrastructuring activity: what has been done to start the process and to day-by-day manage it? Which are the affordances embedded in it?... etc.
  • Conversations and activities which matters of concern emerged? Which designing coalitions have been formed? Which projects have been started?

3. My personal interest in this theme. One of the topic I am presently working on relates to the design contribution to (1) “the politics of everyday” and, consequently, to (2) a democracy where individual and collaborative projects of life can exist and thrive.

Given that, I think that me motivation of my interest on if and how an infrastructuring activity as the Opencare one can become a favorable environment for different kinds of projects, is self-evident.

Of course, this motivation would be the core of the paper if I had to do it alone. I am curious to read what are you yours. And to start a conversation on them … 


My early thoughts

Noemi's picture

Thanks @Ezio Manzini for the initial ideas,

I read the first paper you recommended on infrastructure (couldn't find the other ones) and I liked the approach of infrastructure as defining work relationships.. Let's see if during the next weeks we can find more recent/ suited frameworks to use? I would especially look for something that incorporates the social infrastructure - the open community building part which is definitory in opencare.

It is in your second part "Which are the lectures we can learn from what has been done until now?" where I see various steps to analyse deeper the opencare early results and future impact. How do we break down this idea of collective capacity, from a network perspective..?

  • using ethnographic data: start from the (shared) meanings that members attach to taking action of sorts - conceptualizations of collaboration, community, resources, "working together" and other relevant codes etc. How they see the benefits of being part of a network and so on.. I think this could be the departing argument for more coordinated actions needed, independent of the opencare initial premise and strict project life.
  • show examples of opencare team designed actions - openandchange, PopUp Village and others 
  • show examples of non-team/ member led actions - people hook up and start working together in or outside the opencare formalized community
    To me, this distinction between team/non-team, as blurred as it can be is needed when looking at capacity, it explains the different resources, incentives that are in the network..

    I am not sure we can put design lenses on all examples above.. but I am far from an expert. Maybe a section led by Ezio can be constructed as a series of deeper reflections for overcoming limits and better fostering opportunities in a number of very concrete cases of collaboration? 

..reading now.

Federico Monaco's picture

Dear @Ezio Manzini

your post is definitely already well structured and concrete. I answered to different posts in this thread about some ideas and proposals.

My background is STS (Science, Technology & Society). I'm already confident with scholars such as Star, Bowker and user and infrastructure studies. Mainly i'm researching how users (especially professionals) may adopt the web as a learning infrastructure ..(not so much still). So my problem and goal is to explain to professionals what patients, makers and laypeople do by the web about care. That's it.


early thoughts

Ezio Manzini's picture

Hi  @Noemi, in general terms I agree with your early thoughts!

Of course, being for me the beginning of a conversation, some points are still not very clear, sorry for that… Given that, here I am with some feedbacks, questions and proposals.

1. The concepts and language I proposed in my previous mail (based on the notions of infrastructuring, matters of concern and designing coalitions) represent my present vocabulary. But of course, I will be more than happy to find a new and, may be, more appropriate language …

2. You write: “How do we break down this idea of collective capacity, from a network perspective..?” and you indicates different possibilities:

  • “using ethnographic data: start from the (shared) meanings that members attach to taking action. …” this is a very interesting research and we should do it. My question is: do we have enough information to do it? Or: have we the possibility to collect these information in the next months?
  • show examples of opencare actions” done by the team members or by other non-team actors. Yes, of course. My question is: I imagine you mean examples of “actions” that happened/are happening thanks to the existence of Opencare: correct?  How many of these actions do we have until now? (what Pop-up villages are?)

All this is correct and should be done. But, in my view, to choose the criteria to be used to analyze whatever complex issue (in our case the “collective capacity” Opencare is collaborating to produce) requires to indicate the goal (what we want to get with this specific research) and the methodology (how we can get that goal).

Probably these points have been presented in Opencare research program, and therefore are crystal clear for you. But I think it would be wise to indicate them, considering also that now we are not discussing the whole research, but a specific paper to be done in the next few months. What do you think?

3. Regarding the discussion on the issue of distinguishing, or not, between team/non-team examples, I think we can consider that distinction. But I would propose some other criteria too (utilizing the model I proposed in my previous mail).

For me, Opencare is a prototype of an “open care infrastructure” and what we want to do is to verify, and discuss, if and how it works. That is, to verify the number and quality of the matters of concern that, thanks to it, have emerged. And, therefore, the goal-oriented conversations andt he designing coalitions that have been created.  

If you would agree, it comes that the first distinction to be done is between (1) the actions done by who (mainly) work in the open-ended project of infrastructuring, and (2) the ones done by who promotes/is involved in goal-oriented conversations.

On this basis, we should analyze:

  • in relation to (1), the infrastructuring activity components
  • in relation to (2), the number and quality of the actions (i.e.: matters-of-concerns, goal-oriented conversations; designing coalitions that have been generated.

If we have the energy and the time to do it, both (1) and (2) should be analyzed also with ethnographic tools, as you propose.

Other criteria that should be defined and used should be related to:

  • the system openness (considering to the Opencare open nature)
  • the role of digital technologies (considering the specificity of this call for paper)
  • the political implications (that could be our team’s special touch)

I think that these are crucial points: the ones that could make the difference between our paper and the others …     


some ideas for the paper ...

Ezio Manzini's picture

Hi @Federico Monaco, nice to meet you!

@Federico Monaco, @Noemi and all,

Another small, personal contribution. Up to you to decide if and how it coldl be pertinent with what the whole team intends to do.


In the OpenCare program is written: OpenCare prototypes a community-driven model of addressing social and health care, and explore its implications at scale” and then: “OpenCare orchestrates an open-to-all, community-driven process for addressing care issues, recruiting its participants from existing communities innovating at the edge of society

If this is the OpenCare definition and main goal, what we have to do is to answer two questions:

(1) what could be this paper specific (and viable) goal? (considering that the paper is written at half of the OpenCare journey)

(2) in which this paper specific goal is coherent with the RESET call-for-paper? (and, in particular, with the thread Mobilizations in the era of “doing together” and the commons” ?)

Paper goals

(1) To offer a qualitative outline of the care issues that the OpenCare existence has, until now, generated. In particular, the focus is on different kinds of collaborative actions (as, for instance: to conversations aiming at exchanging and/or elaborating information; developing non-material projects; developing and enhancing projects requiring presence in physical space).

(2) To prove that these (open)care-related activities are, or could be seen as, part of the “collaborative culture” the call-for-papers refers to. In particular, their existence, and the our reflections on them, we will some meaningful answers to questions as: “How are these digital commons defined by the actors themselves? To what extent are the public/private borders recomposed? What kind of values do they carry?” (RESTET, Call-for-paper, 2016)

Paper methodology

In the framework of the whole OpenCare research methodology, the specifc steps to be done to write this specific paper we could be:

  1. To observe what kinds of conversations until now took place in the OpenCare framework.
  2. To discuss and define criteria to identify different typologies.
  3. To choose one or more cases for each typology of conversation
  4. To discuss and define qualitative criteria to better understand each observed conversation (and, in particular, the ones who shifted from digital to physical space)
  5. To analyze and discuss the whole results, aiming at answering the call-for-papers-thread 2 questions.
  6. To make some final remarks in relation to the whole call-for-papers intentions. That is, the relevance of what we observed in the discussion on “Political Forms and Movements in the Digital Era” 

examples of collaborative actions

Noemi's picture

Very useful ideas, Ezio and the rest..! 

I see from our exchange that we agree that we need to look at the data we have so far and structure, analyze or parse it for collaborative actions. I doubt we will be able to collect new data points just for the purpose of this paper.

I'm lacking expertise on how to superimpose a typology for conversations - in the first steps you mention. I will leave this to you and Federico to lead.. and I could try to support it by detailing my observations on the actions emerging as we speak (Point 1). 

Ezio: My question is: I imagine you mean examples of “actions” that happened/are happening thanks to the existence of Opencare: correct?  How many of these actions do we have until now? (what Pop-up villages are?). Correct! I don't know how many actions we have because I don't know what constitutes action - clearly the strongest is OpenandChange, the collective application. The Pop Up Care Village is a concept for the opencare final project event and many conversations these months will be encouraging community members and openandchange partners to co-create it, so this is something we can expect to grow. I will give you more examples on ongoing community collaborations:

  • Belgian traumatologist goes on a tour in refugee camps in Greece to offer free treatment to anyone who needs them.

  • British volunteer in refugee camps takes on artistic residency at an Armenian cultural center, as facilitated by another opencare member in Armenia.

  • Community members at a bioengineering lab in Ghent, Belgium connect with OpenInsulin to share the work of developing an open source method for producing proinsulin.

  • American intentional community with a health care program offers to host the developer of a peer-to-peer emergency response service.

  • Italian community member considers setting up an opencare spinoff.

There might be more, I would need to look deeper. What do you think? We have more or less detailed threads for each. But anyhow they are early in their lives, many might not lead to concrete collective actions. Which is why typologies might not make a whole lot of sense. What does make more sense, in my opinion, is looking at their quality.

Which brings me to Objective 2) - why this is collaborative culture and how it manifests itself:  I imagined we would rely on ethnographic codes to describe in detail the participants and how those conversations unfold. The data we have about specific projects shows collaborative culture is (to some extent, or we can hypothhesize this) ingrained in the participants values or worldviews - even before they engage in opencare, someone solving a health problem in community already has some experience of collaboration, connecting with others. So self-selection to participate in a project that is about sharing and collaboration is part of what makes possible action. Also, shared interests is another - we see this in the network of co-occurences, how new meanings are discovered together, much more so than individually. This can go on, but I have a feeling it's too early.
My point is: keep in mind that we have more data on the conditions for collaboration and creating opportunities than about the actual life of the collaborations (with the exception of openandchange!). 

In short, yes to the structure, in so far as we keep certain flexibility with regard to points 1-4?


standing by

Federico Monaco's picture

Hi everybody,

i'm following the conversation and reading with the proper attention all the comments, precious food for thought. I just need some time to focus on and come back to you with some tuned ideas.



Seconding this

Amelia's picture

When I get a moment to come up for air :) plenty to discuss here.



Ezio Manzini's picture

Hi @Noemi and @Federico Monaco, and all.

Noemi, thanks for your interesting and useful contribution.

I understand that whatever we will write in this paper will have to be based on the “actions”, or better on the care-oriented conversations which took place thanks to the OpneCare existence.

I agree and propose to start our discussions exactly from these examples: once all of us will have a clear overview on them, the discussion on what to do will, for sure, become clearer. In particular, it will become clearer the evaluation criteria issue.  That is, given our examples, it will be easier to discuss which kind of analysis will be possible and useful to do. For instance: which kind of conversations are they? Which kind of qualities characterizes them?

Therefore, my proposal is the following:

(1) If possible, Noemi shares with all of us the links with the examples done in the last text.

(2) All of us, in the next 3 days, look at these examples of care-oriented conversations and make some observations, at two levels:

  • Considering our sample as a whole, answering questions as: what does this sample represent? How much is it related to the OpenCare specificity? What has been the role of the OpenCare team? …
  • Considering each example, answering questions as: which have these specific conversation motivations  been? Which have its results been? In which way is this conversation linked to the OpenCare existence? And, for each conversation main actor, which has his/her values and worldviews been? Did they have these same values and worldviews before to be engaged in OpenCare or did they emerge after that? Which competences and personal resources did they have and utilize? What have their practical commitment and their responsibility been?

(3) To collect and compare these observations and, on this basis: to discuss the consistency of what we have in our hands and how we could analyze it (in order to “extract” the better from it, considering also what the call-for-papers is asking us).

In terms of timing, I think we should do (1) and (2) next week (16-20 January), then to draft our observations (3), in the 23-27 January week, and to have a discussion in Rome the 1 or 2 or 3 February.  

Beyond that, in my view, there is something else to be done:

(A) We should set the basis for a similar analysis and discussion on the infrastructuring activities done by the team. I.e. what the OpenCare team did to create the conditions to make the conversations happen.

(B) to attentively read the call for paper and to discuss how to present our contents in order to fit in the call-for-paper scope. Given that, to discuss the paper interdisciplinary (i.e. the role of different disciplines in it), the main bibliographic references and the language to be used.

Final note: from the 12 February on, until the beginning of March, I will be travelling (and quite busy). Therefore, for me, whatever I would have to do, has to be finished before that date.

Let me know what you think


100% signing off on your plan, Ezio

Noemi's picture

Thank you for taking the lead on this! Sounds more than reasonable. 
While I put together the links and general details about the context of each of these incipient collaborative actions over the weekend, I would like to ask @Federico Monaco again to set up a working folder in order to be able to react faster to info we are each contributing and not jam the OpenCare research group. Thanks!



Ezio Manzini's picture

thanks, I will wait for your news!


googledoc and "team work" as focus of research

Federico Monaco's picture

Hi there,

i did create a googledoc with a structure, but no content yet as it is still brainstorming time.

To get access to the editing version e-mail me (monaco.federico[at] , anyway i'm sending invitation to the e-mails i have already and whom of you interested in.

I apologize i haven't concretely replied during this week, but i needed sometime to reflect on what is at hand and where to go.

I find what @Ezio Manzini wrote "(A) We should set the basis for a similar analysis and discussion on the infrastructuring activities done by the team. I.e. what the OpenCare team did to create the conditions to make the conversations happen." definitely inspiring. The team is midway between participants and the EU project, it is a example of how people collaborate, where does mobilization come from infrastructurally speaking and how participants are re-configured by it and contribute to produce the infrastructure itself.

For the paper, on my opinion, i would only focus on such aspect which i find very interesting and apparently out of range, but expressing the interoperability among different localities, disciplines, people, standards and possibily to lead the way to understand how to process of all the data and narrations of OP3NCARE at large happen: the team activity as infrastructuring the project, negotiating, standardizing, problem solving and of course constructing the ground for online mobilization and the production and sharing of stories of care. I think if we understand the ghost we can understand the machine :)

I agree also on the schedule presented by Ezio.




work to be done

Ezio Manzini's picture

@FedericoMonaco, thanks for the comment. If I well understand you propose to focus only on the "second pillar" (i.e. analysis and discussion on the infrastructuring activities done by the team). I can agree that this part could be interesting to be done, and I am sure we will do it. Nevertheless, I will not drop the "first pillar" i.e. (analysis and discussion on the examples of care oriented conversation generated bu OpenCare). Even though this may be might not be, per se, the most original content, I would find difficult to work on the the infrastructuring activity without having (ourselves), and giving the readers, an idea of what has happened until now in terms of conversations for action. 

Therefore my proposal is to maintain, as a first step, a collective reading and commenting the examples  Noemy kindly promised to prepare during this weekend. 

What do you think?



First short overviews of each example

Noemi's picture

@Federico Monaco @Ezio_Manzini I agree that focusing on the methodology is lower priority, it's also what I suggested in the beginning of this thread.

Please see my structuring and additions made to the document initiated by Federico here, and a go through each example, in short. They all have references to the conversations. Let me know if it's something we can depart from. Thanks!


First round on the googledoc

Federico Monaco's picture

Hi there,

thank you @Noemi

to whom likes to be involved: please comment and add in the shared document (especially what you think be relevant as literature to be considered in the references) your ideas about the content and approach.

Don't forget to add yourself as author!

Next week we could move to shape collectively the core of the paper in order to understand the aim of the abstract needed.

Thanks for bringing your collaboration and inspiration



Federico Monaco's picture

Dear @Ezio Manzini ,

sure. You are right. Here is a final part from the lead of the call: "We invite the authors to come up with concrete examples of the collective action methods and the mobilizations implemented by these social movements and citizens structured around this "collaborative culture". It will be necessary to investigate what these new practices surrounding these immaterial goods do to the experience of "producing together". How do different collectives experiment, today, new forms of mobilization, combining collaborative actions and practices? How do they manage the material goods and the knowledge they collectively produce?".

Maybe we could have a comparative analysis of 3 examples of OP3NCARE stories and 3 examples of the team work production (the infrastructure itself in terms of design, management, communication strategies..) to describe and research what is in common and what not and how the infrastructure and the different roles ("cultures") interact.

Just asking.

I would give the proper attention to how care is infrastructured (and designed) as common by the collaboration of transdisciplinar and heterogeneous team, therefore there are aspects from the team work i'd like to research on.

Although we are still in a brainstorming phase i have sketched some ideas to start to shape and organize the paper so we can all have a concrete ground of discussion (i mean what i wrote in is just a weak start and not unerasable statements, so free to comment and change: be critical and challenging).

I've just sent the link of the googledoc with editing option to your email account.


first draft for a abstract

Federico Monaco's picture

Hi there,

i've just written down a first possible abstract we can shape according to the ideas and backgrounds of all the people involved in the paper.

See you in Rome.


back on the paper

Ezio Manzini's picture

Dear Noemi, Federico and all, sorry for having disappeared, I was travelling and I have been much more busy than I could imagine. Now I am back. I have quickly read the draft document and the abstract: what a big work you did! Thanks of that!

Now I will take the time to read it attentively and I will send some feedback and some contributions as soon as possible. 

In any case, for sure we will meet in Rome: should we set a precise date/time for working on it? 


Draft proposal for the abstract (and for the full paper) ...

Ezio Manzini's picture

Dear @Federico Monaco and @Noemi, I read everything and here I am with my proposals.

I will start with the abstract, that is the most urgent thing to do, and then I will propose some considerations on the full paper, … if we will be accepted.

Regarding the abstract

My impression is that the proposed one is a bit generic  … To make it short, I make another proposal.

The first 7 lines are taken from the same OpenCare proposal (and I think they work quite well). The final part largely rephrases a paragraph of the call-for-paper.

The core of the proposal stands in the two final points + conclusions. The challenge is: will we be really capable to do it? :-)

Given that, this is my draft Abstract proposal:

Infrastructuring spaces of possibilities. Open care, from on-line conversations to on-site collaborations

ABSTRACT (max. 500 words)

The article is based on the OpenCare first results. Where OpenCare is an on-going European research delivered by a consortium of universities and the grassroots hacker community. OpneCare main goal is prototyping a community-driven model of addressing social and health care. It is based on three elements: advances in collective intelligence research, to lend coherence and summarize large-scale online debates; advances in digital fabrication and cheap-and-open hardware technology; and the rise of a global hacker community, willing and able to look for solutions to care problems. At this point of time, OpenCare I arrived at half of its journey: the prototype of care-oriented digital space is already working at the real scale; different kinds of conversations are taking place; in-depth observations on them, and on its overall functioning, can be done.

This article moves from these conversations-in-their-environment and discusses when and how an initial trigger (such as a post presenting an idea or a story) generates an online conversation that, in turn, may evolve and become – in our case- an in-situ care-related activity.

According to the OpenCare nature and intentions, these events are not directly generated and/or supported by the OpenCare team. Nevertheless, the way in which the digital space is organized, and the affordances that characterize it, play a role in when and how conversations start and evolve in collaborations (that, in turn, can, or cannot, move from the digital to the physical space).

In order to do that, some experiences of “doing together” (in the digital and in the physical space) are analysed and the relationships between them and the digital environment affordances are observed and discussed. In particular, the paper presents and discusses:

  • different examples of conversation, using ethnographic tools to evaluate their original culture and motivations and the way they changed moving on in their beginning towards different kinds of “doing together”.
  • different infrastructuring actions, done by the OpenCare team, in order to modify and up-grade the systems affordances 

The article conclusions introduce some thread of research to be developed in the next months, inside the same OpenCare, and after its conclusion. (346 words)

Regarding the whole article.

Premise. I think it will not be easy. Looking at the bibliography RESET proposes, this call-for-paper appears emerging from a cultural background at the crossroad of technology and political sciences. For sure this is not my one. I don’t know if someone of us has this specific background and therefore can guarantee that our paper will have all the references that RESET will recognize as correct and up-dated. 

Examples to be considered. I think that the 6 examples proposed until now are not enough to make meaningful considerations. Therefore, what to do? I think we should change our focus and consider not only the collaborative result-oriented conversations (as the 6 proposed ones), but also other kinds of conversations, even though they have lower degree of collaboration and do not bring (directly) to care-related actions in the digital and physical world.

In other words:

I think we should consider all the kinds of conversation: (1) conversations for knowledge (maybe in different forms) and (2) conversations for action (in the digital world and in the physical one).  Given that, we should present the digital space as an environment where several conversations for knowledge can happen and evolve towards becoming conversations for action.

Do you think that, in principle, it could be done? If the answer will be yes, we can go on in this line… 


Quick chime in

Alberto's picture

It's down to authors, of course, to decide where the paper goes. Should you decide to take it in the direction @Ezio Manzini is proposing, you would be right at the crux of where opencare, as a project, wants to go:

This article moves from these conversations-in-their-environment and discusses when and how an initial trigger (such as a post presenting an idea or a story) generates an online conversation that, in turn, may evolve and become – in our case- an in-situ care-related activity.

This is the heart of the matter. Does knowledge sharing help taking action? How, exactly?


Re: new proposal for how to approach this

Noemi's picture

@Ezio Manzini I think the abstract is solid and I copied it into the original google doc so that we can tighten it up - I think paragraphs 3 and 4 can be shaper and I made some suggestions.

I am assuming that the 6 cases presented are not enough because they cover too few posts and comments to give us a detailed picture? If so, I think this can be solved: if we will be looking at participants worldviews and predispositions to approach the conversation collaboratively (their other posts and other posts where the same topics are addressed) does give us more content to work with.

If you think they are simply not enough to talk about "conversations for action", then Ok, we will need to see what other cases are there where people specifically talk about collaboration ("conversations for knowledge" in your breakdown). I would prefer that they are related to the cases we start from - perhaps written by the same authors, involving some of the same people, so that we have a stronger ground to argue that they can in fact evolve to real life action. Thanks for this!


core concepts still to focus on

Federico Monaco's picture

Dear @Noemi  and @Ezio Manzini ,

i hope others will join as soon as we go over this first round of the table, very interesting as it shows how much OP3NCARE be embedded in seamless and heterogenous practices not easily to be summarized or simply described in few words.

So the question is: what are we looking for as focus of the paper?

About the abstract: i thank @Ezio Manzini for his one very detailed.

About the premise, maybe @Yannick likes to jump on the bandwagon, the doubts on whether the paper will ever be accepted or not are concrete. As far as i understood, the ground for this type of studies goes back to a critical approach of technology (check for instance  Langdon Winner's "Do Artifacts Have Politics?" or Andrew Feenberg's "Overview on Critical Theory of Technology" ). So it's about "mobilization" and "commons" what we chose and OP3NCARE might be a case study easily included in the track by these two concepts.

I consider the open, scattered collective design and negotiation experience among the team and the participants in a emerging and growing environment. I agree with @Ezio Manzini avoiding Latour's instauration as it turns openness and distributive practices to obliged passage points and enrolment that might work on a semiotic level, but it misses the goal of describing how we make experiences about and by the web and re-shape social practices (like design) and in this case the processes of caring. So the question could be: how do we mobilize to obtain a change of the processes of caring thanks to the web and why fostering open practices (commons) it can make the difference.

I'm glad we will meet in Rome on the 3rd to talk and have some progresses together on it.



Core concepts proposal

Ezio Manzini's picture

Dear @Noemi , @Federico Moro. @Alberto and all,

I see the discussion is going on and we are converging: very good!

For the next days I propose to concentrate our discussion on the abstract, and work on its writing, in order to be sure to conclude this activity in the meeting we will have in Rome the 3rd February.

In this perspective, my contribution is on three points: (1) Main question and working hypotheses, (2) Theoretical background, (3) What could make this paper unique?

(1) Main question and working hypotheses

In the abstract I proposed, the core question was drafted in this way:

  • This article moves from these conversations-in-their-environment and discusses when and how an initial trigger (such as a post presenting an idea or a story) generates an online conversation that, in turn, may evolve and become – in our case- an in-situ care-related activity.

@Federico Monaco, reformulated it, and proposed:

  • How do we mobilize to obtain a change of the processes of caring thanks to the web and why fostering open practices (commons) it can make the difference.

I like this question too. But I find that it is more general than mine. And that my one can be seen as a step forwards in the line indicated by the Federico’s one.

In fact: the Federico’s question “How do we mobilize to obtain a change of the processes of caring thanks to the web…”,  could already have an answer in the way my question is formulated and in the working hypothesis on which it is based (and that, in my view, are also the OpenCare working hypotheses).

In short, if the general question would: “how do we mobilize to obtain a change of the processes of caring thanks to the web”, we could state that our paper (and the whole OpenCare research) has been developed on the basis of 2 +1 working hypothesis:

  • (first hypothesis): it is possible to create a (care-oriented) digital space of possibilities where different kinds of self-organized (care-oriented) conversations can emerge and evolve towards (care-oriented) conversations for action.
  • (second hypothesis): it is possible to embed in the digital space of possibilities some specific affordances, thanks to which (care-oriented) conversations have higher probabilities to emerge and evolve towards conversations for action.
  • (third hypothesis): the experiences in open systems and the hackers approach, considered in a radical way, offer innovative guidelines also when the care issue is concerned.

Given these hypotheses, and given the prototype of care-oriented space of possibilities OpenCare realized, the paper core research specific question is: What can we learn from the first months of experience? Are the 2+1 hypotheses verified?

In order to do answer this question, OpenCare team observes how full scale prototype od space of possibilities worked, considering: (1) the dynamic of the conversations and (2) the role of the space of possibilities and its affordance in making that dynamic happen.

The paper presents these observations and verify the the assumed hypotheses validity.  

What do you think?

Theoretical background

This one, in my view, is the most difficult point. We must be (and to show to be) interdisciplinary. But, at the same time, every paper should have a theoretical core and utilize a set of theoretically grounded conceptual tools.  Therefore, where could our theoretical background be?

Ethnography. Could ethnography be our main theoretical background (as, I think, it is for the whole Open Care research)? Have we possibility to use it at this scale of observatons? Could we refer to both the digital ethnography and the traditional “physical” one? Who could take the lead on that?

Language/action perspective. Writing the abstract I used the notions of “conversations” and, implicitly, of “conversation typologies”. I think that this language could work. But: I started to use them 30 years ago, having learnt them from Winograd, his language/action perspective, and the idea of a society as a mesh of conversations. Now, I must admit that I always used these terms as conceptual tools, in a rather colloquial way. And that my knowledge on how this thread of research evolved and on the bibliography it generate, are far from being up-dated. What to do? If we will use it, there is someone theoretically stronger than me on this point?

Other proposals (on the main theoretical background)?

What could make this paper unique?

1. Does somebody know how many other researches are exploring the same/ a similar issue?

I don’t know. But I am quite sure that no one aims at adopting such radical positions, in terms of openness and hacker-oriented approach as OpenCare does. Maybe, we should make this uniqueness more visible in order to give the paper not only more consistency, but also a kind of “special flavor”. Is it possible? What could it mean in practical terms?

2. The OpenCare proposal, seen in general terms (i.e. how to set up spaces of possibilities for triggering and supporting self-organized collaborative events) could easily converge with other discussions on politics and democracy in the age of connectivity and hybrid spaces.

This could be another original contribution of our work. What do you think? If you agree, we should urgently start a discussion on this point … 


Total support of this

Alberto's picture

Ladies and gentlemen, my congratulations. It seems you are zeroing in onto the core question of opencare: can "open" really help "care"? 

Let me chip in, following @Ezio Manzini 's scheme.

  1. Main question and working hypotheses. Generally, more specific questions are easier to address. The loss of generality does not worry me here, because opencare is CAPS and CAPS is collective awareness oriented. The idea that online interaction influences offline reality is appealing, but also hard to prove. You do not have to worry about irrelevance, that's for sure. The breakdown of the main hypothesis into 2+1 seems to me to be a very promising move. Specifically, the +1 (the influence of hacker culture) is more profound that it seems, because policy makers and business people are the children of legal scholarship and the humanities. To them, hacker culture is deeply alien, incomprehensible. Accepting "+1" means, for example, throwing out the window 99% of all open government initiatives out there.
  2. Theoretical background. The brand of quantitative economics I practice has no way to test your hypothesis. We need observable events, and enough variance in the date to build counterfactuals. People moving from talk to action is not observable from where I stand. This is why we retreat to observing the interaction itself, that is observable. The collective intelligence crowd (Klein, Buckingham Shum, Hammond etc.) also cannot help, because they focus on mapping arguments, and assume that, once the terms of a debate are clear, whoever is in charge of deciding can make an informed decision. I imagine that ethnography might help: maybe you would identify certain behaviours that you want to track and look in the ethno data for signs of those behaviours. Certainly, it makes sense to use this mass of coded text we already have. 
  3. Uniqueness. I don't think you need to worry about that. There are at least two novel pieces in the puzzle: the use of ethnographic data (hopefully also of their network representation) and the explicit interest in hacker culture. If you argue for hypothesis +1 you are going to be saying that one human culture is better at collective intelligence than others. That's a very big deal. 

With all that said, you do the work and you make the decisions. Feel free to discard or ignore my suggestions. 


Authorship in progress..

Noemi's picture

@Alberto there is no way why you or @Amelia can't join in if we get to write this.

Other than that, with Federico and Ezio we will be looking at other opportunities and calls. The European Sociological Association Conf (ESA) in Athens this year is closing their call Feb 1st.. :-( only saw it now, though the fitness with one or two tracks is anyway not so natural. 


Terms to be used

Ezio Manzini's picture

Dear @Alberto , @Noemi , @Federico and all,

I think that the theoretical background is a complicate  issue.

I don’t know if other colleagues agree in assuming my 2 +1 proposed working hypothesis. In the positive case, we should find the theoretical background and use the corresponding language. From your (Alberto’s) feedback I understand that your specific background cannot help for the hypotheses 1 and 2. But maybe you could give some ideas on the +1, that is a strong Edgeryders’ point and the one that should make our proposal unique: would it possible?

In this framework, (for everybody) a very specific, but for me urgent question

Having a digital space of possibility, what could be the most general term to name everything happens in it?

Until now I referred to “conversations” (and I like this term), but I don’t think that everything that happens there can be defined a conversation. In the OpenCare website, when somebody upload a case, this is called a “story”: is this a term usable by us, with some theoretical background? Other times other terms are used, as texts, interactions, behaviours, …  … …

Waiting for your feedbacks, here a naïf proposal (it is naïf because I have not seriously verified the terms I will use - I just invented them for the sake of going on in our conversation):

OpnCare is a care-oriented digital space where a constellation of care-oriented events happens. These events have different characteristics. In my understanding they could be roughly divided in this way:

  1. indirect on-line encounters (up-loading a post or a story -  reading a post or a story)
  2. direct on-line encounters (direct interaction between two people online)
  3. online conversations for knowledge (sequence of interactions aiming at getting information online)
  4. online conversations for action (sequence of interactions aiming at doing something together online)
  5. online/insite conversations for action (sequence of interactions aiming at doing something together online and in the physical world)

It is important to observe that these categories are fluid: they can evolve, from one to the others. Therefore, if today we would observe them in the website and register them, this would only be a frame of a movie. It would give an idea of the state of things at this given moment, but we know that everything will change immediately after that.

This observation permits me also to give an answer to the@Noemi point on which kind of examples do we want to consider. In my view, beyond the fact the events 4 and 5, at the moment, are not so many and not so strong, I think that, in any case, it would be better to consider all the kinds of events to observe their evolutions (and what made this evolution possible). Therefore, what we should explore is:

  • when and how events evolve from 1 to 2 and then to 3; when they become 4, and when and how some of them evolve in 5, moving from the digital space to the hybrid, digital/physical space.  
  • What have been the explicit or implicit affordances that made the different events happen and, in case, evolve from 1 to 5. 

On the other hand, we should better understand what the OpenCare space really is and how it works. Again, my naïf interpretation is that it is space of possibilities, favorable for different oriented events to happen and – possibly – evolve towards “doing together”. I.e. towards conversations for action in the hybrid digital-physical space.

If this proposed conceptualization makes sense, we should find criteria to analyze not only the examples of different kinds of events, but also our OpnCare space, considered as a space of possibilities

Do we have the possibility to do it (if by chance you will not have already done it)?


Calling a spade a spade

Alberto's picture

How about:

  • 1 – Sharing a story [of open care]
  • 2 + 3 – Online conversation aimed at processing information
  • 4+5 – Online conversation aimed at common action

Theoretical background again: Edgeryders has some stylized facts about hacker culture. But, again, I cannot provide any solid analytical method. I think you could apply methodologies from computational biology. They would work with agent-based models, where cooperative behaviour evolves from the dynamics of interaction across agents. But, as all models of this kind, you would need to take care not to predetermine the results by overengineering the assumptions. I will attempt some work on this sooner or later (with @mstn , hopefully) but not today. :-)

The abstract seems fine. Two possible improvements:

  • Rewrite to smoothen up the English and approximate the style of writing typical of science, which is concise and snappy. For example, you list research hypotheses as pertaining to the paper, rather than to opencare. The referees do not care about the context anyway. If you do that, it becomes redundant to say that the goal of the paper is to disprove the hypotheses. 
  • Refer to data. As I noted before, data are very unique to opencare, because you have 200 informants (recommended minimum number of informants in ethnographic studies: 12), and because the primary data (posts and comments) and the secondary data (annotations and codes) are connected in the form of a network. This is a major methodological departure from run-of-the-mill studies, and the referees are likely to take notice. In practice, you could have a paragraph that says: we have this many stories, that many comments, authored by this many informants. We made X annotations using Y codes. We then proceeded to exploring this mass of data using [some method, for example I like to use the co-occurrences graph] as well as more traditional techniques of qualitative data analysis.


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