“Notes from WeMake”

Hi there,

i'm recording activities at WeMake in Milan and online about how collaboration and processes happen.

Soon i will publish weekly stories as posts on opencare in the Tell Your Story section how-are-you-using-open-source-and-diy-solutions-to-meet-care-needs

On the ethnographical side @Amelia and I agreed that she will transcribe codes for the SNA as she does for all the posts.

Posts will include a "description", a "research insight" and a "feed for thoughts".

Any comment or idea?

@Alberto  @Ezio Manzini @Amelia @Noemi @Costantino






Way to go!

Alberto's picture

No idea... but I am very happy you guys are doing this. :-)


interesting work ....

Ezio Manzini's picture

This seems to be a very interesting work! Some questions:

  • is it specifically related to the OpenRampette project?
  • can we use your work results in the line of research proposed by our paper-in-progress and the discussion we had in Geneva?
  • (more general issue) beyond having a stream of your posts on the Opencare platform, what can be done to create some connections with the whole community, or at least some other members of it?

The 'research insight'

Noemi's picture

Wow this is great, Federico! 

I would imagine it is in the insights where you could include notes about the process - of project making on one side, and collaboration and social dynamics on the other.. Even if it won't lend itself specifically to Ezio's matrix (in wemake after all people interact physically/ offline), it will perhaps add to the thinking behind it. 

How will you be doing the note taking? Interviews..? 


Answering Noemi's questions..

Federico Monaco's picture

My research set now consists in understanding how daily practices are enacted (the "shop floor problem" for instance) and what forms of collaboration take place, where and when.

The criteria i'm using are visible in this simple schema, useful for me to assign each WeMake practice to a specific sector (ONLINE/OFFLINE/ACTIVITY/PROCESS) and making life easier, at least at the beginning.

WeMake grid

My big surprise is that processes are negotiated within activities (so the boundary between "how" and "what" are very.. blurry let's say), and that most of the work (activities mostly) is strongly CSCW style and run online and in a synchronous way (WeMake staff uses instant messaging -SLACK- and task assignment and management tools ASANA instead of blogging style communication). When there are misunderstandings and reverse salients a videocall or a meeting is organized, but meetings are also planned and scheduled.

The work around opencare (i'm following openrampette now) is organised in a "exquisitely" collaborative way and includes external inputs from the Municipality of Milan, users and further collaborators. Moreover, people of WeMake work often remotely from home (Alessandro for instance lives in Turin). Here, at WeMake, i could already glimpse collective intelligence practices, given the fact that any result (a post, a activity, a decision, a design object, ...lunch) is a catch up of a collective and negotiated effort. Doubts and uncertainty are put daily on the table and each of the members of WeMake staff can give his own advice, or strategic tip, but solutions are collectively made. WeMake works and happens by and in a WeKnow mind set.

So, the first conclusion is that at WeMake, people don't work offline, but in a different way to what we have seen so far on https://edgeryders.eu/en/opencare-research

All this can might implemented in some ways to Ezio's matrix given that it happens the other way round :) ...from activities and collaborations (in Milan and online) to events (my posts), but further discussion is needed.

WeMake scape

Last, but not least, the approach consists in describing by different "senses" what happens at WeMake. I'm recording mp3 audiofiles (soundscapes, conversations, interviews), taking pictures and shooting videos, and -of course- taking notes.

I'm also working on the side of self representation by WeMake people and on how what is social and what is technical co-emerge and objects, relations and identities are classified (this is a social problem, this a technical one..for instance). All this is terribly interesting and useful.


"Collective intelligence"

Alberto's picture

There are two ways we could intend this term:

  1. Humans understand things and make decisions by explaining things to each other and bouncing possible courses of action onto each other. However, humans are still the entities that do the understanding and the decisions making.
  2. Social systems understand things and make decisions by getting humans to interact ("Wikipedia corrects its own mistakes" does not require every Wikipedian to understand or care about every mistake, or even to know about the process).

The ethnography + networks method we pioneer in OpenCare is 2. The OpenCare conversation knows things that no participant knows. For example, no one is aware that 7 people have independently associated "mental health" and "translation". 

2 requires large numbers and some kind of (self) organisation. There is too much information for the smartest person to keep in their head, and yet the system somehow behaves in a coherent way. Task allocation, for example, can be both 1 or 2. In a company, you can use task allocation software to run a project that you understand completely: task Alice to buy a Facebook ad, task Bob to rent a car, etc., and it all comes together in your Gantt chart. In a large open source software project, task allocation is emergent: people assign themselves to tasks, with no central command. Maybe this means that nobody is taking time to develop, say, a smooth user interface. This means that the development community, not any individual person or group, has decided that user interface is not important for this project. 

Personally, I am not too interested in 1. Of course humans "do stuff together" and "understand stuff together": according to some scholars we are an eusocial species, that's what we do. Even studying the way people use communication tools is not super-interesting: people use the tools available. I am sure there was a lot of research on how businesses started to coordinate by telephone when that became available ("35% of middle manager report using the telephone every day!"), but that is not so exciting now. Of course people use chats, and online calendars etc. The question is: does their use lead to the emergence of type 2 collectively intelligent behaviour? 

In Ezio's proposed interpretation, the conversation (online) contains past experiences, conflicting ideologies (is it better for a person with reduced mobility to have their own way of accessing the shop – the call button – or to use everyone else's?), failed attempts. This informs the decisions made in the local. The local project interlaces with the global conversation into a collective intelligence process. Of course, sharing your local experience will then become some other project's global conversation! :)


Answering the three questions of Ezio

Federico Monaco's picture
  • is it specifically related to the OpenRampette project?

No, it's about describing and mapping opencare activity run by WeMake

  • can we use your work results in the line of research proposed by our paper-in-progress and the discussion we had in Geneva?

That would be heaven!

  • (more general issue) beyond having a stream of your posts on the Opencare platform, what can be done to create some connections with the whole community, or at least some other members of it?

Good question. I'm open to any input and sharing of ideas, discussions and files (i'm recording audio, taking pictures, shooting footage and taking screenshots of online activities).


Looking forward to it!

Amelia's picture

Sounds awesome, @Federico Monaco . Standing by!



Federico Monaco's picture


Alberto's picture

@Federico Monaco , that's one cool trailer. Sharing it now. Way to go! 


"The heaven"

Ezio Manzini's picture

This is a feedback to Federico's answer to this question of mine:

I wrote: "can we use your work results in the line of research proposed by our paper-in-progress and the discussion we had in Geneva?"

Federico anwred: "That would be heaven! "

here, in my view, is the way to the heaven:

it would be necessary to change the Openrampette project brief: from a product-oriented one (to co-design a “rampette+pulsante system”), to a service-oriented one (to co-design the event “disabled person and shopkeeper meet in a shop). Doing in this way, the rampette and pulsante are still important but they become one of the service touch points.

In my view this shift form a product- to a service-based approach has several advantages. I will quote here the one related to this specific discussion:  on

it permits to use, for this specific project, a language (interactions, encounters and conversations) that could permit to connect this OpenRampette project with the overall OpenCare Research. For instance, it could permit to focus on care, intended as a human relationship: a care relationship that goes beyond the rampette and the pulsante per se, but nevertheless can give them form and meaning.