An Ethnography of OpenCare: Software Demo and Research Results

[Editor note: The following notes were made during a session at OpenVillage Festival (19th October 2017) where researchers and community discussed the results of the two year opencare research. Quotes are not verbatim but summarize what was said. If you feel something is mis-represented, please tell us in a comment or with the “Flag → Something Else” feature and a mod will fix it. – @anu]

How can the tool be used by Policy makers to drive change in your community.
Looking at the graph will show the links between problems and potential solution. Shows answers without having to read all of the posts/comments. An application of the data. Can be used by clients (outsiders to the community) to see without the deep information.
Because we can do this it means we can generate resources to run projects like OpenVillage/OpenCare. We will be presenting this idea and this tool to the World Bank as part of the OpenVillage MENA project.

Have you explored how to translate the online data into offline conversations. Do we explore the way between the two?

  • Talk - action.
    Talk is not a form of action. Community building is part of the sharing and consultation. Meet space structures are highly structured spaces, led by the conveners sense of what they want to get out. With this we aren’t bounded by preconceived answers. The connections and response grow naturally out of the threads.

  • Peer to peer is very important. Skill sharing has happened cross vast geographical spaces.

Key themes that have emerged:

  • Precariousness - self of isolation, find place in society. People want to be autonomous.
    Mental Health - alleviation of stress - food sharing and cooking, gardening, intergenerational connection. Stigmatisation of mental health. Need for professional help as well as p2p
  • Migration - current solutions of giving care ok, but better to look at solutions that self-autonomise the response from within the communities displaced.
  • Fighting against propriety - comes back to autonomy again. DIY and breaking through preexisting legal issues and structures. Regulation vs ‘open’. Importance of having a safety net of regulation as well.
  • Battling our ‘illnesses’ - the world is broken, not us. It doesn’t accommodate the needs of people - e.g open trampette, openinsulin.

The right resources, but in the wrong places - Crossing borders, navigating the systems that are in the world, but keeping the open nature of ideas and needs.


  • Streetnurses - taking care to those who can’t go to the hospital. Sharing best practices for disaster relief.
  • Finding meaning off the beaten path - people looking for ways to find happiness, but also looking for
  • Fixing what is broken - community is significantly trying to reform systems from the inside and outside.


  • Autonomy vs community building - in control of one’s life against social isolation.
  • Inside institutions vs pushing from the outside
  • Safety (legalist/regulation) vs DIY/Opensource

What have we learnt:

  • Tech is not a cure all. People exist in real communities and real contexts.
  • People are the best technology. People most need access to other people. Skills knowledge and sharing. The best thing tech can do is bring them closer to each other.
  • Bringing network science and ethnography has been very useful.

Self care only takes us so far.
Institutional care only takes us so far…


With tensions. These tensions are evidenced within the conversations online. These are the lines that people have been wrestling with.
We yesterday talked about:

  • Autonomy vs community building - in control of one’s life against social isolation.
  • Inside institutions vs pushing from the outside

Fining the tags that coexist together frequently, but where there is a tension between the two ideas/concepts.

The vs. is not a true representation. The tension is not in direct opposition They can sit together.

We will often find these tensions within threads, because of the nature of the community - some very keen to push against, some well within the institutions who see ways of working from inside. These conversations occur
These communities often don’t talk to each other outside of ER platform. - SWASHLOCKER link, on the internet no-one knows you’re a dog. More diverse interaction than offline. This makes it more inclusive.

  • Bringing people together
  • Storytelling, the division between talking and action - what is the culture of conversation? How does it happen. The conversational culture of ER. How does this look through this system.
    People are not totally autonomous because they care about stuff. The care shows the links. People are dedicated to a cause or group. They aren’t here just to talk to people.
    Engaging in CONSTRUCTIVE dialogue is why people are here. No trolling, no name calling even though people come from very different sides of a perceived divide.
  • Communities of interest
  • Ezio. Productivity comes from a shared interest. This is not a REQUIREMENT, but its self selecting. If this isn’t what you’re interested in your drop out.

The %age of conversations with value are really high.

Would be interesting to see how these thing fit in with each other. Finding where things are based on ‘activism’ or on self-driven goals. Validation for their own existing drives, vs looking for guidance.

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Just realised that this is probably the most compelling post on the platform with the research report and results, as one searches for links to share which explain our two year community building around care.
Pinned it :slight_smile: