Sharing the City: Workshop #1


When Susa wrote about the uneasy relationship between the old residents and newcomers in the Schillerkiez neighbourhood of Berlin , I didn’t really understand how much tension was in the air. I was in town to do a presentation on “The Rise of the Citizen Expert” with Alberto Cottica as part of Social Media Week in Berlin. Susa and I had discussed the situation on numerous occations also because I have a special relationship with it. This city hosts many people I have come to love; over time it has become my second home, but I have always been hesitant to really move there because of the work situation. With property prices in the capital having risen by nearly 40% between 2003 and 2011, it is clear that unless creative ways can be found to better share the city, many of its less affluent residents will eventually be driven out. Some are reacting by blaming the tourists and bohemian hipsters and openly showing their rage …

Offending the Clientele from Sender FN / Retsina-Film on Vimeo.

I am not sure that placing the blame on newcomers alone is really fair or constructive. The existing residents are themselves partially responsible for the social exclusion of others; as China Mieville puts it, all city-dwellers collude in ignoring real aspects of the cities in which they live — the homeless, political structures, the commercial world or the stuff that’s ‘for the tourists’ … In a community where there are underlying tensions we need ways of constructively raising to the surface conflicts of interest between different community members. Rather than approaching this head on in terms of unmet needs one way of doing this is by surfacing the perception and the potential in terms of well-being in the community. To do this kind of work requires a sense of shared responsibility. And awareness of others sharing the same physical spaces .

Susa wants to explore sustainable ways of using her knowledge and hands on skills in goldsmithing, product design and yoga to build community projects that fight social exclusion and poverty in her neighborhood. But together is better :slight_smile: So this weekend we organised a workshop to find others who also live in the area that are also interested in finding creative ways of sharing the city.

It was fun: we met some lovely people and got to know about a lot of interesting initiatives going on already! I’ll write more about it as a comment as soon as I’ve synthesised my thoughts and impressions (hopefully later tonight). On another level the process of doing this got me thinking about the future of Edgeryders now that we are coming to the end of the first iteration…I know from many conversations we have been having during and after lote and #edgecamp that more community members also want to move towards actionables. How could we improve the platform so it better facilitates our helping one another, p2p, to realise or support existing initiatives that contribute towards happier, healthier and more inclusive cities for everyone? It’s not a loose question, it looks like we are going to be organising a participatory design workshop in October or November for community members and some people from the EC (t.b.d) to design a second iteration of the project together (to be confirmed).

So, who is up for helping make it awsome?


Pick me, pick me! Also, decentralize! :wink:

I am up for helping with this. I have nothing but positive memories of lote and I believe this is a really fantastic idea.

As I am very interested in decentralization of communication (who isn’t fed-up with Facebook, speak up? crickets), I have a little idea that I finally put into words:

Basically the idea is to subvert the network effect (“the more people use a given communication tool, the more new users will it draw”) to get people off of walled-gardens (Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc).

This is, I believe, something that can nicely relate to EdgeRyders. I mean, we are leaving on the edge and yet in our on-line presence many of us choose as mainstream as it gets - just because of the network effect!

So here’s the idea for EdgeRyders website (and something I will push to other places, too): why not use an open, decentralized protocol (like those used/implemented by Diaspora or Identica) and let EdgeRyders website be simply a user interface (with a vengaence!) to them?

Imagine if every account on EdgeRyders would be a Diaspora account at the same time. From the user experience perspective nothing would change - missions, comments, et caetera. But, other people using Diaspora would be able to connect to those accounts, re-share those posts, like and comment them, too! Suddenly, the EdgeRyders community would extend to the whole thousands upon thousands of users of free and decentralized services.

I would love to get into details of this with some technical minds here!

Who owns the database?

Rysiek, for me the database is really the main issue that makes or breaks your vision. Edgeryders is a public project, and its director is accountable for user-generated (citizen-generated!) data and how they are circulated. So, in order for it to be compatible with being Diaspora too, we would need to store the data in a server to which we have root access.

I am not familiar enough with Diaspora’s technicality to make a judgment call: I am a user, as you know, and sympathetic to the idea of a non-corporate social space. From what I understand, we could in principle have a Council of Europe pod which would store user and content data; the question is rather if Edgeryders’ content-oriented information architecture would be compatible to the social interaction-oriented broader Diaspora social network.

This is it?

Hey, just a thought, reading rysiek’s comment below, this might be a big discussion : iteration 2. Are we having it here? Need to know so as to invite more people to join in… Or wait until it’s confirmed?

We do it and ask for forgiveness later :))

It’s not like we really have a choice. Stuff is broken and we need to take a lead in supporting one another to improve the situation for each other. So I say we just go ahead and if we make it good enough others will jump on board. No?

On database level, it seems compatible

Quick thoughts from my impressions of Diaspora, welcome to be extended / corrected:

On database level, the Edgeryders “content centric” and Diaspora “social interaction centric” information architecture are pretty much the same: we have posts, comments, tags, user identities. There’s a two-level mission report categorization in addition in Edgeryders, but that’s about it. Which means that one can also run the same network analysis on Diaspora data.

The thing that makes people post longer and more elaborate posts and comments on Edgeryders is how the site is presented, what wording is used, how the forms are made (editor field size, rich text editor or not etc.). That could be adapted when running an own Diaspora pod, and also some local extensions can be developed that keep compatible with the Diaspora pod-to-pod protocol but add additional local options, like the “mission report” categorization scheme.

So technically and from personal preferences, I’m all for integrating with open social networks, as it can be a good give and take with many others. The question, as I see it, is this: When others interact with Edgeryders content, using their own pods that do not have the Edgeryders style nudging towards producing longer and high-quality content, will it hinder the goals / decrease the output quality of the project? Or is this overcompensated by the new input from relative outsiders, plus, that they could be drawn to the Edgeryders interfaced Diaspora pod for creating longer content pieces themselves?

Other question: How to handle the intended more anonymous / privacy protected options for data entry for “ethnographic stories” on Edgerders? No idea how to integrate that cleanly with the Diaspora user concept so far …

Update: Oops … used the wrong button. This comment is refers as a reply to rysiek’s ideas and Alberto’s comment below.