Small call for cool projects. Can we use it?

With many thanks to Nicola Francesco Dotti!

ping @markomanka, @nadia / @ivan / @matteo_uguzzoni (Witness prototype as a proper participary tool?)

but also @hugi and @matthias for SSNA software dev.


@alberto thanks for sharing this, I was looking at the Pilots that they’ve selected in the first round and it is really interesting.
I was wrapping my head around the concept you’ve shared of the Etnography of Utopia, maybe we can involve a company of theater makers (@alex_levene ) or LARP designer, I was thinking about Alessandro Giovannucci (IT) that is one of the main creators in Italy (Chaos League) o also Dimitar Uzonov (BG) (founder of ArteUrbana Collectif that hosts of a summer school about world-building), as the stakeholders outside academia and Edgeryders, but we need to find someone inside academia to be the research partner.

Anyway the idea, to follow up on your suggestion, could be to host a series of Witness World-Building Zoom LARP to harvest oral sci-fi short stories and then analyze the results thought SSNA?

Just to say, I’ll love to talk more about that and hear people’s ideas!


Can you explain the connection between ethno of utopia and theater/LARPing?

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If we frame Ethnography of Utopia as the question: what do people long for in the post-environmental crisis society? Then in my understanding is a SSN of sci-fi stories about that.
Online-LARP is a great way to harvest and co-create these kind of stories, then put these oral stories in text will made them available for Ethnography.

Very clever! Worth a shot.

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Works for me and anyway aligned with what we discussed for what we would like to do next together…

One more question, Matteo. Do you have any ideas how this LARP/theatre business can get us to stories with economic elements? After all, that is the whole point of the exercise (at least for me).

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Hello everyone!
So I had the some time to look deeper into the call COESO, connecting Research and Society, and I feel it could be a very good fit to create a pilot to test the idea of Ethnography of Utopia i.e. a potential Witness related world-building game (consultancy package/product?).

The deadline for the first proposal is Jan 30th, if selected there is a second deadline that is March 30th (you receive the shortlisted notice on March 1st so it’s basically one month to write a more in depth proposal).

The grant is an Open Call to fund 5 pilot projects to implement innovative Citizen Science projects in Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). 5 pilots have been already funded and you can see the descriptions here (it was really important for me to understand what they are looking for).

After the first discussion above I went on a little with the idea, I’ll love to share it here to see if it make sense and then, below, you can find some critic points and finally a possible to-do/timeline

The Idea
Ethnography of Utopia: online LARP world-building session in the world of Witness (focus: economic systems), followed by a SSNA scan on the texts / audio produced in the sessions.

Ideally Ethnography of Utopia will be tested with a local government, and then become a consultancy tool for imagining new regional/local economic solutions for the post-environmental-collapse society.

Critical Points
The grant is requesting few things especially in the consortium formation that are important to clarify while starting the writing.

  1. In the consortium there is a need for a research partner, it seems that the grant sees that only as academia or research centers, although Edgeryders will be responsible for the SSNA part I guess it doesn’t qualify as such (but I can reach out and ask). To solve this my only suggestion/direct link is to reach out to Jaakko Sternos from the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies (University of Tampere) that is one of the most prominent scholars on LARP, BUT since the research focus is ethnography maybe to have a partner in that side will give the proposal more solidity?

  2. Local partner/ policymakers, here as well I can explore a collaboration with my hometown government, Unione Terre di Castelli, but the majority of the pilots that have been financed so far are in Italy and I think they will be reluctant to put money there again. Do we have connection with institutional partners (local governments, small EU agencies,…) that could be interested in world-building in Witness? It could be a great experiment for them that doesn’t require financial support (ie free), except for a strong commitment in finding attendants for the online session (and be interested in the results).

Next steps
The application form is pretty straightforward and is question based, so in the next days I’ll start to populate it here.

I’ll love to have a chat to understand how this could fit with Edgeryders in general and Witness in particular, maybe next week? @nadia @alberto @ivan


Here the doc of the call
COESO_Open_Call_Guide-for-applicants_Nov2021.pdf (966.9 KB)

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I’m in, and thanks for doing this work.

I might be able to pull in Leiden (NL). At the very least, I know someone there. They are EU Capital of Science 2022, and might have some maneuvering space.

On ethnography, you have a point. My favourite ethnographers (after @amelia, who is no longer available) are:

  1. Jan Kubik, the POPREBEL principal investigator. He teaches at UCL. It turns out that UK orgs are still eligible for funding, though the association agreement is not yet finalized (source). Very senior anthropologist with a wonderful mind, very complementary to the EDGE stuff.
  2. Anders Munk with the Techno-Anthropology Lab at U Aalborg (DK). Brilliant and reliable. They are a bit more similar to us, with a lot of network science stuff. These have solid experience in doing ethno in virtual environments, so it may be a better fit with your idea. And I love Anders, he is great. Also – long shot, but they talk a lot to the city of Copenhagen. Problem with Copenhagen, it’s one of the usual suspects, the small group of cities that are leading on every front (with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan…). Personally I would find Leiden more exciting (and a short train ride from Brussels).

… however, 50K is a very small pot to spread across a consortium!

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Thanks for this @alberto I was looking at the TantLab and it seems indeed a great space for something like this: their vision is both rigorous and playful (vision). In term of budget, it’s not yet clear to me what could be the work of the ethnographers and the lab (vs Edgeryders who is doing what?), but I’ll streamline the process in the one page and see if it make sense.

About Leiden, why not, again here my reasoning is only on the fact that 3 out of 5 pilots are in Italy (the other two being in Portugal and Germany), so Nederland sounds great!

I’ll try write down the one page this week so we can approach them?

I just thought that maybe this is the kind of project that @marina (with her “culture hat”) would enjoy. She is based in Split (KR).

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Thanks Alberto.

@matteo_uguzzoni I’m running a small creative hub in Split, our community is composed of mainly artists and cultural workers but since we just opened the space (after 4 years of working without it) in July 2021, this year we are also investing efforts in engaging inhabitants of the neighbourhood into collaborative projects to tackle some of the challenges they are facing in their environment. However, we never did any citizen science projects…but of course, open to discuss if there is any way we could contribute.

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Hello everyone, while writing the one page for this one I read about Babel between Us and I have to say that I see a lot of similarities between the two ideas. It seems to me that the project was pretty successful both in term of the process and in term of the results, I saw some posts around and the amazing video here and the graph @hugi , @jakobskote or @OlaClaesson I have so many questions :)) Maybe if this first round of the application go through will you be able to have a quick chat? I’m really interested in how easy/hard was to set up the group of ethnographer and if you feel like that part was successful as well…also do you think that the SSNA was the best output? I saw that there was an artistic output that should have come out but maybe this changed while the project was evolving? Anyway thank you for being so generous on sharing stuff this is really helping me a lot on clarifying the idea.

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Hello @marina what you are doing sounds perfect, thanks for your interest! I think this could be a project to build a bridge with public administration as well, and citizens of course. I guess the language in which we will play the LARP will influence how the digital ethnography will be made so if we speak in Croatian we will need Croatian ethnographers? But other then that I think your creative hub could be a great local partner!

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Hi @matteo_uguzzoni , of course - we’d love to help if we can! A chat if the first application goes through sounds great.

Some short answers to the questions: The ethnography was both more and less difficult than anticipated. Since we didn’t have an explicit strategy for the ethnography it (or a specified target audience of it) it quickly broadened out of control. We realized too late that we needed to delineate, which resulted in a scattered output. This was of course also due to it being an etnography of fiction, which is in many ways closer to literary theory than to ethnography. There are a thousand ways to read a book, and so on. From a cursory glance, your project seems to have a specified purpose and target audience, which will help the ethnography immensely as you are essentially trying to make it make sense for them.

The SSNA was very interesting, but ultimately I don’t think it was very useful in the way we utilized it. Again, this is due to the ethnography and not due to the tool itself. Too many strategies of analysis competing for space in the same graph make the graph messy (some competing are fine, but we had more than 10).

We have some artistic outputs that are still in the works. It’s a slow project and has been in hibernation for the past year, but we are currently starting up the machinery again with the intent to present something to the public sometime this spring.

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Agree with Jakob. My interest in this project is in generating usable research results that we can re-use and extend in the RezNet’s future work.

Yes, this is good practice. In practice, for the size of the project we are thinking about, think one ethnographer.

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Always a huge challenge, especially our local administration - think of a very traditional closed structure far from experimenting with anything new. There is the city development agency, mainly focused on entrepreneurship. I’m unsure how successful this is but could be an entry point.

Should be possible, maybe by reaching out to Universities (we have good relationship with the ethnology and anthropology department at the University of Zadar).

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Hello y’all,
here is a one page of the idea so far (title Ethnography of Utopia)

@marina can you check if this could be an interesting idea for CHC? I imagine your group as the people on the ground mainly responsible to (1) get the participants, (2) facilitate the games and (3) helping finding the local ethnographer.

@alberto does something like this sound interesting for the Edgeryders Research Network, is there something that we can add or something that I got completely wrong?

@nadia and @ivan how does this looks for a Witness point of view? The goal could be to have a tested prototype that then we can use as a workshop tool for multiple purposes.

@jakobskote (and @hugi and @OlaClaesson ) do you think we should keep in mind on proposing this AND what do you see as weak points based on the experience of Babel and us?

Thanks all, I appreciate every comment! :pray:
Oh, to assess the file do the google thing and I’ll add you