The VA in Matera: two steps

This post is a quick writeup of the actionables that have come out from the call between @fortyfoxes, @nadia, @k11 and myself this morning.


  • A project similar in structure to the one originally submitted by David in his unMonastery application (the Festival of Growing) is being deployed as a collective effort of the unMonastery. The main differences are the focus on Piccianello and the time scale: May rather September as in David's project.
  • Deep integration between the VA and the unMonastery has been debated and decided against. Edgeryders remains committed to supporting both.

We agree that:

  • VA activities (teaching to code, open community server deployment, others?) are integrated into the unMonastery's Piccianello project, adding to the diversity, visibility and firepower to the most high-profile unMonastery activity in town during the Matera prototype. Overall project management for the Piccianello event stays with the unMonastery.
  • Such activities are conceived and communicated as a first step of VA's activities in Matera, to be followed by more activities in September, presumably in sync with the planned Edgeryders mini-event on community-owned digital assets.

Correct? David, Ksenia, did I get this right? @ben en, can you and the different sensitivities in the unMonastery live with that?

Correct, Alberto! Thanks

It fits well: unMon Piccianello event involves mobile apps, for instance, and Viral Academy is project based learning, so, if people are interested - we run tech workshops Viral Academy style for the event.

Apart from learning by doing aspect, VA implies that training is complete when people have, in turn, taught others; that’s what makes it viral. Basically, each one teach one (or more): we will post a description of what VA workshop looks like.

Also, me and @fortyfoxes spoke with Emmanuelle, about mobile apps dev for university projects after he and his colleagues presented at the unMon April the 3rd: there’s very good ground for collaboration between the university and VA. We can start around Piccianello event.

Two steps and building bridges

Yes - that seems right Alberto. As we discussed at the unMonastery - a great way to maximise the synergy between these two projects is to take advantage of the difference between the time-scales of the two projects. While the unMonastery-in-Matera project is hoping to extend its stay from the end of May this year, and secure additional funding, the Viral Academy has a longer timescale. I’m currently negotiating to reschedule the project and extend the timescale to the end of the year. The best strategy for effective synergy is to use the Viral Academy project as online support for any technology related training here in Matera, and to link it as strongly as possible to the unMonastery project I have here to create a sustainable festival owned and run by the local community here.

The link between these two things - festival and Viral Academy is already explicitly scheduled into the project plan agreed with Nominet (the funder), and is part of my original proposal to the unMonastery to work on the festival here as part of my residency, and lay the ground for a September event in Matera (working closely with the local community). We’ve made a lot of progress on this over the last two weeks which I will post about tomorrow.

The rational for this link is that the core outcomes for the Viral Academy are:

  1. To make learning technology more exciting
  2. To make learning technology more relevant
  3. To make learning technology more accessible

These three outcomes fit very closely with the methodology of project based learning, hackathons supported by an ongoing programme of online group work, and an eventual celebration of these projects in a couple of public events designed to inspire contributions and give projects a firm deadline for completion.

I understand from @alberto, that the September Edgeryders event to build a community-owned digital asset repository in Matera (back-to-back with OSMIT14 and the Italian OpenStreetMap community’s meetup) would be a great focal point for both the original festival proposal I’ve been working on here with the unMonastery, and a chance to celebrate the work of local students of the Viral Academy.

The Viral Academy is not a project focussed explicitly on teaching coding, but is designed to be applied to any form of learning. The context of the current EdgeRyders project is to teach technology - this includes elements such as video, radio, and more general skills such as event and project management. In the context of a festival all these skills can be taught and the focus of the festival gives an inspiring target for students otherwise put off by pure abstract technology training to get involved.

I stand corrected

The Viral Academy is not a project focussed explicitly on teaching coding, but is designed to be applied to any form of learning. 

Of course. I stand corrected.

UnMonastery reporting

Hey guys! Quick process question (and sorry if this has been already decided).

Am helping @ben on the @unmonastery report. @fortyfoxes and @k11 seem yet to fill in their sections?How does this affect all this? The report is quite useful from an evaluation point of view as it is laying out the following for each unMonk

Main Project (MAX 200 words): EXAMPLE > Use your website description, update here and online if necessary.

Local Challenge it addresses: Identify the challenges your project addresses

How the Project has changed (MAX 100 words): Explain how and why your project has changed, if necessary.

Successes and Challenges: Bullet point them.

Activities and Outputs (see Marc’s as an example):

Relationships (is a Network Graph, Gaia will produce with you):


Hi everyone,

It is great to see a clear outline for a plan how VA and the unMonastery can work together. Thank you, @alberto, @fortyfoxes, @k11. Starting this week we have regular meetings (Tuesday at 9am and Thursday at 6pm to outline weekly deliverables and follow up on them, and for all unMon and Tuesday 9pm drinks in the Piccianello with other collaborators), maybe VA can join these so we can work together better.

I would like to make a couple of points to fine-tune all this.

Since David and Ksenia brought the VA to Matera after the unMonastery has been working here for some time, they came to Matera as unMonasterians. No matter where we draw the line between them, their project will always be perceived by the local population as an unMonastery project; Therefore, part of what we have developed here as our aesthetic code applies to them. This means the following:

  1. Elf’s point about Open Budgeting (seconded by Alberto) - has become an intrinsic part of the trust we all build upon. Viral Academy needs to make its finances public.
  2. Each unMonasterian has effectively been working on two different set of problems: one is the challenge(s) their projects address; the second is the unMonastery itself. From the beginning the in-house and the interface/outreach aspects of our work. In-house we have tried to develop ways to live and work together, to become a community, to make decisions and to support each other. We take responsibility to nurture our traditions and work towards a way in which they can become part of the unMonastery-in-a-box. David and Ksenia should be encouraged to pick up an aspects of the unMonasterians’ way of living and take responsibility for upholding it and developing it in their new reality. (To be part of a community one needs to understand and respect it, and this is our way to involve everyone.)
  3. It seems desirable that VA also have a co-ordination point within the comitato, if only to avoid some of the growing pains that we went through. Even if we have arguably made a complete balls up of some aspects of this sacred trust; keeping the good name of the unMo , MA2019 and ER is a balancing act that all of us gain by maintaining.

Hope it makes sense.


1 Like

Second that

How true, @katalin and @k11. Let me repeat it after you: in the eye of Materans, there will be no distinction between the unMonastery, VA and Edgeryders itself. This is intentional: when we brought LOTE3 to Matera we decided to concentrate all of our limited firepower in one place to lend substance to the unMonastery project. MT2019 arguably sees more Edgeryders – the only legal entity, signing the contracts etc. – and see the unMonastery as an Edgeryders project, which it is; the citizenry see more the unMonastery because of the physical presence. So, our internal distinction are going to sound like so many debates on how many angels can dance on a needletip. We are in this together, whether we want it or not. I expect responsible behaviour from everyone.

Nice post!

Hey @katalin! Really nice post :slight_smile: It makes perfect sense.

This “their [VA] project will always be perceived by the local population as an unMonastery project” makes perfect sense and is definitely true. We need to acknowledge that whatever lines in the sand are drawn between UnMon and VA, they will not be perceived locally except by people who are very involved in either project.


It would be great to have an open budget for VA as well as a written overview, as Gaia mentioned, in the form of David’s UnMonastery project update would be useful.

I think we need to find a better way to coordinate our communication with organisations and collaborators in Matera to avoid confusion. Four different people have asked me to clarify communications they had with David and Kesnia and how it relates to unMonastery: Antonio, Andrea from Casa Neutral, the University contacts and Luigi from I’l Vagabondo.

For now Katalin has offered to be the coordinator with the University for the Piccianello project, and lucia and I offered to be contacts for the unused spaces project with Casa Neutral. Lucia and I are also in contact with il Vagabondo for sustainable tourism working group and walking ethnographies.

When we meet ( on thursday) perhaps we should discuss what has already been discussed and establish a way to coordinate communications as we move forward.