What are they building in there?

Okay, so what’s happening at unMonastery?

Over a month ago I made this post giving an overview of plans and progress at unMonastery in June and an indication of what we had planned for July. As I write the Restart Project has arrived at unMonastery and are preparing to start their first workshop. In the month that’s past we had an enormously successful CoderDojo event at a local school, which had in excess of 60 children in attendance. Marc and Piersoft are now working towards a much larger event later in the year.

We’ve also been playing host to Monica to support the Brazilicata festival which takes place throughout the region, bringing Brazilian musicians and performers to Italy to run an itinerant festival across multiple venues, of which unMonastery hosted the opening event at the beginning of June.

Throughout June @elf and @mstn spent a significant period hidden in the caves of unMonastery staring into their respective laptops trying to conquer the unTransit app they’ve been working on - occasionally escaping for a few hours for mapping excursions on the local transport system. It seemed the mapping of every bus route onto Open Street Map became quite an endeavour but many in the house pitched in to get the lines in order. You can track the progress and help out with development over at the GitHub repository. I believe this is nearly finished but elf and Marc will be able to give a better view of progress.

From the beginning of the month we were also join by the Banana Hackers - @James Lewis, Samuel and Daniel. Spinning out from sessions at OuiLabs the group have formed a sort of nomadic collective focused on “build[ing] good stuff, and playfully exploring the ‘hackathon’ and ‘co-living / co-working’ concepts, finding out how to better build a sustainable development space, support each other and find common goals”.

Their stay in Matera was focused on the initial development of a new approach to managing personal data for greater privacy and user control, using linked data with a view to creating the equivalent of Mozilla Persona for profiles. Their work though at this time is not as definitive in its objectives as I may make it sound - rather they’re interested in moving between different groups and locations, in order to develop technologies that make sense to the communities they encounter. Our time together included many rich and inspiring conversations - particularly in respect to reconsidering the tired ‘Hackathon’ form and how we might consider approaching it differently for LOTE4. So we were very sorry to see them leave in the last days - we’ve no doubt though that our paths will cross again soon and they’re now in Berlin with elf for OpenKnowledge Festival. If you have a space of your own similar to unMonastery we highly recommend inviting them to stay with you.

It’d be too exhaustive to cover everything that happened in June but hopefully this gives a taste of what we’ve been up to. Since we moved into July, our core concern has been on how we begin to wrap up the prototype of unMonastery, ensuring we maintain the relationships we’ve built and store all of the knowledge generated. The looming fear of such an endeavour has been alleviated with the re-arrival of @bezdomny at unMonastery, who’s currently in the process of starting a co-napping revolution in Matera with Maria, described to me earlier as “urban outreach action”. Designed to “revive the essential social lobbying techniques of pre-consumer society by creating a “gossip bomb” via obsolete yet valuable”. These actions seem to be remarkably successful in generating interest and in hindsight should of been part of the unMonastery’s outreach strategy from the start. To find out more about @bezdomny’s work see his latest article about CloudFunding on Sharable.

Today we were also joined by Nico, Valerio and Alberto the team behind unDocumentary - who have set up camp in the caves in order to produce the first edit of the film.

Since July began, we’ve been having an intensive series of meetings focused on one hand at attempting to consolidate the knowledge we’ve developed around the unMonastery model; you can track the progress of this work on the unMon in-a-box wiki. We’ve made an enormous amount of progress in a short time but there’s a long way to go - in the next days we’ll post up the first draft for the Methodkit edition of unMonastery in-a-box, then I’ll be travelling to Berlin next week to work with Ola on a sprint to produce the full card deck.

On the other hand we’ve been agonising over what a closing event looks like for the unMonastery - today we settled on a division between a Public Meeting with our local collaborators and anyone that wishes to join, where we’ll present the ‘results’ and host a series of group sessions focused on specific projects and aspects that were good or bad about the unMonastery. The closing event will be The unOpening of the unMonastery, an evening tour of our greatest hits, biggest mistakes and our undying hopes for the future. We’ll be posting up separately on the specifics and announcing the events in the next days.

To summarise in short, the schedule for July looks like this:

7th-9th - Restart Project

16th - AgriNetural Hydroponics Event

17th - Public Meeting

22nd - The unOpening of the unMonastery

27th-29th - Open Tech School Berlin Exchange

(TBC) The Monks Life in Matera - Tour of the History of Monasticism in Matera

(TBC) Epelia Open Dinner

Despite the looming departure of unMonastery from Matera, myself and Marc have been working with Francesco Musico over the past few months to support the development of KIDERWIND. We’re not quite ready to announce it yet but we created a project on EdgeRyders, with a plan to launch a hackathon for the prototype in Matera during August.

That feels like enough for now.

It was hot in Matera today and the unMonastery was overflowing with activity.

unmontour #5 from unMonastery on Vimeo.


On the night of July 6th we had a small presentation and discussion about “authorlessness” and the pros and cons of creating authorless works in different fields.

A brief historical survey of authorless works was presented and then we examined the value of these works compared with works in which authorship was more important than the works.

Afterwards we had a stimulating discussion about how authorship can in some cases be a barrier to participation in projects in which all creators are concerned with asserting their contribution to the project and therefore the project suffers.

A project called “Authorless Factory” was proposed at the end of the meeting. Perhaps also it could be called “unAuthorship”.

@Ben Vickers