La Cura at Dreamers Day in Milan

While we wait for the upcoming book, La Cura, the Open Source Cure for Cancer will be in Milan for the Dreamers Day, on October 18th 2015, together with two of its great inspirations: an oncologist who is also a hacker, Pier Mario Biava, and an enlightening personality of the theories of complexity, Ervin Laszlo.

At the Dreamers Day, we will have a talk and presentation about the story of La Cura, and about its most recent updates, which include the preparation of the upcoming book, and the peculiar structure we are giving it. It will be no ordinary publication, but, rather, the continuation of the performance of La Cura: the opportunity to take back disease into society, and to reclaim our humanity in the process, through technology, relationships, sciences and solidarity.

We will be more than happy in Milan, because we will get to be on stage together with two of our greater inspirations: Pier Mario Biava and Ervin Laszlo.

Pier Mario Biava is no ordinary oncologist. We call him the hacker of oncology, because in his research he tries to find ways in which cancer cells are not brutally destroyed but, rather, reprogrammed. This is a very interesting approach, as it simulates life, rather than death. In fact, his research aims at stimulating cells towards differentiation, just like it happens when we are born: first a bundle of indifferentiated cells grows and, then, a program (like a software) found in the epigenome causes them to differentiate, becoming the cells of our skin, liver, brain, etc, eventually arriving at building the whole body in all its different parts. Biava tries to cause the same effect in his cures, actually re-programming cancer cells into differentiation.

This approach has a series of very important things in common with La Cura.

Probably the most important of them is the fact that in this approach medicine becomes a complex entity, whose objective is not to simply apply some protocol to “bomb” cells and to treat some symptoms, but to perform complex interventions whose aim is to “restore meaning“, to create the conditions and the environment (acting on chemical, physiological, dietary, psychological, social and cultural levels) for the whole human being (including all of his/her interconnected components, from cells to social bonds) to re-program itself, with meaning and intention. As said, these interventions are as complex as imaginable, acting at micro-levels through factors which are able to stimulate cell reprogramming, at macro-levels, through dietary and social/psycological interventions, and through everything that there is in-between these two extremes. This has always positively shocked us for its affinity to what we did in La Cura: bringing out the disease from the hospital and back into society where the human being can, finally, be cured, through surgery and chemistry, and through solidarity, relationships, arts, creativity, and more, all part of the Cure. This is, for us, an important approach, with effects which are not merely scientific, but also political, social, cultural.

Together, Ervin Laszlo and Biava have presented the “Manifesto for the New Paradigm in Medicine“.

According to the Manifesto:

“In the light of new discoveries in the fields of physics, biology, epigenetic, neuroscience, psychology and psychosomatic, it is necessary for science, which so far has provided a fragmented picture of the world, bound by disciplinary aspects apparently unrelated, to look for a new paradigm. This paradigm has to unify the various disciplines, starting from what connects the physical universe to the living world, the living world to the social world, the social world to culture.
In this context it is important to consider the crucial role of consciousness in the knowledge of the world in relationship with information and in-formation.
Given the foregoing considerations, the diseases which affect the living systems have to be considered as an imbalance of information. To understand the causes and the nature of the different diseases we will continuously consider the two logics with which it is possible to decode the information, ie the sign and the symbolic logics.
3) Diseases have to be considered as an imbalance of information. In other words, diseases have to be identified as pathologies of information, that can be classified according to different types of disruption of information.
4) Disease is an event simultaneously individual and collective. It is individual when it is limited to an individual subject, but, given that all living beings are in a dynamic relationship with each other, the individual disease only reflects the reductive vision with which it is considered. So it would be more correct to define every disease as collective.”

Again data and information are not mere objects on which to run software and protocols, but they are a complex expression of life and, thus, their understanding and possibility to attribute shared meaning, constructed together are features which become immediately of political and philosophical importance.

This is an extraordinary intuition which, for us, is a wonderful way of expressing what we tried to achieve in La Cura: health is not a service, and we’re not customers. Health is within the possibility to create shared meaning of our life. Health is not in the hospital, or in technology, it’s in society and in the possibility to access information, and to attribute meaning to it, together, with our human relations and nature.

And for this, if you find yourself in Milan on October 18th come to the Dreamers Day to meet us, La Cura and Biava and Laszlo.

Ubiquitous Commons at Hybrid City conference in Athens: Data to the People

Ubiquitous Commons and Human Ecosystems will be at the “Hybrid City III: Data to the People” conference in Athens, on September 17-19, organised by the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (URIAC), in collaboration with New Technologies Laboratory, of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, of the University of Athens.

The paper “Data and the City: moving from surveillance and control to the Ubiquitous Commons” will be presented there.

The paper will be available on the conference proceedings, and here on this website.

Here is the abstract:

Social networks and ubiquitous technologies have transformed the ways in which we communicate, learn, work, consume, express emotions, relate to each other, create and share information and knowledge.

Major operators create digitally mediated public and private spaces using hardware and software user interfaces, iconic and symbolic architectures, communication strategies and patterns.

This scenario creates private/public spheres in which users leave digital traces which are used to commoditise human behaviour and expression: for marketing, surveillance, social experiments and more, all without explicit participant consent: current modalities are not sufficient in enabling users to control the ways in which their data is used.

Algorithmic production of information is yet another space in which confusion and opacity are created in people’s perception of how their information will be used: they are not transparent and accountable, and laws, regulations and habits are not structurally able to confront with their continuous, fluid evolution.
This results in the systematic transgression of multiple human rights and expectations. This scenario describes a critical situation which must be confronted with.

In this article we propose a two-phase methodology whose objective is to find resolutive solutions for the presented context, starting from a focus on major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

The first phase is exemplified through a city-based project called Human Ecosystems which, at the time of writing, has been started in multiple cities (Rome, Sao Paulo, Montreal, New Haven, among others).

The project has four steps: re-appropriation; sharing; education; performance.
In the re-appropriation step, public data generated by users on major social networks is harvested and processed, to understand the Relational Ecosystems of the city, and the topic/emotion networks which are expressed by city-dwellers, thus being able to describe information and knowledge flows across communities.

In the sharing stage, all of the harvested and processed information is made available under the form of a source of real-time open data, released under with a peer-production license.

In the education stage, widely accessible workshops are used to engage the population in the understanding of the implications generated by the availability of such data, and of how this data can be used for citizens’ self-organisation, civic action, to understand the cities’ cultures and communities, and for participatory decision-making processes.

In the performance stage, an inclusive laboratory is created in the city in which students, researchers, public administrators, designers, artists and organisations receive support in building these scenarios, understanding them and their critical implications.

In the second phase of the methodology is the Ubiquitous Commons are defined. They come under the form of legal and technological toolkits which describe a “protocol” used to declare the intended use of element of ubiquitous information generated by users. It is an evolution of the concept of the Creative Commons, in the era ubiquitous information and dealing with the qualitative, quantitative, technical, technological and legal implications of these new forms of data.

Myriads: transgression in the Post City

This year, Art is Open Source, Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons will be featured at Ars Electronica, as part of the Post City Kit exhibition, with the Myriads project (part of the wider Ubiquitous Infoscapes project).

From Ars Electronica’s website:

Post City Kit is a toolkit of ideas, strategies, devices and prototypes for the city of the future. The city is – and will remain – a scene of a permanent human life and survival experiment. In condensed form here culture(s), social systems and economic and political policies of their time are coming to light. The Post City Kit Exhibition shows with numerous prototypes and project presentations possible development directions towards the urban habitats for the upcoming human generations.


The Myriads project will be composed of:

  • an exhibit;
  • some Info-dealers;
  • a series of 15 micro-workshops (aka the Workshop Pills).

Let’s see what the project is about, and what you’ll see in Ars Electronica.

The project concept

Big Data is a concept in continuous mutation. The exponential rise of the quantity and quality of data and information which individuals generate every day is the single most important driver of the evolution of the concept of Big Data.

Each of our gestures, movements, relations, transactions, expressions tend to become occasions for the generation of digital data and information.

This happens whether we realize it or not, consciously or unconsciously, in direct, indirect, transparent or completely opaque ways. At the present time, most individuals generate data in ways in which they don’t realize or understand, and which they cannot understand, due to the opacity of collection processes, algorithms, classifications, parameters. They don’t (can’t) know how this information is used: unaccessible profiles are used to generate personalized interfaces, services, advertisements, content. We are constantly becoming the unknowing subjects of social experiments, communication campaigns, national security scrutiny, dots in dashboards and information visualizations.

Individuals are, currently, the only ones who cannot fully benefit from Big Data: to organize themselves; to create meaningful, shared initiatives; to understand more about themselves and about the world around them.

On top of that, when data becomes so detailed that the sample can be as large as the actual population, and it is possible to use complex algorithms to process it, we experience a growing rise in the perception of the possibility to eliminate all risks. Which, of course, has its impacts, in terms of the elimination of the possibility to comprehend and value what is different, unexpected, transgressive, adventurous, possible. This may lead to the deterministic, data-biopolitical scenario which is what we confront with with our projects.

We aim at describing an ubiquitous infoscape, in which data becomes an accessible, usable part of the landscape, just as buildings, trees, roads, and in which it is clear and transparent (although complex and fluid) what is public, private, intimate. In which people are able to express how they wish their data to be used, and can actually use it to construct meaningful actions. We aim to create a participatory, inclusive, performative space, in which people – as individuals and members of society – can express themselves and do things, defining new forms of public/private/intimate spaces which are agible, accessible, usable.

Myriads visualization

Myriads visualization


What is the role of transgression in the Post City?

Myriads of micro-histories in the city massively recombine, interfere, interact, interconnect, forming the life of the city in its continuous mutation, innovation and transgression.

People constantly transgress, reprogramming spaces, time and relations, creating a level of tactical cultural biodiversity which can happen only in the dense urban environments, and which constitutes the wealth and richness of the city.

Elizabeth Grosz defines this process as spatial excess, a new dimension which is able to go beyond preconceptions, prejudices and worries about utility, “beyond the relevance for the present, looking towards the future.” The revelation and discovery of this excess depends on the possibility for transgression.

Excess is in the “problematic”, which is full of potential. The clandestine, the unacknowledged, the unofficial find their survival – beyond crime – in the transgression of social norms and limits. Those same limits which have excluded them in the first place. The recycle trash, appropriate spaces, invent communication channels, create styles, fashions and trends.

They don’t cross borders: they move on them. Moving, they innovate.

Using a term from Massimo Canevacci Ribeiro: innovation is the possibility for methodological indiscipline.

The Myriads project created for Ars Electronica by Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons establishes a peer-to-peer ethnography of the city: a diffused participatory observation in which the myriads of public micro-histories of the daily life of the city will be captured, transformed into a commons, and performed through art, education, citizen engagement and tactical usage.

The Exhibit

The Myriads exhibit will come under the form of a small real-time museum of the city, in which people will be able to learn more about the city (it will be instanced to observe the city of Linz), and to ask questions to the city, obtaining participatory, polyphonic, emergent answers.

A series of interactive information visualizations will be on show, describing only some of the ways in which people can use this information.

Some will show where data and information are more dense.

Myriads at Ars Electronica, the density of information

Myriads at Ars Electronica, the density of information

Some will show emotional expressions which can be inferred from the ways in which people communicate, or act.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: emotions

Myriads at Ars Electronica: emotions

Some will show the relations running between people, as they emerge from digital interactions.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: the relational ecosystem

Myriads at Ars Electronica: the relational ecosystem

Some will show how topics of discussion or interest are interrelated with one another.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: topics relate to each other

Myriads at Ars Electronica: topics relate to each other

Some will show the languages used, and how they relate with each other, through the ways in which people use and interweave them, with words, sentences, speaking to someone in one language and to someone else in another.

Myriads at Ars Electronica: words and languages

Myriads at Ars Electronica: words and languages

A series of other visualizations will be shown, and some will be created on location, together with workshops participants.

All the information is obtained through social networks, smartphones, network connected devices disseminated in the city and on people’s bodies, and through the fantastic collaboration with Linz’s Open Commons, and Linz Open Data.

To learn more how we collect data and information, and how we confront with the enormous critical implications of these practices, you may want to look at the Human Ecosystems and Ubiquitous Commons websites.

The Info-dealers

In the Myriads space, there will be Info-dealers.

The Info-dealer is a new form of urban dweller, emerging in the ubiquitous public sphere: a thug, a lowlife, a transgressor who lives on the border of society. The Info-dealer is a dealer, he/she knows things; knows what’s going on in the city; knows what “they” don’t, and that’s his/her advantage: the Info-dealer knows the micro-histories of the city. He/she knows how to use them, to do things, to organize people, to make things happen, to know where to get things, who are the best people for a certain topic, who to call, who to engage, what people desire and expect.

Info-dealers stop people and tell them “do you need something?” They operate on people’s desires, imaginations, expectations, wishes, frustrations; they listen and understand what people want, establishing a complicity, an intimate relation with them, to know their desires.

By visiting Myriads you may have the chance to meet one.

Myriads of workshops

Myriads of workshops

Myriads of Knowledge Pills

How is it possible to capture the real-time life of the city, using social networks, sensors, data, wearable devices, Internet of Things, domotics, and other sources of digital information?

How can this process represent the myriads of micro-histories in the city, and their potential for generating diffused knowledge and imaginaries?

How is it possible to use this knowledge, transforming it into the inclusive participatory performance of the co-creation of the city?

What are peer-to-peer ethnography and Digital Urban Acupuncture?

What is the Relational Ecosystem of the city?

How is it possible to define and use new types of identity in these types of processes? Individual, anonymous, collective, nomadic and temporary identities?

What are the implications of these kinds of processes on privacy, surveillance, people’s fundamental rights for assembly, expression, opinion? And how can we turn these issues upside-down, and inside-out, to use this wealth of data in constructive, shared, inclusive ways, to transform the city?

The Myriads of Knowledge Pills workshop series will answer some of these questions.

15 workshop pills.

20 minutes each.

Each micro-workshop deals one “knowledge pill”, delivered by Myriad’s info-dealers, which participants will be able to take with them.

No technical or technological pre-requisite needed. All can (and should) participate.

Everyone can attend just 1 workshop, 2, 3, all of them. They can be experienced singularly, but the more you attend, the more you understand.

This is the list of workshops:

  1. Harvesting data in the city
  2. Humans and Non-Humans living, expressing and performing in the city
  3. Citizens’ micro-histories captured through the devices in their pockets, homes, offices
  4. An introduction to the Third Infoscape
  5. The Relational Ecosystem of cities
  6. Peer-to-Peer Ethnography
  7. Digital Urban Acupuncture for dummies
  8. Identities in the city: individual, collective, anonymous, nomadic, temporary
  9. Human Ecosystems: the real-time life of the city becomes a commons
  10. Ubiquitous Commons: the commons in the age of ubiquitous technologies
  11. Stakhanov: a Big Data oracle to predict your lives, and its implications on privacy and ingenuity
  12. Generating artworks with the data of the real-time life of the city
  13. An Emotional Compass
  14. The Industrialization of the Mind
  15. Zombies. Zombies everywhere. Each age has its “Monsters”. Transgression in the city.

Please look at the program to know times and locations.

See you there! (or back here to know how it went)

Ubiquitous Commons updates

Just published on Ubiquitous Commons:

… in the double transition which we are living (from scarcity to abundance; from the physical, situated, relational environment to the ubiquitous one, enacted through data, information and knowledge exchange, among human beings and devices, services and other forms of non-human entities, such as organizations, companies, institutions, etc.) it is not sufficient anymore to create innovative services or platforms. What is necessary for all enhancements for human life is the creation of the possibility of high quality relational environments.


Human Ecosystems at Expo Aquae, in Venice

Human Ecosystems at Expo Aquae in Venice, August 1st 2015, at 11am.

Full information about the event is on Human Ecosystems.

How do we speak about water?

How do we relate? What are our fears, concerns, important issues, joys and anxieties about water?

We have captured 3 months of public social networking conversations about water, and analysed them: a full linguistic, emotional, geographical, relational and network analysis has been performed on them, using Human Ecosystems technologies.

More than 700 thousand conversations, involving more than 150 thousand users speaking Italian or being in the Italian territory.

From people going to the beach, to concerns about pollution, draughts, the extreme heath and other expressions, among surprise, joy, happiness, and anxiety, fear, expectation.

All of the data will be published as an Open Data dataset, to be used by citizens, researchers and organizations to understand our expressions about water and the ways in which we collaborate, are different, are united or divided, and how emotions, opinions, information and knowledge spread across human relations in the digital sphere.

Join us in Venice on August 1st for the presentation.

Human Ecosystems , Water, in Venice

Human Ecosystems , Water, in Venice

This initiative is organized and supported by:

Download the official Press Release (Italian)