Understand: a new simple app, and some source code

Understand is a new simple smartphone application in which we publish a magazine entirely made of abstracts of great articles on the web.

It is also an easy way to create a magazine on smartphones using a WordPress Blog, with full source code available.

Here you can find the Understand on the Apple Store for iPhone and iPad.

Note: Please download it! we publish our favourite articles on it, and we also get a few coins from the advertisements, so that we can keep on doing beautiful things. :)

And here is the full source code for it, on GitHub: Understand on GitHub

You are free to download it and re-use it as you see fit. (For example, we are using it with our students to create a magazine).

Please read the instructions on the GitHub page, let us know if you do something with it, and feel free to participate!

AOS at 18th International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia 2013

AOS will be at REAL CORP 2013, the 18th International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society GeoMultimedia 2013.

20-23 May 2013, Rome, Italy

House of Architecture
Piazza Manfredo Fanti, 47, 00185 Roma

Our contribution:

Interweaving the digital and analog lives of cities: urban sensing and user-generated cities


A research process lasting from 2009 to 2012 has conceptualized, designed and implemented multiple tools and strategies to experiment novel forms of technologically-supported urban interaction. The goal of this process has been to understand the rituals which have started to shape contemporary citizens’ perception and performance of urban public and private spaces. An ethnographic approach has been used to gather insights about these emergent rituals, affecting the ways in which people have transformed the ways in which they work, learn, relate, consume, travel and entertain themselves in the city.

With the active collaboration of public administrations, organizations, citizen groups, tourist operators and research teams these practices have been enacted in the cities of Rome, Turin, Trieste, Cosenza, London, Berlin and Hong Kong for variable amounts of time. Engagement and results have been formally gathered, observed, processed and measured, allowing the research team to both explore the current scenario and envision new ones.

Real-time content harvesting from social networks, natural language analysis, geo-referencing/geo-coding/geo-parsing technologies, expert systems and ubiquitous technologies such as smartphones, custom electronic devices and conceptual consumer products have been employed to explore the ways in which people are and will be able to: perceive and understand their urban surroundings; access services and information; co-produce knowledge and distributed intelligence; collaborate in the creation of shared projects and city-governance practices; create and maintain peer-to-peer infrastructures for connectivity, commerce, services and culture.

This paper will present the initial analysis – including previous research taken into account in the fields of urban sensing, citizen science, urban planning, urban infrastructure management, urban environment perception and more –; the methodologies, both shared and project-specific, used to conceive, design, implement the prototypes and to measure their effects; the reports about each project in the aforementioned cities, including their usage on-the-field as well as elements of urban and digital ethnographic observation and user experience analysis; a description of a scenario for further research and for the production of service and product concepts, some of which are already in-progress, in the areas of the arts, culture, tourism and city administration.

What emerges is the opportunity to create multi-layered interactive landscapes in urban contexts which allow city dwellers to communicate, collaborate, govern their city, exchange knowledge and information, consume, entertain themselves, produce and distribute services.

AOS at “HYBRID CITY II: Subtle rEvolutions” with “Real Time Dissent in the City”

We will be at

The HYBRID CITY II: Subtle rEvolutions
Conference, workshops, exhibition and parallel events
23-25 May 2013
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

with our contributions:

  • Real-time dissent in the city: tools and tactics for contemporary disseminated, dispersed, recombinant movements

    • Abstract –  During years 2011 and 2012 we have created a series of open software platforms which are able to analyse in real-time the content which is produced by users of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and Google+, by combining data-harvesting technologies, natural language analysis and geo-location. We have used these technologies in different ways with the objective of trying to understand the various forms in which dissent manifests itself in the scenario of contemporary urban areas, characterized by the progressive availability of accessible ubiquitous technologies such as smartphones and network-enabled devices.


  • Re-thinking public space and citizenship through ubiquitous publishing and technologies. The experience of Ubiquitous Pompeii for the Italian Digital Agenda.
    • Abstract – In this paper, we describe the first instances of a family of projects with similar characteristics. Through these projects, we aim to establish contact with urban communities to a) suggest visions for possible forms of city innovation and to b) start co-creative processes for imagining, designing and enacting transformative processes. These co-creative processes involve technologies and innovative methodologies which are able to create knowledge, participation, sustainable and inclusive business models. One of these projects is the Ubiquitous Pompeii where our research and design team developed a city wide process in the city of Pompei in Italy. Ubiquitous Pompeii started by engaging high school students with a series of workshops structured in two phases: a) students’ awareness about the scenarios and opportunities offered by ubiquitous technologies; and b) the acquisition of the skills used to appropriate the technologies and methodologies and to embrace participatory design processes. Students were able to design and develop their visions for the development of their city and its communities, creating services and digital tools. Peer-to-peer learning and collaboration practices played a crucial role. Tools, methodologies and roles have been designed and developed to support the emergence of practices engaging all agencies into a networked process for the creation of the digital future of the city. Institutions and operators play the role of facilitators in what basically is becoming a citywide co- creative process. Along these lines, we have structured a transdisciplinary methodology and a technological toolkit dedicated to cities and urban communities including collaborative ethnography to observe the various stages and processes of the project and discuss its meta-stories with the different actors. The project has been declared as an official best practice for Italy’s Digital Agenda, and as such will be scaled to other cities in the near future, also envisioning wider knowledge sharing and collaboration tools which will be able to interconnect the different communities.
The HYBRID CITY II: Subtle rEvolutions

The HYBRID CITY II: Subtle rEvolutions

Knowledge is Natural, a workshop about DIY energy and augmented reality in natural environments

For Knowledge is Natural, we will be in the beautiful woods of the south of Italy to explore the possibility to re-appropriate sensibilities and knowledge about natural environments, using DIY, sustainable energy sources, Augmented Reality, Natural Interaction, Ubiquitous Technologies and the re-discovery of human relationships and emergent, peer-to-peer creativity.

Knowledge is Natural, August 19-25 2012, in Societing’s 3rd Summer School titled  “Transmutation, the Next Mediterranean Way”.

The Summer School is created by the Mediterranean Societing Academy, Centro Studi Etnografia Digitale, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Salerno, AOS – Art is Open Source.

in the woods

in the woods

Most people living in urban contexts have lost connection to knowledge about natural environment.

For them, the beautiful wood in the image above would be, well, a beautiful wood, not a plentiful source of food, energy, medicines and wellness.

Or, more precisely, it could be that in their imagination natural environments could be perceived as being all of these positive things, but most of the time they would have no idea on how to exploit them or, even more, how to exploit them wisely, respectfully and sustainably.

People living in urban contexts have lost most of their knowledge about natural environments: for most of them nature is something defined as an administrative boundary (e.g.: the flowers and grass in the middle of a roundabout; flowers in a vase; a public park) or shrink-wrapped in a refrigerator (e.g.: the vegetables in supermarkets).

Just as other elements of the natural environment, plants have moved to the periphery of our field of view. Their life is almost purely aesthetic, with very few information about their function, benefits and roles in the ecosystem: a wealth of knowledge which remains hidden to most urban dwellers.

There’s more.

The problems which menace our planetary communities, the practices and habits which embody our difficulties in achieving wellness and a balanced life with nature and cultures different from our own, are often connected to the fact that rhythms, procedures, strategies and approaches of our daily lives are not the product of awareness and consciousness.

They are the result of a synthetic building process, created as a function of consumism and a general standard for “comfort” which is more oriented to having us purchase products and services than it is to allowing us to take a step back to enlarge our field of vision onto societies and living environments, allowing us to embrace approaches which are more holistic and relaxed in the ways in which we relate to the planet and fellow human beings.

Luckily human beings start becoming aware about the disequilibrium between what we perceive about the world and what the planet really has to offer, if only we manage to connect to different scales of values, rhythms and modalities.

Awareness and consciousness are obviously about information and knowledge, and on the perception of the possibility to build, share and disseminate them, transforming them into usable knowledge.

Ubiquitous networks and technologies will play an important role in our near future.

Traditions, visions and emergent approaches are an enormous richness for our planet.

It is now possible to imagine social and technological systems which will allow people to embed digital information into the world, using peer-to-peer dynamics and making them usable and accessible to an enormous variety of human beings.

Strolling through a wood is, for an urban dweller, an experience which is substantially aesthetic.

Using ubiquitous technologies we can imagine populating these spaces with information which could show us, for example, how to produce food, energy, spaces for relation and communication, modes and opportunities to heal and obtain wellness.
We can imagine adding our creativity to the natural environment and the knowledge which we produce, making both accessible to other people.

An unknown type of bush magically becomes a medicine. Trees become a source for food. Knowledge about the life-cycle of a certain environment transforms it into a highly sustainable source of energy.

augmented woods

augmented woods

Answers? No! Questions!

With Knowledge is Natural we start a discovery process, trying to collaboratively imagine scenarios which could represent possible answers to a series of important questions.

How is it possible to create ubiquitous networks in natural environments, taking into account the lack of energy, connectivity and infrastructures, and measuring their sustainability, accessibility (divide, inclusion) and usability (alphabetization)?

Which forms could these networks assume? Made through computers and mobile devices or in alternative ways which are able to create bridges between analog and virtual worlds?

Which practices can facilitate and enable these approaches? Which needs are we able to satisfy? Which types of people can benefit from access to ubiquitous knowledge produced by multiple sources and peers in natural environment?

Which types of information could/should we make ubiquitously accessible through these practices and technologies? From the past (traditions), present (real-time, through the expressions of people and organizations) and (near) future (vision)?

How can this information be used in urban contexts? Gilles Clément’s Third Landscape perfectly describes nature in urban spaces: nomadic, interstitial, temporary, able to grow between the cracks of walls and along train tracks. Currently, Third Landscape is the main responsible for biodiversity in our cities, and represents an incredible, unused wealth for our well-being. And, even more, it inspires critical practices such as Guerrilla Gardening. Clément declared the need to train our gaze to recognize the Third Landscape and the opportunities it offers us.

How can we relate to nature in cities in different ways? How can we transfer innovative practices from rural to urban contexts?

The Workshop

The workshop will last 3 days in which we will collaborate in different ways to design and realize scenarios in which each participant will be able to elaborate a significative perspective on these questions.

We will work within nature. Our lab will be an innovative camp in which we will give life to novel forms of collaborative study and relation, throughout the day. The woods will be our classroom.

We will build a DIY sustainable energy source.

We will learn how to use it to power up laptops, smartphones and custom electronics.

We will create various forms of in-wood peer-to-peer networks in both technological and non-technological ways, allowing us to exchange information, publish it in natural environments and propagate it onto the Internet.

We will disseminate digital information in nature, harvest it, share it on the web and on social networks.

We will augment reality, in analog and digital ways, creating accessible, usable, inclusive and interconnective practices.

We will observe human and non-human activity in nature, using networks and custom electronics.

Who is the workshop for?

The workshop has no pre-requisites: anyone can join in.

If you never touched a smartphone, never written a line of programming code, never opened up a browser: you are welcome! And you are the right people for the experience!

From start to finish you will learn how to create usable knowledge, and how to share and disseminate it in natural environments.

If you are a hacker, designer, architect, artist, inventor, maker, camper, traveller: welcome to you too! We will work together to create the most sustainable, useful and inclusive, peer-to-peer knowledge ecosystem.

What will we use?

Lots of different things, like:

  • Computers, smartphones, tablets
  • Solar cells
  • Knives and other cutting tools
  • Rubber, plastic, wood, stones and anything we will find laying around
  • Some electronics and sensors
  • water
  • paper
  • wind and sun
  • Networks which you already know about, and some which you don’t

How to join

write to us at info@artisopensource.net

Ubiquitous Humanity: at iPompei for the next step of smart communities

Back in the city of Pompei for the next step for the future of our cities.

We will be in Pompei on June 3rd and 4th for iPompei, an event organized by the Public Administration of the City of Pompei together with the MIBAC (Italy’s Ministry for Cultural and Artistic Heritage), UNESCO, and MIUR (Italy’s Ministry for Education and Scientific Research)  to present the second phase of the Ubiquitous Pompei project, together with a series of additional initiatives.

Ubiquitous Graffiti

Ubiquitous Graffiti

As you might remember from our previous activities, the Ubiquitous Pompei project engaged high school students of the city of Pompei to provide them with technologies through which they have been able to start a participative process of designing their vision of the digital city, and to start to implement the first services which they imagined.

The project has been really successful so far, as the students skillfully engaged with the opportunities offered by ubiquitous technologies and created mobile applications and web systems which foster active citizen participation, as well as the emergence of new opportunities for public life.

The idea of creating an ubiquitous digital infrastructure for their city has been truly insightful for students, who have imagined tools for everyday life which allow people to engage the important themes of the city, to observe their societies and environments as they live, in real-time, and to promote new opportunities which emerge by combining public, participated city-governance and decision making processes, open data, and the possibility to relate to fellow citizens who share the same interests and visions, and to collaborate with them to the design and implementation of new opportunities.

the first phase of the project

the first phase of the project

This has been a truly important action, as it was designed to activate the young students of Pompei’s high schools, and to bring them to direct contact with the public administration to pragmatically suggest new visions.

We promoted a form of peer-to-peer education and knowledge model, in which we acted as technological facilitators. We created a series of technological tools which students could use to design and assemble their ideas for services and citizen-centered processes.

Students learned about the possibilities offered by the technologies and autonomously designed their visions and services, with our help on the technical and technological side.

In the next step of the project, several innovations will take place:

  • students will engage the rest of the population: further assuming the role of city-designers, students will actively engage the rest of the citizens of Pompei, to collect their requirements and visions for the digital city
  • these ideas and requirements will form the specifications for the next step of the services and citizen-tools which will be produced in the next phase of the project
  • everything will be produced and implemented, and presented before the end of 2012

This project has been a real breakthrough, with innovative ideas springing up at each phase and quickly turning into real services which can be freely used by the rest of the population.

the first phase of the project

the first phase of the project

The project has been chosen by Italy’s Digital Agenda as a best practice for the thematic tables which are leading the design of the policies which will conduct the country’s digital future. A team of consultants of the Ministry of Education and Research  (and, specifically, Damien Lanfrey and Dario Carrera) has been following us closely in this, providing fundamental insights about the strategies which could be used to further enhance this project  and to enable it to scale nationwide.

All this, together, has brought to this second stage of the project which will be presented in Pompei on June 3rd and 4th. The start of the city-wide process which will let the specifications of the next stage of the project emerge and, then, start the next phase of design and implementation. And the start of the phase through which the project will form its strategy for scalability, engaging other schools and the other public administrations which have already shown interest in the process.

Community Development

Community Development

The process will begin with citizens.

The MIUR has kindly provided us with the Ubiquitous Italy platform on IdeaScale to start the public discussion with citizens.

We will keep you updated.

On Sunday June 3rd we will be at the City Hall (4pm – 6pm) in an event which is dedicated to the whole population of the city of Pompei for a workshop in which we will start the participatory design process of the digital city.

On Monday June 4th, at 12am, we will be again at the city hall with a meeting with the media and press, where we, together with the City Administration and the MIUR will officially present the next stages of the project.

More info can be found here:




Here is the presentation that we will give during the event: