Open Data as Culture: science, arts and technologies to co-create possible futures

How can Sciences, Arts and Technologies collaborate together with Societies, Communities, Administrations and Businesses to foster a culture of Openness, Transparency, Freedom and Empowerment?

We will find out in Trento, at the ICT Days event, together with Trento rise, the Bruno Kessler Foundation and the Department of Engineering and Information Science of the University of Trento.

The event will be on April 2, 3 and 4, 2014, in several locations across Trento (see http://2014.ictdays.it/en for info and program).

Our intervention will be on April 2nd, 2014, at 3:15pm, at the University of Trento, in the “Polo Scientifico e Tecnologico” in room B107.

We will use some of our projects such as VersuS, ConnectiCity, Human Ecosystems, and also Enlarge Your Consciousness and Incautious Porn, to highlight and reflect on how a radical transformation is needed about what we imagine citizenship to be.

It is a transformation which is linguistic and of the imaginary. It is about the shift of what we perceive as possible, to understand and embrace new ways of working together, of relating, communicating, making decisions and getting things done.

From our point of view, in the era of knowledge and information, we have all the tools we need (more are, of course, welcome, as long as they are open, accessible and usable).

What is missing is not found at the level of technologies, methodologies and techniques.

It is at the level of desire, expectation, emotion.

We find ourselves at the edge of a scenario in which we can reasonably transform what we expect economy, knowledge, public space and governance to be.

We call this possibility Ubiquitous Commons: the possibility to create a number of knowledge-based, recombinant Commons which radically augment the well-being of our ecosystems (human, relational, economic, social, political, natural…).

Our work is dedicated to enacting global states of performance, in which everyone is engaged into embracing this possibility in constructive ways, using arts and creativity to interweave scientific, technical and technological possibilities with our imaginaries: a linguistic virus which shifts our perception of what is possible.

La Cura at Participatory Medicine in Montreal

La Cura, an Open Source Cure for Cancer, will be presented at McGill University for Participatory Medicine, a conference with Patrick Dubé (Living Lab SAT/CHU Ste-Justine), Alessandro Delfanti (Media@McGill) and Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico (Art is Open Source).

More info on McGill’s website: Media@McGill presents Participatory Medicine

Date:

Thursday, February 13, 2014 – 17:30 to 19:00

Participatory Medicine is a conference with Patrick Dubé (Living Lab SAT/CHU Ste-Justine), Alessandro Delfanti (Media@McGill) and Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico (Art is Open Source).

Thursday, February 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Leacock 232, McGill University

As part of our current focus on Participatory Media, Media@McGill presents two innovative case studies in Participatory Medicine, exploring the creative ways in which networked communications are currently being used to empower patients and patient communities.

Patrick Dubé, of Umvelt Service Design, coordinates a Living Labin partnership with the Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) and the CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital in Montreal. His presentation will address how digital, interactive and immersive arts practices contribute to the humanization of health care for young hospitalized patients in this “living laboratory.”

La Cura, a web-based experiment in a crowd-sourced “cure” for cancer, will be presented in the form of an exchange between Media@McGill’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Alessandro Delfanti, and Art is Open Source members Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico. Diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012, hacker and designer Salvatore Iaconesi published his personal medical data in an open format online, and invited the public to respond. The result attests to vast range of what a cure might entail in the information age (www.opensourcecureforcancer.com).

The conference is free and open to the public.

Presentations

Patrick Dubé – Health Care Centres as Innovation Social Hubs: The Living Lab Experience

At the heart of unique experiences involving the mind, the heart and the body through pain, joy, birth, illness and death, health care centres are often the seat of a complex symbolism, which goes beyond the delivery of care. In a society that focuses more on the person behind the disease and on the experience behind the care, the concept of “hospitality” gradually returns to its original sense of welcoming, of dialogues, of collective sense-making through a new phenomenon: user-driven open innovation. Through several examples, mostly living labs from the international and local scene, we will illustrate how seeing health care centres as social hubs can enable new forms of technological and social innovation, not only through an actualization of the patient-partner relationship, but also through an active participation of civil society as a whole.

Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico – La Cura: an Open Source cure for Cancer

In September 2012 Artist, Engineer and Hacker Salvatore Iaconesi was diagnosed with a brain cancer.

He decided to turn his tumor into a global bio-political performance to reclaim his complexity as a human being and, in the meanwhile, to break new grounds performing a radical experiment: publish online his own medical data to crowdsource his cancer, engaging people from all over the world to find a cure and to discover what it could mean to be cured in the information age.

The narrative interweaves themes such as Open Data and privacy, to propose an analysis of the anthropological, emotional, financial, technological, spiritual, scientific, sociological, bio-political and philosophical complexities of Medicine in the digital era.

Cancer – and the cures suggested by people from all over the world – becomes a radical example of our condition as contemporary human beings, a powerful metaphor that becomes useful to define ways in which to express and share art, creativity, scientific research, experiences, stories and ubiquitous conversations in ecosystemic, holistic ways, fostering the vision of human societies which are aware that their well-being depends on the well-being of all of their members.

The story and the process show how we now have the tools – technological, methodological, relational and anthropological – to enable people to be aware, active and engaged agents of their societies.

An Open Source Cure.

Biographies

Patrick Dubé After obtaining a Masters degree in Anthropology and conducting Ph.D. studies in geomatics, Patrick Dubé started a career as a research scientist in the field of health care ICT. Since 2006, he has helped organizations enhance their creative and innovation practices and methodologies. Directly involved in several open innovation initiatives with cities, SMEs, non-profit organizations and citizen communities, he currently leads the SAT/CHU Sainte-Justine Living Lab in the field of health care humanization. He also presides the Montreal Table of living labs.

Alessandro Delfanti is a postdoctoral fellow at Media@McGill, McGill University, Montreal, where he works on the role of participatory media in contemporary biomedicine and has taught an undergraduate seminar titled Online Cooperation in Daily Life. Alessandro also teaches Sociology of New Media at the University of Milan and is a member of the research group on science communication at SISSA, in Trieste. As a journalist he writes about science and digital cultures for several Italian newspapers and magazines. He is the author of Biohackers. The Politics of Open Science (London: Pluto, 2013) and of Introduzione ai Media Digitali (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2013).

Salvatore Iaconesi is an interaction designer, robotics engineer, artist, hacker. TED Fellow 2012 and Eisenhower Fellow since 2013.

He currently teaches Interaction Design and cross-media practices at the Faculty of Architecture of the “La Sapienza” University of Rome, at ISIA Design Florence, at the Rome University of Fine Arts and at the IED Design institute.

He produced videogames, artificial intelligences, expert systems dedicated to business and scientific research, entertainment systems, mobile ecosystems, interactive architectures, cross-medial publications, augmented reality systems, and experiences and applications dedicated to providing products, services and practices to human beings all over the world, enabled by technologies, networks and new metaphors of interactions, across cultures and languages.

His artworks and performances have been featured worldwide in museums, at festivals and conferences.

Salvatore actively participates to global discussions and actions on the themes of freedoms, new forms of expression and on the future scenarios of our planet from the points of view of energy, environment, multi-cultural societies, gender mutation, sustainability and innovation on both society and business, collaborating with institutions, enterprises and international research groups.

Oriana Persico holds a degree in Communication Sciences, and is an expert in participatory policies and digital inclusion. She is an artist and writer. She has worked together with national governments and the European Union towards the creation of best practices, standards and research in the areas of digital rights, social and technological innovation, Digital Business Ecosystems (DBE), practices for participation and knowledge sharing. Oriana writes critical, scientific, philosophical and poetical texts that connect to the cultural, sociological, economic and political impacts of technological innovation. She is an expert on the formal analysis of cultural and social trends, with a specific focus on social networks. She creates breakthrough communication campaigns, performances, research methodologies and strategies.

Design, philosophy art and business

What do arts, design and philosophy have to do with business?

[ this is the english version of our article which appeared on the SIMI Newsletter, in Portuguese. SIMI is Brazil’s Open Innovation System]

Let’s start from art.

The arts have a crucial role in society.

They are sensors and suggesters of new imaginaries.

According to Marshall McLuhan, “the artist is the person who invents the means to bridge between biological inheritance and the environments created by technological innovation”.

According to Derrick de Kerckhove, one of McLuhan’s most successful alumni, “few people apart from artists are capable of predicting the present. […] The role of the artist today, as always, is to recover for the general public the larger context that has been lost by science’s exclusive investigations of text”.

Roy Ascott, one of the world’s best known artists and researchers to have adopted technologies in syncretic ways, describe the role of the artist as the figure which is able to confront with a world which increasingly sees its content and meaning as created out of people’s interaction and negotiation. A world which is unstable, shifting and in flux; which parallels life, not through representation or narrative, but in its processes of emergence, uncertainty and transformation.

Gregory Bateson, the anthropologist, social scientist, semiotician and cyberneticist who helped extend system theory and cybernetics to social and behavioural sciences, and who developed the science of epistemology to bring together the various early forms of systems theory developing in various fields of science, thought that art was the only possible way to satisfy the need of finding solutions through radical changes in our way of thinking, or even to our way of knowing: a new (or ancient) mindset in which conscious purpose would be viewed as only a minor and rather suspect part of mental life.

The job of the artist is to not to praise or condemn technology, but to bridge the gap between technology and psychology.

Arts are about possibility, and opportunity. About sensing the present (the contemporary) and exposing it, in ways that suggest reflection, and the insurgence of imagination. About the opportunity – through artworks and performance – to shift what is perceived as “possible”, as “imaginable”.

And, in this, to promote people’s activation, in a continuous virtuous loop in which, once the boundary between impossible and possible, fake and real, prohibited and allowed is shifted, nothing is the same anymore. Because perception has changed.

Art is also the opportunity to let new imaginaries emerge directly from people.

For example, imagine a writer, in his novel, writing: “I was alone at sea.”

Some readers will imagine a stranded castaway, desperately balancing on a wooden log. Some will imagine a beautiful yacht, and the main character sunbathing on its deck. Some will imagine something else. All of them will produce their own mental model of the scene. For some the main character’s hair will be blond. For some others it will be black.

They will participate in creating the world which the writer is describing. They will become active, engaged by the narrative. They will become performative creators of their own version of the world.

This is a very interesting modality, especially if one is able to “listen” to these different world being built in people’s minds. Comparing them, evaluating them, understanding what is desired, envisioned, preferred.

All this, through art. Art as a sensor and as the enabler of the participatory performance which activates people to (re)imagine their present and, thus, their future.

Design starts from where art left off.

Design is about, literally, designing. Imagining that which is not yet there. Interweaving anthropology, ethnography, economy, engineering, technology, communication to create the future.

The future does not exist. It is a performance. It assumes forms as we build it, as we create it, as we take the next decision.

When a designer begins designing a chair, the chair does not yet exist. Not even the concept exists yet. To create the chair’s concept the designer needs to gain understandings about what people think a chair is, what is it for, how much they are willing to pay for it, what material could it be made of, and so on. Learning not only to give answers, but, most importantly, how to find the really important questions to ask.

The same kind of discourse could be done to design a new product, service or technology.

There is an interesting and valuable short-circuit to be made in this process, when we imagine interweaving the design process to the arts.

The emergence of Near Future Design (NFD).

To all effects, this process has revealed to be very valuable for multiple global companies.

It is safe to say, for example, that planetary relevant enterprises such as Google or Amazon today base their entire medium-term strategy on the idea of Near Future Design.

NFD is an interdisciplinary process which can be described in the following steps:

  • understand the consensus reality and the established narratives;
  • understand the “strange now”;
  • foresee the future possibilities and
  • design for the new normal.

In other words, it is an anthropology-based approach which starts off by observing and gaining understandings about the “consensus reality” and the “established narratives” (that which we all agree upon as possible, feasible, “normal”).

Then moves onto understanding the “strange now”, the composition of the rituals (new meaningful recurring patterns), gestures, practices and processes which are rising in importance, becoming more common, but are not yet generally accepted and understood.

For example a “strange now” of a few years ago was represented by people going to music concerts and video-recording them using their smartphones. It has now turned into a common practice, so much that there are images of numerous people at concerts all holding their smartphones up in the air: even a few years ago it would have been very strange, if not incomprehensible; now it is normal, so much that there are dedicated products and services which leverage this precise gesture and practice. This was a “strange now” just a few years ago.

In turn NFD explores the future opportunities, the state of the arts and technologies, to get a sense of what might be behind the corner, all the technical and technological possibilities which are young or even not yet in the market, and which have potential to becoming more important.

All this is added up in the design for the “new normal”, the “next thing”: the act of uncloaking, of using all this knowledge and understanding which was gained in the previous steps, to extrapolate and highlight current trends to present the sheer breadth, of, often unsettling, future possibilities that lie ahead of us. Using, for example, Superflux‘s wording for it: interrupting the Normality Field, and moving on.

This is exactly what enterprises such as Google or Amazon do, enacting powerful strategic cornerstones through these powerful actions.

For example Google’s Car, Balloon, Genetics projects are simulacra. There is research and experimentation behind it, but the most powerful part of their composition recipe is about NFD: an exploration in the “new normal”, describing “tomorrow’s normality field”.

This has tremendous effects: an organization is able to shift hundreds of millions of people’s perception of “what is possible” and of “what is normal”, and to start millions of conversations about it. The proposed vision obviously adopts a new normalcy field which is in perfect synch with the brand’s values and objectives. In this case: Google Inc. will be able to help mankind to solve some of its most pressing problems with the environment, energy and health, as long as human beings provide as much data about themselves as possible.

Or we can think about Amazon’s “delivery drones” recent example. It was a hoax, a fake: no-one at Amazon is currently working on delivery drones. But the “perception of the possible” has shifted for millions of people, and the discussion has started: people have joined into a global performance in which they are expressing their desired, preferred future of delivery services.

These and other examples, some of which are of the highest possible caliber, make this disruption clear.

It is an inversion of cause and effect. The effect comes before the cause. Causing people to take action and starting global conversations about their desired, preferred futures. And designers and entrepreneurs ready to listen to these expressions to, finally, design the causes.

It is the performance of the future: it is Near Future Design.

It is enacted through Transmedia Storytelling, through the creation of entire worlds, of simulacra (according to Baudrillard‘s definition) in which a suspension forms, on the possibility to discern what is “real” from what is “false”.

For what people know, Google Car’s project could even not exist at all: for all practical reasons it could be completely forged through computer graphics and condescending testimonies, to transform the sense of possible and to start the global conversation, to understand people’s desired and preferred futures, and to activate them. Of course we know that Google Cars exist, but to all practical purposes, they might as well not.

This modality is bringing enormous disruptions across sectors and domains.

For example in Energy.

More traditional Energy companies, like Chevron, Shell and the like, are suffering a forced transformation. Their most aggressive competitors are not other traditional energy companies. Not anymore. For example it is interesting to assume that Chevron’s biggest competitor today would not be British Petroleum, or PetroBras, but Google. Because Google, through perfectly executed Near Future Design has shifted the way in which hundreds of millions of people perceive an Energy Company to be. It has changed the rules of the game. It has transformed the “Energy Company” from a company which produces and distributes energy, to a company which deals with information which is used to coordinate and systematize the actions people who produce their own.

And this is just one of the examples.

We can now go back to the beginning, to the role of the arts: sensors of contemporary society and shifters of the “perception of the possible”, by creating worlds – transmedia narratives – which engage people in activating themselves into a global conversation about their desired, preferred future.

There is a lot of art – of poetics – in everything that we have discussed so far.

It is about opportunity through anthropological performance, through co-creating our futures, the “new normal”.

It is Near Future Design.

Open Innovation Week Brazil: Near Future Design and the Unknown Challenges of Innovation

Art is Open Source will be at the Open Innovation Week in Brazil for a workshop and a seminar about Near Future Design, and to speak about how to confront with unknown challenges in Innovation, for a more participatory, performative vision of the future, and about how the arts and design can collaborate with sciences to imagine, design and enact positive, sustainable futures.

Here is the link to the Open Innovation Week in S. Paulo, Brazil: http://www.openinnovationweek.com.br/

Our workshop on Near Future Design will be held on November 26th and will deal with the challenges which come by trying to engage society into searching and finding the forms and processes which will shape their (near) future.

This kind of activity bears a lot of potential for all types of subjects involved.

For governments and administrations, who can facilitate the emergence of such processes, and use them to activate citizens and operators to create positive, constructive futures in collaborative ways, and to observe and model the ways in which societies change in the process, to highlight anything from trends to people’s desires and expectations, to design new policies and best practices.

For operators – such as companies, foundations and associations – to engage citizens into designing their preferred, desired futures, through expression and communication, being able to invent new business models, new opportunities, new policies.

For citizens, to be able to push forward their perception of what is “possible”, to collaboratively search and find their preferred futures, and to enact them, with the collaboration of the whole society, including governments and organizations.

The most important product any company and organization can sell today is their vision on the future. In this scenario the ability to open up to a global conversation which confronts this vision to ethical, environmental, societal and political issues is a fundamental asset, as is the capacity to capture the results of these dialogues, and to integrate them into the vision itself.

This is the era of continuous disruption, in which game-changers – the organizations who are able to radically change the rules of business, governance, design and politics, and to re-frame problems and issues in new, unexpected ways – are the main actors and beneficiaries of innovation processes.

Through an intense, participatory set of activities we will try to give answers to questions such as:

  • What is Near-future design?
  • How is it different from Strategic Design?
  • What is a pre-totype and how does it compare to a prototype?
  • How can we use the methodologies of Anthropology and Ethnography to observe and sense the transformation of societies?
  • What are the Unknown Challenges, the ones which have been not yet identified bu operators and key players, but emerge from Anthropological observation and creativity?
  • How can we use these insights to create near-future designs (pre-totypes) which are able to disrupt markets, establish a global conversation involving key players, all while communicating the organization’s vision for the future and opening it up to a co-creative approach which will also benefit from the global discussion?
  • What are Transmedia Narratives and how can we use them to make all of this happen?

Additionally, during the Open Innovation Seminar, on November 25th, we will:

  • give a keynote speech about the idea of Unknown Challenges, according to which we will introduce the opportunities offered by forms of Ubiquitous Anthropology to discover unexpected, unforeseen challenges that constitute the cultural, performative, emergent creation of the communities and societies, and which are described by their own expression and communication, in emergent, polyphonic ways;
  • in the panel focusing on New Approaches for Innovation, we will present our work which interweaves arts, technology, design and sciences to form intersections in which new models can emerge by working along the dimensions of desire, imagination and the perception of the (im)possible.

We’ll be there with our Eisenhower Fellow Bruno Rondani, and Wenovate, the Open Innovation Center.

This is the Facebook Page for the Open Innovation Week in Brazil.

Open Innovation Week Brazil on Facebook

Open Innovation Week Brazil on Facebook

Anthropological Innovation: observing and understanding the mutation of human life

Anthropological Innovation on il Sole 24 Ore

Anthropological Innovation on il Sole 24 Ore

Our article about an Anthropological view on Innovation appeared today on Nòva24, the inset of Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s most influential financial newspaper. Our impressions after the 7 weeks on the Eisenhower Fellowship.

Here it is, below, translated in English and with some information and links added.

Anthropological Innovation

Private spaces change and they become “privatised”. A network exploration withe the Eisenhower Fellowships. Searching for meaning. With urgency.

By Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico

Published on Nòva24, Il Sole24Ore, July 28th 2013

 

Everything has changed.

But what is the meaning of this change?

We know that it starts with the emergence of different factors:

  • the ubiquitous accessibility of digital technologies and networks;
  • the shifting of the boundaries between what we perceive as our private and public spaces;
  • the crisis of the global finance, of identity, and of the models we used before the rise of the era of information, of knowledge and of global interconnection.

But we don’t know the consequences.

With this latent question in mind, we set off for two months of travelling in the United States for our Eisenhower Fellowship.

We discovered that at the White House Office for Science & Technology Policy they are actively searching for tools and methodologies to observe and comprehend this anthropological mutation.

That at the Institute for the Future they are asking themselves what happens when an organization realizes that their objectives can be filled only by establishing a wider perspective on what it means to have a vision about the future.

That at the Aspen Institute they are starting to go beyond the idea of objective privacy, reflecting about the concept of expectation, our perceived privacy, the one that we have learned to recognize around us through society and culture.

That at the Institute for Human Centered Design, Valerie Fletcher highlights the importance and richness of the diversity and poliphonicity of the world.

We act as engaged observers, taking part in the conversations.

At the MIT MediaLab Sep Kamvar invites us for a public talk about the transformation of the concept of map: generative info-scapes (informational landscapes) created by harvesting ubiquitous digital interactions.

Organizations such as the University of Texas, the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext, Stanford, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon show deep interest when we offer to promote joint efforts to design and implement anthropological observation environments based on social networks, sensors and networks, to highlight recipes, emerging rituals, errors, opportunities and mutations.

But our search for meaning is not the mere sum of all these research approaches.

We now can benefit from the availability of many of the tools and methodologies we need to confront with the present, such as BigData, Open Data, the Cloud, social networks and infinite ways to share informations and knowledge.

Despite this, we all really have a hard time in promoting a transformation which is not about “consumption”, and which represents a real opportunity for the development and well-being of humanity.

A large part of the meaning that we were searching for can be found by observing the mutation of the ways in which perceive public and private spaces.

Hundreds of years of cultural development have taught us to establish reasonable expectations about the effects of our behaviour in public and private spaces. In the digital era everything changes: identity becomes a floating, fluid concept, expressing itself through spaces that we perceive as public or intimate, but which are really a privatized something else.

On one side is Anonymous, on the other is Facebook. And a whole lot is in between.

On one side is the possibility to use the network to be “uno, nessuno e centomila” (“one, no-one and one-hundred-thousand“). On the other side are spaces which we perceive as being public, but which are truly privatized, in which our information is sold hundreds of times each time we click, it doesn’t matter if to the NSA or to the companies trying to sell us french fries or sneakers.

Google is a good example for this. A new, super-national, entity which is able and willing to assume an active role in trying to find solutions for humanity’s most pressing problems (just think about the Google Cars project, assessing energy and transport, or Project Loon for digital divide).

But Google is also a representation of the condition which is needed to access these solutions: to completely transform the ways in which we perceive the difference that runs between the public and private domains, to adhere to a vision which is in total favour of business objectives of the service provider.

This state of continuous disruption causes cognitive dissonance: the solution to the world’s largest problems and issues – such as environment, sustainability, energy and access – at the price of a radical transformation and what is, to all effects, a jump into the void.

We are in no way able to predict the long terms effect of this jump into the void (it is a disruption, after all).

What is given is the possibility to comprehend the radicality of the transformation.

Large operators have learned to highlight and to valorize their vision about their proposed social, political, energetic and ecosystemic transformation, using it in “performative” ways to engage people in this mutation, thus making it perceptible and palpable: an object of desire for global conversations.

It is important to understand that this is a top-down process: a suggestive vision is made available to people to try and determine their active participation to a certain agenda.

Too little is being done to promote the cultures whose objective is to create the perceptive access to the possibility for joint efforts to design the present and the future, to comprehend and desire that this process takes place at civic level, to establish the practices of coexistence and participation.

For example, the practices of Open Innovation – in which challenges are published onto which wide communities gather to collaboratively find solutions and answers – don’t have a whole lot to say about the Hows and Whys that will enable those same communities to let their own challenges emerge, with the objective to improve the practices for coexistence among human beings.

The dynamic interweaving of the relations in human ecosystems goes well beyond what can be obtained by counting hashtags on Twitter.

It is about perceiving and using the anthropological complexity of communities and societies.

And it implies the possibility of conceiving radical transformations that will enable and support the opportunity for coexistence of the recombinant communities which constitute the digital era.

And this is a reflection on which the Mediterranean, with its mix of cultures and approaches can have a lot to say, share and give.

Anthropological Innovation of il Sole24Ore

Anthropological Innovation of il Sole24Ore