3 days in London with Human Ecosystems, La Cura and Ubiquitous Commons: report

From June 3rd to Jun 5th, a series of events organized by the Big Social Data Research Group at King’s College in collaboration with Citizen Biomedicin Research Group and the Open Data Institute,  engaged AOS in a workshop, a lecture and a public talk.

Below a report from the three events.

1. June 3rd: “Playing with data in the Ubiquitous Commons” – workshop

A one-day hands-on workshop hosted by the Big Social Data Research Group at King’s College.

Human Ecosystems Workshop - King's College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop – King’s College, London

During the morning session we introduced and explored with participants a series of  key concepts, in particular:

  • the conceptual frame of the Human Ecosystems project, describing how multiple types of public data coming from social networks, sensors, open data sources, energy use, census and more can be captured, processed using multiple techniques (from Natural Language Processing, to Machine Learning, Network Analysis, Emotional Analysis and Geographic Analysis) to produce a set of large Data Commons, which can be used for multiple purposes including research, policy making, citizen action, collaboration, participatory and peer-to-peer organizational models, development of novel forms of economies, creation of services, artworks, designs, information visualizations, interactive experiences, digital toys, data-reactive devices and more;
  • the concept of the Relational Ecosystem, describing how these massive data capturing techniques can lead to forming large linked data patterns which, in turn, lead to the possibility to understand how communities form and transform over time and place, by understanding information, knowledge, opinion, emotion and behavior flows in cities. We also focused on the many characteristics of these human networks and of their participants, including their characterization as influencers, experts, hubs, bridges among different communities, and the ways in which to create new characterizations, using network science;
  • the many implications of these practices, at levels which are social, political, economic, exploring the resulting modifications of the factual and perceived concepts of public, private and intimate spheres, and the further transformations to citizens’ awareness and action which could be brought on by the availability of such a large Data Commons, and of the tools to use it, of the related education processes, of the information visualizations and on the participatory practices which could develop.
Human Ecosystems Workshop - King's College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop – King’s College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop - King's College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop – King’s College, London

During the afternoon session:

  • a series of tools from the Human Ecosystems platform was installed, giving participants the possibility to autonomously start their own data harvesting processes;
  • a complete social network harvesting process for the city of London was started. The group watched the results using a variety of information visualizations which are present in the current HE toolkits (geographic, relational, networked, time-based, artistic, and more). We explored the principal steps which are required to create new ones (the structure of the data sources in the commons produced through Human Ecosystems, the many tools, libraries and Human Ecosystems API calls which can be used for this purpose).
  • we finally focused on some of the participants’ projects and activities to suggest ways in which the Human Ecosystems could be used in their cases, also establishing a number of possible partnerships and opportunities which need to be explored further.
Human Ecosystems Workshop - King's College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop – King’s College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop - King's College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop – King’s College, London

Human Ecosystems Workshop, King's College: capturing London

Human Ecosystems Workshop, King’s College: capturing London

2. June 4th: “La Cura, an Open Source Cure for Cancer” – lecture and conversation

A 2 hours lecture hosted by the Citizen Biomedicine Research Group which involved us and the participant in deep and stimulating conversation exploring:

  • The unfolding of the facts and implications of “La Cura”, from the events which led to its beginning, its artistic elements, the metaphors of data as a connecting tissue for society, the biopolitical aspects of data and Big Data, the social interaction, collaboration and participation aspects of La Cura, the media and communication aspects of the project;
  • The rituals of hacking (understanding systems, generating knowledge, making knowledge available, provoke unexpected usages) and their implications on medicine;
  • The rituals of re-appropriation of data, an the consequent transition from data-subject to the holistic interpretation of human being, in which data becomes an opportunity for interconnection, interaction and participation of the entire society;
  • The role of arts, design, creativity and transgression, as radical innovators, as creators of new, unexpected spaces for social construction of conscience, as multipliers of perceived possible futures, and as tools to explore desirable, preferrable futures;
  • The comparison of “La Cura” to other experiences (like, for example, cancer bloggers, cancer and social networks) and services (like “Patients Like Me”).
La Cura: lecture at King's College Citizens  Biomedicine Research Group

La Cura: lecture at King’s College Citizens Biomedicine Research Group

Among the results, the conversation collaboratively described a tentative scenario in which experiences like “La Cura” and more encoded, industrialized ones like “Patients Like Me” could come together and co-exist according to an ecosystemic approach to suggest new scenarios for the collaborative and participative production of science, social and political actions, economies, activism, and peer-to-peer operative models.

3. 5th June: “Ubiquitous Commons” – public talk

Hosted by the ODI – Open Data Institute, the talk involved a very diverse audience, including hackers, lawyers, organizations, enterprises, developers, architects, urban planners, Internet of Things enthusiasts and experts.

Ubiquitous Commons talk at ODI - Open Data Institute (London)

Ubiquitous Commons talk at ODI – Open Data Institute (London)

During the discussion we:

  • Explored the scenario leading to the creation of the Ubiquitous Commons: conscious/unconscious ubiquitousproduction of data; impossibility to understand what data we generate, and how it is used; impossibility to express ho we want our data to be used; impossibility to track how our data is used; impossibility to autonomously or collaboratively enact individual or participatory practices for data generation and usage, in inclusive ways;
  • Explored the Ubiquitous Commons architecture: externalize data access mechanism from operators (social networks, IoT, domotics, biotech, wearables…) onto a peer-to-peer environment (Blockchain), using encryption and a legal/technological protocol;
  • Explored the possibility to create data commons using the Ubiquitous Commons identity model (individual, collective, anonymous, nomadic and temporary types of identity);
  • Explored the legal, political, social, economic, creative implications of the model.
  • Discussed possible usage scenarios and novel economic models.
  • Discussed technical/technological implications;
  • Expressed a call to action for interested parties to join the initiative (legal, technical/technological, use cases, adoption communties).
Ubiquitous Commons talk at ODI - Open Data Institute (London)

Ubiquitous Commons talk at ODI – Open Data Institute (London)

Ubiquitous Commons talk at ODI - Open Data Institute (London)

Ubiquitous Commons talk at ODI – Open Data Institute (London)

Special thanks to Mark Coté, Tobias Blanke, Barbara Prainsack, Lorenzo Del Savio, Jennifer, Giles Greenway for the wonderful hospitality and to make all of it happen. 

Workshop at Queen Mary University with self-org

REFF at Queen Mary for Self Org, workshop

REFF at Queen Mary for Self Org, workshop

Collecting all the documentation from our recent visit to London, here are some considerations on our presentation at Queen Mary University for the self-org series of meetings.

The meeting was specifically focused on the interesting intervention by David Vercauteren (Micropolitiques.net, Brussels) explaining the history and dynamics of their initiatives with le collectif Sans Ticket, promoting free public transportation in Busselles by creating a fake ticket and travel card through which people were invited in bringing up dialogues with the operators on board of buses, bringing the discussion on personal levels, explaining how and why they wanted to travel for free, since they were students, unemployed and with no money or with precarious jobs. The initiative was really successful, and it also featured an interesting invasion of the institutional sphere, as the members of the collective have in some way been recognized as experts in public transportation policies and invited at conferences and meetings.

The discussion on the dynamics of a group like the Collectif Sans Tickets was really interesting, and the issues that touched me the most were the ideas of the possibility to evaluate the energy of the group, in understanding if actions were possible or even feasable, and on the ideas about  how it is at all possible to understand the (natural) roles of people in a group to not only get things done, but also to ensure satisfaction and, most of all, a feeling of live cohesion, thus enabling next steps.

When it was our turn in presenting REFF, RomaEuropa FakeFactory, we were in a bit of a philosophical dilemma: our actions are not a lot about organizing people into groups, but more about creating examples, tools, and methodologies (and also stamina and inertia) that would make it easier for people to organize themselves.

Our objective with REFF, our fake cultural institution, has never been to create a community, or even a group. We have always been focused on the performative side of it, and on the possibility to create emergent synergies that passed through art, sciences, technology, activism, business and hacking so that the result was not “a group”, but knowledge, imaginaries, visions, possibilities and empowerment.

This is exactly the reason why we choose to operate under the metaphor of the fake cultural institution. Because this is actually the exact thing that a ‘real’ institution could be: an infrastructure; a set of tools; a meta-brand that anyone moving along the strategies of the institution should be able to use to their advantage, possibly bringing in more knowledge, empowerment, examples and imaginaries.

This is what we try to do with REFF and, for example, with its education program and the technologies we are producing.

We speak a lot about augmented reality: this is what we mean when we say it. Being free and autonomous in the possibility to write onto the world, creating additional layers of accessible, open, free information, expression, imaginaries, poetics, politics, aesthetics, knowledge, visions. And to create multiple ecosystems in which this happens, establishing a dynamic of exchange and mutual involvement, disseminating information, knowledge and practices ubiquitously using performative actions and pervasive technologies.

The discussion was really interesting and lively, and we thank everyone that was there for it: we look forward to engaging this kind of dialogue with you all! It’s really important and insightful.

More info about self-org here

and Thanks to  Arianna Bove and Erik Empson  at Generation Online for creating this wonderful occasion for discussion.


An Augmented Reality Drug

back from London, here are some more info about the event held at Furtherfield Gallery, to present REFF RomaEuropa FakeFactory and the Augmented Reality Drug.

AR Drug, by Marco Bera/S4C

AR Drug, by Marco Berardi/S4C

our wonderful friends at Shoot4Change came to see the exhibit and took these wonderful pictures about the performances and the presentation of the AR Drug. An enormous thanks to our newly found fried Marco Berardi for them!

An Augmented Reality Drug has been created and distributed to the visitors at the Furtherfield Gallery in London.
REFF, the fake institution created to enact innovative cultural policies all over the world used the opportunity offered by the exhibit on the “reinvention of reality” that was currently held at the Furtherfield Gallery in London to deliver their Augmented Reality Drug to the visitors.

REFF AR Drug by Marco Bera/S4C

REFF AR Drug photo by Marco Berardi/S4C

The people at the opening of the exhibit have had the chance to taste the drug and to experiment with their effects: the possibility to create new forms of expression, to fill the world with digital content and to realize new forms of free, independent communication that are able to mutate our perception of cities and the spaces we live in, just like a psychoactive drug.
This is the metaphor used by Art is Open Source: the Augmented Reality Drug is really an open source software platform that allows people to use the so-called ubiquitous technologies, thus enabling the owners of iPhone and Android smartphones to freely create videos, sounds and other contents directly in the spaces and places of our cities. Completely new forms of communication that really change the way in which people communicate and relate with the rest of the world.

REFF Augmented Reality Drug, photo by Marco Bera/S4C

REFF Augmented Reality Drug, photo by Marco Berardi/S4C

The drug has already been distributed in dozens of universities all over Europe, and hundreds of projects for the “methodological reinvention of reality” are popping up in the laboratories of these institutes.
Everyone is addicted!

To follow the evolution of the project:



Art is Open Source:


REFF in the world:

the exhibit at Furtherfield Gallery, London:

images of the happening:

You can buy the AR Drug here on eBay


REFF in London – the opening @ Furtherfield

News from REFF in London, at Furtherfield

The Opening of the exhibit took place in a wonderful atmosphere. We were happy to see new and old people interested in the fake institution, its education program and its newly created Augmented Reality Drug.

We managed to present the AR Drug, the molecules which are used to create it, the education program on the systematic reinvention of reality and the new technologies and practices for critical invasion of our cities, that will probably be used sometime soon :)

We have to thank everyone involved in the exhibit because it was amazing: all of Furtherfield, Garrett Lynch, xname, Rebar Group, all the photographers and video makers, and then Richard Barbrook, Quayola, David Benqué everyone!

At the exhibit we introduced REFF’s AR Drug, and the three molecules that are used to make it:




“The REMIXine compound is an innovative molecule and it is a fundamental ingredient of all our drugs. The molecule powerfully reacts with other ones, disconnecting their predetermined bonds and allowing the core elements of other compounds to reassemble, forming entirely new ones, in complete freedom. REMIXine is known to augment the total entropy of systems, and it is a known stimulator of creative processes and on the systematic creation of insights on the world.”




“REALITene is a very unstable compound. Its complex molecule self-arranges into virtually infinite configurations. Furthermore, different patients have been known to react to different molecule configurations at different times in their clinical life. All these factors make REALITene a compound that is really hard to manage. Our drugs confront with this problem in a radical way: REALITene’s configuration is not determined in the lab, but is left to the shaping processes enacted by the patient and its surrounding context.”





“REINVENTum compounds collaborate with the other molecules found in our drugs to reassemble components into new forms once their bonds have been disassembled. REINVENTum has drastic effects on the equilibrium of neural ecosystems, as it is able to effectively activate the neurotransmitters which control human forms of expression: this action has profound impacts on the areas of the brain that engage language and memory, allowing the rapid formation of entire networks of new symbols.”

We also introduced the global map of everything’s that happening in the world with our fake institution

And we publicly and officially released the MACME plugin for cross-medial, augmented reality publishing, part of REFF’s education program on the systematic reinvention of reality.