Multifactory network: the Munic Cluster goes on

The Munich Cluster is a key point for the construction of the Multifactory Network.

The Multifactory Network is the attempt to construct a system of shared workspaces experiencing non-capitalistic ways to produce goods, based on sharing and exchanging tools, projects and ideas.

The multifactory network is based on 3 key points:
showing and presenting people through videos tutorials/self-presentations,
meeting at the elektronic window,
personal visits to other’s spaces through the Free Exchange Program.

The work made in August-September was aimed to give the basic skills and patterns to prepare the tutorials/self-presentations and setting up a team to develop the e-window.

The Munich cluster is composed by shared workspaces which are very different one from each other and it is a good chance to experiment and to understand which are the problems related to this project.

The work with the Munich cluster was really interesting and very productive because we found out a lot of critical points of the structure and we also could improve together the way to make videutotorials.

During the training course we focused on how to invent and how to create a structure for telling a story, which is the core of the presentation.

Then we realized that we would need to create a visual form, to let people self express and build their own video, as it is too difficult both to imagine the story and to think how to transform it into images.
So we started working to simplify the structure and while doing the tutorials with hei-Muenchen we experimented a way to make a tutorial faster and more focused, and we tested it.

While working with Felix, member of FABLAB-Muenchen, we focused on how to choose which are the skills and self characteristics to put into a self-presentation.

For the walkaround, (to present the space) with the hei team we decided to present each workshop with titles, to make clear what people can do in general and to let the viewer can easily understand which is the specialty of the space.

The goal is to reach a point when people can make these videos alone following a defined pattern. The work with the Munich cluster on tutorials provides a lot of material to make a tutorial about how to make a videotutorialpresentation.

The e-window project is a huge work, and it’s story is helpful to understand some of the problems that we experienced.

The e-window concept was first developed in Milan within the umbrella of the Tellus Project, a project aimed to link creative spaces all around Europe with e-windows (at that time based on commercial products). The project was presented to Cariplo Foundation in March 2011, and granted.
With Tellus project, we first understood how people interact in public spaces connected via e-windows. In 2012 we focused on user experience and in 2013 on how to create events. In January 2013 we defined the concept of “Elikon”, which is a specific format for events based on e-window that we first applied on September, 21st between Made in Mage (IT) and Building Bloqs (UK).
In 2014 and 2015 we researched how people interact in one-to-one communication through the e-window. We participated at “Milano città Mondo” art contest and we won a prize, we presented the e-window to the Stiftung Edith Maryon and at VOW Festival.
In these years, we understood that the e-window should appear as a window, we moved to the 24/h concept and we developed the user experience and the logical tree behind it. With FabLab Potsdam we decided to base the e-window on Raspberry PI platform and we started developing the connection software.

So, most of the knowledge about the e-window as a tool was made in previous years and as many concepts were fixed, the workshop for the e-window was meant to build a group of developers, starting from the results and evidences available at that point, collected in previous five years of development.

The group was formed and worked together but there were different approaches into the group and this led to two different technical solutions. This can be good as it makes possible to make a confrontation to different approaches but on the other side this is a waste of energy.
To build a free software video communication system is very difficult, the Voice Over IP is a fascinating but complex technology, we didn’t know before testing available existing free software Videochat solutions (based on WEBRCT protocol) that none of them is working properly.
Maybe it’s really important to focus all the efforts of many people on the same target.
Also if it’s difficult to create such a working community, we strongly believe that a free software communication platform is really needed to protect freedom of speech and e-democracy. Commercial software which you can use for free is not a gift. It’s a Trojan horse. Systems based on proprietary codes live users unprotected and their centralized architectures expose people and their data.
So, for us is mandatory to have a free and open system and we understood that it can only be developed by a huge and diversified group of developers. The goal is not just to have a videochat system for makerspaces and FabLabs, but to increase the security and to protect the freedom of all of us.

On a general level, working with a cluster was very productive but quite difficult. As we could imagine since the beginning, people would prefer to have a clear organization and to know in advance single tasks, but due to the specific characteristics of this project this is almost impossible. The final goal is to experiment a different kind of society but we don’t know in advance what this will mean in practice. We are just providing an intellectual platform to experiment different kind of relationships but we don’t know exactly which shape they will take.
We thought it would have been easier to converge on common points but we understood that values and goals of people involved on such different spaces are very different one from each other.
We understood that also when people believe in the same general values (sharing, exchanging, community, mutual learning) then differences are still very strong. Its needed to work on a common language because these differences can become very important resources within the network, if people know which are the specialties of each space, and where to go when they have a special need.
Right now they are like parallel worlds, which really don’t interact, but if people start exchanging within the cluster and building trust while doing things together, the potential is enormous.
What is needed now is to work on these themes and think in which way to start the Free Exchange Program so people can move and visit also other spaces outside Munich.

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