In June 2019 I was invited to take part to the 2nd annual conference of the Centre for Post-Digital Culture at the University of Coventry (UK) on topic Pirate Care.
As Gary Hall, the Centre’s director, introduced together with Research Fellow Valeria Graziano:
“The term Pirate Care condenses two processes that are particularly visible at present. On the one hand, basic care provisions that were previously considered cornerstones of social life are now being pushed towards illegality, as a consequence of geopolitical reordering and the marketisation of social services.
At the same time new, technologically-enabled care networks are emerging in opposition to this drive toward illegality. The conference features projects providing various forms of pirate care ranging from refugee assistance, healthcare, reproductive care, childcare, access to public transport, access to knowledge, a number of reflections from and on such practices, and a film programme.”
My contribution explored the concept behind the recent publication Rebelling with Care and allowed the audience to learn more how the maker movement is part of it:
“The Digital Social Innovation paradigm has been theorised and elaborated since 2012 through a programme called “collective awareness platforms for sustainability and social innovation” to investigate the potential of the collective intelligence enabled by ICT to support collaborative solutions around key concepts such as open codes and data, co-design, collaboration and social impact. In the past 2 years we reflected upon the traction these terms could have specifically in the field of health and care practices: what does it mean to develop bottom-up innovation, which is community-driven and built upon the commons, in a sector that is struggling to meet the needs of a growing ageing society, that is ruled by obsolete bureaucracies, and that is limited by proprietary technologies and top-down procedures?
We came to define these different modalities as “rebel practices”, since they often emerge from the strong personal needs of the people directly impacted by a specific condition. In the vast majority of cases, these practices simultaneously operate outside a market logic without asking for the full permission of official institutions, with the purpose of provoking them to change or filling the gap left by who do not innovate, with the due care, the fields of health and care provisions. The rebellion of DSI practices in health and care then occurs within a framework that focuses on their impact beyond profit, rather evaluating their scalability according to the levels of participation and empowerment of those affected. The practices encountered in our mapping all emphasise openness, co-design and the commoning of resources and knowledge. When technologies are involved, these are used to activate new processes and reduce superfluous costs, thus enabling more diverse actors to contribute to the development of effective solutions by avoiding the social exclusion and conflicts of interest characteristic of the for-profit care model. We believe the approaches they put forward might be prefiguring a new role of the public sector as partner of the civil society around shaping common health and care provisions for all.”