Bricolabs

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URL = http://bricolabs.net/


Description

Annette Wolfsberger:

"Bricolabs describes itself on its website as a distributed network for global and local development of generic infrastructures incrementally developed by communities. A global platform to investigate the new loop of open content, software and hardware for community applications, bringing people together with new technologies and distributed connectivity, unlike the dominant focus of IT industry on security, surveillance and monopoly of information and infrastructures.

In its decentralized and distributed final presentation (many male voices dispersed in the dark audience setting of the cinema) it was rather difficult to learn what Bricolabs had been going through over the past days. It seemed to be more of a non-definition than a definition.

As a starting point, the Bricoleurs had transformed the network image of Winter Camp into a mesh-network which they perceived more representative of their way of working. Like some other networks, Bricolabs found it problematic to define one network contact - or as Winter Camp described it, a co-ordinator - for Bricolabs it equaled to defining a leader - and in their opinion, representation of networks should be approached differently.

We don’t define Bricolabs, it would die. We describe it. Bricolabs started and came together in a rather unplanned and spontaneous way and its final presentation mirrored that process. Its mailinglist membership is big (around 400 if I am not mistaken), and many of the Winter Camp participants and organizers are bricoleurs too.

Bricolabs is a network of autonomous actors, agents, with all sorts of organisations and groups involved. It shares a common instinct of things and methods, and not until the Winter Camp had seen a need to articulate these or clarify them. Rather than talking, Bricolabs is about doing; and who contributes to which part in this doing is not really relevant." (http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/wintercamp/2009/03/09/final-day-presentation-bricolabs/)


Discussion

Network Governance Issues

Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff:

"Bricolabs is what could be described as a distributed virtual network, existing of autonomous nodes all working on projects brought together by their shared values. Winter Camp is in fact for many of the members the first time they meet in real life and the different nodes in the Bricolab network normally communicate primarily via the mailing list. However, they are now at a stage where they have to deal with more centralized institutes and this pushes them to critically think about how they should move ahead as a network, how to professionalize without losing the autonomous distributed character of the network.

At the first day session, the group at Winter Camp worked on building their external profile (Hello! This is Bricolabs), meant as a window through which communication with more traditional institutes would be possible. Through a website, a one-page presentation text, a wiki and possibly a homebrewed Brico-facebookesque social networking site, the Bricolabs profile should avoid pointless communication about institutional issues often experienced by members of the group in their personal communications.

Constructing such a profile however posed some really interesting challenges for the group, as in the act of construction, it would also mean they would have to think and work in a way they would normally not do. The concept of having some kind of hierarchy or even power connectors within the network resulted in quite direct resistance or jokes about someone being “boss”, not necessarily relating to the proposed solution. The group expressed that in fact there is no Bricolabs, as all members are located in different networks, it’s more a meta-network, not independent but interdependant.

Really being a distributed network and being able to use it as a powerful tool for value-based world domination however does raise some important questions. How for instance does such a network deal with conflicting values, does it exclude them or include them, how are these borders defined and does it hinder the idea of openness? Can a network be truly democratic when all nodes do not contribute evenly and how does one deal with decisions within a setting such as Winter Camp? Is Bricolab what is present at Wintercamp or does it also need to include the extended Bricolab family? There are no clear-cut answers to this, but Bricolab does seem to favor the idea of a gut feeling of openness based on principles or core values and include everyone by technological means such as streaming video and the mailing list." (http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/wintercamp/2009/03/04/bricolabs-autonomous-world-domination/)


More Information

Also present at the Network Cultures Wintercamp with Bricolabs:

  1. Creative Labour
  2. GOTO10