10/11/18 · Research

Barcelona City Council and the UOC seek to recover the city's historical memory

The Universitat Oberta de Catalonia (UOC) is promoting a series of activities under the slogan "Digital City", one of the itineraries making up this year's Open City Biennial of Thought
Photo: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash (CC)

Photo: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash (CC)

Co-creation and Memory: Open City Laboratory is the name of one of the activities that the UOC has organized as part of the Open City Biennial of Thought, a Barcelona City Council initiative that features the collaboration of the UOC, the Barcelona Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCB) and architect Carles Muro, along with experts from all over the world. The Biennial begins the week of 15 to 21 October and runs until December.

The Laboratory, which will be held on Saturday, 20 October, from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, at the Fabra i Coats Creation Factory (Carrer de Sant Adrià, 20), seeks to utilize technological tools to recover Barcelona's historical memory, and it aims to do so collaboratively. Everyone taking part will rescue the forgotten names and stories linked to collective action, placing special emphasis on gender, and the results will be added to Wikipedia. They will create a page on this online platform for the women forgotten in street names, for instance.

“We will take on the challenge of offering a view of the city through maps and names of streets or public spaces that recover past stories, historic events and figures, a collective memory  fitting of a city open to its own reinvention”, explains Mayo Fuster, director of the DIMMONS research group at the UOC and one of the experts who has mapped out and designed the more technological itinerary of this Biennial of Thought.

The activity will be preceded and followed by additional events that the University has organized for the first week of the Biennial, namely the following:

Slow Science and social participation: Other ways of doing science (17 October, from 7:30 pm to 9 pm, at the Vila Urània Civic Centre). This session will champion little science in contrast to its large-scale counterpart. The participating experts are calling for time to think, to experiment and to fail in science, time to digest the results and discuss them with experts from other disciplines. The activity will also emphasize citizen participation in science and technology, which has become increasingly relevant in recent times. Social stakeholders and movements wish to be involved in scientific discourse and transform it into a matter of social debate. “These are other valid and stimulating ways of understanding scientific activity”, claims Eduard Aibar, director of the UOC's Master’s Degree in the Information and Knowledge Society, who will be moderating this conference. Participation will include two expert speakers: doctoral degree holder in Sociology Carmen Romero, and History of Science professor at the UAB Xavier Roqué.

Digital cities, digital freedoms: digital commons, ethical standards and open-source software for cities (18 October, from 9 am to 8 pm, at the Fabra i Coats Creation Factory). This conference will open the debate on the impact of new technologies on cities and people’s needs. This activity will bring together cities, digital communities, universities, companies and members of the general public to discuss and reinforce the potential of this approach. Throughout the day, there will be lectures, exhibitions and debates open to the general public.

Social networks, algorithms, democracy and post-truth (19 October, from 7:45 pm to 9 pm, at Plaça Virreina). This conference will analyse the challenges created by algorithms and social networks, while also rethinking the opportunities each one might offer, based on the application of models for democratic governance. The experts who will be tackling this analysis are two journalists specializing in technology, Marta Peirano and Karma Peiró, and the Government of Catalonia’s Director-General for Citizen Participation, Ismael Peña-López.

Limitations to freedom of speech in the 21st century (20 October, from 7 pm to 8:15 pm, at Plaça Virreina). One of the pillars of democratic systems is freedom of speech. The adoption of new technologies and the digital culture has created new opportunities for exploring freedom of speech, but also new challenges.  What happens when the scope of freedom of speech is questioned?  Who decides what the limits are? How should we treat this right in an open city? Discussing this will be human rights and technology lawyer, Renata Ávila; theatre director, dramatist and technopolitical strategist, Simona Levi; and the members of the NoCallarem (We Will Not Be Silent) platform.

The UOC to take on a more digital Barcelona

The Open City Biennial of Thought aims to connect considerations on the role of the city in these changing times with the main schools of thought that today debate the future of democracy, the explosion of differences, the challenges of technological change and the continued existence of predominant urban models. Of the four itineraries making up the Biennial's programme, the UOC has led Digital City, an itinerary that will analyse Barcelona's technological revolution, along with innovation, social media, digital rights, hackers, post-truth and women in the technology industry.

The UOC is taking part in the Biennial through the IN3's research group, DIMMONS, which conducts research into the collaborative economy, socio-economic innovations and commons production. The group’s central line of research is related to the commons and the collaborative economy, from a perspective of policy co-creation and methodological innovation. The director of DIMMONS is Mayo Fuster.

The UOC and Sala Beckett take part in the Biennial with a season on fear

Five lectures, four shows, three dramatic readings, three post-event discussions, one course, one exhibition and an open mic stand-up evening make up the “Terrors de la ciutat: Escenaris de conflicte i de por” (City terrors: Scenes of conflict and fear) season, which opened on 2 October with a lecture by philosopher Marina Garcés. Jointly organized by the UOC and Sala Beckett, this initiative is also part of the Biennial of Thought.

For Pastora Martínez Samper, Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, leading one of the Biennial's itineraries is recognition of the work carried out by researchers at the UOC and of the commitment made by the University to generate knowledge with and for everyone. “The UOC seeks to stimulate co-creation processes with various groups and citizens, as we are aware that knowledge is not just for academia. This is one of our commitments for contributing to the construction of shared knowledge”, she concludes.

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