"Thank you for your interest! Unfortunately, the applications for the 2023 program are closed.
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Today's social networks are undergoing a multitude of crises, which means there is both a need for and momentum for change. Alternative conceptual and technological environments are taking shape thanks to commotion around Web3, the Distributed Web, and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations.
A 15-week hybrid bootcamp will alternate online participation with week-long periods spent in person at La Plateforme in Marseille. We will aim to imagine and prototype alternative decentralized social networks. Participants will form interdisciplinary teams to undergo a design-led process ranging from observation, to ideation, to, finally, a proof-of-concept prototype. We will raise such questions as :
- How to build social networks that would protect our relationships and privacy?
- How to ensure the legitimacy of information disseminated through social networks?
- What new insights can experimenting with decentralized technologies introduce towards bespoke use cases, manageable scale, and autonomous organizing of communities?
April 17 through to July 28, 2023
Free of charge, travel to Marseille and accommodation covered by the program. Courses held in English
Hybrid program: 11 weeks online, 4 weeks at La Plateforme in Marseille.
Application deadline: Monday March 13, 2023
April 17-23 : Launch week in Marseille
April 24-May 14 : Three weeks online (Monday to Thursday)
May 15-21 : Intensive week in Marseille
May 22-June 24 : Three weeks online (Monday to Thursday)
June 26-July 2 : Intensive week in Marseille
July 3-16 : Three weeks online (Monday to Thursday)
July 17-28 : Final push in Marseille
We will select a complementary set of participant profiles in order to form interdisciplinary teams. EU residents are eligible to apply. Proven experience in related fields is required (however, there is no degree requirement) :
- Experience interdisciplinary team work
- Acquire new methods for coming up with and prototyping ideas :
- observation and field work
- speculative design
- UX/UI design and UX research
- Web3 concepts and development
- Work with local communities to understand how they use social media, to come up with ideas grounded in field observations
- Develop a proof-of-concept prototype of a decentralized social network
- Observation exercises and tools
- Speculative design and design foresight activities and methods
- Introduction to user experience research
- Overview of Web3, the distributed web, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs)
- Workshops interrogating current and near-future states of social media (from the internet of things to the Metaverse)
- New profile-specific skills and knowledge (UX design and user research, blockchain technologies, observation toolkits) thanks to skill-up tracks (see section below)
- Presentation/pitch training
Team and Mentors
This list will be continuously updated
Critical designer and UX researcher
Marie-Cécile will talk about her practice as UX designer and educator, her critical position towards social networks as well as advocacy for open-source.
Marie-Cécile is a French critical designer, UX designer, practitioner and teacher of ecological redirection. As an independent UX researcher, she walks people and organisations through a systemic analysis of their needs, reinforced by real-world data through the study of uses and practices. At the center of her design practice lie accessibility, inclusivity, radicality as well as re-politization. She teaches in design and management schools, more notably the Master of Science " Strategy & Design for the Anthropocene ".
Matt will deliver a masterclass on speculative design fictions and filmmaking practice.
Matt is a designer and filmmaker at Superflux, navigating speculative future worlds and design fictions to interrogate the complex and interconnected challenges that we face in the present. During his time at Superflux, he has worked on many of the studio's film and media projects which have been exhibited internationally including Our Friends Electric, The Future Starts Here, Refuge For Resurgence and the Intersection.
For the program, Elvire will present her experience with social networks from the perspective of an activist.
Elvire Duvelle-Charles is a filmmaker, author and feminist activist. Having published an essay entitled "Feminism and Social Networks" (original title: "Féminisme et réseaux sociaux") interrogating the algorithmic capitalization of digital activism, Elvire founded the Tonnerre cinema club with the aim of turning cinemas into spaces for revolution.
In the program, Kheira teaches UX research and helps participants investigate how communities use social media.
An independent user researcher with a PhD in political communication and digital governance, Kheira has worked as a product manager and as a user researcher for the British Parliament and the UK Government.
Since 2018, she has been coaching private companies and teaching Lean UX practices in schools and companies. In all her missions, Kheira proposes a user-centered approach in the design and development of digital services.
Designer, design researcher
Through embodied design methods, Juan pushes participants to see social media beyond screens and critically reflect upon its wider socio-cultural impact.
Juan is a designer-researcher and doctoral assistant fellow at EPFL (Lausanne) and HEAD (Geneva), exploring the role of decentralized technologies on spatial practices. Juan works at the intersection between art and design and organizes critical workshops on contemporary technologies and panels on contemporary editorial practices. He designs interactive installations with the programming tools he develops. He is the co-founder of Station of Commons, a research project on digital commons practices.
Project manager, presentation coach
In the program, Isadora will help with structuring and confidently delivering final project presentations.
Working for Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Isadora develops, structures and runs fast-track and peer-to-peer training programs, primarily aimed at entrepreneurs and agents of change. Isadora strongly advocates the need to roll out programs based on the idea of collective intelligence, developed among peers to scale up the impact of social innovation projects. Previously, Isadora spent 15 years honing her expertise in the structuring, financing and monitoring of social innovation projects in emerging countries (particularly in Africa and Latin America), and more specifically in the fields of education and innovative financing.
Jon C Flint
Jon will be co-hosting a Metaverse workshop, along with Miller Klitsner and Vytas Jankauskas
Technological products and services are becoming more and more complex. Jon C Flint's interests as a designer lie in dissecting this complexity and distilling it into simple and unique physical form. Grounded in the domestic space, often the first port of call for new technologies to impact our lives. These manifest as: IoT appliances, mirrors, salesman suitcases, workshops, and even rooms from the future. From 2015 to 2018 Jon worked as a designer prototyper at the acclaimed design and experiential futures practice Superflux. Over the years he has exhibited work at the Tate Exchange, V&A, Asia Culture Center, CCCB, as well as leading talks and workshops in Montréal, Canada to Shanghai, China.
Artist and blockchain developer
In the program, Sarah examines notions of trust in networks and mentors each project individually to raise questions regarding data privacy, anonymity, and the overall notion of security.
Sarah Friend is an artist specializing in blockchain and the p2p web. She is a participant in the Berlin Program for Artists; a co-curator of Ender Gallery, an artist residency taking place inside the game Minecraft; an alumna of Recurse Centre, a retreat for programmers; and an organizer of Our Networks, a conference on all aspects of the distributed web. Recently she has exhibited her work at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery in Canada, the Kunstverein in Hamburg, the Oökultur in Linz, Austria, the Nagel Draxler Gallery in Cologne, suns.works in Zurich and the Floating University in Berlin.
Game designer, educator
Miller will be co-hosting a Metaverse workshop, along with Jon Flint and Vytas Jankauskas
Miller Klitsner is an artist and game developer from the SF bay area. From an early age, he has been working in toys and games as both play-tester and prototyper in his family's studio. In his undergrad at UCLA, he experimented with everything from documentary, performance, stop motion animation, to game development and design. He has worked since as an augmented reality developer, conceptual artist, game designer, and instructor in Los Angeles. In 2019, he left LA to complete a brief fellowship in Shanghai, where he helped develop Unknown, a large-scale installation with Chronus Art Center in collaboration with Beijing sculptor Yin Xiuzhen. In 2020 he returned to LA and has continued to make work in augmented reality as well as teach courses in immersive interactive media at the UCLA Game Lab and Cal Arts.
Communication & social sustainability designer
Alexia will support the students in their design process and outcome, and assist the course's coordination.
Alexia is a Communication Designer. Educated in Graphic Design, Visual Didactics and Sustainability, she has developed an interest within social sustainability and citizen empowerment. Her professional experience, with both corporate (advertisement, fashion and entertainment) and social fields (food activists, live arts and healthcare), has trained her to shape and defend creative inter-disciplinary concepts, using co-creation, speculative design, and service design.
Cultural anthropologist, ethnographer
Nicolas will deliver a masterclass on observation-based interdisciplinary field work.
Nicolas Nova is an Associate Professor at the Haute-Ecole d'Art et de Design (HEAD - Geneva) where he teaches anthropology of digital cultures, ethnography and design research. He is also co-founder of the Near Future Laboratorya design fiction agency. His latest books are " Dr. Smartphone: an Ethnography of Mobile Repair Shops " (IDP, Lausanne) and " A Bestiary of the Anthropocene " produced with the Disnovation.org collective and published by Onomatopee (Eindhoven).
David will take care of the UX track in the program.
David Benqué is a designer and researcher from Paris FR living and working in London UK. His background is in graphic design (BA) and speculative design (MA RCA).
He is currently the project lead for CryptPad, an end-to-end encrypted collaborative office suite.
He is a PhD graduate (2020) from the Royal College of Art with practice-based research into algorithmic systems, using diagrams as a form of media-archaeology. Since then he continues this work independently as the Institute for Diagram Studies.
Editor and independent researcher
Justin will support students in observation and community-related field work.
Justin Pickard is an independent researcher and editor. He has a PhD in infrastructure politics and urban life from the Institute of Development Studies, UK. From 2014-18, Justin was co-director of Strange Telemetry, a research company running future-facing projects for policy and innovation. His current work grapples with sensemaking and uncertainty, using horizon-scanning, qualitative research methods, writing, and experimental publishing.
Vytas is the principal Course Lead and delivers parts of the program related to design fiction, as well as overall course coordination.
Vytas is an artist, designer, and researcher. His practice encompasses technology and the domestic space, the "internet of things," data ownership, social media, and their intimate impact on our everyday lives.
In parallel, Vytas is the Head of Digital Pool at HEAD - Geneva (Geneva School of Art and Design). From 2019 to 2021, Vytas was the Head of Research and Creation at the Chronus Art Center Lab, Shanghai. In 2021, he was also Adjunct Faculty at NYU ITP, Tisch School of the Arts.
Phase #1 - Exploration and Observation
- Share skills
- Form teams and identify communities of interest
- Explore and analyze the complexities of today's digi-social interactions
- Meetcommunities and observe their use of conventional social media
- Discuss notions around Web3 and the decentralized web
Phase #2 - Near-Future Vision
- Explorenear futures of social networks
- Create films, speculative scenarios, and prototyping props
- Present a tangible near-future vision of a social network to the communities in question, to explore use cases and anticipate potential unintended effects
Phase #3 - Prototype
- Return to the present to design a Proof-of-Concept (POC) prototype of a social network
- Projects will take the form of navigable user interfaces, along with strong accompanying research documentation
- Groups will make informed functional decisions related to the latest decentralized technologies (blockchain, tokens, DAOs, etc.)
Three skill-up tracks
Three learning tracks running throughout the course of the program will aim to boost students' skills and provide knowledge required for creating a quality social network prototype. Each student must choose at least one track, but may also attend others :
- Observation Track
Optimized for social science practitioners and social entrepreneurs; participants in the observation track will use research-through-design methods to gather community insights to nourish the project.
- UX/UI Track
Aimed at designers and artists; participants in the UX track will discuss the history and politics of user experience and interface design in social media, as well as learn some practical UI skills (using Penpot).
- Web Development Track
In this track, participants will engage with theory and practice related to various Web3 notions, look at development frameworks of dApps, and explore the technical and ideological patterns woven throughout the decentralized web.
A selection of emblematic projects carried out over the years.
Healin is a social network designed to help doctors and patients work together, and to help them each get support from their respective communities.
Discover the project
Tri.co is a social network that helps upcyclers buy or salvage materials, sell their creations, and learn from user-created tutorials.
Discover the project
Food Food is a social network that allows people who love cooking to build community in their neighborhoods.
Discover the project