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Lab: Ping, Nantes, France: Do It With Others!

Geeks would know what a ping is, the term is commonly used to describe the transmission of any signal to locate the network or to test the reachability of a host on an IP (Internet Protocol) network... but what about the others ? And by the way, who knows what PiNG is ?



PiNG is a non-profit organization based in Nantes and active in the field of digital cultures since 2004. PiNG supports and initiates, from local to international, projects that allow its members to develop (new) ways of collaborating and processing contents, together with : social and cultural organizations, artists, schools, cooperative, public institutions.

Honestly, it has never been an easy task to describe PiNG - what we do daily - as every single day our workflow opens potentially new perspectives, creating as many ramifications as grounds for crazy ideas and new cooperations. And that's how it drives us easily to work simultaneously in a neighborhood of Nantes, with a spanish network of peer-organizations and with a new collaborator in Africa. Maybe what we do is not that important - it is almost similar to any lab-like organization : we propose open workshops, courses, educational programs-on-demand, residencies, public events, etc – but it is how we do, make and share daily, that produces sense inside and outside the organization.

The nature of PiNG in itself is collaborative. From inside, PiNG is a team composed of 6 members working full-time, every one being both in charge of specific activities and in charge of the whole. Consequently we spend terrible hours to discuss, to build and to validate the different programs we want to experiment with or support, the budget it requires and how to argue and set it up, the openness of ideas, process and contents.

This is effective in practice cause we think collaborative a collaborative way and every step is made with others or possible thanks to an on-line community. In other words, we keep the door open to invite our community or people we meet on the way to join our activities, we work with free software and produce contents under free licences, and we also challenge ourselves to present and share our experiences in differents contexts, new locations or unexpected territories... One would say it has its limits and it has for sure, but that's also how we feel we change social dynamics on a territory, public policies and cultural economy and, ways of producing and sharing knowledge.

So what we do concretely ? Here is a non-exhaustive 2011 tour of our lab : launching a citizen FabLab and animation of a 'bootcamp' workshop gathering more than 20 makers from France to learn how to build their digital machines (3D printer and CNC milling machine), experiments in collaboration with the Fine Art Museum of Nantes and local artists (mapping performance, augmented reality device for mediators and visitors), editorial coordination of a bilingual magazine ('Mapping Media Labs in Europe'), curation of an exhibition presenting artworks co-created by artists and seniors after a year of montly workshops and residencies, coordination of a 3 days international LABtoLAB meeting hosting 120 guests from media labs in partnership with local associations and institutions, yearly training program for 8 young people to initiate a webradio platform for youth, etc ; we also had a super christmas meal with the organizations we share our premises with.

Too good to be true ? Well, these are 'visible' examples but we (with others) also sign petitions and write letters... The LABtoLAB expression of concern regarding ACTA agreement we wrote beginning of 2011 is quoted several times in a study for the european greens on the compatibility of ACTA with human rights. Here is the quote : “the global flow of information [will be restricted] by regulating, and potentially criminalizing, the next generation of innovative network technologies” and especially new, collaborative online research activities, such as LABtoLAB and Wikipedia". Peter Westenberg, an active member of the LABtoLAB meetings, said 'although it seems funny to be jammed in the same jar as wikipedia and be labelled 'online research activity', it is nice to know that our work didn't go unnoticed'. And this would be valid for the rest, we hope.
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Lab: Ping, Nantes, Francúzsko: Rob to s ostatnými! 27-28


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