social barcamps and the Temporary Autonomous Zone

The Social Camping Movement

Since we did the first Social Innovation Camp back in April I've stumbled across other interesting expressions of the social camp meme.

Evgeny Morozov was involved in the Riga BridgeCamp, which was set up to be a between the tech sector and NGOs.  As well as the camp, they planned to have roving tech support after the event (in a kind of erider-stylee): as Evgeny writes "Real results will be ensured by Support Laboratory: 'One day – one site'. It means, a programmer and a designer would visit a NGO (from all Latvia) and make a webpage for them."

The TransitCamp is a great example that has a specific social focus (improving Toronto's public transport system) and also manages to break away from having only web/tech ideas (e.g. proposing an 'Improve Your English Car' for their subway trains). I missed a recent chance to go to thinkpublic's Social Lab but they may be striving in a similar direction. Post-SICamp, I also heard rumours of interesting camping in Brazil, which would make sense given their strong open source movement and their stark social needs. 

Temporary Autonomy

For me, the far-reaching potential of social-camping comes when the aim is not just to improve the current system (whether that's charities or subways) but to develop something free of legacy constraints. The unfolding impact of the social web will come from the erosion of 19th century structures (such as charities and corporations) and the (re-)emergence of people-powered solutions. My German is way too limited to tell which way the Bremen SocialCamp leaned on this point, but there were obviously some interesting folk involved (hat tip to Christian Kreutz for that link).

Part of the creative energy for Social Innovation Camp came from freeing the participants from the expectations of their days jobs; the camp was a license to say 'all power to the imagination'. But how deep does this go - is it just the excitement of demob-happy designers, geeks & charity workers ignoring the fact that Monday morning will come again? Or does it prefigure some genuine social restructuring, which would make the camps a relative of Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zone. After all, the "the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control" is also a neat summary of social media. It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next months, and Social Innovation Camp will be pitching in now that we're back!