MAZI means together An open-source “minimal computing” local network infrastructure used for cultural event organisation, fieldwork research and community-based curation

1. Abstract

The emergence of Community Networks (CNs) and DIT (Do-It-Together) minimal computing ecosystems has resulted in technological solutions that enhance community connectivity and digital inclusion. The case is made for the cultural uses of local network infrastructures that combine wireless technology, low-cost hardware, and free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) applications. Based on these features, the toolkit MAZI (“together” in Greek), a Horizon 2020 project initiated by NITlab, University of Thessaly, Greece, has been deployed for creating pop-up local wi-fi zones independent from the internet, that enable digital interactions of communities within a low physical proximity coverage range. In this context, the focus is to explore the cultural-technological intersectionality of local community networks and its affordances as useful infrastructures for enhanced cultural event planning, humanities research and curatorial practices.

The objectives of ICT-enabled local networking as a research, curatorial and communication tool within the scope of humanities, digital scholarship and the GLAM sector, can be directed to foster new participatory curatorial forms, the digital documentation of transient -off the internet- community knowledge sharing and inspiring alternative experiences of the locality and commonality.

The three applied cases presented here are examples of physical proximity community networking platforms that have adjusted and utilised the open-source applications of the MAZI toolkit (NextCloud, Etherpad, LimeSurvey and Wordpress) in different cultural settings, mounting the toolkit on a low-sized hardware with minimal computing capabilities (Raspberry Pi):

i. Media exchange, audience communication and voting in a cross-cultural Balkan event

The toolkit was used for enhancing audience engagement during a multifaceted short film festival in the Balkan region. A platform was developed for sharing images, comments, chatting with local community members and enabling a voting system where individual preferences could be expressed. MAZI operated as a hands-on tool for building a participatory digital infrastructure for cultural event organisation, particularly suitable for outdoors or out of internet range areas.

ii. Collaborative commenting and anonymous participation in community-based fieldwork research

During community-based research, we employed an array of participatory techniques that elicit multimodal qualitative data: collective drawing, collaborative creative writing, reflective blogging, storytelling. Protecting anonymity, ensuring privacy and ethical data recording was a critical part of the research project. We employed the build-in anonymity features of MAZI that allow users to connect and share without registering their identities (by default). In this setting, MAZI beared the potential to transform a group of people into a convivial, spontaneous and creative research community, producing critical and ready to analyze empirical data.

iii. Digital exhibition hosting and community-based curation with added content

Digital exhibitions in HTML format built from scratch, hosted in a variety of open-source local networking infrastructures (Piratebox, Librarybox, MAZIzone). The exhibitions could be accessed only locally, on-site, traveling along the venues. The audience could explore the exhibition by connecting to the local network (no internet access) through their personal devices, with the option to upload their own content, collectively curating and contextualising the exhibition. The use case of MAZI here was utilising wireless local networks as exploratory digital curatorial tools.

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Mariana Ziku (, History of Art Laboratory, Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences, School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina, Greece and Elli Leventaki , History of Art Laboratory, Department of Fine Arts and Art Sciences, School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina, Greece

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