Student Project of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design
Edit Wars
The city as Wikipedia
About the project
We've compared the city with popular websites in order to analyze what is common and what is different about online and offline editing. Here we are sharing special aspects of urban life which we were able to find out as a result of our real-and-digital-world comparison research.
What if
Edit shop
Thinking about more ways of introducing changes to the city we've come to the concept of an 'edit shop' - a tool that connects wishes of abstract people with the real-life world.

Edit shop is a website where anyone is able to make a suggestion regarding certain changes in the city and start fundraising campaigns. The shop team would calculate the cost of a suggested project, organize whip-round, handle all arrangements with real estate owners and authorities and, finally, arrange and run all planned work.
Experts' view on the edit shop
This solution could come off as a very useful tool since shop workers would work out all possible algorithms of cooperation with authorities. When implementing an idea, all difficulties arise due to unclear schemes of cooperation with authorities. The scheme is usually complicated and chaotic. Imagine if shop workers did all the work of finding out possible ways to bring ideas to life, then citizens would be able to make changes regardless of their abilities. The next step would be to think of a solution that will keep the whole situation from turning into chaos.
Alexandra Sytnikova, director of the "My street" project
In an age of DIY-urbanism and increasing civic participation by citizens in the creation and transformation of the city fabric, such an idea as Edit Shop has obvious application for the contemporary city. This is especially true in places such as Moscow where such activities are not (yet) happening to their full potential. Edit Shop provides a much-needed forum for citizens to begin discussion about how to collectively transform the urban interface. Of course it can work for an object, such as a lamp post or garbage can, but we should also think about it more broadly--as an information hub, as a collective social space and as a mechanism for editing the city itself. It has the potential to do what the internet does best: provides a digital space that can help citizens realize a greater future for the everyday urban spaces that they inhabit.
Martha Coe, urban sociologist

How it all began
Slow city
Every day people face huge levels of inconvenience in the city. Sometimes we are too busy to notice them, sometimes we get annoyed, but rarely enough to do something about the problem. There are times when the problem is too outrageous and we have no choice but to look for a practical solution. At the same time things on the Internet are changing rapidly.
17, 087 problems per month are solved on
515, 771 edits were made in February 2016 in the Russian version of Wikipedia
148,000 edits are made every second

Smart street-art
What if the city turned into Wikipedia?
Could the city possibly turn into the system where everyone is allowed to edit? The first question we raised became a micro intervention in the very heart of Moscow.
Kropotkinskaja metro station, Moscow
The place where the kiosks were demolished

Surprising revelations
What do we not know about the city?
Both the city and Wikipedia are environments that Moscow citizen face every day. The city loses to popular websites in terms of the speed of change and availability of understandable tools to introduce new changes. The city seems to be closed down to locals' suggestions. Needless to say, there is no proper interaction. We've decided to look closer at the differences and similarities between the city and Wikipedia in order to consider the possibility of transferring some of the website's principles into the urban environment so that the city can function better. We've also added to our research GitHub, a popular software-building service which allows to team-work on the single code. Нere you can find our findings and for the in-depth comparison follow the links.
This kind of ' edit wars' also happen in Moscow and is caused by the ever-changing official ideology of the authorities. When ideology changes, architecture that represents it changes as well. The most striking example of it is the Christ the Saviour Cathedral which has been demolished for the sake of the Palace of the Soviets, butwas laterreconstructed when authorities along with their ideology changed again.
The city can teach Wikipedia how to solve edit war. The answer is POPA/

Edit war in Wikipedia is monitored by several algorithms which help active users to react quickly to questionable activities at certain pages. Although it is possible to hide an edit war by simply adding information that will completely change ideas of previous authors instead of bringing the article back to its earlier version. This process can go on forever until a higher-ranking user blocks his opponent. Although this kind of hierarchy goes against the principle of equality at Wikipedia.

Mandatesand authority in the city are even more unbalanced, and one of the reasons for that is the fact that property rights empower one person to have the decisive word. Private property in its classic form could prevent productive actions. "Don't touch it, it's mine!" However, the POPA (privately owned publicly accessed) concept is becoming more popular nowadays. It implies that everyone has access to the object, which has a single responsible owner. What if Wikipedia articles got the POPA status?

It is important to mention that edit war is allowed in GitHub largely due to the fact that each code has its own 'master'.
There is a backlog in the city too/

It seems that the city doesn't have any 'backlog' tool – the list of all changes applied to an object. We indeed wouldn't be able to find comprehensive list of changes, especially in those cases when changes were implemented by individuals (e.g. today someone has moved a plank and tomorrow it will be gone). Although the trained eye of a historian, architect or Moscow city expert will be able to detect edits that were never documented, e.g. atypical building location, piece of loose plaster, unusual combination of shapes. For the real searchers we've prepared short instructions.
There are no forks in the city. Although virtual reality will make it possible/

A building either exists or it doesn't. It is either red or ultra blue. It can also be green - the color doesn't matter, what matters is that the building has one version (even though owners of "Khrushchev-era" apartments would disagree). On the internet we can easily find varieties of versions for the same piece of information, for instance, fork. Virtual reality could provide citizens with new opportunities. What if everyone were able to create alternative versions of typical buildings, streets and squares?

Unlike Wikipedia, we need material resources if we want to implement changes in the city/

Another distinctive feature of the city against Wikipedia is the necessity to invest material resources when making changes. Paint, blocks, planks and nails – these are not the things every person has close at hand. People passing by the problem are able to claim it but not implement a real change, which makes the whole process of introducing changes slow.
Maintenance of implemented changes in the city is just as important as introduction of changes itself/

Any change in Wikipedia doesn't require additional costs for encyclopedia (even though it does cost server space and human resources to make sure that the added information is valid). At the same time, any change in the city - a new rubbish bin, a planted tree or a fixed bench - requires constant maintenance. What if we allowed citizens not only to invest in making changes they find suitable, but we would also assign owners to this implemented change?

Experts' view

The team project
We are students of the Strelka Institute 2015/16. The theme of our year of study - Hybrid Urbanism. We explore paradoxes of the city, generated by a bizarre intertwining of digital and physical spaces. We know that technology can be the answer, but for us the more important is to formulate a question.
Thanks to experts and STRELKA students for feedback and help.
Thanks to our tutors and curators Andrey Manirko, Eugenia Pospelova, Fedor Novikov and Pierluigi Dalla Rosa.
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