Article: Pandemic, Participatory Culture and Reinvention of Everyday Life

How do we define participation during a pandemic? Are we in an era that requires reinventing our physical space and our modes of participation to build a new society? The novel coronavirus has deconstructed social space as we know it, and significantly disrupted our participation in its spheres. Today we are witnessing new forms of space, in the light of the ongoing pandemic and its impact on our participation, physical space and digital culture. This article demonstrates changes that occur in the physical and connected spaces that form our “new virtual urbanism” (Doueihi, 2011). It describes participation practices in natural parks in Geneva-Switzerland and Pays de Gex-France, distinguishing three types of spaces: the pre-pandemic space, the confinement space and the deconfinement space. It shows how socio-cultural practices changed in relation to the configuration of the space and the use of digital technology. Will we need to reinvent our space to encourage participation? The answer lies perhaps in considering the development of our digital traces and harvesting them in organized projects with rules, purpose, administration, management and governance. In this sense, digital participation becomes full and efficient when it relies on the process of building a memory and includes those who find themselves excluded from this new world.

To read the article:

To cite the article : Saba Ayon H. (2021). Pandemic, Participatory Culture and Reinvention of Everyday Life. Jurnal InterAct, Vol. 10, N° 1, p. 10-18. ISSN (Print) 2252-4630/ ISSN (Online) 2614-1442.


Participatory culture and reinvention of everyday life

This text was presented in the International webinar “Post-Pandemic, Participation Matters” organized by School of Communication in Catholic University of Indonesia, Atma Jaya, on 26 June 2020, in Jakarta.

Selamat siang, good afternoon everybody,

First of all I want to congratulate School of communication in Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia for its 11th anniversary, and want to thank my esteemed Indonesian friends Professor Dorien Kartikawangi, head of School of Communication, Dr. Eko Widodo, dean of Faculty of Business Administration and Communication Sciences and their colleagues, for the organization of this international web Conference, in which I have the honor  to participate. My regards go also to the speakers, Professor Peng Hwa Ang, dearest Nia Sarinastiti, dearest Santi Indra Astuti and Láisa Rebelo Cavalcante.

International Webinar “Post-Pandemic, Participation Matters” – Unika Atma Jaya

It is a great pleasure for me to be with you, as if I am presently in Jakarta, this beautiful city close to my heart as the father of a batawi baby, and where I met admirable fellows and professors. Which you all good health and good luck in this webinar.

In the following minutes, we will question the concept of participation as a set of socio-cultural practices located in a physical space and a temporality, as well as in the digital environment. Furthermore, we will emphasize the need to invest in digital education – also known as transliteracy – and its accessibility, to include those whom the new post-pandemic world excludes.

The appearance of the novel coronavirus has deconstructed social space as we know it, and significantly disrupted our participation in its spheres. The physical and social distancing, in addition to the closing of state borders, are barely the tip of the iceberg. As a matter of fact, and in the name of safeguarding the public health, it is the very notion of participation – as an act located in space and time – that was significantly turned upside down, and must, therefore, be rethought, restructured and reconstructed in a world where humans and Covid-19 must now coexist.

However, participatory culture existed long before the internet. As for digital, it has and always will revolutionize the way we approach the different aspects of participation.

In his book The Practice of everyday life, French intellectual Michel de Certeau evokes daily invention and creativity through user operations. He proposes a distinction between two concepts: space and place.

“A place is (…) an instantaneous configuration of positions. It implies an indication of stability. A space exists when one takes into consideration vectors of direction, velocities, and time variables. Thus, space is composed of intersections of mobile elements. It is in a sense actuated by the ensemble of movements deployed within it. Space occurs, as the effect produced by the operations that orient it, situate it, temporalize it, and make it function in a polyvalent unity of conflictual programs or contractual proximities. On this view, in relation to place, space is like the word when it is spoken (…). In short, space is a practiced place. Thus, the street geometrically defined by urban planning is transformed into a space by walkers.”

Interestingly today – we are witnessing yet new forms of space, in the light of the ongoing pandemic and its impact on our digital culture.

The exemplifications are: (1) the pre-pandemic space; (2) the confinement space; and (3) the deconfinement space. Their respective representations vary according to the geographical, cultural and political context of each country. The pandemic has significantly altered the face-to-face participation in each of the space models.

Let us take the example of natural parks in a Geneva – Switzerland and the Pays de Gex, across the borders in France.

Before the pandemic, the local authorities and different users invested in the digital technology (such as websites, mobile applications, photo galleries and others) in order to develop architectonics that enrich physical spaces. The institutional websites provided information such as a description of the premises, accessibility, regulations, events and maps. Many digital projects flourished, focusing on the intersection of spaces, their stories and socio-cultural practices. Visitors in both areas could, however, swing by and have a first-hand discovery of what the place has to offer.

Nonetheless, when the confinement measures were enforced, albeit to different extents for both sides, visitors in France were asked to carry a travel certificate before leaving home. A simple task, like visiting a park, now required online research. The partial or complete closure of parks in France prevented any participatory activities. Those parks that remained open in Switzerland closed their shops and catering services and imposed severe restrictions on visitors, like precluding the gathering of more than five people or group walks.

Lately, and thanks to the deconfinement, the old participatory practices have taken a blow: despite the reopening of all parks and limited catering services, some shops and areas remain closed to limit social interaction. Other practices emerged, like off the counter orders and self-service, all while respecting strict hygiene rules such as prohibiting handshakes and hugs, wearing a mask, and enforcing the registration of contact details for people going at restaurants for contact tracing.

But what about the participatory culture in all this?

As we all observed, the social networks, blogs and websites, peer-to-peer services and online communities continued to grow and develop. Instead of merely popping by the parks, netizens debated measures taken by the authorities and enquired on how to get there by relying on the individual or collective experiences. In this participatory process, users were looking for accurate information to avert uncertainty.

There is no doubt about it: Sars-Cov-2 disrupted our society and our lives. It now dictates a new way for almost everything, a “new normal”, and we are still struggling to understand how, and why. The “virtual urbanism” professed by Milad Doueihi in 2011 has become our refuge, our new space.

The distinction between real and virtual no longer holds. Digital design structures, developed in the image of the architecture of our homes, parks and cities, is everywhere we look. Its technologies offer possibilities for interaction, action and visibility. Its architectonics recall the architecture in the physical world. They also connect conception and design to social dynamics.

As we may well imagine, working from home and physical distancing measures encouraged and empowered the emergence of participative online communities. It is significant to note that this pandemic has awakened the problem of the digital divide and digital illiteracy, further excluding people and groups from digital environments and online communities.

Today, the architectonics that we have built in the digital world, and that resemble our urban architecture need to be rethought. New digital urbanism, inspired by the changes we made to our lived spaces, must follow suit, and become more user centric.

User experience – a significant factor in the design of websites, platforms and digital applications – must be at the heart of our participation in the physical space, otherwise known as the lived space. Since we now live in both worlds, we should redesign one to reflect the changes we had to bring to the other, thus enabling the new ecosystem to fully function.

We must reinvent our everyday life so that our web and urban architecture complement each other. As such, our participation models must also be reviewed for better and fairer inclusion.

The immense acceleration and growth in the use of digital technology throughout this pandemic require a serious investment in the digital education (transliteracy) and digital accessibility to include those who find themselves excluded from this new world.

Participants should be aware of what they are participating to. They must know to what extent the production and circulation of their media content would contribute to their collective well-being.

Exchange with Dr. Dorien Kartikawangi

This pandemic has taught us many lessons:

  1. It reminded us of our animality and fragile biology. We were social beings long before we became digital subjects. It stands out as an intruder that enforces the adjustment of our space, and of our way of life if we want to survive.
  2. It showed us the similarities between our two worlds, where an urban exodus of individuals who move to the countryside is replicated in the digital, and on how we consume and look for information and share it.
  3. And finally, it teaches us that information is the essence of our civilization and that its presence requires cooperation at the local and international levels to achieve a new participatory culture in what has become our new normal.

Thank you for your attention.

Culture numérique et ville inclusive ? Webinaire international à Rio Branco-Acre (Brésil, 2018)

Discours d’ouverture du Webinaire « Culture numérique et ville inclusive », 1ère Rencontre Internationale sur le numérique et la ville, organisé à Uninorte-Acre (Rio Branco, Brésil), le 21 novembre 2018.

-Solange Chalub , Coordinatrice des études supérieures et de Biologie à Uninorte-Acre au Brésil.
-Hadi Saba Ayon, Chercheur CDHET à l’Université Le Havre Normandie en France; E-laboratory on Human Trace Unitwin Complex System Digital Campus UNESCO.


Solange Chalub. Source : Rose Sabóia.

Bom dia a todos! Bem vindos ao Webinar “Cultura Digital e Cidade Inclusiva” – 1º encontro Internacional sobre o digital e a cidade, realizado pela UNINORTE-Acre, Brasil, em parceria com Instituições da França, Canadá, Itália e Brasil.

Minhas saudações, em nome da diretoria do Centro Universitário UNINORTE ao:

-Dr. Hadi Saba Ayon, idealizador e parceiro na organização do Evento e aos professores/pesquisadores/consultores/diretores internacionais e nacionais:
-Sra. Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec, Université Le Havre Normandie, França;
-Sra. Marie Delaroque, Côté Cours, Le Havre, França;
-Sra. Armony Altinier, Koena, Paris, França;
-Sra. Agnès d’Arripe, Université Catholique de Lille, França;
-Sr. Marcello Vitali-Rosati, Université de Montréal, Canadá;
-Sr. Jean-Pierre Robin, Réseau international sur le processus de production du handicap, Québec, Canada;
-Sra.Maria Fernanda Arentsen, Université de Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, Canadá;
-Sra. Lucia de Anna, Italian University of Sport and Movement “Foro Italico”, Roma, Itália.
-Sra. Salete Maria Chalub Bandeira, Universidade Federal do Acre, Brasil;
-Sr. Armando Borges, Núcleo Estadual de Tecnologia Assistiva (NETA). Servidor público do Estado do Acre/ Brasil;
-Sra. Simone Maria Chalub Bandeira Bezerra, Universidade Federal do Acre, Brasil.
Aos professores Vander Nicácio e Janeo Nascimento, professores da UNINORTE, parceiros na organização deste Evento.

PalestrantesMeus cumprimentos a todos os participantes e à equipe de apoio. Pretendemos, a partir deste Webinar, provocar muitas discussões, reflexões e novas ideias/projetos que venham reforçar a inclusão, a melhoria no modo de vida das pessoas em comunidade.

Queremos ajudar a superar as barreiras que muitas pessoas têm quanto ao melhor uso do digital e, por fim, queremos fortalecer uma rede de pessoas sensíveis a esse tema; queremos aproximar esses pesquisadores e tornar mais conhecidas suas pesquisas, tão importantes para minimizar e ou até mesmo eliminar os obstáculos enfrentados na atualidade frente a esta questão; queremos influenciar outros pesquisadores, professores e estudantes, de forma que possam contribuir para minimizar/eliminar esses problemas.
Excelente evento a todos! Muito obrigada!
Agora, passo a palavra para o Dr. Hadi Saba Ayon, que dará continuidade ao nosso Webinar.

Webinaire 001

Hadi Saba Ayon. Source : Rose Sabóia.

Bom dia, Bonjour, Bon matin, Good morning,

Mesdames, Messieurs,

Pourquoi la culture numérique et la ville inclusive ?

Ce projet, le webinaire-qui est le résultat d’une longue tournée/mission d’enseignement et de recherche dans plusieurs États Brésiliens au Acre, à Bahia et à Brasília en 2018-, est issu d’une intiative individuelle qui est devenue collective, et qui s’inspire des travaux de recherche et d’action dans le domaine des « Humanités numériques » et des « Sciences du handicap ».

Ces travaux, en majorité français et franco-canadiens, questionnent l’humain à l’ère du numérique le définissant comme un « Homme-trace » conformément à Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec (2011); questionnent la traçabilité numérique et ses enjeux sociétaux; l’humain et son rapport au non-humain selon Marcello Vitali-Rosati (2018); questionnent l’ « humanisme numérique » selon Milad Doueihi (2010) qui est une culture qui modifie notre rapport au monde. Ces travaux interrogent aussi le handicap compris comme « une variation du développement humain » suivant Patrick Fougeyrollas (2010); les facteurs qui produisent la situation du handicap; les habitudes de vie des personnes ayant des incapacités; et les pratiques de participation sociale dans l’espace urbain.

Ce webinaire se réfère à des contributions/réflexions scientifiques, des colloques et des discussions présentielles et en ligne (sur Twitter, Youtube, des blogs de recherche et d’autres espaces web), notamment ceux de l’Ecole Française sur la Trace, de l’E-laboratory on Human Trace unitwin complex system digital campus à l’UNESCO, des chercheurs québecois à l’Université de Montréal, à l’Université Laval, au Réseau international sur le processus de production du handicap- qui a publié en novembre de cette année sa nouvelle Classification (Modèle de développement humain-Processus de production du handicap-MDH-PPH).

Ce projet se veut un pont entre l’Amérique du Sud et l’Europe et l’Amérique du Nord. Un pont non pas que pour le passage et l’échange de l’information et de la connaisance, mais surtout pour la structuration d’un débat riche et fructueux et d’une construction en réseaux qui prend en compte la dimension mondiale et interdisciplinaire des grands enjeux du numérique et de ses usages inclusifs dans la ville.

Rassemblant des chercheurs de disciplines et horizons divers, mais aussi de différents pays, le webinaire met la pierre angulaire d’une collaboration ambitieuse entre des chercheurs Brésiliens et internationaux, appelant à la traduction des travaux académiques et des publications scientifiques de français en portugais et du portugais en français pour faciliter ces échanges.

Le webinaire se veut aussi comme un prolongement du colloque international « Pour une ville inclusive : innovations et partenariats » organisé par le RIPPH à l’Université Laval au Québec les 8-9 novembre 2016.

Ville inclusive Québec

En connectant la ville à l’ « environnement numérique » (Louise Merzeau), le webinaire présentera des travaux :

    • sur l’accompagemnt des personnes ayant des incapacité psychique en France (avec Béatrice Galinon-Mélénec de l’Université Le Havre Normandie et Marie Delaroque de l’association Côté Cours au Havre en France);
    • sur l’inclusion et l’accessibilité du Web (avec Armony Altinier de Koena pour l’accessibilité numérique au service de l’inclusion des personnes handicapées en France);
    • sur l’usage du numérique par des personnes en situation de handicap (avec Agnès d’Arripe de l’Université Catholique de Lille en France);
    • sur la théorie de l’éditorialisation (avec Marcello Vitali-Rosati de l’Université de Montréal au Canada);
    • sur les représentations sociales du handicap dans le dialogue social (avec Maria Ferananda Arentsen de l’Université de Saint Boniface au Canada);
    • les risques d’exclusion à l’ére du numérique (avec Jean-Pierre Robin du Réseau international sur le processus de production du handicap au Canada);
    • sur la technologie numérique dans l’éducation (avec Lucia de Anna de l’Université de Rome “Foro Italico” en Italie);
    • sur les pratiques inclusives et la formation des enseignants (avec Salete Maria Chalub Bandeira de l’Université Fédérale de l’Acre au Brésil);
    • sur le coaching des fonctionnaires publics ayant une déficience visuelle (avec Armando Borges dos Santos du Service de la téchnologie d’assistance à l’État de l’Acre au Brésil);
  • et finalement sur la technologie numérique dans le contexte des pratiques scolaires (avec Simone Maria Chalub Bandeira Bezerra de l’Université Fédérale de l’Acre au Brésil).

Permettez moi, en parlant du numérique, d’avoir un pensée particulière pour Louise Merzeau, professeure/chercheuse et amie de l’Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, qui est décédée l’an dernier, et qui a marqué par ses travaux la recherche Française et francophone sur le numérique. Ses traces resteront des indices de son reyaunement et des références pour de futur discussions et productions.

Louise Merzeau

Louise Merzeau

Merci au Centre Universitaire Uninorte-Acre qui acceuille ce webinaire/notre webinaire, et à vous tous pour votre participation.

Comment penser le numérique qui modifie notre rapport à la politique, aux choses, à nous-mêmes et à l’espace ? Comment peut-on définir la ville inclusive pour tous et quelles seraient les mesures à prendre en faveur de la population ayant des incapacités ?

Tant de questions à voir tantôt.

Merci et bon webinaire à vous tous.

Ci-dessous le support de la conférence “Handicap et ville inclusive” organisée à Uninorte-Acre en août 2018: