Selena Savic, Viktor Bedö, Michaela Büsse, Yann Martins, Shintaro Miyazaki
December 31, 2020
This article explores the use of agent-based modelling as a critical and playful form of engagement with cooperative housing organizations. Because of its inherent complexities vis-à-vis decision-making, commoning is a well-suited field of study to explore the potential of humanities-driven experimental design (media) research to provoke critical reflection, problem-finding and productive complication. By introducing two different agent-based models, the interdisciplinary research team discusses their experience with setting up parameters for modelling, their implications, and the possibilities and limits of employing modelling techniques as a basis for decision-making. While it shows that modelling can be helpful in detecting long-term results of decisions or testing out effects of unlikely yet challenging events, modelling might act as a discursive practice uncovering hidden assumptions inherent in the model setup and generating an increase of scientific uncertainty. The project “ThinkingToys for Commoning” thus argues for a critical modelling practice and culture, in which models act as toys for probing alternative modes of living together and exploring the constructedness of methods. In countering late forms of capitalism, the resulting situated and critical practice provides avenues for enabling more self-determined forms of governance.