v _____ v  _____    _   _  v _____ v   ____      ____       _      ____
     \| ___"|/ |_ " _|  |'| |'| \| ___"|/v |  _"\ v v|  _"\ vv  /"\  v |  _"\
      |  _|"  V  | |   /| |_| |\ |  _|" R \| |_) |/ \| |_) |/ \/ _ \/ /| | | |
      | |___    /| |\  v|  A  |v | |___    |  _ <  I |  __/   / ___ \ v| |_| |\
      |_____|  v |_|v   |_| |_|  |_____|   |_| \_\   |_|    A/_/   \_\ |____/ v
       <<   >>  _// \\_  //   \\  <<   >>   //   \\_  ||>>_    \\    >>  |||_
       (_V_) (_A_)(_R_) (_I_)(_A_) ("_)(__) (__) (__)  (_P_)(_A_)_D_)  (__)  (__)

  Welcome to the etherpad-lite instance hosted by Varia! 
  You are most welcome to use it but please take note of the following things: 
  - The pads are not indexed by search engines, but anyone that knows its URL is welcome to read and edit it.
  - The contents of the pads are not encrypted, meaning that they are not private. 
  - Anyone with access to the server has the possibility to see the content of your pads. 
  - We make our own backups, meaning the the contents of all pads sit on our harddrives potentially indefinitely.
  - Because the identity of a pad author cannot be confirmed, we don't respond to pad retrieval requests.
  - If you rely on the content of these pads, please remember to make your own backups.
  - The availability of the pads is subject to cosmic events, spilled drinks and personal energies.
  If you wish to publish a pad to the Varia etherdump < https://etherdump.vvvvvvaria.org/ > add the magic word __ PUBLISH __ (remove the spaces between the word and __) to your pad.
<!-- __RELEARN__ -->

# Tracks

Whatever might be going on during Relearn, we tend to focus on processes over outcomes[^1]. However, research themes are important to provide entry points into collective research. Thematic tracks (usually simply called tracks) are subject proposals which are put forward during the week in different ways, some more technical, some more discursive, some more exploratory.

[^1]: The goal of Relearn is not to be collectively productive, instead it is left up to each participant to determine the rhythms and patterns in which they want to operate. The session attempts to construct a playful space where if something like work happens, it is for the sake of curiosity and does not require the participants to perform acts of closure, finitude or functionality.
The motivation for this can be found in Relearn's history: one of the reasons for starting it in 2013 was a reaction to those *work sprints* that go under the name of *workshops*. Open Source Publishing (OSP – mentioned here as the initiators of Relearn 2013) was and is often invited to give workshops in various art and design schools, but one reoccurring condition of these *workshops* is the desire to produce objects, often in print form: publications, posters or collections. This partially comes from the need to be able to grade and score students' work, but it has become clear that working to these end goals hinders the focus on research questions. Later, this became an idea to address during Relearn. Clearly stating that making finalised things is not a requirement at Relearn lets participants spend their time exactly where they desire, not constrained by conditions imposed by production.

*Tracks* is a deliberately loose word used for a subject, an approach or a set of material allowing participants to influence and orient the direction of collective work. A track is the word that has been used to ensure that everyone involved realises that diversions are encouraged and that one can decide to take alternative routes. Tracks in that sense is meant to resonate with tracks or pathways in a forest. Some of those tracks are more close to being roads and even appear on the map, but others are more serendipitously created as people start to follow the same path more often, pushing the leaves and branches on the floor to the side. They start to leave a trace and create a track for others to follow. Others are less visible, but marked with signages that indicate direction. Some of these tracks carry histories with them, while others are yet to be discovered, thus defined. As such, the strive for this kind of learning can be interpreted as a walk we undertake together, that is short-lived, but whose discoveries are potentially continued in different places, traversing into the day-to-day lives of the walkers.

We start suggesting this metaphorical use of the term track while writing about the 2017 edition. The term has been used since the first edition, but has never been explicitly described. It became a transversal element of Relearn without a fixed understanding of what it could be.

Tracks are prepared in advance. Most Relearn iterations involved an open call for tracks. In some cases these tracks were proposed by people coordinating Relearn itself, but more often than not, track submissions came from people beginning research into a topic and wanting to bring the topic to a wider group of people to develop the subject further. Track organisers are typically asked to bring enough material to make their questions understood, but no more than that. By using the word track instead of workshop, we try to call for proposals of subjects, attitudes or techniques, that can be collectively explored. During Relearn some tracks (borrowing from versioning software vocabulary) have been forked, signifying a split, a deliberate change in direction, a disambiguation or a deeper exploration of a sub-topic.

This openness for input/take-overs from others directly relates to the wish of displacing roles of the teacher and learner (see notes expanding the *call for tracks* text). A secondary, yet key ongoing experiment, is the idea of track travelling: encouraging participants to take part in tracks and then visit other tracks. It emphasises not only the lack of focus on production, but other aspects too: active documentation, sharing of topics and giving participants a chance to benefit from all the subjects being researched at Relearn. An expression of this—and something that has been done deliberately—is when a track initiator leaves the track they originally started, to join a different one.

Various moments of sharing spring up throughout the length of Relearn. They assist in communicating to the rest of the groups what each track traveler is busy with and become an invitation for external questions. These moments help track travelers move to other focuses, or take ideas and processes from other groups. It is notable that these sharing moments are not scheduled and do not happen regularly. They also tend to happen organically, often the sharing of updates happens throughout meals and breaks.

![Reroam discussion on Friday morning.](relearn-2017.sources/photographs/day-4-selection/low_IMG_9854.jpg)

Relearn 2017 hosted a new type of experiment related to tracks; to put track proposals in conversation with one another and see what type of situation it would yield. As a response to the open call, we received thirteen proposals, of which five were eventually unable to join the week. The remaining eight were at different points in their development. In an attempt not to exclude any tracks, we discussed each proposal at length and noticed some common interests or similitudes in approaches. We then reached out to initiators and asked for their permission—and interest—to being put into dialogue with other initiators.

The motivation to do this was manifold: to provide the space to all those who had submitted a research initiative to find collaborators and to follow curiosities alongside each other, intersecting or multiplying; to make the track preparation process less solitary; to open up some of the research strands in order for more people to be able to join; to already form connections between participants; or serendipitous research encounters. Indirectly, we were also influenced by the notion that we had put forward in the call: co-autonomies, but this was more of a reaction to the topics that were proposed, not a planned move to enact the term.

We aimed to create an open conversational space where the experiences of those involved could inform the directions of the week. To break open the teacher-student duality by learning about your track partner's practice. Instead of a merge, the idea of having research questions be shaped by each other was a means to open up the organisational work and destabilise norms of knowledge production. This involved some risk taking: different ideas on how to lead the tracks had to be negotiated and the combination could have possibly diluted the focus of the original proposals. Time was also an important constraint; to be able to devote a week to re-learning is already a significant luxury, but to find moments to plan and plot outside of this frame was not as easy for everyone. Collaboration requires togetherness and agendas mirroring each other, and it is rarely free of frictions. In this sense, combining tracks came with more work for everyone involved in the organisation of the week.

We went one step further in this attempt: once we had received approval from all parties in the new partnerships, we opened an etherpad document[^etherpad] for each collaboration. In each pad, we included the proposals from each party and proceeded to include our observations and explanations of why we felt it appropriate to join the topics. Our proposal was for the track initiators to use that space to collaborate synchronously or asynchronously on the cross-sections of their subjects.

[^etherpad]: Etherpad is web-based software that allows for multi-handed collaborative writing and editing of texts in real time. The software is heavly adopted by Relearn and many of its supporting organisations, Varia, Constant, OSP. The consistent use of etherpad stimulated two Relearn transversal projects: [Ethertoff]( https://gitlab.constantvzw.org/osp/tools.ethertoff) , developed for and used during Relearn 2013) to turn etherpad into a writing interface for a wiki-type website; and [Etherdump]( https://gitlab.constantvzw.org/aa/etherdump) a converting and archiving tool of all pads in an etherpad installation.

Four tracks resulted:

- *Ransom Headlessnesss in the Design of Language* looked at the interplay between design and programming languages.

- *Versioning the Networked Archive* explored the link between networked communities and archives starting from practical examples such as the Poortgebouw archive, or the Github archive.

- *Not-So-Utopian Open-Source Pedagogies* combined a critical examination of utopian conceptions in open source software with constructive methods for the organisation of groups.

- *Collective Care Transmission Forms* dealt with healing in cyberspace from a critical feminist materialist perspective, communal care in digital environments and the transferral of aural thoughts and expression.

The outcomes were less ambivalent, we felt: bridging the tracks meant that the organizers had to gain an in-depth understanding of their intentions through the collaboration and to have an oversight on the connections as well as on the digressions of the two topics.

A later, further risk was taken from these resulting tracks (and their pads): the tracks pads, containing track proposals and new information from the established contacts, were made public and used to invite participants to contribute in the secondary call for participation. Those considering to respond to the open call for participation would be able to see the topics in their latest version, and even, if they so wished, to already propose corresponding questions or contribute material. The ideal scenario we were trying to create here was a collective research environment that could traverse the fixed time of collectivity by extending the discussion to before and after.

An observation from the specific track attempts from 2017 is that it was easier to create discussion points between individuals than among groups. Some track proposals were submitted by groups of people. In those instances, the collaborative work done by the initial group was more complex to bridge into a new, bigger group, no doubt due to the already complicated work done in multiple people proposing a single track. Frictions also arose when discussing their common grounds. It is also notable that we were not always able to consider these frictions as points of interest, opportunities to observe collaborative practices. These, as well as the extra quantity of work and coordination it implied, makes us wonder if these experiments worked. Looking back, we would procede with more caution and be more hesitant about pairing up individuals with / and / or groups of multiples without providing a dedicated space (beyond an online editor) for that. Dedicating a full week in the summer to Relearn is complicated enough as it is, investing extra time in preparing a track together can be too exhausting.

When Relearn 2017 ended, no time beyond the practical disassembly of the spaces we used was planned or budgeted. We, as a group of organisers debriefed lightly, took time to publish (problematically ! cfr. *a-little-too-active-documentation* notes) the etherdumps and information from the local server on shared text & code versioning platforms, but not much beyond that. Relearn 2017 happened on the first week of September, so the traditional September rush ensued.

The Rotterdam edition of Relearn also marked five consecutive years of the summer research project, after which there was a year of silence. Meanwhile, Varia—as an idea, as a group and later, as a space—, was in full development, and various previous Relearners were meeting in multiple different contexts, Barcelona, 35c3, Computer Grrrls, Constant worksessions, etc.

Relearn 2019 was re-initiated with experiences from previous years in mind. A desire not to continue the format, but to address the time and energy requirements to organise an iteration. Relearn 2019 was re-initiated as a curve of short two to three day sessions, spanning several cities, over a longer period of time. 


Relearn 2019



- What is a track, from our perspectives?
- Various approaches to tracks


From the text about the Parallel School in Extra Curricular
- horizontality in power relations between skills to express a position or opinion and those who are less good in that. Or between people who have knowledge about a subject already and those who have not.
- exercise of loosing individuality, to seek the collective

model of curating
model of openness
breaking open the workshop format
similarity with hackerspace organisation (everyone feels free to add their workshop)


Easy self-institutionalization
A website is very convincing. It's easy to appear bigger then it is.
How easy things are in sleep mode, or terminating.
Where do these alternative learning situations live?
Thinking of Evening Class falling apart these days ...
The relation to infrastructure with longer term horizons (Constant, OSP, Varia) supports the continuation of Relearn.



From thefreedictionary.com, a list of idioms showing the metaphors through which tracks are understood in the English language:


Emails: https://pad.vvvvvvaria.org/nooo.relearn.call.for.proposals-proposal-emails

Message we sent to all participants: