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Participatory documentation practices

Participatory documentation practices

and the co-creation of learning artifacts

Early 2016 – I’m looking at footage I captured from a recent contract, distracted by a strong brewing question : would it possible to marry a documentation process with the co-creation of an object of some significant use, an object that helps memory, that remains useful long after it’s creation, an object that really contributes to a cause?

April 2016 – A prototype : a book, co-created by 80 people in one night, exploring the transformative potential of the festival scene.

June 2016 – The Work is completed, it starts to travel, and it seems to impress.

Download the full ebook for free or Buy a copy at cost 

July 2016 – The story surrounding this process bares fruit and I receive an invitation : “Could we use a similar process to document that CommonSpace during the World Social Forum this year?  Little problem : it’s only in a few weeks.”
I say no ; I say “we can do better”

Small scale panic attack.

In 2 thunderously dizzying nights, I come up with a plan : a game design and a harvesting process for a card game that documents the World Social Forum creates a game on the Commons. All the pieces are ready to go, let’s just hope the project gets accepted.

4th of August 2016 – First day of the World Social Forum.

Me and my team created an installation to encourage people to create cards,

we made a page on which people will lay down their learnings and

we wrote about 100 questions to sparks their imagination.

Our intention was clear : invite people passing through the World Social Forum to commit their highlights and major learnings to a card format. We had 2 teams following the activities of the CommonSpace ready to approach people and ask them to contribute something to our forthcoming card game

Fast forward a few days : me and the team, Crumbled from exhaustion, surrounded by piles of papers, all cards created by all these new connections we met during the Forum. In total we’ve got 250 cards created by 50 different people.

Creating the C@rds in Common

So here we are : a 250 page document demonstrating people’s experience of the World Social Forum ; that’s enough work, right ? Not quite.

Next was the transformation, gamification, selection of cards for the game, the creation of rules, the multiple rounds of testing and the endless cycle of balancing. Turns out that creating a card game is a handful ! In all, it took us 8 versions and 4 months to get to a place where we feel the game is ready for it’s first public outing.

Here are the C@rds in Common – A game of political collaboration that documents the commons

Today, the C@rds in common see the light of day !

6 months after the Social Forum, our documentation / game on the commons is ready to circulate, be played by you and fuel your conversations on social change.

For this occasion, we’ve prepared a ton of resources that will, we hope, help you all get the most out of this project :

1- First off, what are the C@rds in Common ?

C@rds in Common is a tabletop card game where 2 to 5 players collaborate to create a resilient civil society capable of defending against enclosing forces. This game is composed of cards created by commoners from around the world who, together, painted a portrait of the commons so that, when you play, you play with real projects against real world problems. This game has essentially a double function : it’s a conversation facilitator on common themes which accomplishes on this intent via the mediums of fun and play and it’s a snapshot of some of the realities of the commons, a tool that will hopefully help us continue to document the commons using cards as containers of information

2 – Interesting ! What if I want to know more about the game ?

We’ve got a ton of media ready to help people learn more about this game.

Here’s a video tutorial on the game mechanics to help you get a sense of what kind of game it is and to help you get ready for your first games :

and a video that tells a similar story, if reading isn’t your favourite thing :

Finally, we’ve got a very detailed document on the step by step creation of this tool that is currently only in french but will hopefully be translated by someone awesome very soon (you? 😉 )

3- What are the C@rds in Common for ?

In essence, this tool exists at the intersection of play and learning. It’s primarily a fun card game to play with friends which helps grapple with some of the questions relevant to the common cause.

Here are a few ideas as to where / how to use the game once you have it

  • with friends and family, for laughs and a challenge
  • with political / activist organizations in your community
  • In your local libraries
  • with the game creation geeks in your area
  • in learning activities around the commons
  • Mostly with people you know who have yet to discover the world of the commons.

4 – Ok, I’m interested, how do I get a copy of this game ?

There are 3 options open to those interested in getting the game :

a- visit to download the source files and print the game yourself (currently under construction)

(from my experience, self-printing costs about 25 to 30$ Canadian)

b-Visit to order you full copy, complete with box and booklet.
(This item is sold to you at cost but, if you do not reside in the US, careful of shipping costs !)

c-Reduce your shipping costs by joining a group pre-order by writing to if you are in Canada or to and if you are in Europe.

5 – I live in Montreal and would love to come and a play a game with you sometime soon ! What should I do ?

Very soon, we’ll annonce a celebration of the release of the C@rds in Common for Montreal. Please follow to get the info as soon as it’s published!

6- I live in Europe and also want to play games with you all ! Hwhat should I do?

7 – I’d like to join to help the project move along. What can I do ?

That’s very nice of you ! We have the ambition of sharing everything that is needed to help people create their own cards and full games while letting the tool grow in potential and power but we do, indeed, need your help ! If you want to get involved, create an account here and stay tuned for such invitations :

8-and do you have a social media page where I can share pictures and videos of games I’ve played ?

Yes indeed!

9 – I’d like to write an article or share this story in some way, what do I need to do ?

You are more than welcomed to share this information and anything you find in the above links. Furthermore, if you require additional information not found here, don’t hesitate to contact

Also, you can find a selection of pictures of our project here to spruce up your publication here :

A great many thanks for all your continued support and I wish you a wonderful time playing C@rds in Common !

Metacollab Montreal :

Un projet de Metacollab Montreal
Par Matthieu Rhéaume
Raphaële Gosselin Payment
Christian Valin
Vanessa Duong
Zachary Pratt
Design graphique par Kinga Michalska et Matthieu Rhéaume

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