The Procomum Institute (IP) began in 2015, when the Technology and Alternatives project (projeto Tecnologias e Alternativas) was launched. It focused on rethinking the role of free culture organizations in face of the changes brought by the internet – including the advance of State surveillance and the growing presence of big corporations on social media. At this point in time, the commons issue was already a simmering one and was part of the agenda that enlisted the actions of the Brazilian digital culture during the years of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration (2003 – 2010).
In August 2015, the Santista Laboratory Project (Laboratório Santista – LABxS), which was conducted by the Procomum Institute (although the institute had not been officially established at that time), was selected to be part of the first edition of the Civic Innovation program promoted, in a joint effort, by the Secretariat General for Latin America (SEGIB) and MediaLab-Prado (Spain). Alongside Argentine (SantaLabs) and Uruguayan (Montevideo LAB) experiences, the LABXS was prototyped, incorporating the civic innovation, while keeping its focus on free culture.
The Technologies and Alternatives project developed a series of activities concerning research, debates, technical visiting and experimentation. Those events allowed the founding team of the Procomum Institute to better understand the contemporary scenario, not only in Brazil, but also in Ibero America, Africa and Asia. We realized that the issues that afflicted us at the beginning of that project were also present in other contexts, and that the issue of restructuring organizations to deal with the current world is a rather burning issue. Thus, from the resulting experiences of this research, we set out to create the Procomum Institute.
Between March and June 2016, we held the LAB.IRINTO – International Meeting of Free Culture and Citizen Innovation, in Santos (SP). The event promoted a series of debates and opportunities for participants to share experiences, as well as international articulation between breeders of the Baixada Santista area and others from different regions of Brazil and the world, for two months. During this process, we were able to (1) subsidize LABxS (Lab Santista), a laboratory of free culture and citizen innovation that is our main prototype in progress; (2) strengthen a national network of free culture and citizen innovation and (3) advance in international articulation around the common goods agenda.
On August 18, 2016, the institute was officially established and since then has been developing a series of projects and actions focusing on social changes.