Tricycles of a Cosy Adhocracy

I just got my second COVID vaccination shot. The clinic was a repurposed community center in a rural town close to where I live. What impressed me was how thrown together the operation was —plastic folding chairs spaced out within a large room, volunteers directing cars to park at the church next door, supplies spread out under folding tables, nurses using tablets to sign people up for their second vaccine appointment.

As we waited in the observation room after getting the vaccine, I noticed an empty basketball court outside a window. Spread out on the court were children-sized tricycles. All I could think of were kids riding around on these tricycles, feeling a sense of freedom on that repurposed court just as I felt in the repurposed community center.

The whole situation is difficult to articulate, but I think Matt Webb gets close to it in this blog post about his own vaccination experience. Webb calls it a “cosy adhocracy”:

I mean cosy in the sense of Venkatesh Rao’s coinage domestic cozy: “Domestic cozy is in an attitude, emerging socioeconomic posture, and aesthetic. It’s homely. Satisfying.”

Just as there is cosiness in being at home with friends, eating together, soft furnishings, etc, there is also cosiness in community – in a neighbourhood. And so…

I mean adhocracy as in Cory Doctorow’s debut novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (download here). In this future world, as described in this review, social structure is provided by adhocracies, self-organizing groups of individuals working together to accomplish common goals.

Cosy adhocracy has an aesthetic all of its own. Village fetes, street parties, the vaccine roll-out. That Great British Bake Off tent is tapping into some deep vibes.

The material culture of cosy adhocracy is trestle tables, lighting used by decorators repurposed to illuminate the street in the early evening, and bunting. It’s books of raffle tickets used to share out the drinks; it’s church halls and other reconfigurable spaces; it’s whatever people have in their sheds.

May we edge ever closer to that raw, human, cosy adhocracy.