This empirical-critical study looks at the Air Quality Egg project, a Euro-American effort focused on the collaborative creation of a “smart” air quality sensor network. While widely celebrated as a “best practice” example of bottom-up smart city making, the involvement of a US software company that turned the data platform into a full-blown for-profit service suggests a very different reading. Yet why did the project’s serving both corporate and anticorporate agendas not cause significant conflict among participants themselves? Which practices, forms of imagination, discourses, and types of experiences enabled this collaboration against all odds? This article addresses these questions by looking at the ambiguous ways the group’s meetings mobilized the principles and practices of open source, prototyping, and a focus on doing, configuring the gatherings as spaces of transformational possibility, detached from the networks, roles, and institutions of daily life.

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