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January 23 2012


2012 Look Ahead. SOPA and ACTA Are a Big Deal


This post opens a January mini blog post series devoted to 2012 social tech trends. Even though old divisions (when it comes to time, as well as geography) are of less and less appliance in the modern (tech) world, 2012 already seems to be critical for various tech-driven decisions of global importance. 

In a series of posts this week, we will be exploring the near future of web design, as well as the mobile trends; we will also call out a few #protips for going greener technology-wise. 

This post was supposed to be, only and as much as, an invitation for staying tuned to our Net2 channels, and taking part in discussions around emerging nptech trends. However, the recent SOPA and ACTA developments brought yet another thing to our attention. 

Both regulations address the intellectual property issues, and are considered a threat to the freedom in the Internet (freedom of access, and freedom of speech). I will not go into the details of SOPA and ACTA here. Instead, I would like to look at the social response to the proposed regulations. For these interested, I provide additional links to reliable information sources on the topic on the bottom of the post.


The Power Of Feedback

Last week in the US was marked with a series of websites blackouts -- a widely spread digital protest joined by many local and international and local domains. By blacking out the Internet US citizens 2.0 provided their authorities with a feedback of a strength and reach never seen before.

On the same week that the Internet went black in the US, the Polish government announced that on January the 26th it will sign the international ACTA agreement. For the past three years ACTA has been negotiated in secret by 39 countries, some of them (including the US) already signed the regulation. Civil society, developing countries, as well as the Internet users has been excluded from the conversation, as they were in the case of SOPA.

Hactivism -- Tweet by Tweet

In response to the Polish government declaration, an online community of hackers via their Twitter profile (AnonymousWiki) called to action: “POLAND NEEDS A REVOLUTION. Government signing on the 26th!”. By 2:00 AM many government and public institutions’ sites got blocked and blacked out. The protest included a popular prime minister’s daughter blog on fashion and make up. Instead of the usual lipstick & hairstyle photos the site would reveal a note: “Tell Your Dad He Won’t Win With Us. Stop ACTA” ("Powiedz Tacie, że z nami nie wygra. STOP ACTA") -- check out the print screen image on the right.

Anonynmous called hacktivists to put the protests on hold until the Minster of Administration and Digitization, Michał Boni, speaks to the prime minister. Due to the protests the meeting has been scheduled for today (Monday, Jan the 23rd). It is very likely that the rapid online response to the threat of signing ACTA without any serious social consultations will block the process for the time being. 


A Big Deal

I wanted to write about SOPA and ACTA protests in the context of the 2012 Look Ahead, because it speaks to a very important global trend. It has been said during the Arab Spring, that Social Media gave Arab people the voice, and empowered them to act. It seems to me that SOPA and ACTA are a somewhat similar case. As the opponents of the acts claim, governments and corporations have been systematically limiting people’s freedom, and despite numerous protests have often remained unpunished. The last month has shown that citizens 2.0 have tools and motivation to feedback government actions, and to fight back at these they find oppressive.

It Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

The question of methods, as applicable to radical activists’ and (h)activists’ initiatives, constitute a problem here: how should we fight back, and what will be considered crossing the line? Does the immorality of one side justify the attacks of the other? And finally: what does the democratic potential of the Internet really translate into?

These questions are the ones to ask now, and during the following months. I won’t say that 2012 will bring all the answers, but will definitely force us into taking a stand.


By bringing up the challenges of transparency and democracy we kicked off the 2012 blog series from the very top -- meta level -- of the tech pyramid.  Tech driven reality has many layers, and we will be diving right into them during the next couple of days. Tomorrow, we will look at  the 2012 trends in web design. Stay with us! Important trends we are missing in our little 2012 Look Ahead Series? Share yours -- we will welcome all your adds.


Learn More




December 01 2011


Social Hacking in Poland -- Case Study

You may have read about how Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) will be spreading to different world locations in the upcoming days of early December. In this post I would like to shine a little light on how the idea of organizing Random Hacks of Kindndess Warsaw (to happen this weekend) came to life. This initiative constitutes a very interesting, geo-specific example of how a community of practice can develop and grow organically.  Read about how open initiatives and collaborative projects take social change far beyond what have been planned and how inclusive participatory models can be!

There Was Something In The Air That Time

In early October, Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, specifically the team responsible for the Watch Docs Human Rights Film Festival, came to meet me and other organizers of the Warsaw NetSquared Local (NetWtorek -- the site is in Polish only) to talk about the possibility of organizing a Social Innovation Camp during the Festival, in early December 2011. Because the festival team was looking for technical support, among other things, the NetWtorek team pointed them to BRAMA. BRAMA is a Mobile Technologies Laboratory at the Warsaw Polytechnics University. It serves as a meeting point for the Warsaw community of Linux programmers, and is run and managed by one of the founders of the Polish Free and Open Source Foundation (website in Polish only).

Interestingly, BRAMA was already involved in conversations with a few people from the very dynamic Warsaw Startups community, and thinking about organizing the Warsaw edition (the very first one!) of the Random Hacks of Kindness event on December 3 and 4. On top of that, Centrum Cyfrowe (a think-and-do tank whose mission is to build a digital society in Poland) planned an Open Data Day -- a meetup dedicated to writing applications, liberating data, creating visualizations and publishing analyses using open public data -- for the very same time.

Two Heads Are Better Than One. What About Seven?

We all wanted to do something around technology for social change. So we reckoned it is better to do it together.  

After realizing how big the Polish nptech potential really is, an open initiative of Warsaw NGOs and friends has decided to do more than just organize the event. The group contains of various Polish organizations:

Our first step was to launch an online platform dedicated to all Social Hacking Initiatives in Poland -- sohack.pl. SocHack is an aggregation platform, branded with its own, independent brand dedicated to gather information on all social hackathons in Poland. The landing site displays banners or clickable images of upcoming events, and takes you to the specific event’s subpage. Creating such a page for your event comes easy -- you are more than invited to use the technology tools donated by CiviCRM Polska, and the graphic design, as well as a layout concept that came from Fundacja TechSoup. Our site is (y)our site.

Let’s say you want to run a hackathon dedicated to social issues and you need an online space for your event -- we have a free tool in place that will help you do that! Do you have questions of how to navigate through the site, add and modify content? We have people passionate about tech for change that are willing to help -- just give us a shout!

Random Hacks of Kindness Warsaw

For the time being, the site (and specifically the /rhok2011 subpage) is the main online space dedicated to the Random Hacks of Kindness and the Open Data Day events to happen on Dec 3 and 4 at Warsaw Polytechnics University.  Open Data Day will act as one of the RHoK projects -- everyone who feels passionate about pulling out the Polish monuments data, clearing it, and pushing it back to Wikipedia, can join the group. However, there we have more projects already in the line.

The November NetWtorek meetup was dedicated to the topic of hackathons, and the social impact they could have. We have also organized two additional meetings: one for the NGO/ social activists participants, and the other for technologists who expressed their interest in participating in the event. We have worked together on the formulating the problems and ideas in an actionable way, and working out the structure for potential projects. I personally feel very passionate about guerrilla gardening and biking project (mapping bike lanes and peaceful city parts). We also heard from people willing to build a learning barter platform, and some who’d like to prove links between physics inspired theories and the social logic of why people act kind (it might not be as random as you think!).

Everything Is Still To Happen

Interested in how will it all turn out and what Polish people define as the most appealing social and tech driven initiatives? Learn more!

Follow the #rhokwarsaw hashtag, and check out the SocHack Facebook Fanpage.

Also: stay tuned to the Netsquared blog, we will be sharing more and introducing the winners after the weekend!


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October 05 2011


In The Fields – Community Driven Innovation Hits The Road in Poland

Did you know that TechSoup Global has its European Headquaters in Warsaw, Poland? The office known under the name of Fundacja TechSoup plays both the role of the European hub, and an independent Polish nonprofit. Billy Bicket and Laney Strange are currently visiting Fundacja TechSoup’s Office in Poland. In an effort to understand the local reality and therefore be able to develop new programs and projects that would be actually community driven, the CDI team went to interview NGOs in the Polish countryside.

Who Did We Talk To?

On our one-day trip we visited 3 different local NGOs:

  • W.A.R.K.A. Association, which is based in the city of Warka, one of the oldest cities in the Mazovia region. It is an NGO that supports the local social activities and encourages initiatives coming from Warka and surroundings. W.A.R.K.A. partners with many social actors: organizations, as well as informal groups or individuals.
  • Association for the Development of the Kozietuły Village from Kozietuły. The Association was created in order to reopen a local grammar school that had been closed by the local government. The educational offering is the Association’s main focus, although they currently apply for funding that would help them go beyond their primary program.
  • The Association for The Future of Our Children from Izabelin Górki. The last NGO that we visited doesn’t even have an office. We were hosted by the organization’s board president – Ewelina Jarecka in her house in the village of Izabelin Górki. The Future Of Our Children is an organization that focuses on helping kids with physical and mental disabilities and was created by the parents of kids in need.

What Did We Learn?

Small NGOs see the value of using technology, but new tools are usually not the first thing they can afford to focus on. The organizations we visited are understaffed and generally underresourced; they learn technology and apply for online grants with the help of friends, or friends of friends. People working in a small NGO share responsibilities, so that each member or employee has to be prepared to cover everything from fundraising to event’s logistics. In such environment any form of ICT support  is always appreciated. Although most organizations are familiar with the product donations available through Polish Technologie Non-profit Donation’s Program, sometimes what they need is not only the resource but the know-how. They would like to learn how to use technology to help them gain information, raise money, communicate better as well as spread the word about what they are doing. The three organizations we talked to would definitely appreciate support coming in a form of expert’s advice or a help from volunteer(s).

The Next Steps

The local CDI representatives (Alicja Peszkowska and Anna Kuliberda) with the support of the entire team will be working on developing smart solutions for how to re-distribute the knowledge and the ICT know-how between the ICT specialist, social activists, bigger and smaller NGOs. Yesterday’s study trip was exploratory in terms of understanding the factors that any further actions will need to address. We also hoped that we developed a relationship with our further allies and beneficiaries.

Stay tuned for the update on our work and projects, and further news concerning Polish NPtech. We will be examining the landscape very carefully to make sure that our projects don’t get lost in translation!

April 14 2011


We’re Hiring! Global Community Builder (CEE)

We’re currently looking for a veteran community builder with experience growing and managing community-driven projects in central and eastern Europe and around the world.

Here’s a quick summary of the role:
The CDI Global Community Builder will inform and implement the design and ongoing management of all CDI programmatic activities across the region, including grant-supported projects. Specifically, the Community builder is focused on growing participation and connections across TechSoup’s web properties and partner sites via implementing a social media strategy, supporting offline events in the region, facilitating workshops and/or trainings, and managing the launch and development of web-based challenges in the region.

Our dream candidate is naturally curious, inspired by the potential of the social web, and has already demonstrated their ability to bring diverse groups of people together to get things done. Bonus points for previous involvement in the NetSquared or nptech community.

Does this sound like you or someone you trust? Check out the full details including application instructions!

Note: Our team is distributed, but we’re particularly interested in candidates in Poland or elsewhere in central or eastern Europe.

April 16 2010




Like the Mexican pandemic flu, the volcano ashes from Iceland are becoming a nightmare.

So the Mandarins are canceling all the flights in the UK and many other European countries.

Who’s in charge in this mess?

Nobody except the Mandarins!

Look below at the last map released by the British Met Office.

As you can see, no ashes over the UK.

So why the airplanes cannot fly?


Why Jeff Jarvis was able to fly today from Munich?

Why between 100 and 120 airplanes crossed today the Atlantic and landed in Europe?

And more dramatic, in the Civil Aviation Forum, one reader says:

“The previous eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, whose ash cloud has shut down airspace over Britain, lasted for more than a year, according to an expert.”

The chaos is affecting to everybody:

The German secretary of defence was today on his way back from Afghanistan with five seriously wounded German soldiers on board (four others were killed) and it is not known where the Airbus A310 was be able to land in Germany with those medical emergencies who need urgent treatment.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be diverted to Lisbon on her return from the US today – and be stranded there until tomorrow afternoon as the crew will be out hours.

What about Obama going tomorrow Saturday to the funeral in  Poland?

March 25 2010


March 03 2010


Homework: Modern Polish Poster Design


If you are in the London area, Kemistry Gallery is currently showing works by the warsaw-based design studio homework (Joanna Górska and Jerzy Skakun). On display is a selection of over fifty of their prints including classic cinema and modern Polish theatre posters. The exhibition runs from March 5th through the 17th of April.






(via designboom)


Also worth checking: Dirk Fowler + Jason Munn / Small Stakes interview

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