In the face of various attempts to restrict and hinder the open web philosophy, “we win by creating a movement”: Joi Ito’s words during the Mozilla Festival 2012 certainly resonated with the atmosphere created by over 1,000 attendees, who gathered at Ravensbourne College last week for this year’s web maker summit.
Amongst developers, designers, educators, students, and web and media pros, the <ahref Foundation participated in the event with the group taking part in its first Educational Week in London, dedicated to the world of web and startup enterprises.
The need for a new generation of web makers emerged throughout the two days at the lively event, which revolved around a handful of keywords.
A generation of boys and girls who are increasingly interested in the languages of informatics is being born; their families are starting to understand that hours in front of the computer are not just spent playing, but also acquiring skills that may be crucial for their children’s future.
This trend was confirmed by the great interest aroused by workshops such as the one held by Mitch Resnick and his MIT Media Lab team on family-oriented creative technologies, or the one by CoderDojo, an educational movement active in a number of countries (including Italy), which has the goal of introducing boys and girls between 4 and 18 year of age to the world of computers, helping them code games or web pages.
Gamification was the second keyword of the event.
During the Mozilla Festival, the Webmaker Badge project was launched, as a tool to foster the learning of digital skills through fun and attractive educational courses.
An interesting parallel project, Doug Belshaw’s Web Literacies White Paper lists in wiki form the skill level and competencies necessary to become a web maker. Another noteworthy input came from Thimble, a new platform that allows users to test their skills by modifying existing Internet websites or designing new ones.
Launched last year, Popcorn Maker is an interesting option for budding (or expert) video makers who want to create videos in the same way they might assemble a digital mosaic, so that each element (video, text, audio, link, tweet) is connected to the others and can be fished freely from a basin as big as the whole web.
The innovations in journalism could not be left out, of course. After the launch of the OKF and EJC’s Data Journalism Handbook during the last Mozilla Festival, this year the fellows of the OpenNews project were presented: eight developers and technology experts that will have the opportunity to work on one-year editorial projects for data and open journalism with The New York Times, BBC, The Guardian, Zeit Online, Spiegel Online, the Boston Globe, ProPublica, and La Nacion.
EU GA Buffet
After the two days at the festival, the <ahref Foundation’s Educational Week delved into General Assembly’s educational opportunities. Energy levels stayed high for the five days during which we gained the basic knowledge necessary to start and develop a business in a global and dynamic market: from new business models to user acquisition and marketing strategies, from user experience to design. A number of speakers on the program shared useful stories and advice for anyone looking to find a way to implement his or her ideas. To mention but a few: Tom Hulme (IDEO), Shakil Kahn (Path), Devin Hunt (Lyst), Christopher Lukezic (Airbnb) and Jamillah Knight (The Next Web).
The last stop in our London adventure was in Cambridge, for Silicon Valley comes to the UK. Every year this initiative – launched in 2006 by Sherry Coutu, Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) and Ellen Levy – brings a week of meetings for professionals, enterprises and the general public to the famous University city. The CEOs of various Silicon Valley companies visit London, Cambridge and Oxford for a lecture and meetings’ tour e and final job fair.
It is interesting to note that Cambridge remains the most important technological-digital cluster in the United Kingdom, and one of the top-ranking in the world, despite the growth of the London Silicon Roundabout.
All in all a positive experience for all those participating in the Educational Week, which attracted such a high number of candidates that a second edition is already in store in a few months!
The <ahref Foundation’s contribution to the report that the Italian government will present during the Internet Governance Forum in Baku.
On Monday, October 29, from 4 to 6 pm, a meeting was held at the <ahref Foundation’s headquarters in Trento, in vicolo Dallapiccola 12. The meeting was open to anyone interested in participating in the public consultation launched by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) on the fundamental principles of the Internet, and spanned from the shortcomings in the current laws to possible solutions and proposals.
The results of the discussion allowed the <ahref Foundation to outline the suggestions it has submitted to the MIUR in the context of the public consultation, which has the goal of defining and preparing a national “point of view” to be presented during the next Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2012 will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on November 6–9, 2012).
A dozen attendees participated in the event, which was moderated by professor Vincenzo D’Andrea of the University of Trento; Stefania Milan, part of the team of consultants that directly assists the Italian Minister of Education, Francesco Profumo, on the issues that pertain the government’s digital agenda, was also present.
What follows is a short summary of the discussion, written by Vincenzo D’Andrea, highlighting the ideas that had general consensus and the most relevant viewpoints expressed by individual attendees during the debate.
The consultation is based on the important, and shared, assumption that private citizens are the experts on their own habits and practices, which must be taken into consideration. The meeting held by the <ahref Foundation strived to maintain the same perspective, exploring the aspects that are closest to participants’ personal everyday activities on/with/for the Internet.
The summary is divided into six parts (a foreword and five sections, A–E), which mirror the structure of the document that was submitted to the Ministry. The full proposal can be accessed from the website of the public consultation on the fundamental principles of the Internet (Principi Generali di Internet), by selecting the Fondazione <ahref tag on the bottom left.
ForewordA strong recurrent theme during the discussion was the need to bring down existing “barriers” of any shape or form. The issue emerges throughout the current version of the document. Indeed, during the meeting, we discussed about technological barriers, access barriers (i.e. lack of infrastructure, cost, lack of skills), difficulty in content sharing, and neutrality. We suggest giving the issue a prominent position in the introduction.
Section A (General Principles)
Internet as a common good
The right to Internet access is worthy of being considered amongst the general principles, adding a strong statement such as: “Without a sound right to Internet access, it is unrealistic not only to talk about open government, smart cities and open data, but also to hope for transparent and reliable journalism”.
Neutrality of the web and open architecture
We stress the need to emphasize the fact that mobile connections are the most at risk in this sense.
To be added
A general principle could be added to introduce the theme of barriers into discussion, trying to make the principles themselves applicable to the widest possible field.
We suggest adding the following: “The principles here presented extend to all the phenomena which have occurred thanks to the Internet. In particular, the Web and all the platforms that regulate the access to information should uphold the same standards of transparency, neutrality, safety, confidentiality and lack of censorship that are demanded of the structure that hosts them.”
Section B (Digital Citizenship)
Access to the infrastructure, regardless of one’s place of residence
The first suggestion that arose as regards this section was to mention explicitly the importance of guaranteeing access outside of urban areas.
The second was to guarantee “Internet-free areas” as well (both in terms of physical places and activities). A protective barrier, therefore, should avoid the web’s pervasiveness to be perceived as an instrument of oppression, especially as regards the balance between private and professional life. Another issue connected to this theme is the need to safeguard the right to not have an Internet connection, i.e. to avoid making necessary activities or services (in particular those provided by the public administration) dependent on the use of the web.
Public data: access and re-use
We noticed the absence of any reference to open data as an incentive to growth.
Furthermore, it should be added that data already belong to citizens, because they regard the “public matter”.
Individuals’ self-organization and autonomy
The active role of citizens online must be highlighted.
First of all, it would be preferable to use the word “people” instead of “individuals” in the title. Furthermore, adding “grassroots” seems redundant and unnecessary.
The issue of anonymity seems relevant, as we believe it is crucial to guarantee people’s protection when necessary. Therefore, after “of democratic participation”, the following should be added: “also through anonymous contribution”.
Before “Internet represents...”, the following should be added: “in particular as regards the production of public information, an active role in social and collaborative verification of news is crucial, as it allows to share expert knowledge that is disseminated amongst citizens”.
Section C (Web Consumers and Users)
We suggest revising the title. Considering the section does not tackle any issue regarding consumers, the title should omit the term.
Accessing, filing and deleting personal data
As regards this theme, we stress the fact that the research on the implications and effects of publishing content online is still underway, as regards both timing and the limitations to the right to privacy. It is generally impossible to know the consequences of online publication.
One of the key issues that emerged during the discussion is the “right to be forgotten”, and the possibility of deleting one’s data. This is a worrisome issue that might limit participation in online social life, as well as impact offline interactions. Furthermore, the right to be forgotten should be considered in parallel with the need to protect people’s right to information.
Finally, we stress the fact that online reputation should be protected even after the death of the interested parties.
Section D (Content Production and Circulation)
Sharing content and knowledge
We ask for clarification as to how to interpret the statement: “The protection of content creators’ rights is coherent with users’ right to be an active part in the flow of cultural and scientific knowledge.” It does not seem to state a principle.
To be added (Access to information)
During the discussion, the need to give broad protection to the access to information emerged; this should consider the point of view of both those producing and sharing the information and those searching for it. We suggest adding the following: “The providers of online services, platforms and content do not prohibit users from using the Internet to examine content more in depth and in a shared way, or from creating content, nor do they arbitrarily limit access to the information they produce.”
Section E (Safety Online)
Protection of at-risk groups
Placing this issue within the section about safety online is questionable. We suggest reviewing the text on Digital Skills (Section C), giving more room to the theme of non-discrimination. Actions that favor the acquisition of new skills, especially targeted to the groups who need them most, should also be given prominent visibility.
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What are the relationships between digital commons and creative economy? The reflections of a group of young professionals provides a possible answer.
On Friday, October 5, Giancarlo Sciascia and Maurizio Teli from the <ahref Foundation took part in the Innovation Day, organized by Città della Scienza (Naples) to launch the “Futuro Remoto” exhibition. What were they doing there? What convinced them to go from Trento to Naples and back in one day? They were looking for help in finding the hard-to-articulate answer to an easy-to-ask question: what are the relationships between digital commons and creative economy?
Maurizio and Giancarlo were invited to lead the “Creative Economy and Digital Commons“ workshop by Pasquale Popolizio of the IDIS – Città della Scienza Foundation. This post will summarize what emerged from the mapping they undertook with the workshop participants – a diverse group of people with different professional backgrounds, running the gamut from communication to photography, from visual anthropology to journalism. During
the workshop, participants were asked to think about the digital commons they have encountered, and about the professional activities they perform that involve such goods. The result was a post-it map in which “activities and products intersect, defining and out-and-out hypertext”(1).
What did Maurizio and Giancarlo find out about the relationship between digital commons and creative economy? First of all, that contemporary economy is conceived as a forced journey towards the constant increase of the creative and cognitive component in production processes. A journey that can be interpreted as a broadening of the creative class that has become a social feature of our times. As the workshop’s participants rightly noted, it is important to stress that creativity does not belong to single individuals, but has a crucial social and collective dimension.
But what does “creativity” mean? The most thought-provoking answer was given by one of the participants: “Creative economy means taking digital commons and getting something out of them, maybe”. That final “maybe” reminds us that commons are a chance, a possible room for action that we should not give for granted, in which the diversity of contributions is a necessary element, within a model centered on sharing.
All in all, participants see the economy as increasingly creative, with the collaborative transformation of digital commons. What does this mean for all of us, and for our society? Let us end with another quote from our favorite authors: “Probably, only common goods can stimulate an economy in crisis, which is unable to find a spark for renewal in its closed-circuit structures.”
1. The quotes are from the short statements of about 100 words that participants were asked to write after the workshop.
According to the Director of the Research Department at the European Commission today we are facing three different dimensions in our overall development path.
- A “macro revolution”, characterized by a paradigm shift spanning from globalization patterns to Internet and digital tools that encourage us to get rid of traditional strategies and to free economic systems from time and space limitations.
- A “micro revolution”, focused on the new economy and is pushing everything and everybody toward a knowledge-based society that aims at advancing sustainable occupational growth, stronger social ties, better quality of life.
- A “nano revolution”, drastically changing our own lifestyle and
problem-solving approach, and suggesting a model where intangible assets become more important than material ones, while innovative services and high-value products are predominant.
The key-word to successfully managed this complexity, explained Ezio Andreta, is an innovation management intended as a radical push for change and based on personal accountability. A paradigm shift is also required in the overall governance structure, with minimal ‘red tape’ procedures and broader support for knowledge-based entrepreneurship.
On a practical level, concluded Ezio Andreta, probably “two generations will not suffice to implement such drastic changes”. Therefore, innovation will play an even greater role to accelerate this shift – given that it could provide a clear direction, consistent goals and the ability to make real our dreams. This no less than a cultural transformation where our linear thought will eventually give way to another “Copernican Revolution” based on a wider complexity and a responsive governance.
Trento’s Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK) has partnered with the Art Institute Fortunato Depero in Rovereto to produce a special logo for its project called “La ricerca come mestiere/La tecnologia nei mestieri” (Research as a profession/Technology on the workplace).
The timu platform is already hosting several subjects designed by the students of the Art Institute. A jury will then select the final logo, while registered users on civiclinks.it can access the “La ricerca come mestiere” story on timu and select their favorite image.
The winning design will be announced on 1st June 2012 at Trento’s Festival of Economics.
The upcoming Festival of Economics in Trento (and Rovereto) is filled with discussion panels and cultural events with experts from all over the world. The main theme of this 8th edition (31 May-3 June) -- "Life cycles and intergenerational transfers" – highlights the effects of the current recession and the debt crisis in most EU countries.
The <ahref Foundation contribution to the Festival is focused on the Internet and social media as development and innovation engines. In particular, <ahref will manage the multimedia section devoted to "Generazioni, scuola, territorio" (Generations, school, territory). Local students and teachers will debate problems and opportunities created by new technologies, while also experimenting their functionalities.
On 1st June, Ezio Andreta, director of the European Commsion’s Research Department, will host a seminar on"Governare l'innovazione oltre la crisi” (Innovation governance beyond the crisis). The following day, another seminar hosted by <ahref with Alex Giordano, researcher on digital ethnography, will cover issues related to "Start Up Italia!". Finally, we will present the Fact Checking platform, including a learning by doing session.
The intense four-day event is co-organized, along with <ahref Foundation, by Cooperazione Trentina, Educa, Museo delle Scienze, Bruno Kessler Foundation, step (School for territory and landscape governance), Trento’s Education Institutes, and Dolomiti Unesco Foundation. Each partner will coordinate a series of workshops, roundtables and other events, with a special coverage provided by students of the Jourmalism Master at IULM in Milan. Their stories, pictures and videos will be published live on timu.it.
Taking a step further Facebooks's Timeline functions, "Facebookumentario" is a tool to improve the collective memory of recent events in Italy. As an example, a collection of videos, audio and text files, and map visualizations is providing an accurate reconstruction of a tragic bomb blast that took place in Brescia on 28 May 1974 at an anti-fascism rally, leaving eight peole dead and more than hundred injured.
After 36 years of investigations and trials (in 2011 a jury ruled a 'no guilty' verdict), this historical memory is fading away and thus keeping it alive becomes a matter of respect for the attack victims and a civic duty for the entire country. The reconstruction of that tragic day is now taking a new life thanks to a creative use of Facebook's Timeline.
"Facebookumentario" is a tool to share specific memories and also to enable a collaborative process aimed at creating a new perspective based on both personal and collective accounts.
(by Isacco Chiaf)
Crisis and creativity are two key-word in the history of Italy, a somewhat “abnormal” country that nevertheless gave birth to such geniuses as Lorenzo de' Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello. In recent times, such broad collective intelligence produced a combination of technology and beauty that in turn gave us people as Enzo Ferrari and Adriano Olivetti.
Between crisis and creativity, the value of working produces opportunities and a context for new ideas. Article 1 of its Constitution states that Italy is "a Republic founded on work”, even if its current leaders tend to forget it.
Based on a parnership between <ahref and Giuseppe Di Vittorio Foundations, the "The way of working" project runs on Timu, a platform devoted to collaborative inquires and storytelling based on four core principles: accuracy, independence, legality, impartiality.
We believe that storytelling means taking care of ourselves, promotes better relationships and enhances innovative process for communities and organizations. Therefore we decided to tell the story of those Italians that keep working with creativity and passion, people who make the best of their intelligence, love, and commitment to support an entire country along a new process of innovation and growth.
Those stories must be told, this country deserves a special stage. Tedx Napoli is a great opportunity to expose this "way of working". And maybe the next Tedx event should describe a sort of return of Homer -- without heroes and gods, but detailing the daily problems of common people. This could be defined as "cloud storytelling", a collaborative rewriting of our life soundtrack.
(by Vincenzo Moretti)
Members and researchers involved with the <Ahref Foundation will be very active during the upcoming International Journalism Festival (Perugia, 26-28 April 2012). Just to mention a few events, we will introduce a new “fact-checking” platform, while also providing updates about our major collaborative inquiry on “the school left behind” and tackling the controversial issue of freedom of information and protection of (anonymous) sources.
During the 2011 edition of the same Perugia Festival, the just-launched <Ahref Foundation proposed its first collaborative inquiry on school drop-out in Southern Italy, in partnership with the “Fondazione con il Sud”. A project that gathered many contributions from local citizens and it is going very strong on our timu platform.
Unfortunately, the problem of school drop-out is far from being resolved: from “wealthy” Lombardia and Trentino regions to southern cities, a growing trend of dropping out of the education system is affecting youngsters throughout Italy. A discussion panel will address the issue once again (Friday 27/04, 3:30 pm), with Tullio De Mauro, former Minister of Education and renowned scholar, Marco Rossi-Doria, current Undersecretary for the Ministry of Education and former “street teacher”, and Giorgio Meletti, journalist and coordinator of the inquiry on timu.
<Ahref Foundation will also introduce a first example of civic media for collaborative fact-checking in Italy. This new platform enables netizen-based verification of statements by public figures, news stories, radio-TV shows and other documents. The final goal is to create an independent and reliable information context by taking advantage of social media’s exponential growth. Adapting the successful model deployed by Newstrust and Politifact in the US, this exciting project will be detailed by Luca De Biase (President of Ahref Foundation) and Sergio Maistrello (Journalist and author), with a question and answer session (Saturday 28/04, 2 pm).
Another important panel (Friday 27/04, 6:30 pm) managed by <Ahref Foundation members will cover “Anonymous sources in journalism practices”, a controversial issue particularly after the 2011 WikiLeaks saga and the increase of whistleblowing activities across the world. Traditional journalism is being challenged by this broader use of anonymous sources to tell the public or authorities about alleged misconducts, illegal activities or corruption cases occurring in government departments, public or private organizations. This framework is giving way to a series of unprecedented issues requiring greater attention, from verification of anonymous material to the need of laws and practices to protect whistleblowers.
Finally, renowned scholar and legal expert Stefano Rodotà will hold a keynote speech on the complex intricacies of democracy, media and power in today’s networked society – with an introduction by Luca de Biase (Teatro Pavone, Friday 27/04, 11am).
Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. On Friday March 16, Massimo Banzi, leading developer of Arduino, hosted a seminar in the Ahref headquarters about the worldwide success of this unique Italian endeavor. While the resulting video will soon be made available online, we also carried an interview with him posted here below.
Banzi explains that Arduino is not a mass product but it’s gaining popularity (especially in the USA) for its specific performances and usage contexts, such as in art installations and interactive projects. He focuses on this entrepreneurial push that enables a pure ‘made in Italy’ idea to find its niche in today’s electronic and computer market mostly dominated by East Asia companies. This interview is mostly aimed at younger generations in Italy, providing them with inspiration to embrace new paths based on innovation and creativity that can actually achieve successful results.