I would like to post a huge thank you to Google and the organisers of the conference for inviting me to Barcelona a week ago for the Personal Democracy Forum Europe. It has been a life changing experience and I must admit that it took me the whole week, including calm and quiet weekend to digest the information and insights I have gained during those two days of the conference. My personal involvement in online transparency is fairly new and I am extremely privileged that I could spend two days in the company of more or fewer specialises in the field and learn about new projects and attitudes in the region. With the most impressive range of speakers and really well-structured agenda, even small technical issues became irrelevant! (interesting, me – I am usually the first to get distracted by those – now I think it may be due to the lack of strong content during some of the events I happen to attend?). What is crucial here is the effect of the event – I arrived back home completely transformed!
I do not even know where I should start. I think the whole shocking effect of the event is a result of the combination of private perspective and professional interest. On a more private note, I was extremely happy to meet Tony Bowden and discuss his new blog, as well as some of my current dilemmas (which he once again managed to address to the point!). I was very privileged to meet and spend more time on discussions with Marko Rakar – very inspiring and strong personality, so committed to the perfect execution of his ideas, that I felt a bit overwhelmed. I was really happy to see Solana Larsen presenting Technology for Transparency work and Threatened Voices on Marko’s presentation – I really like the narrative of Global Voices work popping out here and there in really crucial aspects of our work.
I was astonished by the level of understanding, commitment and actual delivery of transparency agenda across various countries and areas of our lives (government, EU parliament, open data, commercial interests, activist ideas, individual projects). It is really intense to just listen to some of the most talented and brave personalities of our region, so you can imagine how important it is to spend few networking sessions on congratulating them and wishing that more of us could deliver at least 10% of the work they do on a daily basis. I originally planned to present each of the projects on my blog, but I think it is better if you navigate over to the original site and watch the videos to get the feeling of the conference and to encourage you to attend the next one!
The overall points to take from PDFEU:
1. Transparency cannot be defined only by the governmental approach, but should be embedded in the legal system.
2. Activist work carries the messages of openness and transparency, proves the power of connections on-line, but also provides best case studies of negative effects and threats to openness.
3. Real connections are irreplaceable. Technology is brilliant in sharing information and building long term relationships.
4. Twitter and Facebook presence does not equal open government. Free access to open data does.
5. Interest in similar goals is the best filter for good networking.
6. Moderation, preparation of the event and investment in the audience is the key to success.
Great event. Great insights into where we are today on privacy, open data and transparency!