Social Media Inciting Learning Experiences

Time to SMILE!

Over the past few months we have been working on an EU proposal that we presented at FOSDEM 2018. The Public Universal Base: Libre Infrastructure Consortium (PUBLIC) successfully submitted the Social Media Inciting Learning Experiences (SMILE) proposal for H2020 ICT-28 “Future Hyper-connected Sociality”.

The SMILE consortium comprises 12 partners from 8 countries:

  1. The Open University, London
  2. The Center for the Cultivation of Technology, Berlin
  3. Service Civil International, Antwerp
  4. NetHood, Zurich
  5. Gandi SAS, Paris
  6. Petites Singularités ASBL, Brussels
  7. Olimex Ltd, Plovdiv
  8. The p≡p foundation, Zurich
  9. DATACTIVE, Amsterdam
  10. Article 12, Hove
  11. TecKids e.V., Bonn
  12. SHARE Labs, Novi Sad

Together we propose to support new social media initiatives in Europe, especially the ActivityPub federation, using a combination of open hardware and free software packaged for communities with adapted training.

SMILE explores the many dimensions that form the foundations of future hyper-connected sociality and studies decentralized social media to address complex questions of harnessing collective intelligence for emancipation and transformative action. Most notable decentralized Internet software projects today are based in Europe: recognizing and supporting these new social media initiatives can help envision a public digital infrastructure that serves the people.

SMILE envisions social media which provide citizens with a life-long learning experience promoting cooperation and inclusion, upholding European values. SMILE pursues five objectives to:

  1. create the missing EU-level interlocutor interfacing grass-roots decentralized Internet stakeholders with the European institutions and businesses;
  2. envision a decentralized European marketplace that will enable participation of smaller actors in fair and balanced conditions, and unlock new business models;
  3. produce digital literacy instruments and tools that can be applied in a variety of contexts, using concrete methodologies, and widely supported, affordable tools based on open collaboration, ethical design, free software, open hardware, popular education and the commons;
  4. design better user interfaces for decentralized social media that enable users to learn-by-doing, therefore facilitating digital literacy, and user confidence;
  5. support an online work platform fostering participation, engagement, and cooperation across all sectors to coordinate understanding in addressing these issues.

SMILE will empower a large network of volunteers to tackle the digital divide. SMILE will accelerate development and adoption of decentralized social media projects that respect privacy and fundamental rights. SMILE is carried by PUBLIC, a multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial consortium including technologists & data scientists, artists & designers, activists & sociologists.

Although the results of this application for funding will be known later this year in Autumn, interested parties can already join the PUBLIC Observers Group to follow up with the proposal and the PUBLIC. We want a transparent and welcoming community to inform our work and participate in the alliance for free technologies and free culture in Europe and abroad.

Over the past year we’ve assembled what we think is the best possible grassroots consortium to tackle SMILE objectives and further the advancement of free technologies in Europe. We’re thankful to our partners and to the people who have been supporting us. I am grateful to the many people who have participated in this proposal and made it happen, and would like to thank our initial Advisory Board members for taking the risk to accompany our vision (in alphabetical order): Amelia Andersdotter, Vesna Malijnovic, Prof. Jay Mistry, Erich Moechel, Laurent Peuch, Eugen Rochko and Christopher Lemmer Webber.

Whether this proposal is accepted or not, we’re committed to uphold the vision of an open collaborative environment for grassroot activism and an alliance for free technologies and free culture beyond technique, fostering inclusiveness and strong ethics for freedom and supporting life. Never before an EU proposal was made by a consortium like ours dedicated to software freedom and open collaboration. We hope it opens the way for other grassroots initiatives to redistribute EU funding to our peers.


Super nice, hope it gets accepted

Unfortunately our proposal was rejected despite the fantastic comments. We’re currently discussing within the consortium how to deal with the next steps. I wish that the consortium we’ve set up is not dead in the egg and we can follow up with at least some of our original plans.

We had better luck with ICT24 where :ps: is engaged with two successful proposals. Stay tuned to figure out how we can channel some of our plans through that opportunities.