Paul Fawkesley

The Internet Freedom Festival 2017 (Monday)

This week I’m in sunny Valencia, returning once more to the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF). Monday was an amazing first day, with so many interesting ideas and new inspiration. I’m going to write up some notes whenever I can, lest it all fades in time.

IFF cares a lot about diversity and inclusion

The opening ceremony this year was a real celebration, with some surprising figures: 119 (I think) countries represented, and 50% female and gender-fluid participation, which is staggering for a festival / conference of this type. It really reflects that IFF is not a tech conference: it’s about human rights, through the lens of the Internet. There are journalists, activists, campaigners, lawyers, techies, designers, writers, and many more.

They also went to town on the code of conduct, spelling out that there’s a huge diversity of cultural and social background, and how to have productive sessions. I felt like a very safe place to be (although I’m fortunate to feel safe in my work, so hopefully others who don’t also felt safe).

Idea: a UK-based Tor Collective

Ian and I have been playing with the idea of running a collective which takes donations and uses them to host Tor nodes. We chatted to a volunteer from the Tor project to validate whether this is actually helpful, and they said that it was. Currently there are three such collectives, one in France, Germany and the USA, and adding servers in the UK would help the network.

I think there’s a lot we could do here to appeal to a wider audience of donors in particular:

Take a look at our first iteration of a collective, through which we’re currently running one server.

Also met a chap doing a criminology PhD on Tor (with an angle of state abuse of power), who was interested in interviewing us and others about our experiences running Tor nodes.

Open Data

At this workshop I heard from some people struggling to get data out of the governments of closed societies (Iran and Myanmar, in particular). Fascinating problem in Myanmar is that the early lack of Unicode support for the language meant everyone adopted a proprietary font, which is incredibly difficult to parse. Not sure I understand that completely, but it definitely made me realise we’ve got it easy speaking English.

Art and Humour in Creative Strategies for Hard Times

This brilliant workshop started with some hysterial, inspiring, moving, and upsetting presentations from Tactical Technology Collective, Peng and New Palmyra.

The point of the session was the learn how to use art and creative approaches to further your aim. This is a productive alternative to using fear, which is known to cause people to shut down and stop thinking.

The culmination of the workshop was that we had to design our own creative solutions to a problem, which led to some fun campaigns.

It was a pleasure to work with some women from Heart of Code, a women’s hackspace in Berlin - we had a good laugh designing a satiral EU policy dictating that men should “replace women in the kitchen”, a provocotive campaign design to piss off basically everyone!

IFF on Twitter

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