#tc_civictechlab | Independance & Emancipation


As we were working in Civictech Lab along the last weeks, so many issues came up about how to organice and work in a better way.

One of the issues is about independance & emancipation. As right now the Civictech lab is coordinated by CW and Civic Lab Barcelona, the issue of how to be independant of both brands came up, thinking about being a completly independant organitation with his own drive, slack, and so on.

I think that the main issue is that we are thinking in brands all the time instead of people and processes, which is what we should matter. In that terms, I think it wouldn’t be intelligent to create a new slack for civictech and try to fill that slack with people, when we already have almost 200 hundred people connected in the CW slack. I don’t think it would make sense to duplicate digital infrastructure as it would be segregate strenght and power. And I think this thinking on the last experiments that here, in CW, we’ve already done. Creating an specific slack for glocal camp or civicdesign course, and as we could see, is not working. It has too much power to be in a context with people and projects, so we can create sinergies and links between those projects, people and processes.

As I was saying, I think that we need to stop to think in terms of brands, as in that case we wouldn’t use CW as a brand but as a platform, and it make sense to do that because CW already has this platform build, as I was saying, with a lot of people around it and projects running right now that we can use to put more value on CivicTech Lab.

As a community, CW is an open community, so the lab is going to continue to be an open lab as everyone that wants to be part of it, can do it going into the slack CW or Discourse.

Share your thoughts.


I think there is some inexactitude here. CivicTeck Lab is created by people, not by organizations. What is important all the time is just be situated. The history is: some people from CivicWise community created civic tech lab using CivicWise platform and tools. After the starting point Paul Marie from Civic Lab Barcelona join the team. With the same logic Pascual y Paul are the coordinators not CivicWise and Civic Lab Barcelona and at some moment, other people from the group we could be coordinators with you or instead of you.

There is no ownership and there is no dependency from brands.

Is totally incorrect and even not true that Civic Tech Lab is created by CivicWise and Civic Lab Barcelona.

CivicWise logic is based all the time on people not on brands. Its why we say all the time that we colaborate with people not brands. We are people working with other people.

I want to insiste that Civic Tech Lab, like other Labs we are developing from CivicWise are a creation by people not brands or organizations.

Let’s put the situation in the right context: people are using the infrastructure and the community of CivicWise to create this workgroup. That is possible because CivicWise is completely open. For that reason is completely unnecessary and even unreasonable to create new infrastructures for the workgroup. If we know that using CivicWise infrastructure doesn’t mean that CivicWise is the owner, why we should use others tools?

I agree with Pascual: CivicWise is already an open infrastructure. We don’t need to create new open structures. That would take off power to the workgroup.


Thank you for sharing. First, I would like to thank you for the challenging discussion we are facing.I am really pleased to have this discussion and to elaborate those arguments. CTL is an awesome project and it is important to take the time to think it through.

I agree with what you said. I think we should think about people not in terms of organisations. I was at the Media Party from HHBA and it really struck me the extent to which we totally forgot that the value is the human being itself and its time.

The history is fair, I would just add that (1) CTL was first thought/drafted by Pascual and Alfonso using CW tools and platform. Paul-Marie, thinking CLB comes and propose to collaborate. Months after, Pascual and Paul-Marie, start the creation process of CTL following Domenico invitation to get CLB involve in the CFF of CW.

I think even before talking about brands we should ask ourselves : what are the objectives of CTL? Why do we want to create this project? for what purpose? For whom?

I have been writing CTL foundational document and been reflecting on this. The idea is to develop a platform for investigating Civic Tech field and basically how can adequately empower citizens through technology. Also, the idea is to have a platform of discussion for field expert and non-experts to not only share thought but coordinate projects and metrics.

I think that having CTL as an independent platform is key to its success because people wanting work with CTL to study Civic Tech might (1) not be from CW or CLB and (2) not want to be related to CW. This is point mentioned by Pascual in a discussion we had, In what is planned today people coming in to work with us would have to enter CW website, CW discourse, CW slack (brand dependency of CW) to investigate Civic Tech.

I have already some people that expressed interest from the Open Knowledge Foundation, Democracy.earth, Gather, Democracy OS, Codeando Mexico, Lecturers from Spain (that could also be mentors for Civic Tech interested people) and they might not want to be obliged to use the CW platform to get access to CTL.

Also, on your point : “duplicate digital infrastructure as it would be segregate strenght and power. “ I do not agree. I think that having a digital structure will enable us to fully reach out to Civic Tech stakeholders and experts**. We are not talking about a specific event with specific time frame like the Glocal Camp or Civicdesign course. We are talking about an investigation group with its own projects (which would have a specific time frame).** Having an independent platform will help us to conduct discussions, share works, plan new projects in a way that we cannot do within Civic Wise ; because of obvious technical limits (one channel on slack). An independent platform has the necessary power to conduct conduct discussions, share works, plan new projects.

Therefore, I think an independent platform is necessary not only to overcome technical limits but also to ensure the sustainability of the project. It is a extra work but I deem it as worthy.

I will be happy to set an open and public hangout session to further discuss this issue once everyone has the chance to express its opinion.

Un abrazo fuerte!



I understand that some people don’t want to use CW platform. Maybe it is worth to know why. CTL is about technology after all: CTL infrastructure itself as a prototype of civic tech :slight_smile:

From a pragmatic point of view, as you said @Paul-Marie, it is lot of work, and money, to develop, to maintain and to feed a dedicated infrastructure.

It would be interesting to know what an independent platform means in the context of CTL. And by the way what independence means.

After reaching a precise idea of what kind of infrastructure we need, we will be able to imagine very different approaches than the binary solution: independence or not independence. For instance, a federation of spaces, each one ot them belonging to one part of CTL.


I do undertstand some of your points @Paul-Marie , like that maybe it’s better to start from sharing needs and motivation in doing it. This a good point to start a team and a project.
I don’t understand some other like that CW platform is limited, the example you make About slack I think it is not correct because in slack you can create as many channels as you want.
I have basically 2 point to propose that we can discuss in hangout maybe
1- Caring about persons and not brand is about counting in every moment the forces you have, every effort has to be sustainable, for the health of both, the people involved and the project itself. Can’t we maximize the tools we have now, and approach the issue when will have it an when we have the Forces to solve it?
2- Up to now the team is very small, I do understand that maybe somebody in the future could not like to be in touch with CivicWise, but if we are talking of people and not brands this point doesn’t really make sense, because in a way or in another they will be in touch with people from CivicWise.
The question is if right now, with the team that we have, are we in this situation?
Hope to hear from you soon guys


Right and it is needs to be flexible and extendible. For me the slack infrastructure of CW cannot allow to bring Civic Tech actors together have channels like #mustread #brainstorming #projects #metrics #ethics. There is already 59 channels on the slack :wink:.

@FrancescoP this is my point. People from Codeando Mexico, Open Source Politics, Lecturers etc. don’t have a lot of time and want to use simple tools to use. CW is becoming really big and the structure is already saturated with so many channels for people that just want to investigate Civic Tech and connect with fellow researchers, projects leaders…

Totally agree and this way I have been pushing to clearly identify the objectives of the project and thus the needs to order to build a consistent and smart structure.

How can we maximize the tools? For the forces, I do agree and it is echoing @skotperez point on infrastructures costs. This is relevant for the website, e-mail accounts, workshops etc. A slack infra is of 0e cost of creation, maintenance apart from small work hours of community building.

Can you elaborate on this point? From what I understand it seems awesome.

This is what I wanted to share with you. I am in Buenos Aires and have been talking with people from democracy.earth, democracia en red, codeando mexico, fundacion de conocimiento abierto, democracyOS. What emerged from this discussion is the need for an open and international platform to share our work, ideas, readings, coordinate metrics, analyse unused data, investigate Civic Tech stakes… basically coordinate the Civic Tech movement from the inside to improve our impact glocally.

Organisation need investigations (and have already started their own missing a platform to do so) and everyone could save lot of time and energy if we merge ideas and projects.

I think CTL could be this platform. I actually believe it is meant to be this platform and this could be the project for the medialab residence : a platform to coordinate the CTL from the inside that would concentrate Civic Tech actors from around the world and thus attract and mentor interested citizens to investigate and grow the Civic Tech movement. This need has been underlined by the last investigations from the Knight Foundation or Omidyar Network.

Everyone organisation would be able to develop its investigation of interest but also coordinate with other organisation who have the same need. It would truly an open and distributed lab working for the coming good : knowledge.

I also know lots of European organisation interested in that as well and ready to start to take action. We just need to impulse it. Thus, @FrancescoP the team could grow really quickly. This is why I think it is easier to start with a structure that is already adapted to change.

I am really excited by this idea. Let me know what you think.

I think we have enough material to discuss the project on a hangout. Better if it is this week, even better today at 22:00 (sorry guys).

Let me know :slight_smile:


if you say so, I think we definitely need to involve this people in this conversation to understand mutual needs and find a common solution.
for this early step CW’s platform can be used

not all the existing channels must be used, neither you have to follow all the channels. we are setting up an internal protocol exactly to give the chance to people involved in a single project or topic to create as many channels as they need.

anyway, definitely we need to share this with the people we think will be involved before building a new platform from nothing. we risk to do something that maybe it is not useful without sharing since the beginning. maybe we find out that some of our partners already have the tool we are looking for!

#tc_civictechlab | Protocol & Core organitation

I also like this view. Although still under constant construction, the identity of the CTL is already built, and expressed in a call for civic designers. I can barely imagine 2 cases in which the existing CivicWise platform could be an inconvenient for someone adressed to the call, and both end up in the same:

  1. People engaged enough to join the cause, but with the need to start something from zero: a fresh start without the umbrella of any existing brand, platform or group.
    I can undestand this only as a matter of inspirational or emotional side, and the only way to deal with this is time: coexistance, building reliability, … And maybe this is already happening, so the effort needs to be put on communicating the open and inclusiveness as a principle.

  2. Information processing/publicity. This might be an issue if, given the case, a specific knowledge with potencial as a product or service emerges, for any reason, the need to be defended it in front of a mediator, or something like that (the authorship subject…) Preventing this fear would mean to preserve the publicity of the work developed, which lays into a absurd effort specially if the Tech work is conceived to be highly accessible and Open Source. Once again, a matter of trust between people= time.

Considering that two, and adding to both the organisational dimension, we need to consider that CW has a circle dedicated to Communication, and we can expect improvements in the welcome process so the picture of CW can be accquired saving time, bringing reliability and efficience. We can all contribute to that improvements!

Meanwhile, I can think of one possible and quite confortable description of the actual discussion: CTL is currently operating within the CW platform. Operating in terms of infrastructure, but especially for the shared values and objectives. In case any of these mean inconvenience to incoming people, for me the first thing to do is set up again the discussion, with the reminder that nothing is rigid and immovable, and the relationship between people can always be reconfigured. Also depending on the sigularity of every project in CTL.

An aspect I miss in the discusión, favouring to keep CTL inside CW’s infrastructure, is the critical mass. At the moment there’s a lot of people within CW, and given the topics we want to develop, the more voices to obtein feedback from, the better

Let’s do that!


@alberto_C You made sound and relevant points, I suggest that we have a HO session after the residence to further discuss it. In the meantime, as I suggested in the “Call for Civic Designer”, if you wish Alberto, to deepen the reflexion.




Hi everyone,

I just updated the call for civic designers document after working out the current needs of Civic Tech communities’.

Miguel (from Codeando Mexico) and Julia (from Open Knowledge Germany) oriented me towards presenting and opening the project to the Code for All community, which is the international community for Civic Tech. The idea would thus be not to create new structure for cross-community collaboration but improve a new one. Discussing w Code for All community will also a good opportunity to expand the scope of participants to think CTL :slight_smile: .

I would first suggest for you have a look at it and comment it as you feel so I can send it to Miguel and Julia that would comment it as well before sharing it to the Code for All community. The ideal situation for us to have a common hangout and then to meet at the TICTEC conference (conference which would be a great idea to present the hacker residence ;)) to further discuss the project!

Let me know what you think




So nice @Paul-Marie!

I think that is a really good idea to open the Civic Tech Lab like this and to think about it as a common platforms. I think this is the strength of CivicWise, to connect people and to put people that is working about the same thing at the same time working together. :wink:

Such a great opportunity the TICTEC conference and would be very nice if we can go to that. Had you applied already? Can you manage this issue?

Just one more thing, Civic Tech Lab is going to have a new boost through Civic Design Course. @skotperez is coordinating this so contact him to keep building this idea of common platform around Civic Tech.

Thanks paul!!


I applied as a student to present my current research project. I think it would be great if you make application on your own for the hacker residence so hopefully the two of us will be there! :slight_smile: All the form are on the link in my previous message.

Amazing news! @skotperez could give me a heads up? :slight_smile:


I think the idea of a common platform for Civic Tech is necessary. And even better if we don’t have to create it because we use an already running infrastructure.

In relation with Civic design course, I think is a good opportunity to feed and enlarge civic tech community.

Let’s talk @Paul-Marie, to coordinate both the call for civic designers and the course. @angeles_briones is coordinating civic tech lab in italian course. Maybe you can join us, @angeles_briones, if you have the time.


Hi guys! I just finished reading the past conversations in this Discourse. Thanks for the invitation, it’s challenging and an honor to collaborate with this project. Some ideas are still not so clear to me, and @Paul-Marie mention:

abrazo a cada uno!

pd: the abstract submission for TICTec is February 10th!
“We encourage submissions to focus on the specific impacts of technologies, rather than showcase new tools that are as yet untested.”

its only a 300 words abstract! let`s submit the Residencia project! I can help on it!


Hey :slight_smile:

So happy to read your interest, I think there is a lot of potential in this project (because it is addressing the structural shortfall of the Civic Tech Community).

“What are the objectives of CTL? Why do we want to create this project? for what purpose? For whom?”

Well, this all the point of the [civic designers document] (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tiVbAFEf82OzKPqDhr-92tVRHZWdwON1H5ZOCTrXwNA/edit) : (1) answers the previous questions and (2) open our answers to the collective intelligence of the Civic Tech community.

  • Objetive: answer to the “lack of coordination, common thinking tools and of a permanent point of contact within the Civic Tech field” to (1) reinforce the community from within; (2) deepen our understanding of Civic Tech (through multi-disciplinary [and comparative] research); and, (3) promote the dialogue between digital tools, human structures and territory (urban & rural).

More details here

  • What? “build an open laboratory as a permanent point of contact to coordinate Civic Tech practices, definitions, standards, in a young and self-defining field”

  • How/Who? “bring together academics, project directors and coordinators, community builders and engaged citizens to share knowledge, worst and best practices, and coordinate the Civic Tech field as a whole” (what this leads us to is [A] create an online platform ourselves or [B] use an already existing structure cf. Code for All).

  • When? sharing the document online, after it has reached a consensus within Civic Wise/CLB. After sharing to the community the idea is indeed to meet in TICTEC. I have reminded @pascual_pg of this deadline as well :grin: because he knows the project best but everyone can go! @angeles_briones thank you!!


Great guys! :grinning:

As you know we applied for TICTec with the #ResidenciaHacker project :smiley: with this abstract in which @angeles_briones, @Paul-Marie and me were contributing, keep fingers crossed! :grin:

About CTL, as I said I think is so great to feed it through Civic Design Course, :v: I will try to follow you three guys with all of this and try to be on a next Hangout about CTL :+1: