Romania ranks #5 worldwide, when it comes to certified coders and developers (right after Ukraine, and Russia).
EDF2013: Selected Talk Andreea Bonea and Stefan Candea: Sponge - media innovation lab
“Connecting existing networks and communities ofmedia related visionaries, by experimenting withevolutionary hacks to foster and harvest relevantinformation in Eastern Europe”Mission statement
What?SPONGE came to life in 2011, and is a media innovation lab, experimenting withevolutionary hacks to foster and harvest relevant information in Eastern Europe.It has a lateral hierarchy structure, connecting existing networks of specialists, independentgroups and communities of investigative journalists, coders, designers, activists and legalexperts, local universities and students.Where?The lab is located in Bucharest, Romania.This strategic location allows for a broader reach into the Black Sea and the Balkan regions,in a country that is already becoming a major technology hub in the market.Main goalsSPONGE’s primary goal is to develop a community of media innovators, and change theperspective on how relevant information is gathered and disseminated. This can be achievedby an open collaborative process between the stakeholders.SPONGE is invested in understanding and improving the ways everyday people are makinguse of data and information on and off-line.What?Where?Main goals
SPONGE is the brainchild of the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism(established in 2001, covering Romania & the Black Sea Region, member of the GlobalInvestigative Journalism Network)Co-founders of this project are:Ceata Foundation - promoting free software, technologies and art (ceata.org)Geo-spatial.org – promoting open source software with focus on mapping toolsActiveWatch – advocating for freedom of expression and freedom of the press(activewatch.ro)University of Bucharest - School of Political Studies (fspub.unibuc.ro)ApTI - Association for Internet and Technology (apti.ro)ROSedu - Open source software student community (rosedu.org)Who?
The Bucharest Open Media Challenge (OMC)OMC an event funded by Knight-Mozilla Open News, facilitated the writing of code andimplementation of design, solving problems pertaining to open data aggregation &visualization.Its main goal was to promote information sharing and interdisciplinary collaborationfor the civic good, as well as building a diverse community around Open Data, within theEastern European space.This collaborative hacking initiative, brought together professionals from different fields ofactivity (Coders, Designers, Journalists, Legal Experts and Activists) and was a first in theEastern European region.OMC had over 60 participants, spanned across two days and had several interestingpresentations. Coders, Designers, Journalists and Activists from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine,Kazakhstan, Moldova and Romania submitted over 20 proposals and worked hard to bringthese great ideas to life. Out of these 10 ideas were developed and 8 delivered aworking App or tool. Total budget: USD 3kSome of these initiatives are turning into more robust projects, that SPONGE is shepherdingtowards becoming more scalable (see http://omc.thesponge.eu/2012/Entry_list)Projects
Phase 1Transform SPONGE into a fully operational lab, by organizing recurring meetings &Workshops between its network members and specialists, on pre-defined open data relatedtopics.Workshops will be organized on a monthly basis, where a leading role will be played byinterested student bodies, participating and shaping up a hands on educational process.These workshops are meant to encourage and promote the production of content (text, code,design), and will subsequently morph into scalable apps and tools.The work of the lab (i.e. projects and processes) will be published on an online platform,allowing for a broad, cross-cultural participation. The ultimate goal is to turn this platform intoa robust knowledge base, around relevant information gathering and dissemination.Phase 2Turn SPONGE into a replicable model for smaller or larger interdisciplinary communitiesworking on open data..RoadMap
You can endorse us in many ways:• Join the SPONGE network and contribute with knowledge and ideas, or get involvedwith conferences, workshops, hackathons• Partner with us on specific projects.• Facilitate research fellowships for our young professionals and internships for ourspecialists• Endorse our public events and publications• Donate time, knowledge, or money.Whats in it for you?• Gain direct access to a pool of innovative ideas.• Connect with ‘best of breed’ media specialists and scientists, creating revolutionarydata solutions.• Have the ability to propose research topics to the lab members.• Participate in shaping up and designing the Eastern European open datainfrastructure.• Establish a strong presence in the emerging open data markets.• Knowledge swap between organizations.How can I help?
What we can do:OffshoreLeaks:(80+ journo, 40+ media, RCIJ was the research hub for EasternEurope)We want to follow the model and methodology and extend it from journalists tocross-border collaborative experiments involving similar networks from other fieldsRoadMap
ShowcasePolitcalColours.ro & HartaPoliticii.ro(mapping, social tracking)Brings together maps for local elections, Chamber of Deputies, Senate and statisticsIntegration with hartapoliticii.ro (similar accountability project)Winner of the Open Media Challenge in october 2012 (omc.thesponge.eu/2012/)Source for both:- https://github.com/thesponge/politicalcolours- https://github.com/pistruiatul/hartapoliticiiRoadMap
ShowcasePolitcalColours.ro & HartaPoliticii.ro(mapping, social tracking)Without any “marketing” instantly taken over by mainstream media:• online main news portal,• main news agency,• main news TV• and one of the leading newspaers• University of Bucharest - students build on top, participate or studybuild on top of the code or clone the ideasJOB TO BE DONE: elections in December 2012RoadMap
ONGOING WORK (15+)- Entries (mapping: agriculture subsidies, freedom of expression violations,straigh dogs, violence against protesters), secure decentralized share of indexeddatabases, self-publishing app, MediaWatch, public records database- After: Bielarus illegal foreign exchange tool (Prokopovi.ch); RomanianLegislation online (hambar109.ro)- Other: knowledge exchange platform, add-on for content modification fororganizations, wifi mash-up anonymous public network in BucharestGOALBuild a community while working in collaboration – educate each other on relevantinformation.ECOSYSTEMINTERDISCIPLINARY: journalism, code, activism, design, legal expertiseLATERAL: student, junior, volunteer, professional // hiperlocal, local, national,regional, internationalNEEDS- Partner with universities / labs- Resources for basic experiments & for Sponge collaborative publication platformRoadMap