Kushtrim Xhakli is the producer of DOKU:TECH. He’s also the creator of Digital Kosovo and the co-founder of Fast Europe Ventures Ltd. Kosovo 2.0 caught up with him yesterday, on the second and final day of the high-tech conference.
K2.0: So how is DokuFest going for you so far?
Kushtrim Xhakli: Well this is the second year, and yesterday’s response was an indicator that we are going to continue for many years because the response has been doubled.
There are so many interesting speakers this year. Who are you most excited for?
All of them! I’m an organizer, so all of them. But having Esther Dyson in the middle of summer to visit Kosovo… I don’t know how we did it! She’s tonight [Sunday 9]. I’m super excited, just the fact that she’s going to stop traveling and start going to space is something. Peter Sunde — last year when we opened DOKU:TECH I had a t-shirt which said, “Free Peter Sunde,” because he was in jail, but with his spirit he was with us. So this year, to have him with us — it’s really special.
And Esther, for example, for DOKU:TECH. We ended DOKU:TECH in a way that the last speaker — which is Esther Dyson — concludes the two day event and gives a question to the audience, but not a question that the audience has to respond to immediately. It’s a question that we keep for one year and the audience will answer it by blogging. She might say, “Which technology should die? Should not exist?” and the whole year we create the responses of the audience that they give to us and we display them; and hopefully next year we’ll provide a little brochure with their answers. So everybody has a chance to express their opinions. It’s not one way, from the speaker to the audience — it’s like a reversal, we’re bringing the audience closer.
You said the number of speakers has doubled?
Yes. DOKU:TECH started last year, it was our inaugural event. We had around four or five keynote speakers and then we had the regional speakers. This year we have a lot of regional speakers and ten keynotes.
What else has changed since last year?
We made some adjustments to the program by shortening [the talks] a bit so we could fit [a few more in], and we do the Q&A when three speakers speak on the same topic. And many times — like yesterday — they contradict each other. One says, “Technology’s great — unlimited, we have more power, we are connected.” And another says, “The global poverty, it did not improve. We have 5G internet connected on our phones but kids in India are still in poverty. So why are we involving so much in this side and not on that side, and who’s to blame?” So during the debate they contradict each other — it’s so cool! It’s not that the audience just listens one way.
Where do you see DOKU:TECH heading in the future?
Bigger. Yesterday I did a mini-survey on Facebook where I asked people where they are coming from, and we had people from Ukraine, Greece, Austria and Sweden who flew just to be here with the speakers. Yesterday I asked the audience and they said Italy, Slovenia. Of course the region is also always present: Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania. We also had people from Ireland yesterday. People come to ask a question with a Texas accent from the United States and you think, “Wow! Where did you come from?” That’s the surprise of this year and I hope that next year it’s just going to double.