"DOKU:TECH was a magnet for world-class speakers and curious audience members. The result was an explosion of intellect." - Arikia Millikan, WIRED.
Following tonight’s opening of DokuFest, tomorrow (Saturday, August 6) sees the launch of Prizren’s third edition of DOKU:TECH, the annual weekend-long technology festival. Born of a collaboration between IPKO foundation, SHARE foundation and DokuFest, DOKU:TECH’s impressive programme aims to shift the tech world’s attention to Kosovo.
“DOKU:TECH was born out of the idea to promote ‘The Third Culture’ in Europe specifically in the Balkans back in 2013; The Third Culture is where art and technology blend in well together,” Kushtrim Xhakli, DOKU:TECH’s Executive Producer and IPKO Foundation board member, explained to K2.0.
“The cooperation between IPKO Foundation, SHARE Foundation and DokuFest brings a unique triangle of experience and great partnership. IPKO Foundation has a tradition of running social tech events like BarCamps and Wiki Academy. SHARE Foundation has built a discussion platform where researchers get together and explore new data sets. DokuFest being a successful indie festival aligns really well with DOKU:TECH’'s mission of independent platforms and decentralised knowledge.”
The conference brings together a number of exciting figures from Kosovo, the Balkans and the world at large. Participants will be able to freely take part in workshops, masterclasses and attend talks by big names such as Peter Sunde of The Pirate Bay/Flattr or Mike Butcher of TechCrunch.
So why Prizren?
“First is the idea to connect with an ongoing film festival that attracts a different kind of audience,” explained Xhakli. “Then decentralising the distribution of events by not having them in capitals but rather in smaller towns, where the audience makes an effort to be part of it and audience experience is what makes DOKU:TECH different than other ones.”
This approach has had its challenges — especially in the Balkans. “There are a few complications,” he said. “The high cost of airfares due to some specific airline monopoly. Venue is often a challenge, considering that DOKU:TECH is one of the few conferences that runs fully in open space. Regional transportation around the Balkans and lack of airline networks between capitals in the Balkans [are also an issue].”
Five masterclasses spread out over the two days will be open to participants, who have the opportunity to learn about issues such as Facebook’s advertising algorithms and business model, with Vladan Sholer from SHARE. They can also attend the masterclass given by Peter Sunde (Flattr/The Pirate Bay) and Markus Kopimi (Piratbyran) about PGP encryption and VPN protection as a way to bypass surveillance or access censored content.
Both evenings, a series of speeches will be held by a range of entrepreneurs, experts and personalities from the tech world at the historic League of Prizren building. On Saturday, Aral Balkan, a social enterprise from ind.ie striving for social justice in the digital age, will be followed by Addie Wagenknecht, artist and director of the cyberfeminist collaborative group Deep Lab, which aims to research and develop “critical assessments of contemporary digital culture.”
Entrepreneur and innovator Josipa Majic will also take the stage on Saturday — she found fame and success through the creation of Teddy the Guardian, the world’s first smart teddy bear embedded with bio sensors, which she developed in an attempt to make medical tests less intrusive.
Mike Butcher from TechCrunch will then speak about the new UK initiative TechFugees, which aims to bring the tech community together to help get various tools into the hands of people in need.
This is only a small selection of the wide range of speakers who will be present this weekend. The rest of the line-up is available from the DOKU:TECH website here.
During DOKU:TECH, workshops will also be open to participants from 17:00 until 21:00. Prishtina Hackerspace will be presenting their digitizing project, and Girls Coding Kosova, an organization that developed a mobile app enabling women to report sexual harassment, will also have a booth. UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo will be presenting a selection of different projects, with themes ranging from ecology to the development of platforms aimed at empowering Kosovar youth.
The event is free, but participants should register to reserve a seat.