Techie Congress

The Techie Congress Initiative is an unprecedented attempt to organize progressive-minded technologists (country by country) to agree on sets of principles and priorities. We are now entering our first full year after the two historic events in France and then at the US Social Forum in Detroit and we are seeking to solidify these gains and expand upon them.

Following the unprecedented success of the two Progressive Technologist Congresses, we are proposing to organize six more Congresses during the year between 2010 and 2011 in Palestine (at the Palestine Educational Social Forum); Brazil for the Pan-Amazonian Social Forum (Nov, 2010), Dakar, Senegal (at the upcoming World Social Forum in Jan, 2011) with three others Congresses (in India; Venezuela; and Canada) now being planed with locations and precise dates being developed.

To accomplish this we have defined the following tasks:

  1. Follow up with and expansion of participation after each Congress
  2. The organization of new Congresses in the above-mentioned countries
  3. A series of presentation and shared events among technologists world-wide include "show and tell" presentations on new software via video, international tech "consultation", joint international projects for software development, "sos line" to allow to support when techies in particular countries or areas are in trouble.

We are requesting from NLnet a portion of our budget to support the first three of the Congresses and the follow-up work after those events.

Overview: A Proposal

The converging crises in the major capitalist economies, the precarious state of the world environment, the political crisis in government in so many of the world's countries and the usurpation of government authority by international banks and committees have brought humanity to a point of urgency and increasing certainty that something must be done to save humanity.

The Internet, a community of more than 1.4 billion people world-wide, is one of humanity's responses. When all else fails, human beings come together to communicate and figure out how to survive; that is our legacy as a species. That's what's happening today with the Internet.

Humanity's crisis demands greater communication and collaboration among the world's people. And humanity has been forging ahead in doing that with world-wide efforts like the World Social Forum and the Climate Control movement and, of course, the Internet.

The Internet is humanity's way of facilitating the communication necessary to make all this collaboration possible.

At the same time, the global crisis against which we're mobilizing depletes the resources required to build gatherings of large numbers of people. They are too large to put on, too expensive to get to and not capable of broadening the number of poor people attending. If we are going to ensure the progressive movements' continued collaboration world-wide, we are going to have to use the Internet and that is one reason why humanity invented it.

In that context, the role of technologists becomes critically and centrally important. Techies are the leaders of the Internet because we run its technology and lead the work on its software.

Progressive techies have a very special role to play:

  • our political perspective prioritizes the use of the Internet and development of its software for organizing (rather than merely commerce);
  • our commitment to Free and Open Source Software makes us central to a struggle that is fundamental to the Internet's future;
  • the fierce opposition we have long had to controlling and interventionist government policies helps assure the Internet's essential independence and freedom;
  • and our politics give the progressive movement a leadership position within the Internet.

The impact of our work, and the importance of the Internet, has never been clearer. It has drawn together all kinds of organizations (the Association for Progressive Communications, for example) and has driven the World Social Forum to its current situation. And, as the progressive movement has outgrown the Forum structure, an expanded format to the Forum process, first used at the Belem, Brazil WSF, is emerging. At Belem, organizers from all corners of the globe were encouraged to participate in the Belem Forum from their local communities via Internet media.

Simultaneously, a new concept in collaboration on-line became popular: used all over the United States and at various world and localized Social Forums. The "Collaborative Democracy Workshop" was first used at the first United States Social Forum in 2007 where technologists collaboratively developed a progressive approach to maintaining the Internet as a secure and open platform for movement building.

These two processes have merged into what is known as a Techie Congress, a "campaign" comprised of official "Congress like" gatherings of progressive Techies. The ultimate goal of the Techie Congress is to discuss and establish some principles about progressive techies; responsibilities toward our movement, our rights in relationship to that movement and the social and political rights of all Internet users.

Because of the traditional isolation techies have had within the movement (and from each other), this type of gathering has been very infrequent and an international movement of these gatherings is unprecedented.

Goals and Objectives:

Create accountability: Respond directly to the causes of global crisis enabling fully collaborative and democratic problem-solving in response to late-capitalism crisis. The format and nature of social forum versus civil responsibility. Fortify the movement in the face of deepening crisis, severe rationing of resources, and reducing costs for communications and convergences.

Vision & Strategy: To develop an international progressive techie "organization" to serve as a resource for the entire progressive movement internationally. To dramatically increase the presence of women in the technie community. To stress the leadership of the global south.

Action Approach: An international convergence of technologists creates a network of access. The Techie Congress is an ongoing project, which builds sustainable open virtual space. The building process begins with core activists able to mobilize networks of techies all over the world. Dovetailing with open, simultaneous convergences of technologists, the growing network aims to empower politically-engaged technologists to embrace principles for implementing open virtual space. While growing the scope of the techie congress, focus is given to increasing access to technology in as many regions of the world as possible. Increased access carried out by empowered community leaders enables for an open online convergence with the highest degree of democracy ever seen in humanity's history.

The tools developed for the Techie Congress will be free, open, and available for application in all social forum, and forum-like events. While growing our own network and building our campaign, we will be enabling, technologically, for similar movements to use our tools to connect activists and communities across the globe.

Movement Building, Sustainability, & Ongoing Vision: After this initial campaign, next year will bring the focus to empowering the Techie Congress network to lead and stage an international movement towards problem-solving global issues on various scales with simultaneous collaborative moments.

Techie Congress Description

Modeled after the Collaborative Democracy Workshop at the first US Social Forum, the Techie Congress integrates virtual participation with organized in-person events in local venues. At each location, the audience breaks into groups of 4 - 5 people. Each group will speak with one voice via a "scribe" who will be tasked with entering the group's proposals into a web-based system. A dynamic, projected display of the current state of the document is viewable by participants in the room and anyone in the world with access to our website.

All ideas belong to the group: any group can edit any proposal, whether they wrote the original version or not. All revisions of a given proposal are stored, but only the most recent edit is projected to the group as a whole. The group which creates a new version automatically endorses that right, but otherwise holds no special connection to it.

Each group also has the ability to endorse any proposal that seems worthy. When a proposal is edited, existing endorsements are cleared, which requires solicitation of new endorsements for the new version. Proposals with more endorsers float to the top, while the proposals with fewer endorsers sink to the bottom of the projected list.

To keep the document direct and concise, only 10 distinct proposals can exist at a given time. If 10 proposals already exist, the only way to add a new idea to the document is to edit an existing idea, which requires engaging other groups in a dialog to ensure an adequate number of re-endorsements.

Here are the results of the two Techie Congresses held thus far.



Project Tasks

Follow up with and expansion of "membership" after each Congress

  • Establish email list and pages on the Congress's website for each Local Congress
  • Widely publicize the results of each Congress within that Congress's country and world-wide on our website and through organizations like the Association for Progressive Communications, World Social Forum and others.
  • Hold monthly on-line "follow up meetings" to survey members on their situations, discuss new issues coming up and how we can collaborate on dealing with them, discuss new tools, etc.
  • Hold annual "Techie Conference" gathering at some major conference in each of the locations

Hold New Techie Congresses

Between 2010 and 2011 in:

Palestine (at the Palestine Educational Social Forum) --;

Dakar, Senegal (at the upcoming World Social Forum in Jan, 2011) --;

Pan-Amazonian Social Forum (Nov, 2010, Brazil) --;




Our main task in each location is to identify an upcoming mega-event (conference or major action) in that country at which a large number of techies are expected, to contact techies in that country and recruit them to the effort and then to continue organizing with them.

The Techie Sharing Series

One of the things techies do best is to train and share information. One of the things techies do least internationally is to do that with each other.

We are planning a series of presentations and shared events among technologists world-wide. These would include

  • "show and tell" presentations on new software via video
  • international tech "consultation"
  • joint international projects for software development
  • "sos line" to allow to support when techies in particular countries or areas are in trouble.


This is our total yearly budget for this project amounts to $155,000 for all the elements of our campaign. These include new software development, travel to events, staff salary, equipment, and advertising/networking.

We are requesting that NLnet support the software development component which must be developed as we start this year's project as well as travel and participation expenses (for our team of three) to the three Congresses. We also include a portion of the yearly staff salary needs although it is not anticipated that NLnet would assume even a significant part of that.

  • Travel to Palestine (at the Palestine Educational Social Forum); Brazil for the Pan-Amazonian Social Forum (Nov, 2010); Dakar, Senegal (at the upcoming World Social Forum in Jan, 2011): three events, team of three people includes lodging, transportation and meals) -- $9,000
  • Coordination staff (two positions; one half-time, one full-time) -- $15,000
  • Contracted software development: includes website, collaborative democracy software, television and network conferencing software, server maintenance -- $10,000

NLnet proposal total request: $34,000 U.S. (26,154 Euros, app)

Last modified 11 years ago Last modified on Jul 28, 2010, 7:51:28 PM