The social aspects of technology
A healthy digital society needs to consider the social aspect of technology – this belief has been an important basis of our activities since the very beginning. We cannot focus solely on developing infrastructure, a digital economy or services and products. A digital society will not function well if the needs of users aren’t considered. It also needs to be based in fundamental social values, not just in a belief in the development of technology. Internet users need to understand that technology influences social life, but it can also be shaped by people. They also need to have the competences that will allow them to fulfill various everyday needs with the use of the internet. The internet should be a technology that helps everybody.
For us caring about the social aspects of technology means a better understanding of the cultural and social effects of technological transformations in Poland and around the world. We want to know how digitalization influences our behavior, cultural practices or social relationships. We analyze the changes taking place in the creative industries, the ways in which people create, but also the processes of innovation and knowledge production. We also want politicians, businesses and organizations to base their strategies – especially when it comes to developing digital competences and shaping culture policies – on real data.
While caring about the social aspect of technology, we also participate in discussions about the development of the latest technologies, such as algorithms and artificial intelligence, blockchain or the internet of things. By taking part in the public debate, we underline the importance of ethics and technology’s influence on the society.
We carry out research projects on a regular basis. In 2012 we did a project called „Circulations of culture”, which was the first ever project to deal with the informal circulation of digital culture in Poland. Our following research had to do with the agents of such informal circulations (“Tajni kulturalni” – “Culture’s secret agents”) and society’s attitudes towards copyright (“Prawo autorskie w czasach zmiany” – “Copyright in times of change”). We have also carried out research and evaluations regarding the digitization process in cultural institutions (including “Openness in cultural institutions”). We prepared an expertise on the value of an open data – based market and an evaluation of efforts for the development of digital competences for the Ministry of Agriculture. We have also done an evaluation of the effects of introducing e-textbooks for the European Commission’s Joint Research Council . Our „Open Policy Index” program, carried out for Creative Commons, is the first attempt at assessing and comparing national openness policies in four areas (science, education, heritage, data) in 40 countries around the world.
We have been actively involved in the debate around the strategy for developing digital competences for years, making sure that public administration gives this aspect of digital society the appropriate significance and deals with it in practice. We believe that the dispersed activities of numerous organizations will be more effective if they are carried out as part of a common strategic framework. With that in mind, we were commissioned by the Ministry of Digital Affairs to create a Framework catalog of digital competences for Poland.
We are currently developing a new program regarding the social aspects of new technologies. We’re looking for ways of understanding and analyzing the social influence of new technologies such as blockchain, the internet of things or artificial intelligence. In our first project – „Future Not Made in the EU” – we use speculative design methods to show how bad copyright can inhibit innovative technology solutions that serve the common good.