open-source participation tech

Noodgedwongen online vergaderen en videobellen

Werkend Nederland is massaal overgeschakeld op online vergaderen en videobellen, noodgedwongen, deels onwennig. We krijgen veel vragen over tools om veilig thuis te werken. Op het nieuws verschijnen veel berichten over de gevaren en nadelen van het gebruik van deze tools zoals Zoom en Slack. Vaak worden deze door werknemers uit eigen initiatief ingezet, wat goed is, alleen is het niet altijd veilig en duurzaam voor de organisatie.

Bits of Freedom en de Waag zetten deze applicaties op een rijtje. Een aantal van deze Open-Source communicatie tools moet je zelf hosten. Participation.Tools (van ondersteunt haar klanten om dit makkelijk, veilig en zonder leveranciersafhankelijkheid te realiseren.

Onze klanten hebben we tijdens de COVID-19 beperking twee communicatie tools ter beschikking gesteld: BigBlueButton, voor webvergaderingen, seminars en tutorials. RocketChat, voor message-based communicatie binnen het team. Voordelen: Onafhankelijk, Webbased, Open Source.

Wil je weten hoe deze Open-Source tools jouw organisatie kunnen helpen?

Neem contact met ons op

democracy open-source participation politics tech

What makes OpenSource tools so valuable in the political spectrum

This article was orginaly published on the website of NIMD Colombia

We are and for years an experienced network-organization in the NGO, the public, charity and political spheres. We implement technical and functional OpenSource tools as well as methodologies to support, or reframe, processes and to innovate on new challenges.

Our strategy is to come to a situation where the organization will benefit due to a broad implementation of scalable solutions. We emphasize our clients on the risks not to have a vendor-lockin or to fall into the traps of the big tech companies. One of the key answers is to define data or process ownership within the organisation itself.

We worked with one of our political clients to embrace and adapt her mission so well that taking ownership of the supportive tools was pretty easy. We defined a simple ruleset to get this accountability and the quality of handling this toolset, actualy fully supportive to her own mission, was like working with a natural flow.

Because of the significant low overhead costs all the organisational- values could go into the further developments of the mission and campagnes, with the toolset as a well know supportive machinery.

Political innovation works well with organisations whom are adapting this mindset into their business-operations. Besides this, we feel strongly that people working for strong mission-driven organisations, like political parties, do feel comfortable when their own mission and vision is part of the business-operations and ethical model. When we say, “practice what you preach”, everybody will understand the filosofy behind this.

A strong and powerful campaign needs to rely on the perspective of your base (members, supporters, donors).  This perspective needs to have a place in your CRM-based system. When you want to gather this knowledge you have to start communicating with your base fromout your CRM, develop the channels that are part of your political mission and vision and organise it. Yourself!

A party organizing their members themselves are up-front, to outsource this process can become part of the infamous vendor-lockin, as explained here.

When political campaigns are in the developing stage it is necessary that the members and volunteers are for more or less 99% behind the campaign and will add important information as content for the campaign.

For the Dutch labor party we organised an internal Consul platform to work with all internal staff and members to have their say and to develop the outcomes leading to their annual congress. Having this platform will guide the members and volunteers into their own framework, it gives them a much more cofortable feeling as well. So in this way all campaigners, members ans staff will speak the same language.

Furthermore, the power of the campaign will be of a structural and powerful set of recognisable and well thought campaign materials for the people you want to reach. It should be the best way to adapt and manage the constant flow of information and news. To have this definitions clear it is for the organisation herself a great oppurtunity to manage this information with the possibility to steer the campaign on a more abstract level, without creating a distance to their base.

When you link your Consul and CRM (like CiviCRM) databases with each-other you have a very powerful toolset with your own crownjewels in your own hands.

After the campaign, as stated over and over, you still have your input AND output in a very structurized and save situation. This is very much re-usable but, it is again the optimum to embed this in your daily membership management, your news gathering, the memberships you can achieve and manage to have  long term relation with your supporters, members, volunteers and so on.

The wonderful idea to have the possibilty to link your Party ideals to the personal ideals should be an ongoing and daily process in order to manage your members.

Do not only reach out to them via news channels or news letters, no, it is necessary that the party herself starts to communicate with their people.

Only this is a real base for a succesful relationship and thus a deservable vote on your party.


Self-determination about your own data gives you more! Change will come.

We have to admit, our workfield is very divers, while we have one project running in Vientiane – Laos, our other project had a kick-off in Bogota Colombia. At the same time.

Nevertheless we had some time to have some great chats via our Nextcloud integrated chatapp Talk to talk about our projects and to support our clients based in the Netherlands. Our devop guy in Atlanta worked well and had probably the hardest task to deal with GMT -6 vs. GMT + 7 etc.

We came, one in Laos, one in Colombia and our 3d partner in Haarlem, working on the different projects, to a powerful conclusion, when organisations have the ability to work with their own data it gives them so much more power in their mission. Luckily society driven programs like CiviCRM and Consul, where we work with in all our projects, do give these enhancements in optimum.

What has to change for mission driven organisations? Like political parties and charity organisations?

We presented via our Twitter channel already a very interesting interview with Professor Shoshana Zuboff concerning the rise of the new digital powers, and in many topics related to our work-field she is so right! Why should you give your OWN data into the hands of NOT YOURSELF? When you have the chance to read the latest from Shoshana Zuboff, please do, it is mind-blowing.

And with not yourself you can imagine in whom would love to have your data. Even very much respectable human rights organisations are using Google while at the same time protesting against it. Is this the famous catch 22? Or is it morely a lack of trust in your own people, or what they are able to work on, besides managing contracts?

Surely you can use the products of the big corporations, even to outsource your own mission. But does it comply with your own mission ethically? And… are costs a driver for your organisation? Please be aware that Open Source is not only ch aper at the beginning, because the software is so-called free, but at the end you and your organisations are better off, independent without a vendor lockin and much more in line with your own organisation or business management

In the meantime we will continue our work with independent Open Source software like CiviCRM and Consul, and we strongly belief, change will come!

community open-source OpenData tech

Just another Community Building Success?

We from…this can be a great promo story about Us, Our Great Company, our Huge Successes and terrible mistakes in daily life etcetera. No, we decided to tell you something about a huge community building success in another perspective. And, a serious one. One of the biggest successes in a grassroots community building project can be called Discogs. Disc what? Discogs! It is a perfect example of only a few KPI’s, if you want to call it like that… bonding together to perform simultaneous duties. Wow. And it works too!

Discogs was founded 18 (!!!) years ago by the great hero, named Kevin Lewandosky. Not sure what his primary reason was, but for many, many music collectors, like Kevin must be, Discogs is the easiest way to catalog your collection. Now it is a real-time database with nearly 11 million submissions and almost 6 million musicians. Discogs is a musical walhalla.

One of the big succes factors of Discogs is that its community has a strong moderation behind it. You may enter, as a contributor, information into the Database about music, an artist, a track, an album and so on. But; there are very strict guidelines. And, careful, do not mess with the Discogs Community Police. My first experience with them, I lost a discussion with one of the DCP officers concerning a submission of a CD Album from soul and funk legend D’Angelo. A lost case, my submission was clearly not as exact as on the CD Album, so I was not allowed to enter it into the Database. It reminds me that only with a decent “how-to-use-the-system-guide” such a system can be successful. And yeah the DCP was right 🙂

And what is Discogs more then an Ebay or Amazon marketplace? And that is to our opinion a very essential part, the database belongs to us as a community. We can add our own Open Source philosophy to it. The Discogs database grows daily, by our own input. And, how sweet, other music geeks, beside myself, rely on these entered details. And that is a very comfortable thought as well.

So, finally you can see whether your cool guitar player is credited on more albums, without annoying popups. What makes it even more successful is the great marketplace where you even can find albums from your favorite artists yet to come! Recordlabels simply put the new releases into the system so you will get advanced notifications about your dearest artists.

What can we say more about Discogs? Is it one of the best music related libraries because the lack of influence from the big music corporations? I have never seen so many white label productions, or the so called “unofficial albums” like there. Amazing. Or is it the twist between a community based platform in combination with a second-hand shop? Worthwhile to do more research into the huge success of Discogs. At this moment we can only conclude, Discogs is a worldwide Community Building Success!

democracy tech

All about Structural Privacy

It is buzzing, also with our clients, the new GDPR. Finally serious notes concerning our sensitive, personal, data. And surely the media is HOT! On the spot, more and more “incidents” come up, like the scandalous Grindr  incident.

Dutch Passport data, Open and Wide on the WWW, where FedEx are willing to close this gate made by Bongo Servers, under supervision by Kromtech. You follow? An Incident? Likely.

Definitely no incidents; those are the organisations who trust their sensitive data to cloud-base solutions, like Microsoft.

And when you read this you will rethink these cloud solutions over, again. And that is all about Structural Privacy,  to safeguard your own ideals and your organisational mission to harbor your sensitive data.


Free but a hassle

Recently we facilitated a workshop at CiviCamp Brussels and, we received a lot of feedback on CiviCRM!

A reoccurring complaint was that CiviCRM didn't work properly, and after questioning, we found out that people struggled with keeping their system and procedures up to date. We encounter these types of problems more with open source software implementations.

On the system level: because Civi is FOSS user often just got the software installed by an administrator and started working with it. This is good, a quick-start and learn, but not without risks. Often, the organisation applying for Civi didn't calculated in maintenance cost and or appointed a person responsible to keep the system fresh.

On procedure level: because the cost of running an open source CRM system is relatively low, the decision of implementation is quickly done and not guided by an expert on the process level. How do you keep your data input clean? How do you divide your different constituents in user types? How do you prevent duplicates and generate full record?

At we can help you not only with system and procedural levels but also with hosting.

The benefit of open source with the comfort of a service


The strength of Open Source Technology in Elections

International IDEA published a very useful raport The Use of Open Source Technology in Elections highlighting the benefits of using open source technologie. The nature of open source could contribute to increased transparency in the electoral process and consequently greater trust in the election process and its results.

Open Source = Trust


Tweet: @DECODE < Citizens can control their own data!



Our Best Hope for Civil Discourse Online

It is wonderful to read in our favorite magazine Wired how the sub-reddit ChangeMyView showcases as an example as Our Best Hope for Civil Discourse Online. Especially because ChangeMyView founder Kal Turnbull was one of our selected speaker at the 2017 session of Innovating Democracy

We love experimenting

Welcome to our new site it is not quite finished yet but it is never to early to start. For the nerds: this website started as a experiment our front-end (theme) is based on Foxhound.

The React-based theme is the first to use the REST API endpoints included in WordPress 4.7. So a java script front-end with a WordPress .php back-end that will say quicker load with less bloat. Normally with a php theme all the front-end page loading will be done on the site server. With a java script front-end all the front-end page loading will be done on your machine side, which results in a quicker page load.