Already in Berlin, we were looking forward to coming to Albania and meeting the hackers from Open Labs, the young 1-year old but very active hackerspace in Tirana. Open Labs is the one of its kind in this country. Its members ( about 20 ) are working hard to change this by promoting knowledge sharing and open cultures, and establishing a network with similar organisations from neighbour countries. Active members count also youngsters under 20 and their motivation has made the first year very successful.
Since its creation, Open Labs has been hosting weekly events, meetings and regular workshops ( about wordpress, linux, audacity…). Other projects managed by its members include the educational electronics kit called WMKIT which has been also presented at Betahaus in Berlin or the development of the wikipedia in the albanian language. We got the chance to interview the co-founder Redon Skikuli. In this video he tells in more detail about Open Labs and the situation of open knowledge in Albania.
As we did in Prague and Vienna, we also presented our workshop at Open Labs. Although the number of participants was smaller than at metalab, the interest showed made continuously the workshop very constructive. From the beginning, attendees actively participated in the presentation by asking questions and sharing their knowledge about open data, which showed that albanian hackers are willing to get deeper into the topic.
Albania is a country that has still a lack of transparency at political level. However, an open data platform has been created by an independent group of people who have gathered relevant information and published it to the public domain. They have also developed useful civic applications which promote the participation of the citizens in the improvement of the electoral system and the preservation of the environment. Unfortunately these initiatives are till now not receiving any support from the government. The attendees expressed the wish to have more data being released in the sector of security (criminality, car accidents) and public transportation.
Speaking about open data in a country like Albania has been extremely interesting for us. Quoting Redon Skikuli in the video above: “In a state like Albania […] its better to give people the tools to get their food and to learn how to create these tools than helping them giving their food”