Eastern European countries are largely influenced by their communist past. Because communist parties had a closed state model with a strong control over their populations, many East-European cities felt, and still feel, distrust for their government institutions. The governments of these countries can, historically speaking, be characterised by their high levels of corruption and closed institutions. Therefore, it is not strange that many citizens still are sceptical towards their governments; also when it comes to the topic of open data.
A good example of an organisation that offers an alternative to the government dominated internet, is Paralelni Polis in Prague. It is a project by the guerilla art group Ztohoven. The initiators argue that the current online landscape is dominated by the authoritarian tendencies of the state. To go against this development, they connect arts, science and technology as a tool to make these tendencies visible. Because of their activities, they are known as hackers.
By providing unregulated internet, the Institute of Cryptoanarchy aims to create a free society. Paralelni Polis wants to make people aware that censorship and authoritarian regimes are not only holding power in countries like China and Congo but that it is everywhere. Because states have unlimited access to the information of their citizens, they have complete control over what is showed and how this information is going to be used. People are mostly unaware, but the state is even accessing private e-mails and other personal data. Paralelni Polis has a co-working space called Paper Hub and the rent can be paid with Bitcoins. Next to that, Paralelni Polis has several projects running to improve open technology:
In Bitcoin Coffee, you can purchase your cup of coffee with bitcoins. This is a digital currency that can not be controlled or manipulated by governments, companies or individuals. By experimenting with this new currency, the initiators of Paralelni Polis want to show how we can decentralise daily proceedings like money transactions. There is a Bitcoin meetup as well where classes are offered to make others familiar with the internet currency.
3D printing classes
MakersLab organises all kinds of activities on every day of the week with 3D printers in the building of Paralelni Polis. On Mondays there is a meet up that everyone who is interested can join, the Tuesdays are for the ones who want to improve their 3D printing skills. On Wednesdays, the beginners can join workshops to learn the skills needed. Thursdays are reserved for people who want to race with their drones and Fridays are for the non-Czech speakers.
To keep updated on the activities of Paralelni Polis, take a look at their website.