The secret of getting ahead is getting started” Mark twain

Diaries are a great way to record life experiences and learn from them. What you think about one thing today is probably different from what you will think about it next week, next month or next year. Since a diary is comprised of dated entries, you express your feelings towards something when it is very fresh in your mind. You can then look back to those entries in the future and see how your feelings have changed, or maybe how they have stayed the same.

Let’s start from the first day of our project. Having listened to the experiences of our trainers as well as having done the reflective activities, we started thinking about our digital rights in this quickly developing digital era: the current state of the Internet as well as its future. On the first day of our program, we started from the history of internet. I thought I know everything about the internet, but today I realized that there are a lots of things to discover in an upcoming week during the program. We got acquainted with the digital rights. We shared our knowledge and got new skills in this field. One of the most important topics for nowadays was the “digital rights of users in Social Media”. I found a great way of delivering a presentation. I learned that there is a website, menti.com, which helps you to connect to the audience – through this platform, the participants have the opportunity to follow and participate in different online surveys from their own devices.

The second day of the sessions started. After the traditional energizers we were presented the history of internet governance along with the five waves/core stages that helped to shape the internet the way it is today. In an era where digital rights and the question of their protection are inseparable part of the agenda it was fascinating to learn about international organizations, for example the Internet Society (ISOC) which is promoting the development of Internet as technical infrastructure and resource that is open and accessible to everyone and is actively committed to promoting on-line safety. Many of these organizations have local communities such as branches of ISOC and IGF in different countries that young digital activists can become member of. The rest of the presentation was about the opportunities and fellowships available for young enthusiasts and activists like us that could join other digital activists and advocate for promoting digital rights and safety in our local communities and regions. Next we had a group work, each team representing a country or a region was asked to present interesting facts, laws, regulations or incidents that were unique, outstanding or problematic in terms of protection of digital rights. Some of the examples presented by groups were: in Moldova 85 % of Internet is provided by two providers, one of which is a state company;  in Belarus it is prohibited to post or share videos of your favorite band. The closing activity of the day was a role play inspired by the latest news that Huawei will develop 5G network infrastructure. The role play engaged all the stakeholders (government, international organizations, civil society and other telecommunication companies) into a heated debate which ended the day on a high note.

On the third day we started with a presentation about the organisation that fights the spread of fake information about events in Ukraine. 

The organization known as StopFake.org was presented by Galina Schimansky-Geier, who told us about the misinformation that is spread by a Russian government about Ukraine. Moreover, she shared with us techniques of spotting the propaganda and applying critical reading to the news. 

In the afternoon, we had presentation about digital activism heroes, then we split into groups and came up with three digital activism persons or organizations and presented them for everyone. Names like Edward Snowden, Aaron Schwarz and Chelsea Manning were mentioned.

How did we get here and where are we going?

This is the first question that opened our fruitful 4th day of the seminar.We were briefly introduced to the history of internet,  how it is being shaped and the effects it would have on the future.

The internet of the future is being shaped now, that’s why it’s really important to get involved in various occasions and seek every opportunity to shape it in the most accessible, fair, inclusive and sustainable way.

After the coffee break, we had an inspiring presentation about how to be a digital activist. It gave us insight on how to take actions in our own hands and make sure that our rights are being respected. Afterwards, we split into groups and worked on different campaign cases that are happening around the world, trying to create our own campaigns based on each of them. This gave the participants more practical experience, because we had a chance to put the knowledge gained during the presentation.

The 3rd session of the day was about the Green Perspective,  a really interesting topic, since  it resonates deeply with  the aim of our network. We also had  a dynamic discussions of defining ‘green’ and the connection with digital rights and activism.

And the last but not the least, “Crypto Party.” It was not just a theoretical session – we had a chance to use the programs and plugins on our devices and learn by doing. Now we know how to be safe on the Internet, how to find out if we are tracked by or not, how to block them and what kind of applications we can use for make our messages encrypted. 

On the fifth day, we worked on case studies about Feminism and Internet and their different aspects such as: governance, freedom of expression, building the movements, resistance, economy etc.

We studied that women are not involved enough in Technical/Technological Sciences, maybe in particular countries there are some, but  mostly in administration or not at all.

The other topic discussed was offensive and gender sensitive content on social media, as well as lack of instruments to stop them from being published. In the end we worked on the follow up and did evaluation of the event.