About this project
Note: English, German and Albanian subtitles available. Please use Italian for Albanian subtitles. Unfortunately Kickstarter does not have Albanian in the drop-down list of languages. Kosovo is now on the list of countries in Kickstarter (check the Updates section of this campaign).
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What we want to achieve?
Prishtina Hackerspace is a co-working open experimentation space in Prishtina, Kosovo, established exclusively for technological, educational, cultural and scientific purposes. The aim of the space is to:
- Provide workspace, equipment and other resources for communal use by all members;
- Encourage continued and after-school learning through workshops, classes, seminars and mentoring;
- Create a safe and open environment for experimentation in technology and art.
Our objective is to create and continue a shared space for collaborative technical and artistic experimentation in Prishtina, create a space with resources (hardware, tools, materials, access, knowledge) for members and the community to participate and take responsibility for individual and group projects. We aim to create an open community of hackers/makers, artists, and open source/hardware enthusiasts who will create, share, learn, and collaborate. We want to help spread knowledge to the larger community, especially in the areas of technology, DIY, security, and privacy, and assist other groups that share similar objectives.
In addition to individual projects, the space will be open for independent member-organized workshops, lectures and presentations, knowledge sharing meetings, group tech projects, those that want to incubate in the hackerspace, and just "hanging around" perhaps to seek help with a project that they might be working on.
We are following the hackerspace model currently flourishing in cities all over the world.
Hackerspaces are open participation environments where people of various ages and disciplines learn hands-on in a collaborative, fun manner by making prototypes and tinkering with devices, participating in international competitions or creating ambitious projects from flying machines to biology hacking.
Hackerspaces are community-operated physical spaces which have been in existence for many years in various places around the world largely independent from government sponsorship. Each hackerspace is an autonomous entity, but they all share the same philosophy of having fun building things together.
We use the term “hacker” in the historical 'creative use of technology' sense. A hackerspace is the preferred term of the 'hackerspace movement', a growing movement which has exploded because individuals started these supportive communities where people can explore and do what they love.
We all need community, and we all need to express ourselves creatively. Hackerspaces provide a physical space for exploring and supporting these two powerful, deep, inner needs.
Prishtina Hackerspace is where we begin making amazing things.
Why do we need this?
Kosovo youth lacks programmed activities open to all, especially those that expose niche skills and activities. This need becomes more acute during the long summer vacation when not much happens to keep our youth engaged in educational activities.
The current education paradigm in Kosovo is long overdue for a complete re-structuring. The pedagogic methods belong to a time when information technology was at its infancy, or altogether non-existent. Advanced curricula and pedagogic reformation are of utmost importance. However, the institutions responsible for this fundamental transformation of the educational system in Kosovo lack the resources and know-how to pull off this undertaking.
Innovative youth are left without an alternative to the obsolete system which they are bound to. Their output and contribution to their society is severely limited due to an environment which cannot fulfill their creative potential. Without such contribution from an large portion of the population, Kosovar society continues to be intellectually and creatively handicapped.
Time which could be spent providing ideas and new creations is spent in idle activity and non-productivity. This leads to a cycle of repeating patterns and lethargic attitudes. Creative potential is misdirected or otherwise misused. This continued incapacity for skill development and community cooperation leads to a nation-wide brain-drain, with the majority of the capable workforce seeking to leave the country as the only means for further professional growth. On top of this, the unemployment rate in Kosovo stands at 45%. This number shows that a very large portion of the population is available or can otherwise be persuaded to engage in some form of productive activity, if provided the right incentive, or simply space and tools.
According to STIKK, the Kosovo ITC industry group,“...Kosovo continues to be plagued by an education system that at all levels fails to address the pedagogic and skills training needs of its students and the economy...the quality of graduates is poor and out of sync with workforce requirements”*
It is already being discussed a lot around the world, that we have to transform classrooms into collaborative, community supported settings. However, the situation in Kosovo is a bit different. The education system in Kosovo faces an ongoing decentralization process in order to improve the basis of social service delivery. This is a broad socio-cultural task, broader than any formal curriculum can hope to encompass. On the conceptual level it requires an inclusion of questioning of the existing mental models, mostly successfully reproduced through quality education, independent initiatives and social activities.
A number of potential contributors to Kosovo’s information and technology sectors continue to be self-motivated, technologically-aware citizens. However, their platform for communication and cooperation is by and large non-existent. Their activities are are restricted to virtual spaces instead of physical ones. There is a great need for cooperative spaces which enable these self-motivated individuals to express and develop themselves accordingly.
We are aware and proud of the fact that the population of Kosovo is one of the youngest in Europe. In Kosovo, half of the population is under the age of 27, which represents an exceptional potential and energy for development, talent and creativity.
However, we are also aware that any such potential requires a proper channeling of this energy. The needs, desires and ambitions of young people need to be guided and focused on concrete activities so that this most vital part of the population can make a significant contribution to the future of the country.
Therefore, we believe that an open co-working space, where people of same interests gather to share knowledge, work on projects, innovate, build and socialize is crucial to help the development of these skills and the future of Kosovo. Such spaces are also suitable for professionals and employed tech-savvies who need to share or apply their skills together with other people in a less formal setting.
Target Groups and Beneficiaries
Youth who might otherwise engage in destructive activities will engage in educational and creative work, which will see their projects come to fruition from conception to realization. We expect most of our members and visitors to be high-school and university students, although there is no upper age limit. Prishtina Hackerspace will welcome all technology, digital culture and knowledge-minded:
- Installation artists
- Digital artists
- Technology user groups
- Musicians and
willing to learn, share knowledge and work on hands-on projects.
The hackerspace can contribute to closing a critical workforce gap, both directly and indirectly, by promoting technology, engineering, art and culture in the local and broader community in the world. Indirect beneficiaries will be the outside citizens/communities that will benefit from projects developed in the hackerspace. Indirectly the hackerspace will inspire excitement in hardware and software production, design, art and technology in general.
The direct and indirect economic development benefits of the hackerspace will range from employable skill development, participant self-employment, and spin-off business ideas, to the attraction of venture and grant capital and will help to build and enforce the technological and creative workforce in Kosovo.
Potential tech related individual/group projects and events that could be initiated in Prishtina Hackerspace:
- Citizen Science Kosovo - Smart Citizen Kit
- Build a 3D printer
- Build a quad Copter
- Social hackathons
- One Website per school
- Research and experimentation with sound and plants
- Digitizing Books project from the old archives in Kosovo
- Software Freedom Kosova 2015 conference
- Prishtina Buses 2
- Mapping Kosovo workshops/events - Open Street Map
- Removing Vandalizing graffiti and replacing them with creative street art
- RC robots, Arduino/Ardublocks, Scratch, LEGO robot projects with kids
- TED and Khan Academy video translations to Albanian
- Open Data Hackathons
- Cyber Security events
- WMKIT Arduino workshops
- Android and iOS courses and workshops
- Webmaker Hackjams
- Educational movie nights
- OSGeo Workshops Open
- Meetings every Monday
- Linux Install fests
- User groups meetings
- CRM Workshops
- FOSS Bootcamps
- Art and music workshops
- Music gigs
- Art galleries
- App challenges
- Wikipedia events
How we will use the money?
These are the expenses of the equipment we need to buy in order to build and continue the hackerspace.
We will have to buy more chairs for events, build a big, long sitting-height table in the center of the hackerspace, and one long standing-height table around the walls. We will put up shelves for storing books, and electronics, storage cabinets for parts and storage for tools. Air conditioning, heating, safety equipment, a whiteboard, and some other equipment are needed as well.
There is a need for tools to be used for different crafts such as metalwork or even woodwork. We are going to need tools like electric drills, hammers, wrenches and screwdrivers. We are going to set these tools in a special corner of the hackerspace dedicated to crafts.
There will be a small crafts corner with basic woodworking tools including electric saws, a working platform, and other sanding tools.
Electronics are needed to work on simple electronic projects and will serve for workshops and individual project purposes. These projects will be developed on our soldering stations which need to be equipped with electronic tools like oscilloscopes, multimeters, wires and other electronic components.
We already have some desktop computers that were donated to us by the US Embassy in Prishtina. We can use old servers, electronics, wireless access points and other equipment. We will also need a digital camera for documenting the hackerspace activities, and some speakers.
Check the list of equipment donated to Prishtina Hackerspace so far in the following link: http://wiki.prishtinahackerspace.org/wiki/Equipment
2. Workspace Expenses
Just recently we found a three-story house into which we are planning to move with another group of young artists. This house is awesome, big and so much more functional than our old space. It will need investment to put it in use. Costs include painting, extra lighting, electrical circuits for for high voltage equipment, plumbing, windows, desks, and work stations.
The current space we are using costs us 300Euros per month including other administrative costs. It's possible that we will be able to move to another space which would be provided for free by the Municipality of Prishtina, but we don't think this will happen due to legal restrictions. Unless another location is offered, we will either be staying in the same space for one or two years, or moving into the a new place (depending on the success of this campaign).
Electricity, heating, water, and garbage expenses.
The space needs to have security paid for when members are not there since there will be expensive equipment hosted inside. We have thought of paying a Security company to install an alarm for the hackerspace.
The internet package we are aiming for costs 299.00 EUR per year, this is something we are trying to get as a sponsorship from a local Internet Provider.
Toiletries, cleaning and other appliances for keeping the space clean and tidy.
Materials for promoting the hackerspace for current use and future fundraising campaigns. This includes the branding of Prishtina hackerspace with all other designs that will be printed like Roll Up Banners, Stickers, Buttons, and T-shirts. Expenses for Social media Boost for the fundrasing campaign and events.
We have calculated an amount of money to organize a few major events in Prishtina Hackerspace. This includes 3-4 tickets and accommodation for International speakers that we might bring to the hackerspace for tech related talks within these 2 years, and also some minimal expenses for the event that will include promotional materials, boosted facebook posts, and drinks and snacks for the participants.
These are mostly technical infrastructure costs that include the domain for 1 year which is already bought, hosting our website which is already hosted on our servers and other maintenance costs.
Based on our previous experiences with a similar space, which led to significant contributions being made to OpenStreetMap and other projects, we believe that contributions can be significant.
We are aiming to get funding for one year by succeeding with this Kickstarter campaign, meanwhile we will be looking for other donors willing to help with the continuity of the hackerspace, after which funding is planned to be secured by applying the listed methods below:
1. Membership fees;
We plan on having two types of membership in Prishtina Hackerspace, this also a basic need for the hackerspace sustainability: - Student membership (Any person 16 years of age or older) - 10-15EUR per month - Non-Student membership - at least 20EUR per month, meaning non-students can pay more if they are willing to do so.
Membership gives the following rights:
- A key or other method of entry to the physical workspace;
- Twenty-four hour access to the physical workspace;
- Storage of a reasonable amount of equipment;
- Sponsor a qualified person for a membership vote;
- Eligibility to vote on any issue put before the membership;
More than 50% of the time the hackerspace is open due to members staying at the space during the day, but generally we have an open door policy to let guests into the space to work as long as members are at the space to let them in. Any time a member is present at the space, guests are welcome to drop by, work on projects, use the resources of the space, or just hang out. When all members leave, all guests must also leave. It is required to become a member, thus paying the membership fee in order to have 24x7 access to the space and equipment. Any guests under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
2. Fundraising events (parties, LAN parties, gatherings);
3. Renting of space for commercial events that delve into the same area;
4. Vending services (for food and drinks) to members;
5. Paid classes - which provide more than 50 percent of the income for lots of hackerspaces in their early stages, and are a fundamental part of them. Classes train new people, they provide an easy gateway into the space for those who don’t have projects but want to get involved somehow. They offer local craftspeople a new way to use their craft to make a sustainable income as instructors, and they raise the skill level of your community dramatically over time. These classes include paid workshops on design, engineering, electronics, programming or machining, and are organized (only for fundraising purposes) aside from free classes/workshops.
7. Grants and donations of equipment (all electronic and electromechanical equipment) or money from different institutions and individuals. Donations can help aid general income in the early stages of hackerspaces development, and can help acquire specific tools and infrastructural projects in later stages of development.
Check our website for the current list of supporters: http://www.prishtinahackerspace.org
Who we are?
We are members of FLOSS Kosovo, a non-governmental, a non-governmental non-profit organization established in 2009 in order to support, promote and develop Free and Open Source Software, open and participatory knowledge, education in information technologies through open courses like those from MIT; open standards, free culture and open society.
Since 2009 we at FLOSSK have been organizing an annual international conference on FLOSS. Apart from the conference, FLOSSK continued to work in various activities such as organizing Software Freedom Days in different cities of Kosovo, lectures on free software throughout Kosovo, translating software, collaborating with the media to promote free software and creating local free software groups in various cities.
Altin Ukshini, the project leader, is a 20 year old FLOSS (Free Libre and Open Source Software) and Open Knowledge activist since 2009. As a very active community guy, he has passionately co-founded and led tech projects and events in Kosovo and the US. He has been part of Louisville’s LVL1 hackerspace in Kentucky, United States of America for a year (while he was an exchange student). He received the “Honorary Citizen of Louisville” award by the city Mayor and during his stay he founded a non-profit and the first conference about Open Source Software in Kentucky called MOSSCon (Midwest Open Source Software Conference).
Altin is the the President of the Board at FLOSSK and MOSSCon, Prishtina Hackerspace co-founder, board member at STIKK (Kosovo Association of Information and Communication Technology) and a Mozilla representative from Kosovo. He also works at IPKO Foundation as a Senior Program Assistant where he organizes and leads some of the foundation's projects, as well as manages the tech part of them.
Facebook: Altin Ukshini
Gent Thaçi, the project coordinator, is a 20 year old FLOSS Hacktivist and is part of the Board at FLOSSK, Gent is also the community manager, and one of the Prishtina Hackerspace co-founders. He is a Fedora Project Ambassador and a Mozilla Representative as well. Gent has been part of the tech community in Kosovo actively since he joined FLOSSK back in 2009 through different projects and organized events. While an exchange student in the U.S. he had the opportunity to visit Silicon Valley for a week and spoke at Noisebridge about the tech scene in Kosovo. He met a lot of people from the community there and also visited EFF.
During his stay in California, Gent, along with Cyrus, thought of potential ways of funding the Hackerspace in Prishtina. After brainstorming through various possibilities, they came up with the idea of funding it through Kickstarter, as Cyrus could aid this attempt as a citizen of the United States.
Due to Kickstarter having country restrictions, apart from United States of America and United Kingdom, as well as banks in Kosovo facing transfer issues worldwide, our funding is being collected by our friend Cyrus Farivar, as he is the person who can help with this initiative as a citizen of the United States.
Cyrus Farivar [suh-ROOS], is the Senior Business Editor at Ars Technica, and is also an author and radio producer. His book, The Internet of Elsewhere – about the history and effects of the Internet on different countries around the world, including Senegal, Iran, Estonia and South Korea – was published by Rutgers University Press in April 2011. He previously was the Sci-Tech Editor, and host of "Spectrum" at Deutsche Welle English, Germany's international broadcaster. He has also reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, The Economist, Wired, The New York Times and many others. He’s also survived three VfDs on Wikipedia. However, on a 4th VfD attempt in February 2007, he was, in fact, deleted.
"By the community, for the community!"
Risks and challenges
Risks are low. The model is clear and we know how to implement it as we have worked on similar projects before, although of a smaller scale. Manageable risks are potential self-harm due to use of equipment, fire hazard...
The biggest challenge is to make the place an interesting and productive space so that people will want to come and keep it going.
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