Wednesday May 20th was the opening of OuiShare Fest 2015, held again in Paris under this year’s theme “Lost in Transition”. Casual conversation about this theme was a good icebreaker; most people I spoke with felt that the theme had a rather dark tone, although a few felt it was nothing more than a provocative choice of words. “Being lost does not mean that we should give up our hope for a happy ending, but that the happy ending depends on us”, noted Francesca Pick, OuiShare Fest Co-Chair and International Community Connector in her article about the debate that surrounded the name-choosing process.
A similar spirit was echoed in a number of ideas expressed during the day, some of which I was fast enough to write down before they were, well, lost. The most surprising was this idea from Sinan Khalili, who shared his twist in perspective. “I think we’re here precisely because we’re not lost; we’re all here together because we want a lot of the same things. It’s the rest of them out there (outside the festival) who are lost”. Indeed, rather than “lost”, the key word of the day seemed to be “transition”. More than one talk or workshop incorporated transition in its title or message, and that shift in emphasis clarified the theme. In conversation with Åsa Minoz before a workshop called, “Transition to a Functional and Cooperative Economy”, she said: “The danger is to sit back and wait, and then we won’t get the chance to shape the future”.
Crowdfunding, open source and open knowledge, makers and distributed production, horizontal government, person-to-person banking, and collaborative consumption - many of this years OuiShare Fest “Key Topics”, along with their “tracks” are especially aligned with the Goteo mission. Sustainability, civic involvement, environmental and social impact are central themes, and the discussions so far have seemed to put the emphasis on the empowerment and protection of people, including in their online roles.
“We’ve had labor rights, but what about user’s rights?” asked Brett Scott in a climactic debate also including Indy Johar and Jeremiah Owyang, moderated by Izabella Kaminska. The discussion centered on “the evolution of the financial system and the impact it has on making possible a real "socialization" (distribution, participation) of the value created by innovation.” Johar finished off a line of debate with Owyang about the idea of transitioning the biggest social media platforms from private enterprises to public goods (or commons) by stating, “We’re not just capitalists; we’re human beings, and we’re building a new platform for our global consciousness”. That proclamation earned him some vehement crowd love.
While it’s impossible to attend everything and often difficult to chose between competing events, it’s still going to be a great pleasure to meet many more like-minded and open-minded people in the coming days, and to talk about the power of co-creation, crowds, open data, open knowledge, and all that Goteo.org adds to the conversation.