Razor wire 2.0: after 5 years
The update to the online game Žicar, which we created on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of the wire on our southern border, comes five years after the government of Miro Cerar started laying it. The governments of Marjan Šarec and Janez Janša continued with hostile policies toward refugees and made it even more difficult for them to cross the border. Such inhumane measures do not in any way reduce the number of refugees, rather, they contribute to a higher number of victims. Slovenian refugee policy makes us all culprits in their deaths. As long as the wire is standing, we all have blood on our hands!
In media res
In media res is a podcast with Boris Vezjak, focused on analyzing political and media discourses. Every week, Tadej and Boris discuss selected topics for about half an hour, scrutinizing particular comments and media responses, exposing rhetorical fallacies and media spins, propaganda tactics, and critically reflecting on public discourse. The podcast is available on all major podcasting apps, on YouTube, as well as on the In media res blog.
This campaign, developed in partnership with CNVOS, was conceived as a response to the Ministry of Culture’s hostile move toward the residents of Metelkova 6. The Ministry’s announcement that these non-governmental and civil society organizations would be evicted, illustrates Minister Simoniti’s desire to discipline culture and the arts. His views may be problematic, but they are in perfect harmony with the government’s belligerent policy towards the autonomous parts of society. Helping the minister to permanently rub out the disturbing elements from society, we brought this dark vision to its bitter end.
Although, in the aftermath of the spring epidemic, the government spent a lot of time reassuring the public that as a society we would be better prepared for a possible second wave of covid-19, it is now obvious that rather than developing a strategy and capacity building, just like the virus, they also spent the summer dormant. In collaboration with Kje bomo pa jutri spali?, we analyzed the housing policy, identifying the most embarrassing coronavirus fails and proposing better responses to the pressing issues. Now they can’t say that nothing can be done!
As the government is taking advantage of the current crisis, degrading our environmental policies and dismantling the NGO sector, we teamed up with Greenpeace Slovenia and published a campaign pursuing green response to the health crisis caused by COVID-19. In it, we presented a vision of an Environment Minister, who would actually care for the environment. We named this fictional minister Andrej Vision, a pun on current minister Andrej Vizjak’s name. Andrej Vision would build railways rather than roads, would advocate for health rather than for exploitation of nature, and would invest in solar energy rather than in fossil fuels.
Fascism for dummies
The project addressed the pervasive threat of fascism in our society and the hypocrisy that encircles it. Although its definition, characteristics, its methods and approaches are thoroughly studied, politicians and the media are still reluctant to call fascism out. Thus, we made a website, which uses the form and aesthetics of the well-known “for dummies” series to present the main features of fascism (such as cult of personality, propaganda, (ab)use of media and cultural war), illustrating them with examples that were too easily found in the ploys of our government.
Nature belongs to everyone
As part of a broad civil society and non-governmental coalition, we published a petition against the third anti-coronavirus law. The law, under the pretext of helping the economy, removed non-governmental organizations as stakeholders in formal proceedings, enabled investors to build without a valid building permit and subordinated relevant public institutions to politics. Although the petition received a huge response, with more than 36,000 people signing it, its demands were ignored.
As the whole world was on hold because of the new coronavirus, we focused our digital efforts on building community. We took the crisis as an opportunity to strengthen solidarity and we stepped up to help facilitate a discussion about it – or about anything else, for that matter. We built an old-fashioned internet forum and invited people to join the conversation, exchange views and sourdough starters, to learn, share memes and reviews of pandemic-themed movies as well as organize online gaming nights. With the end of the coronacrisis, we left Quarantinia and ventured back into the physical world.
As proud members of the broad non-governmental and civil society coalition No fear we supported the 2020 protests against two political parties (SMC and DeSUS) that decided to form a coalition with the far-right SDS after the Prime Minister Šarec resigned. We created a web campaign that exposed their hypocrisy, listing past statements of these parties' MPs about SDS, their authoritarian tendencies, and their inability to function democratically. The website also served as an info point for the Rally against the Coalition of Hate, inviting people to contact DeSUS and SMC MPs and remind them of their past promises about who they would never align with politically.
The housing crisis
As the Slovenian Parliament debated the Housing Bill, we launched a campaign to highlight the current housing crisis in the country. Working with two initiatives, Kje bomo pa jutri spali? and Ljudje, we emphasized the difficulties people have in finding housing, such as: rents are growing at a stronger pace than wages, students are faced with unregulated, extortionate rents or forced to pay tourist tax, the housing stock is limited, there is a shortage of non-profit housing, homelessness is on the rise, etc. Our goal was to frame the discussion around solidarity and the universal right to housing.
Youth for climate justice
We created a website to support the initiative Mladi za podnebno pravičnost (Youth for Climate Justice), who organized local protests during the Global Climate Strike. On the website, we published their proposed measures to address climate change and gathered various information on climate protests and The Climate Justice Movement, with focus on its Slovenian chapter. The website itself showcased our distinctive – simple, yet efficient – design and versed implementation of contemporary web standards.
In 2018, we commemorated the third anniversary since Miro Cerar's government had installed razor wire on the border with Croatia. We created a non-game that put the player in the role of a refuge and confronted them with a series of obstacles, dangers and frustrations. No matter how well they did, avoiding bombs, authorities and sharks, a razor wire was waiting for them on the Schengen border with fortress Europe. With this campaign we drew attention to the unfortunate fact that the wire at the border was still there, demanding from the new government to remove it.
Dreaming of apartments
We created an interactive website where we visualised and contextualized data from a research project prepared by the Institute for Housing and Spatial Studies in cooperation with University of Ljubljana (Faculty of Social Studies) and the Institute for Spatial Policies. To find out how many of the apartments that are listed on the most popular online real estate portal can one buy or rent, they just needed to enter the amount of their monthly income. The research project got extensive media coverage and our website had 45 000 visitors.
Just in time for the local elections in 2018, we launched a campaign to obtain commitment to implementation of participatory budgeting from the mayoral candidates in the event of their election. We published the commitments that we received on a dedicated website that included precise definition and comprehensive explanation of participatory budgeting. After the election, we updated the website so that the public can now monitor whether promises have been kept and exert pressure on those mayors, who need constant reminders to keep theirs.
Manufacturing air quality sensors
In October 2018 we organised two youth workshops as part of Meet & Code programme. The second was intended for high school and university students, with whom we built sensors for measuring air quality. We built a chip that measures the number of dust particles in the air (PM2.5 and PM10), as well as temperature and humidity. We installed some of the sensors across Slovenia and you can see their location visualized on a dedicated website.
Security and encryption on the internet
In October 2018 we organized two youth workshops as part of Meet & Code programme. The first was intended for elementary school students, whom we helped understand the basics of (digital) encryption. Together, we examined the key concepts and then carried out simple experiments, in which we attempted to decode encrypted messages. We used everyday examples to explain the importance of encryption and demonstrated to the participants that internet safety is of paramount importance.
Godfathers of hate
This was a campaign against the normalisation of hate in the form of widespread corporate advertising in the media that inflame intolerance. We redesigned certain ads by companies that ignored their responsibility to the public, and violated ethical standards as well as good taste by advertising in highly manipulative media. We redesigned their ads in a manner that they started directly communicating what they had only implicitly supported before. The campaign was hugely successful: while receiving less than friendly PR messages from the companies in question, we saw the Prime Minister urge them to think about where they choose to advertise.
Philosophical agrument is our first book edition. It is a collection of brief reflections on 25 concepts, each representing one letter of the Slovenian alphabet. These were published online for 25 consecutive Saturdays as part of the Thematic agrument project. It is no coincidence that we started the series with the most fundamental of the disciplines that teaches us to think and encourages us to wonder, transforming us into autonomous subjects in the process. You are invited to support us by ordering the book. The digital version is available online for free.
This was a petition requesting the dismissal of Damir Črnčec from the position of Secretary of State. It was signed by more than 4,300 people. The petition drew attention to xenophobia, intolerance and hatred that he publicly expressed on social networks. The promise of showing the red card to hate speech was one of the things that had enabled Marjan Šarec, then Prime Minister, to seize power in the first place. However, by placing such a controversial figure in his cabinet, his promises were quickly exposed as false. To demonstrate that his appointment legitimized hatred, we added a selection of Črnčec's worst tweets to the petition, photoshopping Šarec's likes under them.
Form the government
In an ideal Slovenia, the ministers would get their jobs by responding to the ads on this website. In actual Slovenia, such ads, written by a broad civil society and NGO coalition, can only be satire. This campaign challenged the established ways of political recruiting. Neglecting competences is just one side of the story; equally problematic is the trend of adopting legislation through abbreviated procedures, which effectively prevents any kind of public debate, excluding civil society and NGOs from the legislative process.
Let's save the internet
As EU set out to adopt a copyright reform in 2018, we joined the international campaign to fight it. Whereas the reform itself was necessary, some of the proposed changes were very problematic, endagering the idea of free and autonomous Internet. We demanded the abolition of Article 11, which jeopardized the right to link, and Article 13, which allowed for censorship even in the fair use of copyrighted works. We demanded Articles 3 and 4, which deal with permitted exceptions to data mining and education, to be rewritten. Sadly, despite the joint efforts of a broad pan-European civil society coalition, the EU Parliament still passed the reform.
This is a translation and an upgrade of the open source project politiscales, which helped voters to choose from many parties that took part in 2018 parliamentary elections. TV confrontations as well as party programs focus mainly on generalized and hollow promises. Thus, we delivered a 117 question survey with statements placed along 8 value axes to all competing parties. The majority of them responded and our users were able to compare their views with party responses. We wanted to give voters the opportunity to make their decisions based on content and were awarded with huge response: more than 30,000 people visited the website.
We responded to the invitation of the Ljubljana Society for the protection of animals to join the campaign against raising laying hens in battery cages. We set up a petition, which was signed by thousands of people and succeeded in several providers pledging to stop selling eggs obtained in this manner. In support of the campaign, we created a retro web game kura.si. In it, the player is placed in the role of a laying hen and sentenced to suffering in a small cage. Te game attracted a lot of media coverage. It was also translated and published in Latvia as part of a similar effort.
Sign up for Facebook
In 2018, after some high-profile data privacy scandals, we translated the open source website Sign up for Facebook and published it on our own domain. The website was designed to help users decide whether to open an account on Facebook or not. It guides them through information about how their data is collected, stored and used by Facebook and other stakeholders. Our goal was to demonstrate to users that they should take responsibility for their decisions regarding personal data and to be aware of any potential consequences of these decisions.
Ahmad must stay
We published a petition by Ambasada Rog requesting of the Ministry of Interior Affairs to stop the deportation process of Mr. Ahmad Shami, a Syrian refugee living in Slovenia. When it comes to returning asylum seekers to Croatia, our bureaucratic apparatus invokes and meticulously follows the Dublin Regulation. At the same time, it completely ignores its discretionary clause, which could be used to help individuals like Mr. Shami, who has volunteered with organizations that deal with different social issues and participated in projects, funded by the Slovenian Ministry of Culture. Rather than "rewarding" his exemplary integration with at least a residence permit, the state rejected his asylum application.
A postcard from Vis
Like every year, politics was on hiatus during the summer of 2017. That is, until the incident on a ferry to remote Croatian island Vis, where two Slovenian MPs, Violeta Tomić and Branko Grims, bumped into each other. The casual encounter of the two political opponents was followed by the publication of unbecoming photos of Tomić on the ferry. Her response on social media hinted at Grims' potential involvement, which he denied. The situation presented us with a great opportunity to test the SCAN investigative method that we were working on for Media scanner project with EBSI. The results were pretty telling.
Break free Slovenia
This petition was conceived in the context of Greenpeace's Break Free coalition of NGOs and civil society organizations that joined forces against fossil fuels. We appealed to the government to ensure responsible transition from fossil fuels to sustainable green energy, to promote self-sufficiency, and to establish infrastructure for the electrification of transport with renewables. The petition, which gathered thousands of signatures, was designed as a dynamic, user-friendly online experience, which included a bot that informed users on the importance of green energy and provided answers to frequently asked questions.
Let's hold our horses!
It is everyone's responsibility to try, within the limits of their power, to prevent blatant violations of human rights, doubly so if their function is based on symbolic integrity. Our outrage upon the adoption of the unconstitutional Aliens Act resulted in an appeal to the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor not to promulgate it. This way, he would indeed risk dismissal in the Parliament, but would gain much in terms of human integrity and symbolic authority. The President's Office rejected such an act of rebellion as impossible, but this judgment was only valid within the assumption that Pahor should remain in function no matter what.
Not giving up
As the clearly unconstitutional Aliens Act was promulgated, we petitioned the Ombudswoman, asking her to submit the act to the Constitutional Court for judicial review. Although by definition bound by the promotion of human rights beyond pragmatic, economic or ideological interests, her office examined the act for a long time. That was particularly unusual as numerous lawyers, media and institutions had listed violations of international law, implemented in the Aliens Act, and there was also international controversy about it. In the end she did the right thing, and the Constitutional Court indeed found the Aliens Act unconstitutional.
Greatest (s)hits of student organising
This campaign was an overview of the finest malversations, transgressions and other "successes" of Slovenian student organising in the past 2 decades. With it, we helped to prevent the parliamentary Committee on Education, Science, Sport and Youth to reject the Amending act to the Law on the student community.The proposed amendments addressed the most problematic ambiguities that had allowed student functionaries to act mostly in their own personal interest. The Slovenian student union (ŠOU) was to be defined as a public entity and as such subjected to stricter legislation. ŠOU management did everything in their power to have the Amending act rejected, but were unsuccessful in their attempts.
We responded to one of Mladina's open calls (Proglas) for visual social commentary. We did so by critically parodying one of the pillars of Slovenian advertising, as well as the state of being Slovenian itself. We entered into a dialogue with the campaign "Slovenia, My Country", which was created in the 1980s by Studio Marketing Delo. We wanted to demonstrate that has since become an enclosed and hostile country to outsiders. Members of the jury, Tomato Košir, Matevž Medja and Robert Botteri, chose our work to be published in Mladina.
Visions of public space
For this project we teamed up with students and their mentors from University of Ljubljana. We helped them present and promote the results of a workshop on possible futures of Slovenian public spaces. They took materials from Google Street View and transformed them in both utopian and dystopian visions of the future, and we edited and presented the campaign online. The audience is faced with a simple decision: do I want the current trends to continue and completely take over the landscape or will I do something to help secure a friendlier, inclusive and nature-friendly way of managing the commons.
Alternation was a web campaign that took tweets from political parties and individual politicians and replaced words denoting refugees, migrants etc., with the word Jew. With the visual design we wanted to make absolutely clear that anti-migrant political propaganda is only one word away from full-on fascist propaganda. This culture of fear fuels biased views, talking about the mighrant crisis in economical rather than humanitarian terms, helping people to look away as the authorities stamp human rights for the sake of the capital. Our campaign was very successful and went viral; on Facebook alone it was shared 1620 times.
As a commercial TV station "roasted" president Pahor, he used that opportunity to effectively launch his new election campaign. We decided to turn the attention away from the adorable TV mischief and instead analyze his political mistakes. As the presidential figure is very important to the people, it also should be exposed to serious critique. So, we took Pahor from the benign TV roast and put him in an internet oven that left him significantly more scorched. Nearly 2000 people shared the campaign on social media.
This map was yet another tutorial that encouraged participation in the voting that should not have happened, the infamous referendum on gay marriage equality. We created an interactive map of universal "OMNIA" polling stations, showing anyone, who was away from home on the day of the referendum, where and how to vote. To this data we also added information about polling stations' accessibility to people with reduced mobility.
On the occasion of White Cane Safety Day we urged Slovenian media to make their websites more accessible to the blind. We performed some accessibility tests and the majority of our most visited digital media sites fared awkwardly bad. This is unforgivable as implementation of web accessibility standards is neither very complicated nor particularly expensive. But as there are "only" about 10 000 blind people, the media can apparently afford to systematically exclude them from their audiene. There are simply no excuses for sloppy code, intrusive ads, and ignorance.
Is it vandalism?
Which one is vandalism: cycling through the old town or lack of cycling infrastructure maintenance? The project Is it vandalism? was a reaction to official City of Ljubljana campaign against vandalism. The latter defined vandalism as interventions in the environment and/or its uses that reduce its commercial value. Such definition is in the interest of authorities and capital, rather than the people who should be allowed to define vandalism in their own local environments. In this campaign, we used Instagram to paint a contrasting picture of how people vs. the local government see vandalism.
The project explains three different aspects of inequality: wealth inequality, income inequality, and inequality in Slovenia. Key terms and data are presented in an interactive and understandable manner, which encourages the visitor to click through pressing economical headaches and their implications. The web experience ends with listing of some possible solutions. The project was supported by Inštitut za delavske študije and Open Society Foundation and publicly presented at an event, organized to promote the translation of Piketty's Capital in Slovene language.
In the wake of the moral panic triggered by a malicious digital insect named Heartbleed, we responded with a request to local web service providers to immediately identify and eliminate the security threat. While Heartbleed compromised private information, the media mostly mistakenly urged users to change their passwords, while the responsibility for individuals' online security was solely in the hands of service providers. We held them publicly responsible, while also measuring their response time.
Et tu, Borute?
Et tu, Borute was an online reminder for future electoral assessment of any potential new candidature of the Slovenian president Borut Pahor. The tool was created after the inauguration of the new Anti Corruption Commission and its president, which in one stroke devalued this highly entrusted supervisory authority. It was a tool for clogging the holes in political memory, a web reminder for a variety of engaged uses, and a Golden Diggit laureate in 2014.
Agrument is a daily intervention in the domestic media space in approximately 1000 characters that we have been publishing since 2014. In it, we draw attention to the hidden sides of big stories, highlight small but significant incidents, monitor independent media, and the political backstage. Such stories often have the most radical impact on everyday life, on the commons, and the environment. Information and interpretations are thoroughly checked. We investigate the small print, highlight the footnotes, decrypt brackets, functions and other socio-political mathematics.
Nov ŠOU was a web campaign Nov ŠOU, which supported the proposed statutory changes of Student's Organisation of University of Ljubljana. The proposed changes were in the direction of its definition as an institution under public law and associated greater scrutiny over its operation. In spite of record turnout (almost 6000) and clearly expressed democratic will of the students (94 % voted for the proposed changes), the referendum still failed because 20 % quorum was not reached.
We offered a web presence to a petition to preserve club K4 as a space for progressive and independent cultural production, and for Zavod K6/4 to remain a non-profit and open urban platform for contemporary art. The petition was aimed at several players: ŠOU Ljubljana, new management of Zavod K6/4, as well as the media and anti-corruption institutions. We gathered 2,465 signatures in a short period of time, and helped K4 remain significantly more committed to urban culture as originally planned. #K4FOREVA!