Category Archives: Open Culture

r0g collaborative agency for open culture, art and critical transformation

South Sudanese colleagues visiting Berlin

With a range of exciting events happening these days in Berlin we are very happy to welcome three of our colleagues from South Sudan.

The founders of the #Go Girls ICT Initiative Yine Yenki and Eva Yayi as well as Bior Jaden attended the annual Global Innovation Gathering, presented at this year’s 12th edition of re:publica and will attend the Open Tech Summit here in Berlin.



We celebrated their arrival with our own annual tradition of the r0g_agency meet’n’greet and presented the key milestones of our work:

  • the Open Hardware Field Kit #ASKotec
  • the Hate Speech Awareness project #DefyHateNow with our current social media campaign #Thinkb4uclick
  • a special sneak preview screening of DEFY – the film the new film by Sam Lukudu and Cont de Monk; shot and produced entirely on location in Juba, South Sudan

Continue reading South Sudanese colleagues visiting Berlin

Mapping Refugee Culture and Innovation Sites in Uganda

Since mid-2016 r0g_agency has become increasingly active with its partners on peacebuilding and open tech innovation at a number of South Sudanese refugee settlements in Uganda, primarily in the regions of Arua, Adjumani and Bweyale. Beginning with the first pilot trainings using the #ASKotec kit as part of the 2016 jHUB community development workshops at the Panyadoli Self-Help Secondary School (Kirandongo refugee settlement) r0g_agency began to conduct outreach and training at numerous sites as part of the #defyhatenow initiative in 2017 as well.
IMG_20171217_113926Given that project partners who had formerly been active in South Sudan had to flee or support relatives at these sites, activities continued and expanded in these new contexts reaching more communities who were both affected by conflict as well as actively engaged in peacebuilding. In doing so the projects also increasingly came into contact with further local initiatives and NGOs working to train and empower local youths, working to bring new perspectives to young people for a life beyond conflict. Precisely locating and identifying the broad range of activities that these organisations are involved in and getting a sense – not only of their physical location – but also of their missions, communities, resources etc., r0g_agency introduced the #ojoVoz community documentation and witnessing tool to begin plotting a user driven map of the region.
The first test nodes for an ASKnet map of South Sudan refugee innovation nodes in Uganda, focusing on training, innovation or points of cultural action, as well as local support infrastructure were generated as part of a preliminary mapping exercise in December 2017. As the local teams, including partners such as YSAT (Youth Social Advocacy Team) and CTEN (Community Technology Empowerment Network) working in Rhino Camp and Bidi Bidi settlements, along with Adjumani based YEF (Youth Empowerment Foundation) build up their activities, visit and interact with other groups and initiatives the ASKnet map (Access to Skill and Knowledge network map) should become a resource useful to anyone interested in supporting youth skills training, empowerment and peacebuilding activities.
IMG_20171215_162400If you would like to contribute to the mapping effort, please contact You can learn about and download the free and open source ojoVoz Android app here, as well as learn about the Sauti ya Wakulima project by Eugenio Tisselli that led to the development of the app.

Kapital Virtual Academy

Kapital Virtual Academy (KVA) is a Juba based grass-roots film and video training initiative founded by independent film-makers and medical students Lagu Stephen Samuel and Richard Dratu in 2013. Connected to Lagu Stephen’s umbrella film production organisation Kapital Movie Industry Corporation, the KVA has attracted a broad group of young people from across South Sudan who aspire to become designers, media producers, film-makers and IT professionals, however for a lack of educational infrastructure in this field are not able to do so. Most of the KVA participants are students at the University of Juba, studying a wide scope of professional disciplines.

As perhaps South Sudan’s first and only independent media training institution, KVA aims to also address some of the key post-independence and post-conflict challenges that South Sudanese society faces today. These include communal violence, health and environmental issues, and the nurturing of a vibrant civil society.

By utilizing an Open Source philosophy including the use of OERs (Open Educational Resources), FOSS / open source software and open technologies, KVA aims to build local capacity and community empowerment through the power of film and media production. As such KVA’s aim is primarily two-fold:

1. skills training and professional capacity building in IT and media production
2. advancing the ideals of securing a vibrant open civil society in South Sudan

Initially KVA classes where informal and self-organised, with no fixed regular location, taking place in different homes, student residences and cafes usually with little or no access to internet or electricity. The KVA students have been largely self-taught, and then mentored by fellow students and graduates of the program. Since late 2013 KVA has been able to meet on UNESCO South Sudan’s Juba premises which has enabled a more rigorous semester structure with a focussed curriculum being developed.

The KVA has also managed, against many odds, immense challenges and threats against the security of its students and teachers to continue its activities through the current crisis in the country. As an entirely home-grown initiative the KVA serves to create a uniquely South Sudanese institution enabling local people to tell relevant stories, address key issues, and become key players in the building of their own country. This is especially key in a new state struggling to stand on its own two feet among the family of nations overcome decades of civil war, ongoing political crisis alongside the most basic of development and education challenges.

KVA current course load touches upon a diverse range of topics related to technology, design and media production including:

  • Basic computer skills
  • Software training
  • Cinematography
  • Photography
  • Web design
  • Digital computer graphics
  • Creative writing
  • Sound and video editing

But in order to be truly successful, and sustain its independence, express its cultural values and spread their open culture philosophy the KVA now needs real support and partners that share their vision by, for example:

  • enabling professional guest mentors on a regular basis
  • providing up-to-date
  • equipment and technology
  • facilitating access to quality educational resources
  • helping pay staff and cover administrative, travel and location costs

For more information and to support the KVA, please visit:

KVA_flyer download

contact :
Lagu Stephen Samuel [lagu[at]] Dratu Richard [dratu[at]]


In the runup and development towards a first global ‘Summit of Critical Making’ to be held in Yogyakarta Indonesia in 2015, the newly formed Culture Arts Technology Collective CATEC in collaboration with r0g_agency and the HONF Foundation are hosting a [proto:type] event, The Yogyakarta Meeting on Open Culture and Critical Making.

[proto:type]Y2014 highlights the unique and innovative forms of open culture practiced in Indonesia fusing art, open technology and education with grass-roots community interaction. Continue reading [PROTO:TYPE] Y2014

OPEN / FREE_ a discussion

What is ‘free’, what does ‘open’ mean? We’d like to share this brief @-mail conversation, that took place in late october 2013 between r0g_team and two r0g_friends.

(A:) I just wonder about the meaning of Open Source material and stuff, are they neccessarially free stuff? If so, it bothers me how do the people getting involved into this revolution make things happen with this world stress financial and economic crisis? I am afraid; this might make the little understanding I have about ‘Open x x x x… things’ appears very stupid, but I really want to (learn) more things everyday about Open source.

(r0g_:) Hi,
there is a bit of difference between free and open … While in general open source licenses are and should be free, the free refers more to ‘free’ as in ‘freedom’ to use, share, build upon, and develop new creations with it. The issue can get a bit dogmatic at times, and for example, ‘open data’, or ‘open educational resources / OER’ are both free and open for public use, but are not ‘open source’ per se as they are not code or materiality in the same way, but are very important elements within the broader realm of ‘open systems’ scenarios. OER for example, is a vast network of public domain information and resources that are available for use in many sectors and contexts. So we talk more about ‘open systems’ or ‘open solutions’ because they are things that put the control and use of the resources in your hands (among other things). It’s a large field, and more than I can get into here in a quick mail. One of the many great things about open source (and generally free) software is that it is being designed by people and communities who can work together to make it do what you want it to, not what you are told to do with little chance to use it the way you want. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t get paid for what you do (although very often open source software is developed voluntarily, or via public / taxpayer funding), or for the products and services you sell based on open source. The scenarios of choice between open source / free vs. proprietary software become relevant when, for example, a company changes the terms or pricing of a contract/license, or when somebody finds an error with something that can then easily be fixed by a large community in a way that perhaps a closed or proprietary construct can’t. This also why open source operating systems and platforms tend to be more secure, less virus prone and more stable than, for example, Micr/soft. Open Source tools tend to be more agile, more flexible, and depending on how they are used, can be used as catalysts for new innovation (i.e. the internet itself). They also collude with systems that support freedom of expression, transparency and accountability, genuine sustainability and collaborative enterprise. There are more reasons also …

Perhaps you take a look at the clip of Dorothy Gordon‘s intro at MMJUBA, she has a good way to sum things up also

or for some general background, check diverse sites such as these (and this is very minimal, relatively random list, just to illustrate the breadth of the field):

 Open Knowledge Foundation

The Peer to Peer Foundation (P2P foundation)

Appropriate Technologies

UNESCO WSIS Knowledge Communties
WSIS Knowledge Communites
WSIS + 10 Towards Knowledge Societies

The Open Source Initiative (OSI)

The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA)




Open Source Ecology

CERN open hardware license

GitHUB library and developers platform

Open Government Partnership

drupal or wordpress content management platforms

and many many many more … !

You can also read the ‘open systems report‘ for UNESCO, which includes an appendix of 130 related projects developed and transformation and post-crisis regions:

We and most of our (current and former) organisational and institutional teams/employees have also been using, without any problems, open office instead of MS Office / Word and other basic open source tools etc for years, and feeling very happy not to have to pay for the huge licences MS and co. charge for their products (that themselves are, or certainly originally were, primarily based on open source elements). Of course we used to use cracked, borrowed, copied, pirated and stolen software, but there were problems with this obviously, and when you start to run large, publicly funded projects such as xxxxxxxxxxxxx there was no way that a.) we would infringe on the legitimate copyrights of corporations by illegally using their products … for moral, philosophical and legal reasons and b.) we would not waste public money on software that is, in many cases inferior to open source solutions, that could be going, for example, to supporting artists and their productions. For us it is a very easy equation, and we have seen it work all over the world, in all kinds of contexts. And as such, open source, and its related elements, methodologies, resources and technologies are the inevitable future … (and, on top of it, many of the best open source systems come from Africa!!)

This is one small reason why we are interested in doing what we are doing in South Sudan – it’s the first country in history that has the opportunity on a larger scale to implement open system solutions as part of its basic state structure, for the benefit of the empowerment and independence of its own people.

cheers, r0g_

(B:) One of my deep concerns with much of the Open Source discourse I’m hearing is that Africa and/or certain places in it are conceived of as ‘blank slates’ or ‘starting from scratch’ and that technology and access to it can therefore ‘revolutionize’ the continent. I don’t think Africa’s issues are issues of technology. I think it is more an issue of ETHICS – how Africans view each other, how foreigners view Africans- and how TOOLS are used to support existing dysfunctions, biases and power structures. It would be good to have an idea of the reality of government in, for example, a place like South Sudan where age, gender, tribe, family name and organizational seniority work against the philosophy of ‘open source’ as in ‘accessible,’ ‘public,’ ‘democratic (if you will)’ etc. I’m not sure that you can cultivate an OS community by knocking on the gate of the guardhouse. Donors tend to put new tools in the same hands over and over again and nothing changes because, well, it’s just a new tool. And donors also tend to deliver the tools in such a way so as to ensure that they are never eliminated from the equation of their use. The larger power structures remain even with the introduction of a new tool.

Just some thoughts. As I said, I’m learning everyday too.

(r0g_:) Hi,

yes, and we’re also wary of lumping all of ‘Africa’ into one pot … but, it is nonetheless interesting, that a lot of FLOSS innovation is coming from, and being implemented in some of the most innovative ways in Africa (quite specifically, Kenya, Liberia, South Africa, Cameroon, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana among others). As tools and methodologies of empowerment and innovation open systems also have relevance in defining various forms of ‘independence’, and the choices made for such. I don’t advocate as much for tools especially since i’m not a techy (although, yes, it’s part of the game) but rather for knowledge about alternatives to standard practice where decisions need to be made and structures developed. In South Sudan the so-called international community is somehow tasked in helping direct whatever is going on there, and the practical knowledge of many of these systems is outrageously low among the leading agencies. So it’s also about them. One thing we found interesting, long before we had any idea about South Sudan was, how some of the rhetoric about community and traditional knowledge sharing, power structures and mechanisms of decision making in some african communities or cultures, or perhaps tribal groups, was conceptually very close to the forms of open systems approaches we are working with. We’ve been involved directly in ‘open culture’ initiatives and projects in Canada, Europe, Asia (with close connections to many in South America) and I guess now Africa as well, and the challenges coupled with possibilities for education, access to knowledge and information … and even real empowerment in some cases don’t work any different because the place is different. The people are the same everywhere, and ultimately most people (and societies) aspire for the same things … freedom, quality education, prosperity (or as my chinese blogtivist friend xxxxx likes to say … to be ‘normal’) . For sure, larger or corrupt, or blind power structures will ultimately only be interested in power … but maybe that’s all the more reason to allow more ‘power through the back door’ to ‘regular’ people, citizens, using means and methodologies that were not so prevalent maybe 5 years ago to do so. People like xxxxx want to put their country ‘on the map’, and move into the future … but what is that future, and who controls it? Our argument is simply that it should be xxxxx and their friends rather than opaque corporations and corrupt or misguided governments.

That’s also one reason for having xxxxx’s community establish something like the xHUB/lab idea rather than some external organisation do it, so that it can be rooted in the aspirations that grow out of the vision they have developed. But these things don’t (or at least we don’t think they should) exist in an insulated, isolated bubble, but form a part of broader collaborative networks, that have the ability to grow and gain strength through a sharing of knowledge and resources, like the fablabs for example, which exist all around the globe, or the type of ihub which has become very prevalent in parts of Africa. I think there’s also a lot of relevance to seeing these things like this happen in places like South Sudan precisely because the ‘jury is still out’ with regards to the country’s political future. So the more people, especially young people get the opportunities, skills and connections that allow them to innovate and assert their own independence from the yolk of government the better. But if this process can be aided by some elements of gov’ts playing a positive role in supporting this, then that’s an extra added bonus.

I do of course agree fully with your caution and your exceptional experience, and certainly the issues you raise are always accompanying us …

cheers, r0g_

Welcome to Juba!

MEDIA & MAKERS: JUBA 2012 aims to develop scenarios for a sustainable civil society in South Sudan, with an emphasis on openness, accessibility and transparency. Let’s create the world’s first Open Source Country – a new model for Africa and the world!

In collaboration with leading African and international open source and open knowledge specialists the event will explore potential elements of a new ‘open source culture’ in South Sudan that can tackle issues of post-conflict transformation, ICT innovation, education, resource management, policy transparency and economic development.

>>> The “OPEN KNOWLEDGE” Stream

The ‘Open Knowledge’ or ‘Makers’ stream at MEDIA & MAKERS JUBA 2012 builds on the groundwork of #OSJUBA and TEDxJuba in exploring the means and structures of contemporary open culture in South Sudan, with a focus on open data & open knowledge, ICT, and innovation. Using mechanisms readily available in the public domain, tools that access open data, networks, opinions and methodologies such as crowdsourcing, eLearning, social networking and open technologies, open systems allow citizens to have a say in their future.


MEDIA & MAKERS JUBA2012: Open Knowledge and Sustainable Media Forum, December 11-13th, Juba, South Sudan

Hello r0g_world!

Welcome to r0g, the collaborative agency for open culture, art and critical transformation currently being formed in Berlin Germany. The agency, initiated by Stephen Kovats, with a team of friends and colleagues including Ela Kagel, Micz Flor and Therese Breyer, is currently being set up. We’ve recently wrapped up our third event #OSJUBA and as the agency continues to structure itself we’ll have more info, connections, updates and new ideas about projects, events and the various initiatives we are involved with and are working on!

Our first public mini-presentation was part of the Free Culture Incubator finale January 26th at our ‘home base’ the Supermarkt, located in Berlin’s Brunnenviertel (check out Jodi Rose’s excellent report here). As we work on researching and setting up the agency, we held our first major public event ‘CIRCUM / POLARITY: Art, Culture and Open Technology in the Changing Arctic‘ at the Embassy of Canada’s unique Marshall McLuhan Salon on Wednesday February 29th. CIRCUM / POLARITY, as a project within the transnational Arctic Perspective Initiative is aimed at developing the role of open source culture, art and technology in collaboration with Inuit and Nordic cultures, as a means of strengthening cultural autonomy in the circumpolar regions. There’s more info on this through r0g’s CIRCUMPOLARITY thread, and by following @arctic_init on twitter!

Juba, South Sudan. The world’s first Open Source City?

r0g and its partners SUPERMARKT, MICT, KOW and Sourcefabric held its preliminary event focussing on open source culture and post-conflict development #OSJUBA, on June 21st at KOW, and June 22nd at SUPERMARKT. In the age of participatory and social networks, creative hactivism, powerful collaborative media platforms and sustainable open technologies, #OSJUBA (aka ‘Open Source City Juba’) seeks to apply the methodologies of the world’s diverse open source communities in creating new forms of sustainable development. Taking the new state of South Sudan as prime example of the challenges faced by a radically new political, social, economic and societal order after decades of shattering, and indeed lingering conflict #OSJUBA proposes an Open Source Framework for Regional and National Development, which could lead to the establishment of the world’s first Open Source Capital City.

#OSJUBA was a great success, with a diverse and highly motivated group of participants – internationally recognised open source and development experts coming from artistic, activist, journalistic, policy and technological fields. It was also a great pleasure to welcome Jodi Rose back, this time in her capacity as Or0gPO *Official r0g_agency Prezi Officer* structuring #OSJUBA input, output and feedback into a comprehensive prezi sketchpad, available for anyone to access and use (CC/BY). For more information, documentation and links to the participants consult the #OSJUBA thread, follow us on twitter @intertwilight, or contact us via events at r0g-media dot org

r0g is building up … so please stay tuned and feel free to give us your feedback!