Alek and the New Open

About me

Hi, I’m Alek. I am a sociologist, strategist and digital activist.

I am the Strategy Director of Open Future Foundation, which I co-founded with Paul Keller in 2020. Our foundation is a think tank for the open movement.

I am also on the Board of Creative Commons, and on the Council of Centrum Cyfrowe. I have also co-founded Communia, the European Association for the Digital Public Domain, and KOED, the Polish coalition for open education.

You can read my longer bio on the Open Future website.

How did I get here?

In 1989, communism fell in Poland and we had the first democratic elections since World War II. I was twelve then. Two years later, in 1991, Poland got connected to the internet. And about five years later I saw the internet for the first time. The peaceful revolution of 1989 was meant to be the generational moment for people my age in Poland. I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t. Instead, it was the birth of the World Wide Web and the internet revolution.

At the turn of the century, when I was a student, I discovered net-related readings on the internet (a lot of them through the nettime-l list!). They were fresh and exciting, so different from the things I was reading during my studies. I wrote my MA thesis on the N30 alterglobalist movement, and the way it used “new media” to coordinate and communicate.

In 2003, I met John Palfrey at a summer school of the newly formed Oxford Internet Institute. From John, I learned about Creative Commons. Several months later, together with my friend Justyna Hofmokl, we wrote to the CC headquarters, saying that we would like to establish the Polish chapter. They gave us the green light. And this turned out to be a lot more important than the PhD in sociology of technology, that I was writing at that time.

In 2008, I joined the Board of Strategic Advisors to the Prime Minister of Poland, led by Michał Boni. My field of expertise was digital, knowledge and cultural policy. It was at the Board that I learned how to shape digital technologies through policies.

In 2010, I co-founded Centrum Cyfrowe, digital think-and-do-tank based in Warsaw, Poland. For the next decade, we developed a public interest approach to the digital, combining advocacy work, research, education and some tech building.

At about the same time, I became more involved in Communia, the European association for the digital Public Domain. THrough Communia, I learned how to do advocacy at European level. And with other Communia members we became veterans of copyright reform work, during the five-year legislative process on the European Copyright Directive.

In 2020, I left Centrum Cyfrowe and co-founded–with Paul Keller–Open Future.

It is almost two decades since I started exploring how digital technologies can be used to the public benefit, in particular through policies and actions rooted in the principle of openness. These experiences fuel my continuing interest in openness, digital commons, public goods and the public domain. At the same time, I feel it is high time to reimagine openness anew.