Our Thinking

The more we share the thinking, working and practices of ourselves and our fellows, the better


Compliance: A Baseline, Not A Goal

Discussing compliance will not make you a popular guest at parties, but perhaps it’s a subject more deserving of an audience. It is a vital part of the plumbing of functioning societies, impacting and influencing everyone. Organisations must comply with industry and government regulations to avoid censure and investigation. Employees must comply with codes of conduct to keep their jobs. Social compliance keeps us all in line with the behavioural expectations of our peers, neighbours, communities, industries and governments.

Broadly, this is a good thing. Without rules, there is chaos, and without shared values and common goals, there is no glue to hold us together. But that glue starts to melt when regulations and laws enable injustice.

Today, we see compliance allow corporations with revenues equivalent to the GDP of a small country to pay no taxes. We hear of individuals hiding their immense wealth of dubious origin in offshore hideaways while millions of citizens cannot afford healthcare. We read about cost-cutting, profit-chasing multinationals allowed to poison our rivers, lands, and people or exploit cheap labour abroad.

Compliance is meant to protect people and the planet, but it’s also a shield for the perpetrators of injustice. When challenged on harmful and morally, ethically questionable practices, they hide behind it, shrug their shoulders, and say, ‘well, we followed the rules.’ But these are often rules they helped design in the first place.

Big business has a long history of camouflaging the risks of everything from alcohol and asbestos to sugar and cigarettes. The ‘tobacco playbook’ of yesteryear is still widespread today, sowing doubt and undermining the consensus with questionable science. Industry representatives are unknown to the public but familiar faces in government lobbies, where whispers of light touches and cutting red tape echo loudly and are influential in diluting the potency of new regulations. Citizens and activists call for change but are rarely invited to the table when decisions are made; industry, of course, enjoys permanent, cosy seats. And it wields such influence that regulations are often timid in design and application. This is administrative injustice, with hugely damaging outcomes.

As funders, we have seen this influence first-hand with many of our Fellows working at the regulatory level. Ugo Vallauri is co-founder of The Restart Project and a leading figure in the Right to Repair movement, a coalition of organisations championing the rights of consumers and ensuring everyone has the right to fix the products they own. After successfully petitioning the UK government and the EU to introduce new legislation, the right to repair is now a part of the legal landscape. But the new regulations are significantly watered down after lobbying from the technology industry and will only make a small dent in the vast mountains of electronic waste we produce every year. Ugo and the Right to Repair movement will continue to push for more responsible action, but it will take time, resources, and tremendous energy to deliver the regulations our environment urgently needs.

Shannon Dosemagen also sees the need to move beyond compliance. She is working on the Open Environmental Data Project to develop an open data repository and improve data interoperability for the public good. Access to essential, open data could inform communities of local public health issues and industry polluters. But despite the US government’s shift to publishing data openly, much of it is unfindable and unusable. Important information is buried on obscure pages of a website and exists in a multitude of formats that cannot be integrated with anything else. The combination of data segregation and asymmetric information infrastructure means no one can identify simple problems, let alone solve them. In this case, compliance does not create the value, justice, or innovation it was meant to bring about.

“We create intentional or unintentional boundaries that make things really difficult for people,” explains Shannon. “A decade ago, we made a case for governments and agencies to publish their data openly - and won. But now we have open data sets that are unfindable, inaccessible, and unusable - or usable beyond the original intent, which I think is vital for innovation.

“The onus is on citizens and residents to fit into these totally opaque and complicated systems of law, regulation, enforcement and compliance in the environmental world. It is an impossible system to wade through because it doesn’t have a singular framework. The complexity means people are unwilling or unable to engage with or question those systems, which results in a lack of political will or compulsion to go beyond that baseline. It is an injustice and a complete disservice to the people who are supposedly being protected.

“We have to start thinking more about how things could be better. People want to access environmental data or contribute data that would give us different angles and insights. But agencies can say they can’t, won’t or don’t need to change because they follow the rules. And in some cases, industry is allowed to self regulate, so it’s unlikely we will see the introduction of rule changes beneficial to the environment if they are not in the industry’s immediate interests.

“This is what we are trying to change with the Beyond Compliance Network. We want to enable greater data sharing across public and private boundaries and bring more U.S.environmental data up to FAIR standards - Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. I’ve experienced ten years of agencies saying they don’t have the capacity to take community data or the data from sensor readings that exist outside of their standards. It is reactive behaviour that doesn’t allow dialogue or conversations or different approaches to a community’s environmental problems. So, we want to break down those barriers around data accessibility and introduce a diversity of experiences and approaches around environmental governance to unlock new insights and innovations.”

Shuttleworth Fellow Delphine Halgand-Mishra is also shifting our thinking about compliance. As founder of The Signals Network, she supports whistleblowers and helps coordinate and disseminate international media investigations into wrongdoing. Whistleblowers do not comply. They refuse to follow orders and break gagging orders to expose corruption and abuses of power. And they do so at significant risk: they are often destroyed by persecution, prosecution, and punishing psychological and economic consequences.

“I do not encourage anyone to break the law,” says Delphine. “But we must accept that if the law can be used to silence people, it must be changed. And when regulations are changed for the better, it is often initiated by someone breaking the law or a contract.

“My work is necessary because legal frameworks do not protect whistleblowers wherever they are in the world. If you’re a whistleblower, you are fragile. Your employer has many ways to punish you for breaking an NDA for defamation. Your government can put you in prison for exposing its corruption. Even if you are the source for breaking a huge story with huge public support, you have little protection because what you are doing is illegal.

“We need compliance to work as a society, but we also need to change our mindsets. I would encourage people to focus less on the limits of compliance and more on questioning its boundaries. Laws and regulations are not static and are subject to trends. We all have limited time and busy lives, but if we just stepped back and took a moment to think or even dream of a different approach, we can change those unfair laws and regulations and start moving in a better direction.”

Compliance also poses an issue for philanthropy. It creates enormous burdens for grantees, especially those who cannot access funds in countries identified as high-risk by financial institutions. It encourages funders to avoid risk and play safe; in a field where playing safe rarely delivers real progress. Compliance makes philanthropy more controlling and less trusting. And it encourages conformity: funding strategies are informed by a top-down insistence to meet regulatory requirements rather than a bottom-up desire to make a good idea work.

Our drive to make philanthropy better started with a deep antagonism for the ever-present, unnecessary box-ticking exercises in the funding world. Years ago, we hired a monitoring and evaluation firm to give insight into the effectiveness of our projects, but there was an immediate problem: they could not measure what we were looking for with their own methodologies. So, we changed the metrics to adapt to their needs, and when the results came back, we had hit them successfully. This was surprising. We could see our projects were not leading to dynamic, positive outcomes at scale and were failing to make real change in the world.

It became crystal clear that when metrics - or regulations, laws, statistics - are employed, they inevitably become the goal. And this is how most people in society think about compliance. Meeting regulation requirements is seen as an end-of-game achievement rather than a platform to build upon, test, or explore further.

We should not be surprised. In business, regulations are a burden and an imposition. In governments, compliance is part of the bureaucratic machinery and the cause of delays to decision-making. The average citizen does not have the time or inclination to navigate and engage with the complicated, dry, multifaceted nature and minute detail of compliance, even when the rules are so obviously stacked against their interests.

Instead, it falls on activists, whistleblowers, and rebels with vision and tenacity to stand up against injustice. They do not comply. They perform ethical disobedience on everyone’s behalf. They are often belittled, harassed, surveilled, targeted, and imprisoned - or worse - by those with power and resources. It is philanthropy’s responsibility to support them.

So, for funders, it is not enough to just comply. Compliance is a representation of the status quo - or, more accurately, the status quo’s terms, conditions, and expectations - designed to maintain the systems we rely on to serve us. But if those systems create inequity, then it is our role to help change them. And that means thinking differently about compliance and how it affects our grantees and shapes our strategies, whether subconsciously or deliberately. The history of social movements, after all, tells us you can’t change the world by following the rules.

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Drifting & Grifting From Open to Fauxpen

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by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 March 2022

We are thrilled to welcome our new intake to the Fellowship community and would like to offer our gratitude to Nicole Wong, our Honorary Steward for the 2022 round, for her thoughtful guidance and input throughout a selection process that included a compelling shortlist of candidates. Nicole works at the intersection of law, emerging technologies, and public policy. She is a powerful voice for human rights and justice, and an advocate for freedom of expression...

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by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 28 February 2022

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Introducing: Diarmaid McDonald

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 28 February 2022

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by Chris McGivern & Jason Hudson, 20 December 2021

To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, the best-laid plans of mice, men, and women often go awry. It is with huge regret and disappointment that our move to open source our operational technology has been beset by too many problems. So, for now, we are pressing pause… Earlier this year, we set out our intention to reclaim our digital sovereignty from the many proprietary services we use to organise the Foundation’s day-to-day business. Moving to...

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by Gavin Weale and Fellows, 30 November 2021

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Reclaiming Our Digital Sovereignty: The Ins & Outs

by Chris McGivern & Jason Hudson, 10 August 2021

As a small and independent organisation, we have a lot of flexibility regarding the digital architecture we use for our day-to-day operations. But over the years, our choices have been based increasingly around convenience, while accepting the privacy trade-off in the process. On reflection, this has taken us away from our open source roots and our unshakeable belief in safeguarding the human right of privacy. We are philosophically adamant about the importance of a free...

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by Helen Turvey & Chris McGivern, 20 June 2021

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(Re)Opening For Business: Reclaiming Digital Sovereignty

by Chris McGivern & Jason Hudson, 1 June 2021

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Konstantin Dmitriev: Animating Opportunity With A Flash Grant

by Chris McGivern, 15 May 2021

Konstantin is a self-educated animator and open source advocate from Gorno-Altaysk in Siberia, Russia. His home town is nestled in a snug valley enveloped by the north-western Altai mountains and virtually at the centre of Eurasia, at almost the precise midway point between Finland and Japan. It’s a small, beautiful place, but very remote and surrounded by Russia’s most sparsely populated region. As a child in this quiet town, Konstantin would often shoot homemade movies...

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IP Is Killing People, Your Government Can Stop It

by Helen Turvey, Chris McGivern & Karien Bezuidenhout, 11 May 2021

“These extraordinary times and circumstances call for extraordinary measures. The US supports the waiver of IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help end the pandemic… ” – US Trade Representative Katherine Tai Joe Biden’s decision to support India and South Africa’s patent waiver proposal is a monumental moment in more ways than one. These are extraordinary times and this is an extraordinary message from a nation that built its constitution, economy and way of life...

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New Alumni - Nelson, Karla and Jenny

by Chris McGivern, 2 March 2021

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Welcome Cecília, Delphine and Zo!

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 March 2021

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Introducing: Uzoma Orchingwa

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 28 February 2021

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Introducing: Delphine Halgand-Mishra

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 28 February 2021

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Introducing: Cecília Olliveira

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 28 February 2021

Introducing: Cecília Oliveira Background: A Brazilian investigative journalist, researcher and activist. Idea: Solve the persistent problem of armed violence with Fogo Cruzado, a community-driven open data platform that saves lives and creates accountability. The Problem Gun crime plagues Brazilian society. At least 40,000 people lose their lives from gun violence each year. Much of this brutality clusters around specific areas, where drug trafficking rivals, hawkish police, and masked militias wage war and trap innocent citizens...

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Shuttleworth Foundation Application FAQs

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 23 October 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our first ever application information webinars. We found it a very useful process and hope you got as much out of it as we did. Recordings of each session are here if you need to recap or missed out entirely. Session 1: 23 September 2020 Session 2: 14 October 2020 Below, we have created an FAQ to refine and explain more about the application process and include...

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Anil Dash: Honorary Steward, March 2021

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 15 October 2020

Anil Dash is an American entrepreneur, activist and blogging pioneer. He is currently engaged as CEO of Glitch and serves on the board of a diverse range of ethics-oriented organisations. This work includes defending our digital rights with Electronic Frontier Foundation, measuring technology’s societal impact with the Data & Society Research Institute, and protecting vulnerable girls and families from New York with the Lower East Side Girls Club. He is also a board member at...

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Fellowship Application Info Session

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 9 September 2020

This is your opportunity to meet the team, learn about our criteria, and alleviate any of your fears, concerns or confusions you have around the application process. It is not a chance to pitch your idea – please save that for your application! – but a session where we will explain our procedures, give you examples of successful applications, and answer as many of your questions as we possibly can. Find out who and what...

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Power Plays

by SF Team, 10 July 2020

Many have criticised him for producing what has become a handbook to those most keen on being or becoming more powerful in the world. Whether the laws he outlines should be seen as an instruction manual is a valid question. However, even his critics can’t say that these rules don’t apply and are not in active use. In what Greene describes as somewhat of a counter measure, he has written Mastery, an exploration of how...

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System Change is the Real Treatment for COVID-19

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 8 July 2020

Simply put, these systems have failed us. The global supply chain struggles to balance significant shocks to both supply and demand, the effects of which will last for long into the foreseeable future. We’ve seen the procurement process turned into a grizzly competition, with states and countries bidding against each other for PPE only to have their orders cancelled when the US Government buys everything. Elsewhere, governments are guilty of wasting valuable resources and time...

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The Philanthropy Game

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 7 July 2020

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The system is rigged, 2020 has shown us how much

by SF Team, 2 July 2020

Unprecedented losses in livelihoods along with previously unimaginable restrictions placed on the movement of goods and people have drastically increased food insecurity, among much other suffering, around the world. We imagined it would be a matter of weeks until things got “back to normal”. We were completely wrong. Things may never go back to the way they were, and that might not be a bad thing. In the wake of the effects of the pandemic,...

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The Shuttleworth Foundation: An Open Book

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 9 June 2020

As a small organisation operating at a fraction of the budget enjoyed by many other funders, we must continuously and closely scrutinise our work. Our philosophy remains the same, but new fellows, ideas and experiences contribute to our knowledge pool and influence where we go next - and how. We adapt our methods accordingly, weaving in best practices and weeding out roadblocks to our fellows’ mission progress. Just as our views on systemic shifts are...

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Next Fellowship Intake: March 2021

by SF Team, 8 June 2020

Our application rhythm is changing. As a small foundation with a single source of capped funding, we continuously strive to protect the integrity and value of our fellowship programme. Occasionally, we make adjustments to keep costs in check. We must also adapt our model in response to the global challenges of our times. A mixture of both these elements means we are moving to one application round per year, with the first new cohort starting...

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Tarek Loubani & Glia: Saving Lives With Open Medical Hardware

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 April 2020

His fellowship began in March 2017 with an opportunity to explore open hardware processes to create high-quality medical equipment at low cost and improve medical care for patients internationally. As he moves to alumni status, we caught up with Tarek to reflect on what he has achieved and learned, and find out how he has applied openness to create a brand new space ripe with potential for a more equitable future. “I don’t use the...

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Anasuya Sengupta: Decolonising the World's White Web

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 April 2020

The problem The Internet promises an infinite space for limitless knowledge, but we have a long way to go before it resembles the real world around us. Many understand the digital divide as an access issue, and we are slowly winning that battle: billions more people will be online over the coming years. But what will they find when they get there, and whose knowledge will be available to them? Just as the victors write...

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Alasdair Davies & Arribada: Unlocking Conservation Technology

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 April 2020

With the Arribada Initiative, he designs, develops and delivers monitoring technology to the conservation community, opens up more opportunities for research, and breaks down the systemic barriers that limit our ability to meet unprecedented environmental challenges. We spoke with Alasdair to reflect on his achievements and experiences over the last three years as a Shuttleworth Fellow and to discover more about the intriguing road ahead for Arribada. “With the Foundation, you get the sense this...

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Alasdair, Anasuya and Tarek - New Alumni

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 April 2020

Alasdair Davies is driving change in conservation technology with Arribada, creating low-cost tools to better monitor and protect the planet. His fellowship began with a broad idea of using open source solutions to unlock the many barriers faced by conservationists, enabling them to work more efficiently, access better quality data, and achieve more impact in the field. Three years of experimentation and testing has resulted in an impressive array of tangible, useful, open source products....

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Welcome Felix, Shannon and Nelson

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 27 February 2020

Our Honorary Steward, Beth Simone Noveck, has selected three exceptional fellows from a highly compelling shortlist. We thank Beth for her work and input to our process and are delighted with the choices she has made. Each new fellow holds openness at the heart of their ideas and is breaking new ground in their respective fields: Felix is working to make European copyright laws better-suited to the modern, open Internet; Shannon is improving interoperability of...

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Astra Taylor & The Debt Collective: Challenging Exploitative Finance

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 3 December 2019

Her fellowship has had a huge impact and continues to push a new narrative. To date, Astra and The Debt Collective community have helped student debtors win relief worth over a billion dollars, forced policy change at government level, and been highly influential in the thinking behind the American College for All Act of 2019 proposal. And while a new incumbent of the White House created significant challenges midway through her three-year fellowship, Astra and...

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Luka Mustafa: From Telecoms to 3D Bioprinting

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 December 2019

While age is no barrier for the Shuttleworth Foundation, Luka was fresh out of college when he applied and his youth made us think twice. But his journey throughout his Fellowship and beyond has far exceeded our expectations, and his work has completely shifted thinking in many different fields - including our own. Needless to say, we made the right decision… Luka Mustafa: the making of a maker Luka Mustafa has been building things for...

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Peter Cunliffe-Jones: Fact, Fiction & Africa Check

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 30 November 2019

Firstly, he has grown Africa Check from a skeleton team in Johannesburg to becoming a leader in the field, operating directly in four different countries, supporting new fact-checking organizations in 14 other countries and training thousands of journalists in the practice all over Africa. He has also been a key figure in establishing the International Fact-Checking Network as a recognised institution with global standards, followed today by 78 organisations worldwide, and his work has helped...

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David Wiley & Lumen Learning: Making OER Mainstream

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 29 November 2019

Tuition and the prospect of overwhelming student debt are a significant part of the problem. But the spiralling cost of textbooks - outstripping inflation four times over the past ten years - affects every learner, from the Ivy League undergrads to those studying in community colleges. Students spend exorbitant amounts on course books - sometimes more than the cost of tuition - just to keep up with their classes. It causes significant problems in enrollment,...

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Paul Gardner-Stephen & the Serval Project: Communications For All

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 27 November 2019

The development of the Serval software progressed well, but soon met an overwhelming technological barrier. In 2012, wifi capacity on mobile phones was minimal and in order to make use of Serval, users would have to root their phones, thereby risk the loss of their warranties. Despite Paul making good progress in improving the accessibility of the software to more mobile phones, success in the short-term lay in the long-term - and expensive - task...

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Steve Vosloo: Mobiles & Literacy & 21st Century Learning

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 November 2019

A decade ago, only seven percent of schools in South Africa had adequate libraries and it was estimated that over half the households in the country did not have a single book for leisure reading in their homes. The affordability of books was an obvious contributing factor, and the nation’s controversial political history had also left an indelible mark. Young people brought up by parents whose experiences of education left much to be desired meant...

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Mad Price Ball & Open Humans: Empowering Citizens With Personal Data

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 November 2019

“There’s a sense this has grown beyond myself; this could actually survive on its own. And that’s wonderful.” Open Humans: The concept The opaque issues around privacy and security dominate the conversations we have around personal data today. In a world where faceless private interests and organisations collect vast swathes of information about your life, thoughts and desires - sometimes used to judge and discriminate - it’s no surprise there is a growing feeling of...

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Jesse Von Doom: Artists Need CASH

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 November 2019

His work helped artists improve their reach by making better use of the web and overcome the technical challenges and expense of sharing files, connecting with their audience and posting events online. Most importantly, it allowed them to be free to evolve on their terms; independently, without the restrictions imposed by major labels or the compromise of seeking mass appeal. We spoke to Jesse about his background, his reflections on the fellowship, and the outcomes...

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Ronaldo Lemos: Honorary steward September 2019

by SF Team, 4 October 2019

The Shuttleworth Foundation would like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to the Brazilian academic Ronaldo Lemos, our Honorary Steward for this September’s fellowship round. Ronaldo is a Professor at the Rio de Janeiro State University, a lawyer and commentator in several fields we know well: intellectual property, technology and culture. He is renowned for being a co-creator of the Marco Civil da Internet: the 2014 Brazilian law establishing comprehensive Internet rights defending freedom...

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Welcome Chris and Sean

by SF Team, 2 October 2019

The Shuttleworth Foundation is delighted to welcome Chris Hartgerink and Sean Jacobs to the fellowship community. Many thanks to our Honorary Steward Ronaldo Lemos, a Brazilian academic and lawyer with expertise in intellectual property, open culture and technology. He has chosen two outstanding individuals for our September 2019 intake. Both come with important ideas with the potential to improve the world, and that push the boundaries of how open can be applied. Both Chris and...

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Ugo Vallauri: Electronic Waste & The Restart Project

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 October 2019

“All the fellows struggle to bring about change in a range of different fields. The fellowship is a reminder that we’re not alone.” Background: The product problem Our insatiable hunger for electronic devices is quickly turning into a significant and pressing issue. Over 50 million tonnes of e-waste ends up in landfill sites around the world as former owners discard phones, fridges, TVs and computers at the slightest inconvenience, and upgrade to a slicker model....

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Isha Datar: New Harvest and the Post-Animal Bioeconomy

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 October 2019

“Without Shuttleworth support, I don’t think we could have been so bold about this thing we cared so much about; previous funders have requested all kinds of highly specific things that compromised our work and our mission.” The Fellow: Isha Datar Isha is from Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Her educational background is in cell biology - she stayed in Edmonton for her undergraduate degree - but her keen interest in learning inspired her to seek...

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Achal Prabhala & AccessIBSA: Fixing the Pharma Patent System

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 October 2019

“I’ve received numerous instances of absolutely crucial support and help from other fellows, and I am incredibly grateful. The fellowship has been wonderful - really wonderful.” The problem: The right to profit vs. the right to life For the past few decades, the pharmaceutical industry has been taking advantage of weak and incredibly damaging legal frameworks for intellectual property and patents. These laws - thick with complex and technical language - are devised in wealthy...

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Simone Noveck: Honorary Steward, March 2020

by SF Team, 20 September 2019

Beth is director of The GovLab, where she advises public institutions and public entrepreneurs on improving people’s lives through better governance with technology. She is also a professor at the Technology, Culture and Society department of New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, and a Senior Fellow at Rutgers University and the Yale Law School Information Society Project. Beth has been a hugely influential voice in evolving governmental thinking to break away from closed bureaucracies...

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Achal, Isha and Ugo - New Alumni

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 August 2019

Each of our former fellows enjoyed the maximum duration of three years funding, and made impressive strides forward with their progressive work, pushing for positive change in the respective fields of access to medicines, cellular agriculture and the repair economy. Despite their disparate professional interests, there is a common thread linking our new trio of alumni: their ability to open the right doors; pull people together, and build up communities for optimal effect. It has...

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Tiffiniy Cheng: Enabling Online Activism

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 April 2019

“The Shuttleworth Foundation feels like a lifelong thing. It’s nurturing, helpful and a fantastic vote of confidence that really matters…” The Fellow: Tiffiniy Cheng & Fight for the Future Tiffiniy has been involved in online activism since the early 2000s, organising protests, taking on Internet monopolists and positioning herself against everything from the onslaught of overaggressive copyright protection to the creeping, insidious censorship of the open web by corporate power. Unless you believe the erosion...

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Peter Murray-Rust & ContentMine: Liberating Knowledge

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 1 April 2019

“The fellowship has totally changed my life and is one of the biggest things in my life. It’s my guiding light and gives me an environment that fuels me and I can pay back into.” The Fellow: Peter Murray-Rust Peter is a Doctor of Philosophy, Reader Emeritus in Molecular Informatics at the University of Cambridge and Senior Research Fellow Emeritus of Churchill College, Cambridge. He has enjoyed a long and successful career as a chemist...

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Peter and Mad - New Alumni

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 February 2019

Peter worked on public information, checking claims made by public figures and institutions in the media and online. Mad worked with information of the individual on their Open Humans project, querying our relationship with personal data. Both fellows have contributed a significant amount to our learning in their respective fields. Peter Cunliffe-Jones spent his three-year fellowship working on Africa Check, an independent fact-checking organisation he founded to stem the flow of mis- and disinformation in...

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Seamus Kraft: New Means For Old Government

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

His Fellowship between 2014 and 2017 aimed to bring in key changes from the ground up to transform the relationship between citizens and government at local level. While his Madison project eventually ran aground after much election turmoil in 2016, The OpenGov Foundation have since established new ideas and continue to work on programmes delivering open innovation and, hopefully, culture change into higher echelons of federal government. We spoke to Seamus about his Fellowship experience...

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Peter Bloom & Rhizomatica: Connections for Remote Communities

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

His work is a perfect example of what can be achieved by working openly and he has moved the dial forward, not just in helping people connect with the modern word sustainably, but also in loosening the grip of large, incredibly powerful telecoms companies. Peter’s Fellowship ended in 2017, and we caught up with him to offer his thoughts on his experience, where Rhizomatica is today, and what the future holds. Background Peter’s Fellowship story...

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Marcin Jakubowski & the Global Village Construction Set

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

These machines - a real world LEGO set, if you like - promise to deliver a small civilisation everything it needs to live comfortably, independently and sustainably in the modern world. Marcin spent two years on the Shuttleworth Foundation programme from 2012, and we caught up with him to reflect on his experience, and see how is plans for a new, open source economy are progressing. Marcin Jakubowski -The Background Marcin has always had a...

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Jaisen Mathai: Memories of Trovebox

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

However, thinking about the web from the top down misses out a lot of the story. If you want to put any kind of file online - a photo, say - you either hand over ownership and control of it to a ‘free’ platform or pay for a hosting service. And what happens to those files, movies or photos if that service decides to shut down? Introducing: Jaisen Mathai Jaisen Mathai encountered this problem for...

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Gavin Weale: Enabling South African Youth

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

Not only did Gavin succeed in creating a youth-led magazine, but he has pivoted LiveMag into the online LiveSA and established the Digify Africa platform to provide digital skills and training for those who would normally miss out. Tens of thousands of youngsters from all over the continent have benefitted. As we reflect on the tenth year of the Shuttleworth Foundation’s Fellowship model, we caught up with Gavin to chat about his time as a...

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Arthur Attwell & Paperight: Lessons From the Publishing Industry

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

Sadly, as is often the case when you try to influence change in established systems like the publishing industry, the Paperight project didn’t work out. There is always an element of risk you have a big vision for change, and Arthur’s story is a good example of what you are up against. From the Foundation’s perspective, this isn’t a story of failure. Instead, Arthur’s experience is one of learning, experimentation, and valuable work towards making...

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Aaron Makaruk: Analysing AKER Kits

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 5 February 2019

The demands on producers to provide food and sustenance to millions of city dwellers results in harm large-scale factory farming that ultimately causes damage to the ecosystem and human health. And while vast swathes of natural resources are used within this system, in many ways it is inefficient, leading to overconsumption of food in some areas, and famine in others - sometimes even in the same city. Aaron’s project - AKER Kits - aimed to...

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Dan Whaley & Hypothes.is: Annotating the Web

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 4 February 2019

Quality of conversation should be central to human interaction, but what we read through the lens of the web is often blurred by untruths and agendas, a distinct lack of critique and, as we have seen over the past few years, perhaps even foreign interference. Dan Whaley is attempting to change this with Hypothes.is, an annotation tool that promotes a more open web and improves discussion and discourse. The Fellow: Dan Whaley Dan Whaley came...

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Johnny West & OpenOil: Refining the Extractive Industry

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 28 December 2018

His success is not just good news for oil-producing developing nations and their citizens, but also for openness, transparency and the balance of power. In an industry hidden behind a veil of secrecy, smoke and mirrors, Johnny and the OpenOil team use and translate existing information to increase awareness of the real value of natural resources. Johnny joined the Shuttleworth Foundation community in March, 2014 to work on OpenOil. We caught up with him to...

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Esra'a Al Shafei & CrowdVoice: Amplifying the Unheard

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 27 December 2018

As a Bahraini civil rights activist, she was our first Fellow from the Middle East, giving the Foundation an opportunity to explore the potential of open through a different lens. And the overall theme of her Fellowship - giving prominence to the important voices of dissent in regions where human rights violations are a common occurrence - gave us a new perspective on the realities of life for many people living in conflict zones or...

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Daniel Lombraña González: Human Stories in Citizen Science

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 27 December 2018

But most importantly, he has broken citizen science free from its box. Once the preserve of hard research, Daniel has taken a crowbar to open up crowdsourcing and made it accessible for a range of diverse people and fields, from researchers through to volunteer citizen scientists. The story of PYBOSSA, Crowdcrafting and, eventually, Scifabric have been told before. This time, we spoke to Daniel to hear in his own words about his inspiration, journey as...

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Steve Song & Village Telco: A Foundation in Telecoms

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 December 2018

Steve’s project developed into the Village Telco initiative, using open source software and low cost wireless mesh technology to build affordable community telephone networks, without the need for mobile phone towers or landlines. Village Telco remained an ongoing commercial concern until 2017, but our investment in Steve continues to provide a social return to this day. He is a Fellow at Mozilla, a research associate with the Network Startup Resource Center, and a hugely influential...

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Sean Bonner: The Seismic Necessity of Safecast

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 December 2018

Born 18 months earlier as a reaction to the multiple meltdowns of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Safecast has made significant progress in enabling people to gather and view reliable, verified environmental information on a highly localised level. Over the last few years, Safecast has collected the largest ever dataset of background radiation measurements, changed thinking in the field, and empowered communities to better understand the environments they live in. Sean’s story is an...

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Rory Aronson: Cultivating FarmBot

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 24 December 2018

This was an idea that promised to be part of the solution to the problems of quality, scarcity and security of food. With corporations enjoying increasing control over our food supplies and the potential damage from climate change on crops of the future, society needs solutions. FarmBot has the potential to enable and free people to grow their own food at a local level and offer them more control over their diets. While Rory’s Fellowship...

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Kathi Fletcher & OERPUB: Connecting OER

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 24 December 2018

How can real human beings - teachers, for example - author, remix and share material with others when the OER toolset was almost impenetrable for non-technical people? In the early days of OER, anyone wanting to create and remix open textbooks needed reasonable knowledge of markup language, complicated models and coding. By making the process simple and natural to teachers and educators, OER could come closer to realising the wider benefits of open beyond sharing...

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Next application round

by SF Team, 26 October 2018

We are pausing applications until then to fully capture the outputs and outcomes of the fellowship programme to date and to explore potential new themes we want to support, as reflected in Fellowship forward. We will also seek out communities we have not yet reached. We invite potential applicants to take the time to reflect on the future you would like to see, and then focus your idea on the contribution you think you can...

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Fellowship forward

by SF Team, 26 October 2018

Over the past 6 months we have dissected every aspect of this model, from recruitment to alumni, from Fellowship highs to Fellowship lows, to really understand the value and effect of every component. We have examined the arc of the programme over the past 10 years, Fellow by Fellow as well as cumulatively. What we learned has helped us determine how we might continue our Open Philanthropy experiment. What have we learned? The fellowship programme...

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Welcome Andrew

by SF Team, 12 September 2018

Shari Steele, the Honorary Steward for this round, has selected Andrew as an exceptional candidate with tremendous potential to improve people’s lives - particularly those suffering greatly in disaster relief areas. The Foundation team are delighted to offer Andrew a warm welcome to the Fellowship Programme. We look forward to learning from his contributions and experiences and supporting his journey as a Shuttleworth Fellow. Introducing: Andrew Lamb Background: A systems engineer focussed on improving the...

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Adam and Astra - New Alumni

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 August 2018

Adam Hyde began his Fellowship with a keen understanding of the problems lying at the heart of the scholarly publishing process and an idea that promised to solve them. Science and research are key to the advancement of human knowledge. But it can take months - or even years - for important studies to flow from conclusion to manuscript, and no one can benefit from research results while they languish in a production pipeline. Under...

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Shari Steele: Honorary steward September 2018

by SF Team, 26 June 2018

Shari is a respected advocate for the Internet freedom movement and served as executive director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Tor Project. She brings decades of experience in a breadth of fields including law, education and business, and has a keen understanding of nonprofit operations and foundation-level funding. Openness is central to the Foundation’s philosophy and integral to our funding policy. But without Internet freedom, security and privacy, much of the work we...

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Welcome Jenny & Karla

by SF Team, 3 March 2018

We’re delighted and excited to award Jenny Molloy and Karla Córdoba-Brenes places on the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Programme. Our Honorary Steward, Sunil Abraham, has chosen two exceptional candidates who offer a creative, innovative and open vision for a better world in two distinct areas: the future of the global bioeconomy, and alternative, community-driven currencies. Sunil is a social entrepreneur and policy expert, who combines a wealth of experience on funding selection panels with a keen...

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Luka Mustafa - New Alumni

by Chris McGivern & SF Team, 26 February 2018

Luka’s idea was Koruza, a 3D-printed, low-cost wireless optical network built to provide last-100m Internet connectivity to individuals and communities in high-density urban areas. As he takes the next steps in his professional career, he can look back on an extraordinary fellowship and a range of exceptional achievements. His work on Koruza has produced a viable, fast and low-cost alternative to fibre, helping people, businesses and communities get around local network bottlenecks. It is also...

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2017 Year in Review

by SF Team, 12 January 2018

We had such a strong intake of Fellows in March 2017 - 4 Fellows from fields new to us, doing challenging work, driven by visions much larger than their projects. The September 2017 round brought applications from individuals doing important, valuable, even groundbreaking work. We had the privilege of interviewing dozens of them, getting some insight into their thoughtful and passionate ideas for solving real problems. In the end, however, the applications fell short of...

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Philipp Schmidt & P2PU: Community-Driven Learning

by Chris McGivern and SF Team, 18 December 2017

He might not admit it, but there’s a slight rebellious streak running through Philipp Schmidt. He’s spent his career questioning conventional wisdom, experimenting with innovative ideas and taking on projects many others would call risky. It’s an attitude that’s served him well. Almost a decade after starting the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) project, he is now Director of the Learning Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, exploring the fringes and potential futures of teaching...

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Mark Horner and Siyavula: Opening Access to Education

by Chris McGivern and SF Team, 12 December 2017

Imagine yourself as a young student from an under-resourced community in South Africa. You are bright, eager to learn and hopeful your education will lead to opportunities for a better life. However, circumstances are against you. Your school and parents struggle to afford the resources you need, and teachers are ill-equipped, under-trained and lack the speciality knowledge you need to master your subject. The chances are you will never know what you can achieve. You...

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An Open Approach to Funding

by Chris McGivern and SF Team, 6 November 2017

“What industries, sectors and domains do you fund?” We hear this a lot. It’s a common question asked of the Shuttleworth Foundation, both by potential investors and potential fellows. Here are three possible responses: Any It doesn’t matter It’s the wrong question Allow us to explain… We are open to ideas The Shuttleworth Foundation places immense importance on open practices and requests that all our potential fellows embrace and display the same values. But because...

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Telecoms: Our story so far

by SF Team, 26 September 2017

Having spent many years working in ICT for Development in Africa, Steve Song joined the Foundation in 2008 as one of the first Fellows. He articulated the missed opportunities for users and regulators alike resulting from overpriced data access in emerging economies and made a number of regulatory policy recommendations based on his experience and research, along with mapping the progress in undersea cables around Africa. In the absence of a telecommunications industry with a...

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Progress is more than just innovation - The Copenhagen Letter

by SF Team, 19 September 2017

It is time to take responsibility for the world we are creating. This is the call to action at the Copenhagen letter, published in September 2017, in which a group of tech practitioners start a conversation on the interface between humanity and technology. This letter really resonates with us. It is made up of 5 simple statements that encourage us as designers, users, humans to shift perspective, perhaps regain perspective, on the role of technology...

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Thinking of applying? Do it

by SF Team, 14 September 2017

This is not an easy Fellowship to get, the process may be simple, but the competition is stiff. Approximately 1% of applicants are offered a fellowship. The personal investment you have to make in contemplating this fellowship is substantial - you have to really, honestly and purposefully think through what your contribution to positive social change will be and that is tough. However, it could be the first step towards realising your big vision. We...

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Thinking of applying? It could be you

by SF Team, 13 September 2017

When thinking about applying for this fellowship, one of the first questions you might ask yourself is will I get in? Do I fit their profile? Am I who they are looking for? Someone might suggest you apply for a Shuttleworth Fellowship. Even if they are a Fellow, Alum or member of staff, there is no guarantee that your application will be successful. But you have to be in it to win it. Anyone can...

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Thinking of applying? Be different

by SF Team, 12 September 2017

We do not have a list of topics we are interested in funding or a call for proposals around a specific theme. Of course we have a sense of what critical problems could be addressed in the world. But an important part of the openness we practice is being open to ideas. Below are areas in which we have already made substantial investments. If we were to invest in these further, we would look for...

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Sean Bonner - fellowship review

by SF Team, 1 September 2017

Sean Bonner leads Safecast, an initiative focused on enabling anyone to measure and share environmental data. Born out of the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, they started by monitoring radiation levels in the affected areas, but the specific domain is not the point. Nor do they have any political agenda. Their priority has always been the data - gathering it first-hand and sharing it openly. The Safecast data...

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Seamus Kraft - fellowship review

by SF Team, 1 September 2017

Seamus Kraft is the co-founder of The OpenGov Foundation, a Washington, DC, organisation that boosts collaboration and openness in governments and communities. When Seamus first joined our fellowship, had a big vision for bringing citizens and government together using 21st century digital technology. Having worked for the US House Oversight Committee, he was familiar with the challenges, opportunities and obstacles that exist within federal government decision-making processes. He believed he could help, along with The...

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Peter Bloom - fellowship review

by SF Team, 1 September 2017

Peter Bloom is addressing a social justice issue he has experienced first hand. Mountain villages in the province of Oaxaca, Mexico, were all but cut off from the world, having no mobile phone connections and relying on 2 or 3 fixed telephone lines servicing an entire village. For mainstream telecoms providers it is not worth their while to incur infrastructure costs to reach these isolated communities. Living and working in the area, Peter founded Rhizomatica...

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No fellowships awarded for September 2017

by SF Team, 4 July 2017

While it was a difficult conclusion to come to, we have always been prepared not to offer fellowships if we did not find any applications we felt truly met our criteria. In communicating the decision, we want to be honest, open and transparent in order to find future Fellows we do feel we can support and would benefit from our help. We would like to live in an open knowledge society with limitless possibilities for...

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Sunil Abraham: Honorary steward September 2017

by SF Team, 19 April 2017

At the Shuttleworth Foundation we support individuals to bring about positive change in the world. Individuals carry their learnings, experiences, passions and hopes for the future with them throughout their lives. Investing in and supporting them to work on what is broken in their world, equips them to continue to affect change far beyond the life of a specific project or organisation. Similarly we seek out individuals who are bold and brave in re-imagining the...

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Aaron, Jesse and Johnny - new alumni

by SF Team, 3 March 2017

Aaron Makaruk Something has got to give in how we produce, distribute and consume food. The current system requires too much natural resource while creating pockets of feast and famine, sometimes even within the same city. While large scale systemic change is needed, we believe targeted individual action can make a difference. This lead us to Aaron Makaruk and his work on easy to do, affordable urban farming. He had 2 objectives - eliminating urban...

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Welcome Alasdair, Anasuya, Mad & Tarek

by SF Team, 3 February 2017

We are delighted to welcome four new Fellows into the Shuttleworth Fellowship Programme: Alasdair Davies, Anasuya Sengupta, Mad Ball and Tarek Loubani. The wonderful Cory Doctorow acted as the Honorary Steward for this round of fellowship, making the final selection from the short-list. In the world, the new cohort brings openness to conversation technology, inclusivity on the web, genetic research and medical devices. We are excited to learn with them as they progress upon their...

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Cory Doctorow selects new Shuttleworth Fellows

by SF Team, 3 February 2017

“It was an honour and a conundrum to serve as steward: an honour, because (obviously), I was in a position to help some remarkable people do transformative work; a conundrum because we were so spoilt for choice with remarkable projects and people.” For our March 2017 fellowship round we have been working with the journalist, science fiction author, EFF Special Advisor and co-editor of Boing Boing, the wonderful Cory Doctorow. Cory took stewardship of our...

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Doctorow/Shuttleworth collaboration

by SF Team, 5 October 2016

The September 2016 Fellowship round was the first for which we invited an Honorary Steward to make the final decision on new Fellows. We had a brilliant experience with Joi Ito. He brought his individual experience and perspective. He also invested considerable time and energy in thoughtful review and reflection on the applications and their contextual environments. The result is three new Fellows working in wildly different fields, challenging our thinking as much as the...

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Open for business

by SF Team, 3 October 2016

Four years ago, we wouldn’t have thought we’d fund a music venture. Like most people, we tend to think musicians are doing fine because there’s so much music around. But that’s like thinking journalists are fine because there’s so much news on TV. When culture is centralised in big, closed silos, we lose diversity, and we lose touch with parts of ourselves that we once treasured. And soon we don’t even notice what’s gone missing....

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Welcome to new alumni - Daniel and Waldo

by SF Team, 1 September 2016

Daniel Lombraña González has had the maximum of 3 consecutive fellowship years and is ready to take on the world. Waldo Jaquith is moving on after 1 year, having achieved what he set out to do in this year, to take up an opportunity that will expand the reach of his work exponentially. Daniel Lombraña González Daniel has come a long way with the Shuttleworth Foundation. We first met him as a recent PhD graduate...

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Eating our own dogfood - individuals

by SF Team, 14 July 2016

Individuals carry their learnings, experiences, passions and hopes for the future with them throughout their lives. Supporting them to work on what is broken in their world and share their approach openly, equips them to continue to affect change far beyond the life of a specific grant. Mark Shuttleworth has given the Foundation a clear mandate: Continue to re-imagine the way we work, based on openness and innovation, using the money we have in a...

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Welcome Achal, Isha and Ugo!

by SF Team, 13 July 2016

This round saw the addition of an Honorary Steward, Joi Ito, making the final selection from the short-list. We are very excited to now announce the three new Fellows who will be joining the Shuttleworth Foundation fellowship programme in September: Achal Prabhala, Isha Datar and Ugo Vallauri. Joi brought his unique perspective on openness and technology for social impact, along with his experience as Director of the MIT Media Lab. He has chosen Fellows that...

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Open Locks: Legal commitments that lock in trust

by Andrew Rens, Arthur Attwell and SF Team, 7 July 2016

Contributors to your open project invest their time and energy because they trust you with their gift to the world. So the challenge is this: How can you keep their trust? Can you seal it in for the long term? There are many successful projects that have managed this, notably in open-source software. Linux, Firefox and Wikipedia are good examples. The practice of sharing knowledge in open-source-software communities is now common among researchers, civil society...

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Ito/Shuttleworth collaboration

by SF Team, 17 March 2016

At the heart of the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Programme are two key values - openness, and supporting individuals. Inspired by the programme itself, we are evolving how we award Fellowships. Not only will we be selecting individuals to support, we have selected an individual to help us make that decision for the coming round. We are excited to announce that Joi Ito will be the honorary steward of the September 2016 fellowship intake. Joi, who...

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Dan & Peter - new alumni

by SF Team, 1 March 2016

Dan Whaley Dan is the founder of Hypothes.is, developing an open, interoperable conversation layer over the web. During Dan’s 3 years of fellowship, Hypothesis has grown from an early stage idea to a fully fledged organisation. They develop essential annotation tools and support annotation efforts in journalism, education and science. Hypothesis is also the hub of a coalition to Annotate All Knowledge. Coalition members have agreed to begin the exploration and experimentation required to understand...

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Welcome Aaron, Peter and Tiffiniy!

by SF Team, 29 February 2016

Aaron Makaruk The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” WHO, 2016, with both physical and economic access being considered. With increasing urbanisation comes greater distance between the consumers and producers of food. Along with growing demand, this has lead to trade-offs between volume, shelf life and nutritional value. Costs have gone...

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How we measure success

by SF Team, 22 September 2015

Applicants, and sometimes even Fellows, find it difficult to compute the broad question “what do YOU want to do?”. They keep looking for guidance to narrow down the scope of possibility and fit within prescribed parameters. Yes, we want open and innovative, we like technology and we get excited about access. Other than that, and even beyond that, we want applicants to tell us what they want to do, not the other way round. In...

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Welcome Adam, Astra and Waldo!

by SF Team, 3 August 2015

Adam Hyde has a particular talent for helping experts codify processes into manuals for the benefit of a wider audience. His started with technologists through Booksprints and has now turned his attention to academics. As someone familiar with, but not ingrained in, the way academic output is captured and shared, he is questioning the journal publishing process at both the conceptual and practical level. How can we increase the value of scientific output to benefit...

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Welcome Luka Mustafa

by SF Team, 5 March 2015

Luka’s fellowship is centred around the development of Koruza, a 3D printable wireless optical system for connecting buildings up to 100m apart with internet access. Internet connectivity in urban areas is reliant on fibre or wifi. Where neither of these are viable, there are few other options available. Luka’s work could offer a viable low-cost alternative in these environments. This would empower individuals to build last-mile connectivity with their own hands through the organic growth...

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Catharina, David, Jonas & Rory - new alumni

by SF Team, 5 March 2015

Catharina Maracke took on the issue of contributor agreements for free and open source software (FOSS) projects through the Harmony project in March 2012. Where Fellows typically bring their own project into the Fellowship, Catharina was in the unusual position of taking on an existing project with various and varying role players. Hers was a very nuanced role, having to be sensitive to industry and community dynamics. Catharina is a strong legal mind committed to...

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Our experiment in the world

by SF Team, 23 February 2015

This is not where we started and it is almost certainly not who we will be indefinitely. But our experience in philanthropic investment so far has resulted in a couple of key principles that govern how we behave in the world, and specifically how we structure our relationships with those we invest resources in. This is where we are today: We fund individuals in the first instance. Individuals carry their learnings, experiences, passions and hopes...

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Download our legal templates

by SF Team, 6 February 2015

Since 2007 we have required Fellows to apply open licences - first CC-BY-SA and then CC-BY - to all intellectual property created during the fellowship. The same principle applies to works produced within the Foundation. Openly licensed resources are only as useful as the number of people who can access to them, so now we are eating our own dogfood and making our Fellowship Agreement and Project Agreement available on GitHub. These agreement outlines are...

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Arthur & Jaisen - new alumni

by SF Team, 1 September 2014

During his three years as a Shuttleworth Fellow, Arthur Attwell worked on Paperight, a rights clearance house for literary and educational works to allow distributed, local, on-demand book printing. Access to reading materials is critical to learning in its broadest sense. Arthur’s passion is to ensure universal access, with access including at least legal and physical dimensions. Digital is showing promise, but has not yet resulted in the scale needed, and never will if legal...

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Welcome Sean Bonner

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

We are excited about Sean’s work as he is literally putting the tools in the hands of the people who need them, localising the measure-report-decide cycle around environmental risk factors such as radiation and noise pollution. There are may questions around the quality, reliability and cost-effectiveness of open hardware in general, and specifically open sensing tools. Sean has shown that he can address these questions critically and engage relevant stakeholders and experts. We look forward...

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Welcome Seamus Kraft

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

Seamus applied to the Foundation to expand his work on the Madison Project which aims to open up government by increasing transparency and citizen participation in policy-making. We have seen a lot of open government applications in the past, and Seamus’ is the most practical one by far. He is starting off by focusing on a small scope in a very specific context and is uniquely positioned to implement these first steps thanks to his...

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Welcome Peter Bloom

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

Through Rhizomatica, Peter is setting up affordable local mobile phone networks in under-served areas in Mexico. We have invested in telecommunication initiatives before, as communication is absolutely key to be part of society as we know it. As long as you are not connected to the global communication network, you are excluded from participating in human development beyond the limitations of time and distance. Access to telecommunication is a matter of cost, infrastructure, hardware and...

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September 2014 fellowship intake

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

We had submissions from all over the world, exploring areas of science, education, culture, health, privacy and many many more. We spoke to people working on issues from personal safety to universal access to knowledge, from designing open hardware to alleviating poverty. All of the applications showed passion and personal commitment. We continue to be impressed. We were drawn to initiatives that are at the early stages of development and not yet widely funded, to...

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The How of Open

by SF Team, 15 May 2014

This success has also made the term fashionable and sometimes leads to overenthusiastic uses of the open label or, more worryingly, open-washing. It can result in uncertainty and confusion for those who plan to open up knowledge resources for strategic purposes. The detail of how open is open, matters. Although governments and inter-governmental organisations are adopting the creation and use of open knowledge resources, there is a surprising lag by the majority of non-profit organisations,...

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Privacy

by SF Team, 21 April 2014

We do this because who we are and how we behave has impact on others. We want to present the best, most relevant parts of ourselves in a given context. We choose to ignore the warts and wobbly bits in favour of the identity we’ve claimed as our own in that space. It’s part of being human, being in control of our own lives and choosing what we reveal about ourselves, under what circumstances and...

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Open as a Strategy for Philanthropy and Social Change

by SF Team, 3 March 2014

The more we expose the thinking, working and practices of our organisation, our ideas and our projects, the better. Exposing this information allows other organisations, project implementers, funders, policy makers, change agents, advocates and academics to learn from what we have done. We have found that being intentional about making knowledge resources, funded and/or produced by us, freely and openly available creates a number of strategic opportunities: You can buy one copy, give 1000′s free....

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Application pointers

by SF Team, 20 February 2014

Prospective applicants often ask us to narrow down the parameters for applications and be more specific about what we’re looking for. We are not planning on doing that, as we want to be surprised and intrigued by applicants, no matter how unconventional the idea may be. However, we can provide some thoughts on what to keep in mind while developing your application for our fellowship. We hope these are useful, for applying for the Fellowship,...

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From Traditional Funder to Today

by SF Team, 16 February 2014

Our main goal was to improve the quality of education in South Africa. We invested in projects that offered unique and innovative solutions to educational challenges in a developing society, focused on the areas of science, technology, entrepreneurship and maths in education, as well as propagating the use of open source software. The Foundation operated as a traditional funding agency – we accepted proposals and funded them. Grantees implemented their projects and came back with...

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Openness

by SF Team, 15 January 2014

The open source software movement has not only created widely used software but million dollar businesses. Although the model is well established for software development, distribution and use, it is not the case for education, philanthropy, hardware or social development, to name but a few important endeavours. The default imposed on knowledge resources by copyright law is automatic lock down. This default makes little sense if your agenda is social change. We wanted to understand...