Learnings aus dem Projekt Prater Digital zum Aufbau einer digitalen Infrastruktur

How we have tried to build a digital infrastructure for a cultural institution that is as secure as possible without ethically difficult software.

We know that many artists and cultural institutions take structural steps towards digitality under much more difficult conditions than we do. We know that many actors have fewer resources and less access to experience and knowledge than we have been lucky enough to have. If we now write down our learnings here, this is not an evaluation of the work of others who (have to) go other ways, but rather a measure for knowledge exchange that we hope will be understood in a spirit of solidarity.

Our goals:

– high accessibility for organizers, artists and audience (i.e. easy handling for users /audience, the staff, the institution and the artists)

– Renouncement of commercial software (no stockholders to make companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon richer with our work and the produced art)

– Safe under data protection law

– Store application knowledge in many institutions (i.e. help all users to act self-determined in the digital infrastructure and promote the solidary exchange with colleagues)

Where is the homepage of the institution hosted, i.e. on which server are the homepage and the connected e-mails stored?

Here two criteria were important to us:

Server in the BRD
They are then subject to German law, which is transparent and protects the data comparatively strictly. Even at other EU server locations such as France, there are already far-reaching non-transparent access rights of the security authorities.

Consistent renouncement of Google Analytics
Almost all providers use Google Analytics to analyze traffic on their sites, but at the same time they send this data to Google, which uses it to optimize user profiles so that ads can be sold better.

We have found a single provider that meets both criteria: www.jpberlin.de
(Surely there are more, but we only had a small time window for research and of course there is also the possibility to buy your very own server and host it yourself.)

Which social media channels do we want to use?
Facebook with its platforms Instagram and WhatsApp have been attracting attention for many years through massive human rights violations and worse. The management has consistently missed the numerous opportunities to make business conduct more decent, at least to some extent.

That is why we do not use these platforms, but we are aware that for many actors and for people in other countries they are often a central access to the public and cultural participation.
Most social media platforms use small hidden programs (pixels or targeting cookies) that simply land on the page, e.g. when this f is taken as a shortcut to Facebook posting on the page. These programs then send all traffic on the page to the servers of Facebook etc.

But we are not naive enough to assume that a cultural institution without social media can fulfill the criterion of accessibility, which is why we use Twitter as the lesser evil, but also strictly separated from the site, as an autonomously played account without automated cross-connections.

What do we stream our events in digital space through?
We wanted to avoid YouTube (Google) and Twitch (Amazon) here, and with Vimeo we have chosen a good compromise between data security, affordability and ease of use.

How do we build digital spaces for meetings, performances and exhibitions?
There aren’t many providers: we were looking for a way that was as open source as possible and accessible from most devices. The people who produce art in it should have the opportunity to actually own the space with the art and not – as often hidden in the terms and conditions – unconsciously assign the exploitation rights.
We decided to use the open source software Mozilla Hubs, which has graphically less sophisticated animation possibilities than software that uses special game engines.
Unfortunately, Mozilla currently no longer has a team to oversee the further development of the software, but there are several solidary communities that provide support.

On which cloud servers can these rooms be hosted?
Unfortunately, we had to make concessions to ethical standards here: we could not find a reliable alternative to the Amazon Web Services cloud servers in Ireland – within the scope of our possibilities. We are still looking for alternatives.

Further points:

The Berlin-based initiative PlatzDa! has accompanied us in the development and we continue to exchange ideas to avoid exclusion. This exchange has helped us a lot. And we know that we are only at the beginning of a truly accessible digital offering.

For videoconferencing, we decided to use a variant of the open source software Big Blue Button, which is offered by the Berlin-based company Ecosero. It offers the functionality of web seminar and video conferencing platforms, runs stable and is data secure and ecologically sustainable.

Internally, we have consistently avoided Google offers. In addition to the well-known data protection problems, graphic elements (quickly copied and pasted) and Google fonts are factual targeting cookies, which then send the website users’ data to Google.


Julian Kamphausen

Artistic Director of the Pilot Phase (2020-2021)

As a member of the advisory committee, Julian Kamphausen has worked together with the Director of the Art and Culture Department, Tina Balla, to develop and advance the project in the spirit of the outcomes of the advisory committee’s work.