Reboot9 — Lee Bryant: Human Need (Kozarac) [en]

Here are my notes, unedited and possibly misleading, blah blah blah, of the Reboot9 conference.

Why adoption is not an issue when the use case matters.

Lee Bryant

Where the use case matters, people will make it work, no matter how crappy the system is. Inspired by Sugata Mitra’s “hole in the wall” presentation at LIFT. “Life will find a way.”

About a town called Kozarac in northern Bosnia. Returnees to a town from which they had been chased. One of two towns in Bosnia which was inhabited almost only by one ethnic group.


  • town destroyed, people imprisoned, thousands killed and others expelled
  • perpetrators stay in power, and control local authority, and don’t want the inhabitants back
  • need to go back and rebuild from scratch

How can an online community support real community (protect, develop…)

Return begins around 2000. 2002-05: rebuilding. 2005-07: reclaiming presence.

Three sites.

For a period of town, the websites were the town. The town only existed in virtual space.

Online space shows high degree of consensus. All discussing the same issues.

Top forum topics: #1, taking the piss out of their own leaders; #2, fire engines.

Practical outcomes? Fire engines: bootstrapping their town, had no support, and were actually opposed. Funded stuff themselves, expat communities contribute through the forums. Fire engines were one of the first priorities. Funded and organised the fire brigade with the help of the diaspora on the forums.

Memorialisation campaigns. Basketball. Identity in the diaspora. We know people in the diaspora tend to become more “old-fashioned” or radical in their national identity. The website allows young people to access the “real” town, and know what’s going on there. Keeps the diaspora connected.

Emin, traumatised survivor, was able to open up about it through the site that he discovered recently.

Bridging can also be physical, structural holes in the physical world. Preservation of memories and culture, specially in a context where teachers, doctors, etc have been targeted for execution. Some people from the town are dead, and nothing exists or remains of them besides what is said or put online about them.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.


  • scale: small intimate spaces can have a huge effect, more effective at supporting collective action (would this happen on MySpace? no)
  • common purpose: if people share a need, they are more co-operative
  • hooks into RL
  • motivation: real needs => positive behaviour

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