D-CENT launch event: Re-imagining democracy and currency in Europe

“The big lesson we’re reflecting here is how to move away from democracy of permanent referendums, binary choices and mere petitions towards the question how do you build in deliberation, conversation and reflection to every step of the democratic process.” – Geoff Mulgan, Nesta CEO 

Around a hundred high-level policy makers, academics, activists, communities and hackers attended the D-CENT launch event “Democracy reboot: Re-imagining democracy and currency in Europe” to discuss  direct democracy and digital currencies. The event, organized at the 14th of March 2014 in London, launched the project to a wider audience. 

The day’s programme was broken down into variety sessions and formats including introductions from those involved in the project, two panel sessions and smaller working group sessions giving attendees the opportunity to engage with each other and exchange ideas with the D-CENT crew.

The discussions that took place were dynamic and vivid both offline and online – Twitter discussion can be found under #democracyrereboot, Storify summary can be found here.

Welcome and introduction of D-CENT

The day started with Fabrizio Sestini, Project Officer of D-CENT at the European Commission, introducing CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms for sustainability and innovation) and putting D-CENT in a larger context (see the web for current CAPS projects). Followed by Project Coordinator Francesca Bria giving an overall vision of the project describing how D-CENT will work from bottom-up instead of top-down, including grassroots communities in its experimental pilots. The introduction section then ended with short speeches from members of the D-CENT crew – a multidisciplinary consortium with partners from seven European countries.

Check the whole introduction (time: 00.44.10):

D-CENT Democracy reboot: Re-imagining democracy and currency in Europe – introduction from D-CENT on Vimeo.


Panel discussion: Rethinking participation and institutional innovation

After the morning introductions the first panel dived into new models of democracy. The discussion was moderated by Nesta’s CEO Geoff Mulgan.

The panelists were Pia Mancini (Net Democracy), Birgitta Jonsdottir (Pirate Party Iceland), Davide Barillari (Five Star Movement), Tom Steinberg (mySociety), Javier Toret Medina (PartidoX) and Meg Hillier (Digital Democracy Commission, House of Commons).


Check the whole 1st panel (time: 01.15.43):

D-CENT Democracy reboot: Re-imagining democracy and currency in Europe – Panel 1 from D-CENT on Vimeo.


Future digital currencies

The second panel discussed social currencies and new economic institutions. It was chaired by Bernard Lietaer, one of the first people in the world talking about complementary currencies right now. The speakers of the panel included Stacy Herbert (co-host of Keiser report), Carlos de Freitas (Instituto Palmas Europe and FMDV), Andrea Fumagalli (Unisor Pavia University), John Clippinger (MIT, ID3) and Felix Martin (author).


The whole panel video can be viewed here (time: 1:08:01):

D-CENT Democracy reboot: Re-imagining democracy and currency in Europe – Panel 2 from D-CENT on Vimeo.

The afternoon prompted deeper discussion as the attendees divided off into one of a number of working groups discussing new institutional models and currencies, existing digital tools for open democracy and protocols for decentralized networks and identity. The working groups were hosted by members of the D-CENT consortium Jon Kingsbury from Nesta, Denis “Jaromil” Roio (Dyne.org) and Harry Halpin (World Wide Web Consortium).

In wrapping up the day Nesta’s CEO Geoff Mulgan said:
“D-CENT is quite an unusual project in who is involved and in the method it’s applying – iterative, bottom-up and user-driven way of developing things. It is also unusual in having some ways a very radical big picture goal overlaying some pragmatic elements. Various people are sticking their necks out to make this happen. And it’s the job of all of us who are doing D-CENT to make this a success.”

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The need for citizen engagement and the importance of user-centered design are themes close to the heart of D-CENT and were prominent reoccurring themes, of the launch event in both online and offline discussions.


D-CENT 14 March 2014 Francesca Bria

D-CENT 14 March 2014 CAPS Fabrizio Sestini

D-CENT 14 March 2014 Andrea Fumagalli

D-CENT 14 March 2014 David Laniado

D-CENT 14 March 2014 Davide Barillari

D-CENT 14 March 2014 Pia Mancini

D-CENT 14 March 2014 Stefano Lucarelli



Panelists Pia Mancini and Birgitta Jonsdottir

Interviewing Stacy Herbert, co-host of the Keiser Report a financial program broadcast on Russian state media channel RT




























D-CENT (Decentralised Citizens ENgagement Technologies) is a Europe-wide project creating privacy-aware tools and applications for direct democracy and economic empowerment. Together with the citizens and developers, we are creating a decentralised social networking platform for large-scale collaboration, decision-making, and economic empowerment. www.dcentproject.eu

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