Who are Serbian Erin Brockovich’s?

Editorial by ROBERT ČOBAN, DirectorAt the beginning of the month, we held the sixth Digital Conference in Belgrade. For two days, 11 panels and 10 presentations took place and close to 80 participants from across the region spoke to over 500 people in the audience. One of the panels was led by Jovana Gligorijević from Vreme magazine and it was titled “Erin Brockovich, Model 4.0: Social Networks and Civil Initiatives”. The panelists were Marija Lukić from Brus, Milan Antonijević from the Open Society Foundation, Sofija Todorović from BIRN Hub who reacted strongly following the unfortunate event that happened in front of a bakery in Borča, Igor Jurić from the Tijana Jurić Foundation, Goran Miletić, Civil Rights Defender, Belgrade, and Aleksandar Jovanović from the Odbranimo Reke Stare Planine initiative. As an introduction to the panel discussion, Jovana said that she moderated many panels at our conferences but this was the first conference where she genuinely admired all the participants. Indeed, the stories of each panellist perfectly reflected the state of the society in which we live. What was particularly striking to me was what Aleksandar was saying. I think that the courage of the people who defend the rivers and streams on the Stara Planina, as well as in other parts of Serbia, deserves the respect and admiration of all of us. As expected, the latest panel – “Welcome to TwitterLand: Truths and Misconceptions about the Twitter Community, Its ‘Leaders’ and Their ‘Subjects'” generated the biggest attention, while the debates about who was invited and why, who said what and who behaved in what way are taking place on the social media even as I am writing this article, which is seven days after the conference. It’s incredible to think about how we even got to the place where any dialogue between people who don’t have the same opinions is considered a first-class sensation and is subjected to attacks on both sides. I want to continue to organize conferences at which the likes of the US Ambassador H.E. Kyle Scott, ministers Ružić and Djordjević, Olja Bećković, Slobodan Georgiev, Žaklina Tataović, Olivera Zekić, Jelena Trivan and Stanislava Pak will speak just like people spoke at this Digital Conference. I think it is the duty of all of us who organize events like this to have everyone attend (i.e. people whose actions are legal, people who are not convicted…) who mean something to the society and have a certain number of followers and supporters. Although well-liked by both sides, having ten like-minded people talk will get us nowhere.


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