The Serbian online community has been a-flutter this evening after what seems to have been a small, laid-back, yet groundbreaking event earlier today in Belgrade: a meeting dubbed Tweet Up in Pariska 7, the new address of the offices of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society in Belgrade and organized mostly through Twitter and Facebook.
As the ongoing buzz would have it, the initiative for this informal meeting came from Slobodan Markovic, Special Advisor to the Serbian Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society, who also happens to be a very forthcoming and active member of the online community, and Zoran Torbica, CEO of CRI Domains and one of the initiators and Vice President of the Serbian Center for Internet Development, who has been a part of the local online community, one could safely say, since its inception.
Minister Jasna Matic [EN] accommodated her guests on the terrace of her new offices and spent the next several hours discussing common goals, issues, ideas and exchanging opinions with… well, it would seem her online peers.
Predrag Milicevic, a prominent local blogger, recounts the events of the afternoon spent on the terrace with Minister Matic in his latest blog post, titled The First Minister At A Tweet-Up in Serbia [SRP]:
Ministers have always been more a function than people, more a notion from our everyday political vocabulary than individuals from real life. Ministers have always been somewhere out there… far away.
Today, one Minister has descended among us. A live Man. That is, a woman. ;) The Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society, Jasna Matic. She spoke to us. About e-learning, challenges, transparency, laws, procedures… She gave us insight into jurisdictions. She spoke about problems. She listened to us carefully. She considered ideas. She was pleased by proposed solutions. She laughed at jokes thrown in from the sidelines… She was one of us.
Another highly active member of the blogosphere, Tatjana Vehovec, a.k.a. Mooshema, a copywriter, editor and publisher from Novi Sad, made her way to the meeting in Belgrade today and has a similar story to tell in a blog post of her own [SRP]:
Once upon a time in a land of peasants in the mountainous Balkans…
Well, that isn't it: it was today, on the sunny terrace of the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society, Jasna Matic, in the new offices of the Ministry, a working-friendly meeting in the best sense of this impromptu term, a place where real life and real authority intersected. Respect.
Ms. Vehovec goes on to extract and summarize the palpable results of the meeting in her blog post:
The conslusion of the TweetUp can be encompassed in three potential tasks for the online community:
1. Anyone who encounters obstacles in the areas of electronic commerce, electronic business, import or, foremost, export of services, has been invited to map these issues and, if possible, propose a solution based on common sense, professional knowledge and personal experience.
2. It has been suggested that an ad hoc group be formed, and it seemed as if one has already been formed, for creating projects in the form of project proposals for a communication platform between the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society and end users, and creating an interactive space for the exchange of ideas, solutions and, above all, mapping problems having to do with the practical application of the Law [on Electronic Communication] and weaknesses and flaws as to its practical application.
3. A work group has been formed for the drafting of subordinate legislation that will encompass the convention of the means of communication of several different (all) Ministries, define mandatory content and profile means of communication with citizens. The goal of this legislation is to increase transparency as to the work of the Ministries, achieve better usability of Government sites and faster communication.
It would seem today's TweetUp with the approachable Minister Matic would be what Belgraders colloquially call a “seven-mile step” for the online community and, hopefully, Serbian society in general. As a reminder that any conversation, however pleasant, is only as good as the results it yields, Mr. Milicevic concludes in his blog post:
I don't believe in magic wands, but I do believe in the power of open communication. And I believe that, when someone descends from the state's Mount Olympus among the people, to converse openly with them, then we can expect some realistic developments. In some near future. Besides, “hope is the last to die”…