top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristina J. Colclough


Videos, materials and summaries from a 4-part course for FES offered to you courtesy of FES, presenters, participants and moderator Christina Colclough from the Why Not Lab.


In April and May 2021, FES - the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, arranged a 4-part course on #UnionTech as part of their Unions In Transformation program. The Why not Lab moderated the four workshops that were additionally guested by Developer Nathan Freitas, the Guardian Project; AI Expert Dr Jonnie Penn, Cambridge University; and Data Specialist Dan Calacci from the MIT Media Lab.

Here is what we got up to.

Workshop 1 - Organisation-wide transformation

The first workshop zoomed in on trade union transformation in the digital age by discussing if, and how, unions could draw inspiration from existing Data/Digital Maturity Frameworks (DMF). Ensuring an organisation-wide and embedded transformation will be key for trade unions as they reform their strategies, structures and processes to address the digitalisation of work.

Drawing inspiration from the amazing DMF designed by DataKind UK and Data Orchard, we focussed on change at the following key levels:

  • Leadership

  • In-house or available skills

  • Organising and campaigning

  • Collective bargaining

  • Digital Understanding

See the recording of workshop 1 here and get the slides by clicking the image below.

Workshop 2 - Horizon scanning

Nathan Freitas, the founder of the Guardian Project, develops open-source, privacy-preserving mobile apps to empower disadvantaged groups. In this workshop, Nathan took us through emerging technologies and how we can safeguard our privacy, autonomy and identity.

See Nathan's key recommendations in the slide deck below, and watch the recording of the whole workshop here.

(Psssttt. it's well worth a replay as Nathan fires gems away like there is no end to it.... )

Workshop 3: "Now What?"

Does a technological revolution lead to a social revolution or the other way round? Dr Jonnie Penn, an historian of AI kicked off this workshop with an affirmation to the unions in the room that a social revolution can shape a technological one. To shape and form the digitalised world to meet the needs of workers, citizens and planet, we need to organise!

In this workshop, we covered a wide range of topics from understanding that the current digitalisation of work and workers is an "intelligence inequality" leading to the disempowerment of workers and unions. Dr Penn urged us to be critical to the normalisation of tech - if we use it, use it critically and guarded. See the full recording here, Dr Jonnie Penn's slides below and the summary slides here

Workshop 4: Data Storytelling

Wrapping up the course, PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, Dan Calacci shared his knowledge and experience with data storytelling.

Dan showed how he had helped Schipt workers challenge the platform's claim that their new effort-based model was increasing pay for all workers. Using screenshots of payslips, a dose of machine learning magic, Dan could prove that pay had decreased for 41% of all Schipt workers.

From there Dan took us through Feigenbaum and Alamalhodaei pyramid journey from moving from data --> information --> knowledge --> wisdom. Using examples, Dan really shoed how unions could use data storytelling to break the intelligence inequality and power asymmetriens Dr Jonnie Penn discussed with us in Workshop 3.

See the workshop recording here (well worth your time!) and Dan's slides below.


All material offered to viewers courtesy of presenters, participants and hosts FES.

bottom of page