European Cultural Backbone 2.0

Update: Have look at for a full video documentation of the hackathon and conference „Building a European Cultural Backbone“ in May 2022 and get a more understandable overview of the technical and political aspects we’re currently working on.

ECB is an initiative to build a federated platform for European civil society media and content producers. Started by technologists, archivists and community media outlets, we want to connect communities across Europe by developing a sustainable and self-governed alternative to centralized commercial services for publication and preservation of non-profit audiovisual content.

ECB is an initiative by Cultural Broadcasting Archive (A), and the development collective (D). We’re currently reaching out to partners in France, Spain, Ireland, Hungary and Poland. We will publicly present the initiative at the PublicSpaces Conference, which takes place at the MozFest in Amsterdam in March 11/12.

Note: We are not related to the European Cultural Backbone project from the late ’90, but admire what they achieved and think the title to be a very fitting one.

There will be a follow-up meeting in the next weeks! If you want to join, please send quick email to and we’ll send you a link to organize a meeting!

If this initiatives raises your interest, please say hi at – we’d be glad to get in touch and are actively looking for partners and collaborators.



ECB wants to foster collaboration between non-profit media outlets, independent content producers, journalists, archives, researchers and technologists across Europe. This includes possible collaborations with public service media and Open GLAM initiatives.

At its core, ECB wants to develop an open-source European technical infrastructure for a network of interconnected, resilient content platforms for communication, media exchange and publication in the European civil society.

We want to empower and connect producers and consumers through a shared digital public sphere for European civil society media – democratic, free, open and accessible.



Emerging from the non-profit media sector, the founding consortium is formed from a diverse set of technologists and content producers with a long history of being rooted in the civil societies of Europe.

We seek to provide a technological basis for the long-standing desire in using the Internet as an open space with a shared commitment to open and collaborative exchange of knowledge and art. Big Tech and commercial platforms cannot properly fulfill these needs, because oftenly their business model is at odds with the equally important values of data sovereignty, privacy, and self-determined governance. ECB will create self-governed public open sphere for the European civil society and thereby provide a much-needed alternative to existing platforms controlled by for-profit entities.

Whereas commercial providers invest billions into their digital strategies and technology, technologists in independent outlets have long struggled with keeping up to the pace of progress in media technologies. It is time for a resilient, self-goverened infrastructure for the media-technological future of the European civil society.



As a decentralized network of interconnected platforms, ECB will be resilient towards single points of failure.

ECB integrates novel approaches to recommendation, search, and moderation, and ongoing research into fair artificial intelligence algorithms.

Through intelligent, cross-network recommendation and public indexes, individual communities are empowered to expand their reach through shared nodes and databases. Through secure, decentralized software tools we want to allow the existing trust networks in the civil society to expand into the digital realm.

ECB will provide recommendation and moderation tools that shall be controlled by self-determined governance structures and not the maximization of advertisement value of a platform or the sale value of user data. Moderation can be delegated and discussed in a bottom-up process, empowering communities and networks to provide a self-goverened space of publication.

By encoding existing networks into distributed platforms of shared nodes, we create an efficient and secure way to share content between collaborators and like-minded communities.


Project plan

  • Development of an open-source toolset that creates an interconnected network of ECB nodes, which import and link existing European non-profit media platforms. Each node is a repository of metadata for public-reachable media files. Nodes are designed to exchange data with each other through a secure exchange network, building on trust networks between nodes. Each node exposes an API to integrate with existing infrastructure.
  • Development of an intelligent recommendation and categorization framework to be employed by ECB nodes. Nodes provide a search index for any number of connected nodes. Nodes may use Open Audio Search to make audiovisual content available for full-text search and automatic categorization.
  • ECB plans to built up a trust-based moderation system that secures free speech while trying to prevent hate speech. We are thinking about using social trust networks to delegate moderation responsibility between groups and connected nodes.
  • Integration of ECB to existing content platforms which are managed by the initial partner organization in the consortium. Setup of a cross-outlet recommendation system. Support for adopting partners. Integration with in-house tools and websites.
  • Collaboration on business models / monetization for civil society media creators and technologists

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