Hello world. My name is Joe Litobarski. I am currently a PhD candidate in the history of technology and democracy at Maastricht University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) in the southern Netherlands, where I live with my wife and two daughters.
My academic research focuses on the history of technology and deliberative and participatory democracy in Europe and the United States in the 20th century, particularly where emerging discourse on “electronic democracy” intersects with cybernetics, neoliberalism, information theory, or the early history of Artificial Intelligence and neural networks. I’m also interested in contemporary public debate around the future of democracy and social media, algorithms, and AI.
Before starting my PhD, I worked professionally in European online deliberative democracy for over a decade; connecting citizens with experts and policymakers via digital tools and facilitated virtual group discussions, as well as planning and moderating online panels and workshops.
I have over 15 years of experience as a facilitator; earning a BA (Hons) in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford in 2006, then training in facilitative mediation with the Peace and Reconciliation Group (PRG) in Derry / Londonderry in 2005-6, then with Portsmouth Mediation Service in 2007.
I began blogging about European politics in 2008. In May 2011, I crowdsourced questions on The Guardian and (together with German political scientist Ronny Patz) put one to EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström during a Justice and Home Affairs Council press conference.
Based on that experience, I started working with the think tank Friends of Europe, co-founding their citizen engagement project Debating Europe, an online discussion platform focusing on European politics that crowdsources questions and comments from citizens and puts them to European policymakers and experts.
On behalf of Debating Europe, I interviewed thousands of politicians and experts from across Europe, including prime ministers, presidents, government ministers, European commissioners, MEPs, and national MPs.
In 2022, after 11 years (!) with Debating Europe, I joined the team at the European Journalism Centre (EJC) in Maastricht, where I was Programme Lead of Training & Events and organised both online and in-person trainings for European journalists on using online video platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram as journalists.
While at the EJC, I led the team that delivered the 2023 News Impact Summit, bringing together over 200 journalists, students, and climate experts in Lisbon, Portugal, to discuss how journalists can tell stories about climate change using technology including satellite data, online video, and deep learning models.
– My website is powered by the wonderful, crazy engine that is WordPress.
– Thanks to the amazing Oryx for his pixel art.