[Interview] Our Executive Director Marek Tuszynski talks with Mozilla about Tactical Tech's thought-provoking experiences and work

5 minutes read | First published: April 16, 2024
Marek Tuszynski headshot
Last year, our Executive Director and co-founder, Marek Tuszynski, was recognised by Mozilla's Rise 25 Awards as one of the artists and visionary leaders actively shaping a more ethical, responsible, and inclusive future for the internet. This week, Marek Tuszynski chatted with Mozilla about Tactical Tech's work, "his travels abroad shaping his career, what sparks his inspiration and the future challenges we face online".

Here are a few extracts from the interview

Mozilla: So the first question that I had that I wanted to ask you about this is very straightforward, but what initially inspired you to co-found Tactical Tech? What was the first thing that made you really want to start the work that you do?

Marek Tuszynski: My focus early on was with open source with software, and that was the driving force behind how we think about which technology is better for society, which is a more right one, which gives you more freedoms, not restrict them, and so on, etc. The story now, as we know, it turned kind of dark, but the inspiration was fascination with the possibilities of technology in terms of the tool for how we can access knowledge and information, the tool for how we can refine the way we see the world. It’s still there, and I think was there at the very beginning, and I think that’s a major force.

Mozilla:When it gets to like some of the ideation process, what sparks the inspiration for the experiences you try to create? Is there any research or data that you look at? Are there just trends that you look at to get inspired by? What kind of like starts that?

Marek Tuszynski: Good listening is for me part of the critical research. So instead of coming in a view and ideas of research questions, we listen to what questions are already there. Where the curiosity is, where the fears are, where the hopes are, and so on, and sometimes start to build backwards toward and think about what you can bring from the position you occupy.

Mozilla: What do you think is the biggest challenge we face in the world this year on and offline? How do we combat it?

Marek Tuszynski: I think people have different challenges in different places. The first thing that we are going to launch is a series of election influence situation rooms, which is just kind of a creative space that has the front of the house and back of the house that you would like to mount around some of the elections that are happening — like U.S. or European Parliament, or many other elections. What we would like to showcase and kind of demystify is not only the way we elect people, but how much the entire system works or doesn’t work.
And what we’re trying to illustrate with this project “the situation rooms” is to unpack it and show how important, for a lot of entities, confusion is. How important polarization is, how important the lack of trust towards specific formats of communication are, or how institutions fail, because in this environment it is much easier to put forward everything from conspiracy theories to fake information, but it also makes people frustrated. It makes people to be much more black and white and aligning themselves with things that they would not align with earlier. I think this is the major thing that we are focusing on this year. So the set of elections and how we can get people engaged without any paranoia and any kind of dystopian way of thinking about it.

Mozilla: What do you think is one action that everyone should take to make the world and our lives online a little bit better?

Marek Tuszynski: Technology is the bridge. Technologies open the channel of communications, so on, etc. Use technology for that. Don’t focus on yourself as much as you can focus on the world and other people. And if technology can help you to understand where they’re coming from, what the needs are and what kind of role you can play from whatever level of privilege you may have, use it. And the fact that you may use better technologies and some people have access to it already, that’s a certain kind of privilege that I think we should be able to share widely.

Mozilla: What gives you hope about the future of our world?

Marek Tuszynski: You know, it’s going to be okay. Don’t worry. But we are going to see people that’ll be happy and there will be people that separate. I think the more we can do now for the next generations of people that are coming up now, the better. And if you’re lucky to live long, you may feel proud for what you’ve been doing — focus on that, rather than imagining or picturing some future machine.