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The History of PUBLIC VOICE Lab


PUBLIC VOICE Lab's history is exciting - like that of many other businesses in the IT and media sector. We have managed to adapt our mission and our framework according to the requirements of the market and the will of our members.

In 1994, both a PUBLIC VOICE limited company and a research lab were founded. The one was successful producing books (a business which was outsourced in 1998 to PUBLIC VOICE Report VerlagsgmbH & CoKG), the other with research and software development.

Both organisations are independent from each other, and there is no special personal or financial relation between the publishers and the lab, except that we share the name for historical reasons and sometimes do projects together, for example the Senior Online handbook and package.

In 1997 and 1998, Hermann Böckle ran the PUBLIC VOICE media services KEG, supporting the building of our infrastructure. That company was shut down in 1999.

Working as a non-profit organisation from 1994 to 2002 forced us to focus on work of relevance for the greater public. It combined the flexibility of an association with the right of every member to participate in the decision-making process. Thus the lab was kept alive without making it dependant upon shareholders' wishes to generate profit for them, as the earnings could not be taken out. Still, we were able to make investments and form startegic alliances.

We have shown in a number of commercial projects that PUBLIC VOICE Lab performs like any other profit-oriented organisation. Even better: without the pressure of having to generate profits for investors, we did not have to fear being struck by an IT depression.

On January 1, 2003, PUBLIC VOICE Lab changed its legal form. We now act as a co-operative company, with a number of radio stations as shareholders. The full name is "PUBLIC VOICE Lab - Internationaler Medienverbund registrierte Genossenschaft mit beschränkter Haftung". This legal framework provides us with a better position when deploying research and development results on the international market. Still, any profit must remain in the co-op and cannot be taken out or sold. Thus we are committed to a business model which keeps all control among the co-op members.

The general assembly of the Internationaler Medienverbund reg. Gen.m.b.H. decided on January 9, 2003 that all running contracts from PUBLIC VOICE Lab are to be taken over into the new company. The board member of the co-op is Roland Alton-Scheidl.

2004: After successful completion of four 5th framework IST-EU-projects in Vienna, we had found prosperous busines opportunities in Vorarlberg. Situated between mountains, rivers and lakes, a team of regional entrepreneurs and software developers offered to join their activities. A regional open source initiative, including extreme developers‘ sprint events with a lot of snow, we came up with a new perspective: The open source community seemed to require umbrella organisations, which manage complex projects and offer a set of methods and tools, including quality assurance. PUBLIC VOICE could offer this, with a deep project experience in the backpack and a unique, grass-root organisational structure.

In the role as an early adopter of new technologies with censorious reflection, PUBIC VOICE Lab has created a number of networks and spin-offs. Stream on the Fly for example is an exchange plattform for free Radios. The education sector has become inputs by the InterMedia Lab Dornbirn or the competence network Mediengestaltung, where several Fachhochschulen are involved in.

PUBLIC VOICE Lab will be continued as a free software co-op. Already the personal effort of single co-op members in applying the Free Software idea on different business branches works: implementing the Creative Commons License in the austrian law system by Österreichische Computergesellschaft, an institutional member.