Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts & Science calls for alternatives

It’s always nice to discover that people actually understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Especially when those people are all members of the Royal Netherlands Academy Of Arts And Science. Today they have issued a report that ticks an awful lot of boxes when it comes to our beliefs, ideas, goals and drive to develop and build Driff, our game-changing collaboration platform. 

Their advisory report sheds new light on how the COVID- 19 pandemic has impacted, and continues to impact, the academic community in both negative and positive ways.  It covers a wide range of topics, including how the pandemic has both highlighted the importance of online collaboration and exemplified the need to invest in solid and effective online communication. 

Never waste a good crisis
By drastically changing existing work processes, the pandemic has accelerated digitalization in unprecedented ways. The academic world is rapidly moving towards hybrid modes of working and new perspectives on collaboration and conferencing. Positive effects include a rather large decrease of the academic ecological footprint, and improved circumstances when it comes to inclusiveness.  At the same time, the researchers raise the growing dependence on Big Tech as a concern. 

New world, new dependencies
The quantum leap digitalization has taken during the pandemic has resulted in new dependencies. The report mentions how members of the academic world have swiftly learned how to use apps like Zoom, Slack, Teams, Webex and other digital tools that they have come to rely on during the pandemic. 

A leap into the digital unknown
It was a development that most universities and researchers were not prepared for. The report states there were no readily available in-house solutions in place. New ways of digital working also gave rise to new ethical dilemmas and vulnerabilities, including privacy, security, procurement, the relationship to Big Tech and academic independence. The researchers have highlighted the need for alternative digital infrastructures and independent tools that reflect and respect academic values. 

Big Tech dependency vs. academic independence
Many of the most common technologies are provided by a handful of (mostly US-based) Big Tech companies. Universities are often unaware that the services they use simply have not been planned as research infrastructures, resulting in universities being only as resilient as the infrastructures they use. Being locked into corporate services inevitably means being shaped by the design choices of companies

Dutch Ministry Of Justice has issued a warning
Digitalization comes with surging power of large tech companies, which decide who gets access to information. A Data Protection Impact Assessment by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security and SURF published on 16 February 2022 DPIA on Microsoft Teams, OneDrive Sharepoint and Azure AD (16 February 2022) considered the professional use of Microsoft Teams and identified a number of risks and necessary mitigation measures, not only for the technology provider but also for universities. At the same time rectors of Dutch universities voiced their concern about the growing dependence on commercial platforms and how this can affect academic values such as liberty, independence and autonomy. 

The call for responsible alternatives
The report calls for a common Dutch and EU strategy to develop alternative and responsible platforms, promote digital sovereignty and formulate conditions for procurement in relation to commercial providers. According to the researchers, the question at hand is: what do we need to do to ensure that the digital transition is fair, inclusive, safe and respects our academic values, fundamental rights, health and well-being? 

Driff is ready for the academic world
This report is way too relevant to downplay it to a brochure, but the answer of course is Driff. 

Our game-changing collaboration and communication platform is created in the Netherlands by a renowned team of experienced developers, and consciously hosted in Europe. Lessening the dependency on US-based Big Tech is not only in our DNA, it is our sole purpose as a company. Our reason for existence if you will.

Driff provides all the functionalities the big brands have to offer. Driff is thoroughly tested and ready for professors, students, researchers and other members of the academic community. Not tomorrow or two years from now. You can launch and  test-drive Driff today. 

Let’s talk academic values, fairness and fundamental rights
Another main difference compared to the Big Tech brands, is that we welcome the academic community to sit down with us and discuss their needs when it comes to secure, reliable, scalable, GDPR-compliant and user-friendly alternatives to Big Tech platforms. Contrary to the people in Silicon Valley, we offer the academic world a chance to sit down with the founding fathers and managing partners of Driff who can instantly change your world for the better. 

Academics are better connected
The report also states that the lack of networking opportunities is the most obvious drawback of virtual conferences. Not with Driff. Driff is designed to build strong online collaboration networks where you can connect with anyone you want and actually get work done.  

From Delft to Groningen, to Maastricht and beyond
You can connect your Driff to other people’s Driff in a heartbeat. This means that professors, students, researchers from Leiden, Delft or Amsterdam can instantly connect with their peers in Eindhoven, Tilburg or Enschede, and vice versa, and launch effective collaborations and conversations with anyone without having to leave their secured personal environment. And since Driff doesn’t like borders, you can just as easily connect to universities abroad. 

Driff continues conversations with the academic world
We’re happy to announce that we’ve already started conversations with one of the country’s leading universities, aiming to come up with tailor-made products and services. We are equipped and determined to develop a future-proof method for the academic world to collaborate and conference in a way that will tick just as many boxes as this report. 

Want to learn more about our academic approach?
Members of the academic community, especially members of the organizational post-COVID teams, who want to join the conversation and learn more about Driff can contact our managing partner Daan Bemelmans directly. Feel free to ask him anything.
+31(0)13 - 2032428

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