Performing research can be challenging, especially when researchers turn to their own communities. In the GRACE project, researchers will meet to share their findings and develop their writing skills in early June in Durban, South Africa. Organised in fourteen different teams, the researchers live and work in twelve African countries and all are tackling a fundamental question: How do women in Africa use information and communication technologies (ICTs) for empowerment?
The initiatives that have been adopted to improve e-government in Latin America primarily focus on improving online services and state administration. Citizens, however, remain unable to participate in the decision-making process because this dimension, which is at least as important if not more then the previous one, has been left aside.
As a starting point for reflecting on the issue, APC’s Valeria Betancourt affirms that ICT and e-government initiatives do not generate greater participation in and of themselves. If participation mechanisms are not developed, there is not a single technological advance that will be able to make up for the lack of political will to promote human and social development.
Some of Drupal’s features include multi-user editing, an advocacy component, flexibility and configurability, multi-lingual support, a strong and dedicated developer community, as well as a vibrant community of users.
APC condemns the unjust detention of free speech bloggers and journalists in Egypt. Alaa Seif Al-Islam, a seasoned blogger and APC colleague, is one of four Egyptian online diarists being held in detention for criticising the current regime since May 7. In addition, APC has heard disturbing reports about violent actions taken by state security against several of the bloggers who were released from custody last week, only to be subsequently re-arrested. Authorities prevented human rights lawyers from visiting the bloggers who had been beaten and tortured on Thursday May 25.
“Wireless technology is irreplaceable for providing access in remote and scarcely populated regions”
Ermanno Pietrosemoli, of Venezuelan APC member EsLaRed, has been exploring the possibilities of wireless technology for years. From technical experiments to working with grassroots organisations, the firm belief of the irreplaceable possibilities of this type of connection to provide access in remote and scarcely populated regions has driven his work. A new wireless connection world record was set in April, which became the point of departure of this long-distance conversation with APCNews.
“Fourteen years ago, on a first of June, at noon, with a modest PC, a clone that resembled a PC-AT, connected to a single phone line and using a programme that worked on the legendary MS-DOS, the small group of friends who formed Wamani, started this adventure,” said co-founder Carlos Alvarez. The APC member from Argentina, Wamani Network, celebrated its anniversary with the launch of new and promising services.
APC keeps growing. A new Latin American member, FUNREDES, has joined the network of groups that believe in the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for social justice and sustainable development, in May 2006. The ‘Networks and Development Foundation’ FUNREDES is based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and is dedicated to the “fair and just dissemination of ICTs through distance computer networks, electronic libraries and multimedia projects”.
The filmmakers are there. So are the films from the world of alternative cinema. But how does one find the audiences? How to make sure that these crucial cultural products actually get noticed across the globe? Andrew Garton, from APC’s member c2o and Programme Director of OPEN CHANNEL in Australia, is trying out an innovative experiment. The mix? Free software developers, filmmakers wanting to get their story out, and support which realises the power of the alternative image.
Jamming the power of community radio, landing submarine cables smoothly, lowering telephony costs in a price-sensitive part of the globe… these and many more issues are on top of the mind of campaigners working on information and communication technology for development in South Asia, a populous part of the planet. At APC’s recent ‘ICT policy in South Asia’ workshop held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a number of campaigners got a chance to meet up with techies and a few academics to share space and ideas.
Late May 2006 saw Bangladesh launch its first submarine fibre-optic cable in the southern coastal town of Cox’s Bazar. This could allow high-speed telecommunications, but some voices critiqued the delay in making this possible.
APC staff started playing with wikis internally four years ago, and started using this online tool seriously about a year later. Collaborative work can normally be documented with the help of a drawing board or some tape recorder in the corner of a room. At the Association for Progressive Communications, people’s collective space is not a room. Instead they work from home, some in small offices, others in affiliated organisations, all over the world. But what is a wiki anyway? How does it differ from other online tools APC uses? How can it support the way we work at APC? This first out of two pieces looks at these questions by rooting the answers in APC’s global working dynamics.
The Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa, with an estimated population of 2,854,600 in 2000. Telecommunications infrastructures are decrepit, limited to the two biggest cities of the country, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Despite the existence of private telecommunications companies, only mobile telephony penetrates faster in rural areas. Telecommunications infrastructures are, thus, unable to meet the needs of the Congolese population, especially those of women who constitute 51 per cent of inhabitants.
The Foundation for Media Alternatives was one of the groups that pushed to have a community-focussed track at the latest Linux World Philippines. The programme listed themes like free and open source software in government, health and education. The FMA then helped create an open coalition. More recently, this APC member has also backed up a bid to set up a regional node of the International Open Source Network.
APCNews met up with Al Alegre of the APC member FMA in Dhaka, Bangladesh earlier this year. Although the Dhaka meeting tackled information and communication technologies (ICTs) as means to achieve social justice, Alegre had a story about media to tell. This article looks into communication rights, Philippine style.
From being a student activist to working with the word in the library, and getting involved in a wide range of campaigns, soft-spoken Mylene Soto has seen many things. Today, she’s part of APC member Women’sHub, a group that works for the promotion of gender equality amidst the alphabet-soup and geeky world of ICTs (information and communication technology). She joins Cheekay Cinco for this discussion on gender and ICTs in the Asian context.
Indian language computing solutions in free/libre and open source software is "doing fine" but needs better documenting and packaging. It also needs to find sufficient numbers of users. There is a lot of potential for regional, cross-country cooperation in this field in South Asia, a region in urgent need of solutions to its computing challenges. This interview with Sarai.net, the Delhi-based new media initiative, also self-defined as a "space for research, practice and conversation about the contemporary media and urban constellations", explores these challenges.
On Sunday May 7, free speech activist Alaa Seif Al-Islam – a pioneer Egyptian blogger – was arrested by the authorities of his country. Alaa, a colleague and friend of the APC community, with which he shared many encounters, is persecuted for organising protest activities against his government.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) process culminated with the Tunis Summit in November 2005 and we are now five months into the post-WSIS implementation phase. … But what does that mean in practice? What are the post-WSIS implementation processes, what actors are involved, when and where are they taking place and how can you get involved? The following ten-page overview sheds some light on these questions, as well as other questions civil society actors have, as we prepare for the first intensive series of post-WSIS panels, workshops and consultations scheduled in May and June 2006.
“Francophone women are less likely to use the internet than Anglophone women (40.4% compared with 55.3%, respectively)" says a survey report released lately on the Womyn’s Voices website. In the spring of 2002, 50 women’s groups working in minority situations in Canada were surveyed on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The project’s scope is limited, looking at Francophone women’s groups working in minority situations. Also since statistics tend to change rapidly, especially concerning ICTs, the data presented may not be an accurate account of today’s reality. It remains a valuable assessment for APC, not only for better understanding its current projects and members in francophone Africa and Canada, but also in preparing its new website in French.
Between the 12th and 16th of July 2006, an APC-organised North African Regional Wireless Training Workshop will take place in Morocco. Wireless technologies offer developing countries an important low-cost, versatile alternative to wired infrastructure. They enable communities to extend the reach of cabled internet connectivity and to be in control of the planning, implementation and design of their own networks. Applications need to be in by the 19th of May.