In November 2005, the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will meet for the last time in Tunis. APC’s WSIS coordinator Karen Banks points out that in its five year history, the summit has failed to redress the North-South "digital divide". Consensus at WSIS has been elusive: the private and public sectors hold diametrically opposing views on issues such as market fundamentalism, free and open-source software, and intellectual property rights reform; while on issues of financing and internet governance, agreement between governments has been split along North-South lines. It remains to be seen whether civil society groups participating in the summit will be able to shift attention away from these competing interests towards human rights issues.
APC member Fantsuam Foundation remains a lone player in rural wireless internet service in northern Nigeria. Represented by Ochuko Onoberhie, the Fantsuam Foundation was one of the new trainers at the IDRC-APC South African Wireless Workshop, held in mid-September 2005. Fantsuam was also identified as a strategic partner for the next round of trainers for the West African version of this workshop. Through these various capacity building events, Fantsuam is working to act as a sub-regional resource centre for wireless training.
Pallitathya Help-line Centre — an innovative call centre for the underprivileged — received the 2005 Gender and Information and Communication Technology (GICT) award on October 27, 2005 at Bangkok, Thailand. Sponsors of the contest are APC’s Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) and the Global Knowledge Partnership.. These awards are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Department for International Development (DfID), UK. Besides the Bangladesh venture, the 30 other entries for this Asia-Pacific prize threw up a runner-up from India. Putting ICTs in the Hands of the Poor is an interactive community ICT centre in North India. The other runner-up was eHomemakers, a network for home-based business from Malaysia. A knowledge-sharing session was also organised along with the award ceremony.
Big companies on the technology business have known for long that the dissemination of information and communication technologies can promote democracy, but that it can also be a very profitable business. Seeking new potential markets, they send their best lobbyists to pressure governments and international agencies into using their products. Paulo Lima of APC’s brazilian member group RITS has something to say about some of these participants in the upcoming multistakeholder summit.
APC member BytesForAll’s mailing list recently played host to a strong, and at times polemical, debate on proprietary-versus-FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software). It threw up a range of issues about the role of FLOSS in the ‘developing’ countries, its role in localisation, how it competes with proprietorial software, why its benefits haven’t yet reached regions like Africa, and how diverse approaches to software could actually make a difference in the real world. BytesForAll is a South Asian voluntary network, founded along the free software principles of volunteering, but focussing on information — and how information and communication technologies could be more relevant to the common(wo)man, specially in South Asia.
On the ‘information superhighway’, humans too are being trafficked now. Just how and how much, the internet and other ICTs are implicated in trafficking is the subject of this issue paper by the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) produced in cooperation with The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). It explores three pivotal questions: Does the role of ICTs matter or is it a fashionable distraction from serious countertrafficking work? Can we talk of trafficking in images or does trafficking only apply to people? Is the consideration of privacy in relation to ICTs contrary to counter-trafficking work or is it part of a broader movement to create safety and freedom for individuals and communities? Finally, the paper asks what action can and is being taken. Written by Kathleen Maltzahn, who worked on trafficking issues since 1992, this is part of a series of forthcoming papers from the APC WNSP examining ICT from a gender perspective.
Africa Source II will be an eight day hands-on workshop at the beginning of January 2006 and is aimed at building the technical skills of those working with and within NGOs in Africa. Applications for joining this event were accepted till October 24, and now preparations are underway.
In the global village, you can still find roadblocks placed by language to be almost invincible. To battle the linguistic divide and foster understanding, a new initiative called Translations for Progress has come up with an unusual way
out. And the Net is making this possible.
<p><a href="http://feedster.com/claimfeed.php?key=5c8ad9763a667ea1c21c80e03ce105c6">No Need to Click Here – I’m just claiming my feed at Feedster feedster:5c8ad9763a667ea1c21c80e03ce105c6</a></p>
APC BETINHO COMMUNICATIONS PRIZE - DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS 16th OCTOBER 2005: Community connectivity for economic development
In 2005, the APC Betinho Prize will be offered in recognition of community initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean that use the internet and other networks to access markets, skills and opportunities to derive real economic benefits. The deadline for applications ended on October 16, 2005 24:00 GMT. We are looking for ICT initiatives that: make a positive economic contribution to the community; are driven and developed in Latin America and the Caribbean; and can demonstrate a sustainable use of technology.
Open source, open content, open access, open standards, open processes… Many of us in civil society claim we are committed to any number of “open-nesses” but can we put our hand on our heart and say that we really walk-the-talk?
As “social techies” APC and partners are committed to supporting and promoting the use of computer and internet technology as an empowerer —as something to help social justice and development workers meet their goals. At an Open Day hosted by APC and our host member in Bulgaria, BlueLink, which was a real learning event, APC, BlueLink and guests examined and exchanged experiences and know-how on the complexities and realities and the issues at the heart of real “open access for all”.
More than a hundred social movements and civil society organisations gave endorsed a letter released earlier this month by some of the most active groups involved in the World Summit on the Information Society process. Condemning tight surveillance activities, human rights and fundamental freedoms violations on behalf of the Tunisian authorities, the protagonists expressed their concern about the conditions in which the WSIS is to take place in Tunis in November 2005. Read the letter addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and endorse the statement by sending an electronic message to "info at apc dot org".
BytesForAll co-founder Frederick Noronha, an active Free Software evangelist, went to Cambodia’s small town of Siem Reap. But his goal wasn’t to reach out to the splendoured Ankor Wat temple structures nearby. Rather, it was to take part in FOSSAP-II, the Free and Open Source Software Asia-Pacific Consultation 2005. FN, as he is known in the GNU/Linux circuit, brings home lessons picked up in the longish essay below and stresses the need to build links between two sets of natural allies — Free Software and not-for-profit organisations.
The Philippines is moving fast ahead in the task of building bridges between non-profits and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). LinuxWorld Philippines, is the biggest and only nationwide Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) event in that country.
APC member Nodo Tau is turning 10 in October 2005. For the occasion, the Argentinian organisation is hosting two popular events that put emphasis on alternative news. On October 4, a first panel discussion on the theme of "Alternative media: strategies to foster the inclusion of social organisations’ perspective into the information agenda" will be followed by a second panel on "Communication experiences of social organisations". On October 29, a social networking event with organisations using good practices (http://www.enredando.org.ar) will take place in Rosario.
The Betinho prize has launched its fourth edition, and entries are being accepted till mid-October 2005. Once more, this is to benefit initiatives which make use of the internet or other information and communication technologies (ICTs) to get results that make the crucial difference. This year’s subject is "community connectivity projects for economic development".
Africa Source II, an attempt to enhance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) skills of those working with non-profits in the region will be held in early January 2006, at Kalangala Island on Lake Victoria, Uganda. This eight day hands-on workshop is aimed at helping those working with NGOs on the continent to acquire technical skills.
What role do ICTs have in alleviating poverty? This issue was hotly debated at a distinguished panel on September 30, 2005 at the International Telecommunication Union Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Several APC member representatives and staff were among the audience. The debate was also broadcast on BBC World Television around October 22, 2005.
The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gets underway later this year. Between September 19th – 30th, GenderIT.org writers Jac sm Kee and Brenda Zulu participate in the third and final WSIS preparatory meeting (PrepCom 3) before the summit in Tunis. Check out their chronicle and read the following unreleased (on the APC website) postings about the activities of gender advocates, and women concerns regarding key issues on the agenda – internet governance and financing.
Podcasting hasn’t yet caught on among the alternate circuit but Partha Pratim Sarker of BytesForAll got off to a quick start at Geneva. At the Prepcom 3 events, Sarkar took along recording equipment to do what he described as a "sort of audio blogging with an RSS feed". APC’s Lenka Simerska, on hearing it, commented: "Cool blog, really! I find it useful and refreshing to use combination of written word and voice. I had a problem to listen though… But on second try it worked well." Podcasting is a method of publishing audio programmes via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed of new files (usually MP3s). It first became popular in late 2004.