A strawberry field is basically kind of a horizontally connected strawberry network,” says Mihály Bakó, when trying to explain how his environmental non-governmental organisation came up with its name: Strawberrynet. APCNews met with APC’s Transylvanian member in Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania, in early September 2006. Read the details about ICT policy, Romanian style.
When Strawberrynet started up in 1994, there were virtually no internet service providers in Romania. Since then, connectivity improved dramatically and big players started offering a full range of internet services. Strawberrynet concentrated on the non-governmental organisation (NGO) niche, providing solutions so that they could communicate effectively and with the lowest costs possible.
Community Education Computer Society has been working on a project for an ICT training course for ‘computer literate’ high-school mathematics teachers, in Gauteng, South Africa. APC member CECS is itself an ICT training organisation, established in 1985. A pilot workshop took place on May 13, 2006. "I learned about techniques in drawing question papers, techniques I never knew existed," said one participant teacher.
Unlike its parent-organisation, the New Delhi-based Sarai.net is young, full of ideas and peppy. Not that the institution it grew out of is not full of ideas; but it has an old-world air about it, while Sarai fits in with the trendy, cyber-generation in an unusual way. APCNews met with Ravikant from Sarai.net to discuss localisation issues.
Nodo TAU, APC’s member in Rosario, Argentina, adapts and applies Paolo Freire’s model of popular education to the work it does providing training for new information and communication technologies. The blackboard and chalk made room for a monitor and a mouse, but the underlying principle is the same: learners are their own vehicles for change.
For a second year in a row, the neighbours of the western area of the city are participating in computing workshops. Within the framework of this initiative that arises from the participatory budget, 800 people were trained last year and the objective is to reach over 1500 neighbours this year. The municipal government adopts an approach “from the perspective of human rights, popular participation and a greater democratization of society.” The Nodo Tau civil association [APC member] was once again called on to train the trainers from the perspective of popular education.
French telco giant Alcatel has bagged the tender for the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System, an initiative to connect countries along the eastern coast of Africa, via a high bandwidth fibre optic cable system to the rest of the world. It is considered a milestone in the development of information infrastructure in the region. But what is really happening on the ground to make sure the important ‘open access model’ is implemented?
APC’s member in Nigeria, Fantsuam Foundation, has launched a vulnerable children’s service as part of its rural HIV/AIDS programme. This innovative project is meant to tackle prevention gaps head-on, with the help of multimedia.
“If you don’t try, you can’t complain,” said Chris Nichol the first time I interviewed him at a preparatory conference for the World Summit on the Information Society in February 2003. Chris was one of the many APC members I engaged with as a WSIS virgin tasked with the job of communicating the process in a web-friendly way for the organization.
A new prize, the APC Chris Nicol FOSS Prize, was launched on Friday August 25 in Mexico City. The biennial $4,000 USD prize will be awarded to a person or group doing extraordinary work to make it easy for ordinary computer users to start using free and open source software (FOSS).
In Argentina, internet access averages 13 dollars a month and almost a fifth of the population are online whereas in Sudan internet access costs 160 USD a month and only 9 people in a thousand are online. Africa, the poorest continent in the world, has the highest costs for internet access. In the run-up to the first-ever meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Athens starting October 30, APC releases a set of recommendations that encourage the IGF to tackle the availability and affordability of the internet in the developing world and especially Africa as a matter of urgency. In pdf.
When Partha Sarkar of APC-member BytesForAll decided to turn the South Asian volunteer-driven network he co-founded into an even more participative affair, he opted for Drupal. And Sarkar and company are not alone. Other members of the APC network are also finding Drupal is a convenient tool for setting up and activating online communities.
First it was radio, then the internet. First women’s organisations, then the community. The story of CEMINA, a Brazilian communication and gender organisation, is one of growth, change and openness. Its radio telecentre work captivated the APC Betinho Prize jury in 2005.
Uruguayan civil society has insisted on showing its successive governments that information and communication technology (ICT) related policies are a key issue in the country’s development that goes beyond expanding the software industry.
The Djurslands International Institute of Rural Wireless Broadband (DIIRWB) is not joking about free information infrastructures. Its advocates study and plan projects, and then go out in the open field to help to start up wireless networks. But before antennas are glued to barns and receivers taped to posts, summer camp participants convened in rural Denmark for some fresh air. APCNews talked to one of them.
An Indo-Pakistan encounter, in war or cricket, leaves behind tonnes of bitterness and rivalry. But, in information and communication technology, the main regret facing techies from both sides of the troubled South Asian sub-continent, is why they can’t work more effectively together, to tackle the common problems their people face.
From here to where? And how? APC’s April Bangladesh consultation on communication policy, which brought in diverse people from across South Asia, helped to connect ideas that nudge forward ideals of freedom-in-computing in this populous part of the planet. One of the sessions that participants themselves felt the need to look at, are the critical issues facing free and open source software.
With the objective of producing and disseminating relevant content on the Latin American reality from civil society’s perspective, Rits, in partnership with another eight South American organisations, launched the Social Mosaic information portal on July 5.
AMARC Asia-Pacific is part of an international non-governmental organisation serving the community radio movement, with almost 3,000 members and associates in 110 countries. APCNews met with Suman Basnet earlier this year. The AMARC Asia-Pacific’s regional coordinator talks about his organisation and provides an poignant overview the challenges faced by community radio stations in Asia and the Pacific region.
Gaming is very popular with the children and youth. So what better way is there to introduce computing and free and open source software (FOSS) to kids, than through fun didactic software?