“The word wiki is a shorter form of wiki wiki (weekie, weekie) which is from native Hawaiian, in which it is commonly used as an adjective to denote something ‘quick’ or ‘fast’,” says Wikipedia, the world’s most important collaborative online encyclopaedia. Fast and quick, they are. But did you know they were free and open? While shedding light on the larger context of free and open source software (FOSS) developed tools, this second article on wikis looks at the concrete experience APC’s Strategic Uses and Capacity Building (SU&CB) programme made with wikis. It delves into the MediaWiki and the TikiWiki.
APC members took an active part at the Asia Commons Conference, a first-of-its-kind event held from June 6 to 8 2006 in the Thai capital of Bangkok. Some expected more concrete action could come out of it. But this meet was a great start to building links and planning ‘common’ action at the Asian level.
Research for change, advocacy for democracy, analyses for action, education for empowerment. Going beyond the slogans is the Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD), a Philippines-based two-decade-old group that has just joined the APC as a member. A fairly large organisation by non-profit standards, that is, IPD has a website that takes an overtly political stance over challenges facing the country it’s operating in.
It is widely known that the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean adopted the regional plan of action for the information society, eLAC2007, in June 2005 in Rio de Janeiro. They developed a mechanism for its implementation in November of the same year during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in Tunisia. But what real results have been reached to date? A discussion on eLAC2007.
Each member provides the APC network its unique perspective and experience, thus participating in the construction of a rich and diverse global community. FUNREDES is no exception: this new APC member comes into the network with an almost 20-year history in information and communication technologies (ICTs), a key geographical position (it is the only member in the Caribbean) and great thematic diversity. APCNews talked with its director, Daniel Pimienta
Australia has had a very liberal community broadcasting regime. But could technology, and the interests of big business, change that all? That’s the fear of media campaigners Down Under.
One of the APC’s newest – of three – members is the Bangladesh-based Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment, or simply VOICE. It’s located in the Shyamoli locality of the national capital of Dhaka and works through advocacy and partnership networking. It says it believes in promoting the capacity, knowledge and empowerment of people, the voices of unheard.
E stands for environment: ICT tools to empower activists struggling to protect environment around the world
A working group of APC members aims to bring environment higher on the ICT policy priorities of global civil society. Information and communication technologies are a powerful tool for civil society protecting environment. But more is needed to streamline ICT work of different groups and communities, and offer them access to the ICTs they need to secure environmental sustainability, a BlueLink/APC survey shows.
GRACE is a group of 14 research teams working in 12 African countries focusing on Gender Research in Africa into ICT’s for Empowerment, supported by a research grant from the International Development Research Centre of Canada. This research project was completed in be completed in 2008. Read the full update.
Latin America is undergoing a historic process of regional integration. In the meantime, what is going on with civil society? The joint working experiences between social movements from different Latin American countries are rich and have a long common history. The synergy is far from running dry: regional integration initiatives are on the rise and being consolidated. Rits.lac, a new project from Brazilian APC member, RITS, is following this exact tendency.
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.