Free and open source software (FOSS) holds a great deal of potential for civil society organisations. The most obvious benefit of FOSS is that it is often free to use or low-cost. However, it also offers more including
crucially better security. Ddid you know that if your computer uses the GNU/Linux operating system you don’t have to use anti-virus software? No more days or data lost recovering from the latest virus…
The materials available in the MultiMedia Toolkit’s latest unit on FOSS provide an introduction to FOSS, tackling questions like ‘what is open source?’ and ‘how will it benefit my organisation?’ They also include practical advice on how to review open source software packages and select the right ones for your organisation.
Colnodo, APC’s member in Bogotá, in association with the Colombian Confederation of Non-governmental Organisations, launches “avanza” (meaning “advance” or “move forward” in English), a website for Colombian development.
An “Information and Knowledge Exchange Network on Information Communication Technology for Development” for Ecuador has been created.
Choike, the southern civil societies portal produced by APC member in Uruguay, the Third World Institute (ITeM), is now offering a monthly newsletter. This month’s features special reports on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and migrant sex work. The specials are produced by Choike’s editorial team but they take their sources from the work of civil societies in the South. Subscribe to the Choike bulletin.
On April 28, APC member in Brazil, RITS, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation will present a new publication "The World Summit on the Information Society: a subject for everyone". Composed of analytical articles on the principal issues involved in the WSIS process, the book will also look at the Summit Declaration and Action Plan and the civil society declaration. The presentation will also include a debate with panelists – Sergio Amadeu da Silveira, president of the National Information Technology Institute, and ambassador Clodoaldo Hugueney, representative of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. According to Paulo Lima, RITS director, this is the opportunity to place in the balance the Summit up till now and its strategic importance as well as broadening the debate and the participation of civil society in information society issues. More about RITS.
In December 2003, APC’s member in Brazil RITS carried out a survey of the users of 10 of the 107 municipal telecentres that serve under-privileged neighbourhoods in São Paulo in order to find out who’s using them, users’ habits and preferences when they visit the centres and use the internet, and to find out what their expectations and possibilities are regarding really getting the most out of ICTs. Two thousand questionnaires were distributed in different neighbourhoods. The results of the survey will be posted on the OPPI – the Observatory of Public Policies on Infoinclusion in Brazil- at the end of May. Find out more about RITS’s involvement in the telecentres.
Theta on Survival & Prosperity in the NGO Sector - The Role of Technology in Strengthening Organisational Capacity
During the past few years the South African non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector has experienced dramatic changes. In the 1990s many NGOs were forced to close down because of a lack of funding and related organisational problems. APC member in Johannesburg, SANGONeT, is currently in the process of establishing various new partnerships and brokering arrangements in support of its ICT service delivery activities and services to the South African NGO sector. To assist in developing these ICT services, SANGONeT is offering this Thetha –or discussion- in early April.
APC has been present in Latin America since the late 1980s when two of our founding members were technology activist groups based in Nicaragua and Brazil. Here we briefly summarise our current internet and information and communications technology (ICT) policy efforts in the region, the innovative work of the Latin American branch of APC women’s programme in Latin America and last year’s APC Betinho Communications Prize which recognises notable technology initiatives in the region.
Transparency for Colombia and APC member Colnodo recently donated their new software “Internet for Accountability” to allow a mass take-up of the ‘good government’ tool. More than 500 municipalities will receive the software plus internet access on the signing of a transparency and anti-corruption agreement.
The structure as well as the struggles for the second
phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) summit process are slowly becoming clearer. One thing is clear: It will be more complex than the first round, as it has to deal with many more loose ends. WSIS 2003 only had to deliver two pieces of paper (the declaration of principles and the action plan). This left a lot of time for endless discussions, arm-twisting on wording, sorting out friends or foes in different arenas, and for civil society to start playing inside the official UN process. Now, the negotiators from Geneva will meet the real world. And as conflicts remain, the actors are positioning themselves for the second round.
Carlos Afonso, director of planning at RITS
APC’s Brazilian member organisation outlines the digital inclusion opportunities and initiatives carried out in Brazil so far, from the successful ones to the dismal failures. According to Afonso, despite the flurry of acronyms being thrown around, Brazil still does not have a national strategy that will provide the majority of Brazilians with access to the internet. He believe it’s crucial that the Brazilan government gets involved in the set-up of community telecentres and computers in schools and public libraries – the cheapest and most efficient way of democratising access to information and communication technologies.
After the excesses of Christmas and New Year, the CRIS Campaign in their own words has been very quiet in the early part of 2004. However, the team is back with an update on the First World Forum on Communication Rights held in Geneva in December, plans for CRIS for 2004 and an invitation for local networks to become part of CRIS.
The depth of disappointment with the formal outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society cannot be fully explained by reference to the usual process of summit attrition, governments horse-trading down to the lowest common denominator.
There’s a new openness since the Lula government came to power at the beginning of 2003 and began working hand-in-hand with Brazilian civil society to change the way the internet is being governed in Brazil. It’s been announced that the committee which handles all Brazilian-registered website addresses will be chosen in public online elections. For the first time since the .br registry was created in 1995, members of civil society will be elected and can participate directly in the deliberations.
The ItrainOnline partnership has recently released nine new Multimedia Training Kit (MMTK) units on the following topics: open source software; OpenOffice.org; radio browsing; reporting on HIV/AIDS; and older and refurbished computers.
All materials are available on the ItrainOnline site. Go and find out more!
APC’s free content management system designed specifically for progressive organisations to publish news automatically and share content at the click of a button has been nominated one of the best open source software tools that can be used by activists to spread the message and promote interaction by e-newsletters, forums, blogs, and online petitions.
Compiled by Dan Bashaw and Mike Gifford in an article for the Democracies Online Newswire APC ActionApps came out tops along with other well-known applications like PostNuke, Twiki and WebCards.
CENTRAS in collaboration with APC member, the Strawberrynet Foundation, has launched the first tri-language database of non-governmental organisations in Romania", RO_NGO.
The Brazilian government has decided to support this transition to a new internet governance structure for the administration of “.br”. ITI and Abong outline the process which involves elections and the nominations of candidates from civil society, government and the science and technology sectors in this article translated into English by APC.
“The Andalusian Institute for Women decided to invite the GEM team after learning about the tool via the website where it is now in English, Portuguese and Spanish,” said Dafne Sabanes Plou, regional coordinator for GEM in Latin America.
New publication: “The Other Side of the Divide” - Voices from Latin American and the Caribbean speak out about the social impact
RedISTIC (Networking on the Social Impact of ICTs) is a coalition made up of groups that work on information society-related issues (communication, knowledge, wisdom, etc.) in Latin American and the Caribbean. The first achievement of RedISTIC is the publication of the book “The Other Side of the Divide: Latin American and the Caribbean Perspectives on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)”.