APCNews No. 65 June 2006

APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
June 2006 No. 65
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ESLARED, Venezuela: “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. – APCNews

C2O, Australia: Alternative film seeks a new home… in cyberspace

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. – APCNews

FMA, Philippines: From theorising about the media to coalition building around free software

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

RITS, Brazil: Rits.lac: Civil society, a step towards regional integration

Latin America is undergoing a historic process of regional integration. In the meantime, what is going on with civil society? The collaborative 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 part of the tendency. – APCNews

WAMANI, Argentina: Anniversary: The Wamani Network is fourteen years old

“Fourteen years ago, on the 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 services. – Wamani Network

WOMENSHUB, South Africa: Taking ICT to women campaigners

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 WomensHub, 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. – APCNews

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STATEMENT: APC condemns imprisonment of pro-democracy bloggers by Egyptian authorities

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. – APCNews

NEW APC MEMBER: A new member from the Caribbean joins the APC community

APC keeps growing. A new Latin American member, FUNREDES (pronounced fun-RED-ez), 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”. – APCNews

JOB OPENING AT APC: Strategic Uses and Capacity Building Programme Manager

APC is seeking a manager for our Strategic Use and Capacity Building Programme (SU&CB) and its projects. The SU&CB manager will have excellent people and project management skills, experience of working in networks, managing relationships and partnerships and a sophisticated understanding of the concept of strategic use of technology as it applies to development and social justice. – APC

SPECIAL DHAKA COVERAGE: South Asia ICT policy workshop and Asian APC members

APC staff writer Frederick Noronha travelled to Dhaka, Bangladesh last April to attend the first regional consultation on ICT policy in South Asia. He interviewed participants from Japan, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Korea, India and many more countries. Not only did he blog live from the sub continent, he also filed articles and interview reports about this APC-organised event. These were featured last month and over the next two months in APCNews. Visit http://www.blog.apc.org for fresh original updates. In-depth coverage can be found in this APCNews in the ‘news from members’ and ‘ICT policy’ sections.

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SPECIAL DHAKA TOPICS: APCNews uncovers the major ICT policy issues and campaigns in Asia – From jamming community radio to lowering telephony costs…

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. – APCNews

SPECIAL DHAKA ARTICLE: Snaking in from under the sea, submarine cable link launched by Bangladesh

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. – APCNews

COMPLEMENTARY ARTICLE: Submarine Cable Link: Yet to cross lots of barriers to get the real power

Bangladesh has been linked with the Se-Me-We-4 submarine cable network, but there is yet to set up a certain set of rules and regulations regarding the usage. The authority to look after this network is Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB). BTTB are now in contention with the internet service providers (ISPs). Only 155 Mbps data are now being transferred through the submarine cable network whereas the real capacity is 10 Gbps. As there is no strong backup, ISPs are not relying on the Se-Me-We-4 submarine cable. In this tangle the proper distribution of Se-Me-We-4 submarine cable become uncertain. – Ekattor
http://www.ekattor.com/submarine-cable.pdf [PDF document]

SPECIAL DHAKA INTERVIEW: The software challenge? How to popularise Indic solutions with users

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. – APCNews

FROM THE APC BLOG: BBC’s documentary… and software freedom
By Fouad Riaz Bajwa

Is free and open source software (FOSS) a make-do product for those who can’t afford better? Is it something suited to the ‘developing’ world alone? No, says Fouad Riaz Bajwa, a Pakistani FOSS advocate known as the “FOSS mullah” for his passionate commitment to the cause. He debates a recent two-part BBC documentary on FOSS, which he believes catches the bull by the tail. – APC Blog

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WIKI PART I: Progressive communications, wiki style

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 a 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. – APCNews

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E-GOV, PART II: Linking Czech women and e-government

The APC WNSP panel “ICT and Equal Opportunities for Women and Men” took place on the April 3, 2006, the first of a two-day conference on Internet in Public Administration. Most panellists spoke about information and communication literacy as key to successful implementation of e-government objectives. At the same time, they listed ICT skills as the primary barrier that leads to a gender digital divide in the Czech Republic. In particular, the majority of the Roma women do not have sufficient ICT skills to benefit from e-government and the information society generally. The conference took place in the Czech Republic. This is the second article in a two-part series. – GenderIT.org

ARTICLE: Why are Congolese women absent from decision making in ICTs?

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. This article from APC-Africa-Women’s new co-coordinator who is from Brazzaville has been translated into English. – GenderIT.org

ARTICLE: Beyond tools: Technology as a feminist agenda

The question is what is the feminist agenda within the ICTs and gender debate. The issues of women’s sexuality, representation and exploitation are obvious. The connection that needs to be made is to shift the understanding of ICTs from a ghettoised area relevant only to those who are privileged enough to have technological access, to the larger framework of women’s human rights, which includes violence against women. – Palgrave Journal

GRACE OVERVIEW ARTICLE: Gender and ICTs in Africa: Let’s talk research

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? – GRACE

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NEWKERALA.com, India: A dark continent for citizen-run broadcasts
Friday April 28, 2006

As far as radio waves go, South Asia can perhaps call itself the “dark continent”. This part of the planet has an almost uniformly unenlightened policy when it comes to opening up its airwaves. – newKerala.com

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BRIEFING PAPER: A new briefing paper for journalists asks what’s stopping the wireless revolution in developing countries

Despite significant advances in wireless technology, more than two-thirds of the world’s population remains without access to communication facilities. In many countries, particularly in the developing world, governments have been slow to reduce restrictions that limit the use of this technology. This brief from Panos London looks at different applications of wireless technology, and its comparative advantage in making communication available to all. It suggests what governments could do to encourage its wider use in everyday life.

DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNICATION: International Program for Development of Communication (IPDC)

IPDC is a UNESCO program that provides small grants to community/media projects. Media organisations such as press, radio and television, media training institutes, professional journalists’ organisations, media development agencies, and community media organizations are eligible to seek support from IPDC. All proposals are processed by field-based Unesco Advisers for communication and information. Media projects with potential to serve as models are especially encouraged. Particular attention is always given to proposals from least-developed, landlocked and small island countries.

GUIDE TO COMMUNITY MULTIMEDIA CENTRES: How to get started and keep going

“There are growing numbers of grass-root communication and information service providers in the developing countries today. They are operating community radio stations, multipurpose telecentres, information centres, community learning centres and – in a few cases – community multimedia centres (CMCs) that already combine both radio and telecentre facilities. This book is intended to be of use to all those wanting to become involved or already involved in such initiatives – staff and managers, community groups, NGOs working for community empowerment, communication planners supporting development activities, trainers and project partners.”

Martus is a software tool that allows users to document incidents of abuse by creating bulletins, uploading them at the earliest opportunity, and storing them on redundant servers located around the world. The new version (2.9) of Martus is available for download. This release is available in English, Spanish and Arabic. Other languages including French, Russian and Thai are available as language-packs on the documentation page

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CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2006 Mellon awards for technology collaboration

The Program in Research in Information Technology of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation invites nominations for the 2006 Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (MATC). In support of the Program’s mission to encourage collaborative, open source software development within traditional Mellon constituencies, these awards—to be given for the first time in 2006—will recognise not-for-profit organisations that are making substantial contributions of their own resources toward the development of open source software and the fostering of collaborative communities to sustain open source development.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture: National television policies in the age of globalisation

Considerable discussion in the debate on globalisation within media studies has centred on the question over the impact of the forces of globalisation on the nature and dynamics of national policy-making. The
University of Westminster is looking for original, research-based papers that contribute to this debate by broadening the understanding of the interplay between global forces and the states in the making of contemporary national television policies. They welcome both national studies and comparative research across countries as well as research on policy-making at the supranational level. Applicants may submit abstracts until Friday September 29, 2006.

E_GOV INDIA CONFERENCE: The Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) is organizing egov India 2006 Conference in New Delhi from 23 – 25 August 2006
The participation and engagement of dialogues will be from different stakeholders representing the government, the academia, advocacy groups, civil society, consultants, donors (bilateral and multilateral), private sector and key decision makers and implementers of the programmes in e-Government. Last date for submission of abstracts – 30th June 2006; Final confirmation for presentation – 30th July 2006

AMNESTY CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED: Amnesty International has launched a new campaign in support of freedom of speech online and offline, called ‘Irrepressible’, a term that means “impossible to repress or control”. Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information. This is what the campaign will act upon.

1. Computer Aid International is seeking to appoint an East Africa Programme Officer based in their Nairobi office but travelling widely in the region to serve existing and potential new partners in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti.

2. Computer Aid International is seeking a Technical Development Officer to research and develop a new range of ICT4Ed and ICT4D products and services to compliment their existing provision of high-quality, professionally refurbished Pentium3 and Pentium4 PCs. For information about Computer Aid International, please visit

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DON’T REGULATE: Two minute online commented cartoon about ‘net neutrality’ and the regulation of the internet. This is a US focussed analysis of who wants to control the internet.

IBASE LAUNCHES NEW PORTAL: The Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses (Ibase), founded by Betinho in 1981, has launched its new web portal. Ibase is a nonprofit charitable organisation, with no links to any religious institution or political party. Its mission is to build democracy by fighting inequalities and stimulating citizens’ participation.

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JUNE 4-8: Youth Media Development Forum’06
Bamako, Mali

JUNE 11- 13: ICT for an Inclusive Society
Riga, Latvia

JUNE 24- 26: iCommons Summit
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

JUNE 28 – JULY 2: International Community Film Festival
Northampton, United Kingdom

JUNE 29: Online Collaboration for Public Policy: Blogs, Wikis and Workspaces
Washington, United States

JULY 27-29: Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet) 15th Annual Conference
Washington, United States

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You can meet up with APC and/or APC WNSP (APC women’s programme) representatives at the events below during the next two months. Write to events@apc.org to obtain contact information. See you there!

MAY 28- JUNE 12: Durban, South Africa
GRACE workshop: Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment

JUNE 9-5: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Digital Inclusion Forum

JUNE 6-8: Bangkok, Thailand
Asian Conference on Digital Commons

JUNE 7-10: Rome, Italy
Transmission: Gathering of video makers, programmers and web producers developing online video distribution as a tool for social justice and media democracy.

JUNE 12-13: Toronto, Canada
Telecentre.org meeting: Open curriculum and peer production

JUNE 15-16: London, United Kingdom
Building Communications Opportunities (BCO) impact assessment

JUNE 19-20: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Global Alliance meeting

JUNE 23: Glasgow, Scotland

JUNE 23-25: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

JUNE 24: Wilton Park, United Kingdom
Centre for International Governance/DIPLO – WSIS follow up meeting

JUNE 26-30: Marrakech, Morocco
ICANN meeting

JUNE 25-JULY 1: Lusaka, Zambia
IICD (International Institute for Communication and Development) training materials workshop (including launch the IICD/ItrainOnline
community of trainers) http://www.iicd.org

JUNE 28-JULY 2: London, United Kingdom
APC National portals content workshop

JUNE 29: Dublin, Ireland
GESCI (Global e-Schools and Communities Initiatives) Meeting

JULY 3-27: Geneva, Switzerland
ECOSOC Substantive Session (includes discussion about WSIS)

JULY 3-6: Johannesburg, South Africa
CATIA (Catalysing ICT in Africa) Animators meeting and output to purpose review

JULY 11 & 17: Ifrane, Morocco
Trainers meetings

JULY 12-16: Ifrane, Morocco
APC North African Wireless workshop

JULY 13-15: Dakar, Senegal
CIPACO (Centre for International ICT Policies Central and West Africa)
West Africa workshop on Internet Governance

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APCNews, in English, and APCNoticias, in Spanish, are distributed monthly by APC — a worldwide network supporting the use of internet and ICTs for social justice and sustainable development since 1990.
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Association for Progressive Communications (APC), 2006

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