APCNews No. 57 November 2005

APCNews, the monthly newsletter of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
November 2005 No. 57
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FANTSUAM FOUNDATION, Nigeria: Fantsuam takes the lonely road to rural wireless internet

APC member, the 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 an 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. – APCNews

TAU, Argentina: In the classroom, the computer alone can’t perform magic

Getting computers into schools is just not enough. The challenge that remains unfulfilled is for the community to feel a sense of ‘ownership’ of the equipment and to use it to meet their needs, says an Inter-Press Service feature from Argentina. Prior to the World Summit on the Information Society, governments of Latin America have pledged to double the current number of schools, libraries and community centres hooked up to the internet by the year 2007. But officials themselves admit that it’s not enough to simply hand out computers and Internet connection, without training or course content. “In order for this technology to be used, it is essential to provide training, create networks among organisations, and promote access for the most marginalised sectors as well,” says Carolina Fernández of APC member, TAU. – IPS News

INSTITUTO DEL TERCER MUNDO (ITeM), Uruguay: WSIS PrepCom 3 – Actors from the South debate in view of the summit

The Third World Institute (ITeM) organised the panel debate “WSIS within the context of global ICT governance processes”, during the third meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Preparatory Committee (19-30 September, Geneva, Switzerland). The purpose of this panel was to present and debate from the outcomes of ITeM’s project “WSIS Papers”. This project intends to contribute to involve different actors of Southern countries in debates, negotiation and policy definitions within the WSIS process, thus providing visibility to the perspectives and specific needs of the developing world. – APCNews

OPEN FORUM OF CAMBODIA, Cambodia: Training over 300 FOSS-literate computer teachers

APC member Open Forum and the National ICT Development Authority of the Cambodian government recently received support for training 300 computer end-user teachers to attain proficiency in using free and open source software such as OpenOffice, and 30 GNU/Linux administrators (for whom Open Forum is developing training materials in Khmer). If the present rhythm of training is maintained, more than 350 teachers will be trained in Phnom Penh and at least six other provinces in teacher training centres and NGO offices before the end of the year. – APCNews

INSTITUTO DEL TERCER MUNDO (ITeM), Uruguay: From here, where? Looking ahead after the WSIS

During the Tunis World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), APC member ITeM will organise an event titled “Framing WSIS in global governance processes: Linkages and follow-up”. Panelists will take a closer look at the WSIS’s outcome. Its impact on the global and regional level will be analysed and framed in the context of current information and communication technology (ICT) global governance processes. – APCNews

BYTES4ALL, South Asia: Battleground of ideas — FOSS is hotly debated

The mailing list of South Asian APC member BytesForAll recently played host to a strong and, at times, polemical debate on proprietary software versus free and open source software (FOSS). One key perspective came from Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation. He commented: “The choice between free (freedom-respecting) and proprietary (user-subjugating) software is not a technical choice. It is an ethical and political issue about people’s freedom. To be neutral on issues that merely concern technology is fine. To be neutral on ethical and political issues about freedom is nothing tobe proud of.” – APCNews

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Ready for Tunis: Tin-can antennas, free software, and e-riding models

From demo-ing cantennas (low-cost antennas made out of used tin cans) for community wireless training programmes to highlighting gender issues, from co-organising a citizens’ summit to blogging our impressions in English, French and Spanish, the Association for Progressive Communications has lots of plans for our participation in the second World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) at Tunis in mid November 2005. Free software workshops and conferences featuring e-riders are only some of the many inputs invested by the many APC participants.

APC will be producing two APCNews/APCNoticias specials direct from WSIS and for the first time, original content in French. Watch our for our trilingual English-Spanish-French blogs!

At the time of writing, over 50 participants from APC are planning to be at Tunis. This includes 31 representatives from 18 APC members from around the world. There will be three main areas of focus for APC.

  • The Tunis Documents, where negotiations are at in relation to the two Documents for Tunis: the Political Chapeau (now called ‘the Tunis Commitment’) and the Tunis Agenda for Action. “APC’s particular focus is on financing mechanisms for ICTD and internet governance,” says Karen Banks, APC’s WSIS coordinator.
  • Civil Society — the forgotten stakeholder. In addition to APC’s emphasis on financing mechanisms and internet governance, APC also plans to “prioritise civil society participation in post WSIS outcomes”. This will be reflected both in principle (by way of language in the documents) and in practice (civil society participation in national, regional and international processes).

ARTICLE: Summitry and strategies: Taking a close and critical look at Tunis 2005

In November 2005, the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will meet for the last time in Tunis. In this article for Index on Censorship , 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. – Eurozine.com

EVENT: Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society (CSIS)

A Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) will be held in Tunis, on November 16-18, 2005, coinciding with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The CSIS will be another milestone in the long tradition of UN conferences and Summits being complemented with events organized by citizen groups. The CSIS objectives are twofold: Firstly, to send a strong message of support and solidarity from international civil society to the local civil society and citizens; and secondly, to address the main issues being debated at the WSIS, from the perspective of citizen groups and the public. – APCNews

ARTICLE: Different technology multinationals, one destination – Tunis

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, director of APC’s Brazilian member RITS has something to say about some of these participants in the upcoming multi-stakeholder summit. – Planeta Porto Alegre

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NEWS: APC gets its first woman chair person

APC members meeting in Bulgaria in October elected the new APC executive board 2005-7. For the first time, the APC chair is a woman, as are more than half of the board members. This is good news for an organisation where traditionally governance has been a male-dominated arena. – APCNews

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EVENT: Africa Source II set to take off in early 2006

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. Key to the programme is to resolve how to use FOSS applications to handle information, publish content using citizen’s media tools and engage supporters; and how FOSS can increase accessibility through localisation, translation into local language and dialects. Applications for joining this event were accepted till October 24, and preparations are now underway. Africa Source is co-organised by APC. – APCNews

ARTICLE: Making websites accessible for the rest of us

On the internet, you find websites in hundreds of different languages and dialects, in all shapes and designs. If diversity in audio, photo, text or video content is the living proof that the internet is a space for true expression and creation, certain web development standards need to be applied for the content to reach and be shared by people at the margins of mainstream communication channels. During a well-attended workshop entitled ‘Inclusive development and ICTs/universal design for all’, hosted by APC in Varna, Bulgaria in October, Hiroshi Kawamura of the DAISY Consortium presented a set of practical tools that can make the internet work for the rest of us. – APCNews

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NEW PAPER: Digital Dangers: Information and Communication Technologies and Trafficking in Women

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 APC 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 counter-trafficking 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 has 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.

BLOG: New media for new times – Keeping track via a group blog in Bangkok

With moods that range from bouncy, to curious and overwhelmed, a team of APC bloggers — a little irreverently, in keeping with the trend of this fast growing popular medium — kept track of what’s happening at AWID, an international meeting of women that drew 1800 participants to Bangkok. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development’s International Forum on ‘How does Change Happen?’ brought together an amazing diversity of women and men united in the goal of advancing the rights of women globally, organisers said. Participants included feminist activists, development practitioners, human rights defenders, trade unionists, government representatives, policy makers, students, researchers and community organizers from 120 countries, comprise the biggest gathering for women’s rights this decade. And this is reflected in the issues coming out of this group blog.

NEWS: Another look at scientific and technological progress

It is interesting that during this new Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) Forum that is being held in Bangkok, Thailand, numerous workshops and even an intervention at the plenary have been on scientific and technological advances, which are bringing along great changes regarding nature and the conception of human life. There were however also interventions on the modification of life that can seem aggressive and once again oppressive for women. In the two workshops presented by the Center for Genetics and Society and Our Bodies Ourselves, both from the United States, great concerns arose relating to genetic testing, choosing the sex of babies, selective abortion rendered possible thanks to ultrasound technology, and the technology to select sperm to produce boys or girls. – APC WNSP/WMP

NEWS: Communicators and activists from the women’s and feminist movement focus on the relationship between Gender and ICT

The women’s movement knows just how handy new ICTs can be when it’s time to coordinate its own movement, lead campaigns, lobby, and have political effect. Nevertheless there are difficult access barriers for these technologies that are not limited to infrastructural or cost-related issues, but are trapped by power relations and inequalities that leave these tools out of the reach of millions of people, most of which are women. The workshop that tackled this subject during the 10th Feminist Encounter held in Serra Negra, Sao Paolo, Brazil, aimed to raise awareness about the relationship between gender and ICTs though an open dialogue with the participants, composed of a majority of journalists, community radio producers, social communicators, and women’s and feminist movement activists. – APC WNSP

AWARDS: In Bangkok, time for awards… and knowledge-sharing

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. – APC WNSP

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An OpenOffice suite that’s free and offers freedom

Just after its fifth birthday, OpenOffice.org project came out with the long-awaited free software product OpenOffice.org 2.0 suite. It took a couple of years to develop, and is available in 36 languages and runs on Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Mac OS X (X11) and several other platforms and can be downloaded from the OpenOffice.org website.
List of new and improved features:

Open source news for Africa

Tectonic calls itself “Africa’s source for open source news”. And it does quite live up to its name. It has a number of diverse news items on how free and open source software (FOSS) is making its dent — from the earthquake relief effort in Pakistan, to elsewhere in the globe.

Jakob Nielsen’s alertbox

An analysis of intranet portals found slimmer information architectures and a renewed emphasis on fresh content and useful applications. Past findings, including those on role-based personalisation, were confirmed.

Two petitions against European data retention

In order to stop plans of information control, it is essential to form a broad coalition of opponents. To that end, any organisation representing citizens, professionals or businesses is asked to sign the new Joint Declaration on Data Retention which clearly speaks out against any kind of blanket data retention.

If you are concerned about the European plans for data retention, you can sign an alternative petition initiated by European Digital Rights (EDRIwww.edri.org) and alert as many people as you can to support this campaign. The signatures will be sent to the European Commission and the European Parliament.

i-Witness: Journalists shaping the information society

This website offers journalists tools to report on the information society, and a place to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face. It features debate, news and resources such as an expert database – among them, people from the APC network – for journalists working on the upcoming second WSIS.

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Panos looks for a Fundraising Coordinator

The Panos Institute in London (Panos London) stimulates informed and inclusive public debate around key development issues in order to foster sustainable development. It is working to promote an enabling media and communications environment worldwide. Its priority issues are: media and communications, globalisation, HIV/AIDS, environment and conflict. Panos sees gender as integral to all these. The main responsibilities of the Fundraising Coordinator are: to assist in the development and implementation of the fundraising strategy; to coordinate the development of fundraising initiatives. Closing Date: 21 November 2005
For full job description, go to:

Global translations via the internet for non-profits

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. Based in cyberspace, and working with volunteers, this project is “an on-line database that links language students interested in volunteering with overseas NGOs that don’t have the budget to accommodate professional translators.” Brendan Luecke of Translationsforprogress.org recently introduced the project saying, “By linking the needs of these two groups, Translations for Progress aims to support the development of better communication within the international grass-roots community, improving the ability of organizations to meet their goals, and to help today’s students become more actively involved in social issues early on.”

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NOVEMBER 16-18, 2005 (Tunis, Tunisia):
WSIS – The World Summit on the Information Society

NOVEMBER 16, 2005 (Tunis, Tunisia):
Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society (CSIS)

NOVEMBER 29-DECEMBER 2, 2005 (Bangalore, India):
FOSS.in, a major free and open source software meet for techies, users and campaigners from the free software and open source worlds.

DECEMBER 5-9, 2005 (Bangalore, India):
OURMedia / NUESTROSMedios. 5th International Conference Democracy and the Media.

DECEMBER 5-10, 2005:
Women’s Electronic Network Training (WENT)
2005 WENT Africa training workshops aim to build the capacities of women and their organisations in Africa to utilise ICTs in social development work and policy advocacy. APC-Africa-Women held the first WENT Africa workshop in 2003 with a focus on the strategic use of ICTs.

JANUARY 19-20, 2006 (Oxford, UK):
E-campaigning forum
This event aims to share expertise, explore where eCampaigning is going, strengthen the eCampaigning community and increase capacity to use new media to stimulate change.

MAY 18-19, 2006 (Eindhoven U. of Technology, the Netherlands)
First international conference on Persuasive technology for human well-being. 18-19 May 2006. Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands. Can computers help fight obesity? Can technology motivate you to waste less energy? Can communication devices help overcome racial prejudice? Can a virtual agent persuade you to break your smoking habit? Can a mobile phone help you study? Can a robot challenge you to perform rehabilitation exercises? PERSUASIVE 06 is aimed at exploring technology in the service of human well-being.

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A Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) will be held in Tunis, on November 16-18, 2005, coinciding with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Manal and Alaa Bit Bucket — www.manalaa.net — an Egyptian blog set up in early 2004, promoting free expression and human rights, was one of eight finalists chosen for a weblog contest by the German radio station Deutsche Welle, under its freedom of expression category. Manal and Alaa have been working with the APC in the field of FOSS (free and open source software). Their site contains blog posts which they wrote “about our experience as part of the pro-democracy movement in Egypt”. It also includes detailed accounts of street protest, political rallies, elections monitoring, police brutality, the picketing of court houses in order to get activists released, secret meetings and the like. – APCNews

MetaReciclagem is a decentralised methodology to reappropriate technology for social change.
http://xango.metareciclagem.org/ [Portuguese]

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You can meet up with APC and/or APC WNSP (APC women’s programme) representatives at the events below during November 2005. Write to events@apc.org to obtain contact information. See you there!

Nov 13-15: Tunis, Tunisia
Resumed PrepCom 3 WSIS

Nov 16-18: Tunis, Tunisia
WSIS Summit, Phase II

Nov 16-18: Tunis, Tunisia
Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society
http://www.citizens-summit.org (No information at time of publishing)

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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. APCNews
Archive: http://www.apc.org/english/news/apcnews/

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Attribution-NonCommercial Licence 2.0 – 2005
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)

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