Open source, open content, open access, open standards, open processes… Many of us in civil society claim we are committed to any number of “open-nesses” but can we put our hand on our heart and say that we really walk-the-talk?
As “social techies” APC and partners are committed to supporting and promoting the use of computer and internet technology as an empowerer —as something to help social justice and development workers meet their goals. At an Open Day hosted by APC and our host member in Bulgaria, BlueLink, which was a real learning event, APC, BlueLink and guests examined and exchanged experiences and know-how on the complexities and realities and the issues at the heart of real “open access for all”.
More than a hundred social movements and civil society organisations gave endorsed a letter released earlier this month by some of the most active groups involved in the World Summit on the Information Society process. Condemning tight surveillance activities, human rights and fundamental freedoms violations on behalf of the Tunisian authorities, the protagonists expressed their concern about the conditions in which the WSIS is to take place in Tunis in November 2005. Read the letter addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and endorse the statement by sending an electronic message to "info at apc dot org".
BytesForAll co-founder Frederick Noronha, an active Free Software evangelist, went to Cambodia’s small town of Siem Reap. But his goal wasn’t to reach out to the splendoured Ankor Wat temple structures nearby. Rather, it was to take part in FOSSAP-II, the Free and Open Source Software Asia-Pacific Consultation 2005. FN, as he is known in the GNU/Linux circuit, brings home lessons picked up in the longish essay below and stresses the need to build links between two sets of natural allies — Free Software and not-for-profit organisations.
The Philippines is moving fast ahead in the task of building bridges between non-profits and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). LinuxWorld Philippines, is the biggest and only nationwide Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) event in that country.
The Betinho prize has launched its fourth edition, and entries are being accepted till mid-October 2005. Once more, this is to benefit initiatives which make use of the internet or other information and communication technologies (ICTs) to get results that make the crucial difference. This year’s subject is "community connectivity projects for economic development".
APC member Nodo Tau is turning 10 in October 2005. For the occasion, the Argentinian organisation is hosting two popular events that put emphasis on alternative news. On October 4, a first panel discussion on the theme of "Alternative media: strategies to foster the inclusion of social organisations’ perspective into the information agenda" will be followed by a second panel on "Communication experiences of social organisations". On October 29, a social networking event with organisations using good practices (http://www.enredando.org.ar) will take place in Rosario.
Africa Source II, an attempt to enhance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) skills of those working with non-profits in the region will be held in early January 2006, at Kalangala Island on Lake Victoria, Uganda. This eight day hands-on workshop is aimed at helping those working with NGOs on the continent to acquire technical skills.
What role do ICTs have in alleviating poverty? This issue was hotly debated at a distinguished panel on September 30, 2005 at the International Telecommunication Union Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Several APC member representatives and staff were among the audience. The debate was also broadcast on BBC World Television around October 22, 2005.
The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) gets underway later this year. Between September 19th – 30th, GenderIT.org writers Jac sm Kee and Brenda Zulu participate in the third and final WSIS preparatory meeting (PrepCom 3) before the summit in Tunis. Check out their chronicle and read the following unreleased (on the APC website) postings about the activities of gender advocates, and women concerns regarding key issues on the agenda – internet governance and financing.
Podcasting hasn’t yet caught on among the alternate circuit but Partha Pratim Sarker of BytesForAll got off to a quick start at Geneva. At the Prepcom 3 events, Sarkar took along recording equipment to do what he described as a "sort of audio blogging with an RSS feed". APC’s Lenka Simerska, on hearing it, commented: "Cool blog, really! I find it useful and refreshing to use combination of written word and voice. I had a problem to listen though… But on second try it worked well." Podcasting is a method of publishing audio programmes via the Internet, allowing users to subscribe to a feed of new files (usually MP3s). It first became popular in late 2004.