Activists from Tunisia, Italy, Paraguay and Brazil reported on conditions in their countries and the response of civil society. APCNews reports from the Vth World Social Forum.
The first four World Social Forums — from 2001 to 2004 — were extraordinary moments of congregation, participation, debate and exchange amongst tens of thousands of activists from around the world, who transformed the WSF into the trademark meeting of civil society.
In late January, India’s technology mecca Bangalore became the venue for an international ‘camp’ intended to promote free and open source software (FOSS) among civil society. Asia Source, as the ‘tech camp’ is called, was held from January 28 to February 4, 2005 and "hopes to bring together over a hundred people from 20 countries to increase the use and awareness of FOSS amongst the non-profit sector in South and South East Asia."
The control wielded by big media and the need for strategies to challenge that power were among the central themes addressed at the First Information and Communication World Forum (ICWF).
Sihem Bensedrine, from OLPEC (National Council for Tunisian Freedom) believes that holding the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), in her country in November 2005, will help Tunisian people realise the importance of their right to communicate. It will also encourage work for changes in the communication field in our country, she added.
APC will be participating in a number of meetings at this fifth annual gathering of social movements, NGOs, and progressive groups who believe that “another world is possible”. On Thursday January 27th we are offering a workshop on “Networking for change and empowerment: building a gender and ICT policy agenda in the women’s movement”. Check out our agenda in English, French and Spanish.
Presenters at the First World Forum on Information and Communication, discussed the possibilities of creating new methods of communication that are inclusive and have the potential of breaking down well-estalished communication patterns linked to the market and media corporations.
The World Social Forum has open information systems in place to go with an open political ethos. All of about 1,000 computers at the forum are using free software. The official website has been developed for the first time in ‘php,’ an open source language. A new translation system is also a free software tool. The Forum is hosted in Brazil, a nation whose government at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003, strongly opposed intellectual property on software, and succeeded in getting this omitted from the final resolution.
The new year presents everyone at SANGONeT with a number of fresh and exciting challenges and opportunities, starting with the first SANGONeT "ICTs for Civil Society" conference and exhibition which will be held from 1-3 March 2005 in Fourways, Johannesburg. Read about this and other important plans for 2005 in SANGONeT’s monthly e-newsletter, "Lwati".
For an sector that talks of alternatives, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or voluntary sector stays surprisingly aloof from one significant alternative that has really worked — free software. But there are stirrings to bridge this huge chasm. In end-January, India’s technology mecca Bangalore is to be the venue for an international, APC-supported ‘camp’ meant to promote FLOSS among the NGO sector.