Access to information
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.
Communication infrastructures are changing at such an accelerated pace that while new technologies are released continuously, we are still ignorant about questions of internet interconnection. While the users of the North reap the benefits brought about by information and communication technologies’ advances, the users of the South are increasingly prevented from taking advantage of the innovations. Leading among the many factors, the privatisation of this sector’s operations in the industrialised countries and the adoption of new technologies have reduced the financial flows of the network towards the developing world. Available in English and Spanish.
A "Cantenna"? What’s that? It’s a solution that comes out of using empty tin cans and other simple tools that a lot of communities can afford. "Cantenna" technology can make wireless connection cheaper for poorly served rural areas and economically disadvantaged African people who do not have access to Internet connectivity. This is what emerges from a report on an APC-run series of capacity-building workshops in Africa.
It is free, open-source, contains no advertising and runs online so there is nothing to download. Loband works by displaying any website with the original text and layout but with after removing un-necessary adverts, images and web objects such as Flash animations. Its promoters call this a "unique simplification and compression process (which) can reduce access time by up to ten times". Loband is perfect for speeding up browsing and searching on the internet, making it cheaper and less frustrating. It potentially allows internet access where it was impossible before. The newly released v2.0 supports more websites, including ones featuring international character sets. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org For a demo of APC’s Spanish homepage through Loband, see this link.
When civil society from Brazil and France got together recently, they focussed on exchanging "experiences in digital solidarity". Their mid-July meet in Paris saw them also look at the possibility of cooperation in fields like Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).
What happens when wireless, Free Software and the internet reaches the Amazon? APC’s member in Brazil, RITS, gives an update of their project in Pará, a territory covered mostly by jungle, and the Amazon Rainforest.
APC’s new member Ungana-Afrika is a non-profit organisation that provides technology support, and helps others initiate technology support programs, within the development community of Southern Africa. Their work includes incubation of ICT capacity building programs, in-house ICT programs, and individual projects.
Local content; community broadcasting; freedom of expression, diversity and pluralism; financing the digital divide; education and ICT literacy; and gender and ICTs — what role should these issues play at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)? In South Africa, a June-end 2005 meet seeks to provide an opportunity for civil society organisations (CSOs) to reflect on WSIS issues.
As part of our involvement in the WSIS, and our policy advocacy capacity building work at national and regional levels, APC has started to gather a list of resources on the topic. We want to thank members of the WSIS CS Plenary online space for their contributions. The list is a work in progress; do not expect it to be comprehensive. Please send additions to networking at apc.org.
Like bright flowers in a grey space, the grassroots women of India livened up February’s Prepcom proceedings and it wasn’t just their stylish saris that did the trick. Undaunted by the suits and officialdom of Geneva’s UN machinery, these Indian representatives vigorously demonstrated the value of ICTs in their working lives and made a cogent case for finances to build more equitable ICT infrastructures in developing countries like India. Over chappatis and chi, they shared their stories with Maud Hand for APCNews.