The Forum brought together ordinary citizens to listen to speakers and issues that are the traditional domain of the five star hotels of elite cities. The remarkably tolerant and tangible nature of debate could have been a great learning opportunity for our noisy and irrelevant politicians.
The digital divide ceases to be an abstract concept when we come across certain numbers: for 92 million of Latin Americans (sixteen per cent), lack of access to information communication technologies is a daily reality.
Can the internet become an effective tool for efficiency and transparency in municipal management? APC member, Colnodo of Colombia is successfully carrying out two programmes aimed at local governments. In this article, Colnodo tells us about its participation in the Internet Project for Accountability and the Met@logo Project.
ZaMirNET’s web-based newsmagazine about civil society issues – ZaMirZINE [www.zamirzine.net] – established a network of independent webpages run by Croatian NGOs and civic groups, with the idea of improving the representation of civil society and its values in the media.
By March-end 2006, the first 50 telecenters of the Telecentros BR project are expected to be launched. They’re located in low-income communities. This project was developed by APC-member Rits, Brazil’s state-run oil corporation Petrobras and ITI (National Institute of Information Technology). Each unit is equipped with 20 internet-linked computers. Free Software technicians and social developers were hired and especially trained for the project. Rits developed a management system that can generate real-time reports about the usage of every telecentre. Telecentres will offer free access to the internet using Sacix – http://www.sacix.org.br – a customized Debian version of the GNU/Linux operating system.
Kenya-based African Regional Centre for Computing (ARCC) is the newest member of the Association for Progressive Communications. It is a non-profit ICT training, research and development centre based in Nairobi, and was the first provider of internet connectivity in the East African nation of 32 million.
London-based APC member GreenNet has had a "dynamic" past year as far as its web sites go. After three years of developing tools for dynamic web site construction, it is seeing the results in the form of content-rich sites that it has helped launch into cyberspace.
The first NGO e-elections in Bulgaria were held at the end of 2005, facilitated through the Civil e-Representation Platform designed by APC member in Sofia, BlueLink. This is an internet-based tool for electing representatives of NGOs in working groups and committees at institutions that implement environmental and sustainable development policies in Bulgaria. Before the development of this platform, the voting process for NGO representatives was carried by email, fax and regular ‘snail’ mail. The platform is based on specially developed software, using the Free Software-based PHP 4 and MySQL. It was first launched in March 2005, and has since undergone a series of tests.
Just getting to the World Social Forum one knows that another world is possible. On the plane from Atlanta most passengers – if not all – were heading to the WSF. This led to a different kind of plane ride. Without even mentioning reading material – Mother Jones and a Venezuela Primer instead of Time and Dr. Phil – people on the plane were just different – they were in better moods, interested instead of agressive, talking instead of blackberrying, and of course many many nalgene bottles. Two hour delay? No problem. Smiles all around… There are worse things. We all looked at each other secure in the knowledge that even though we didn’t know each other we knew who we all were.
The Bamako Polycentric World Social Forum (WSF) has an overwhelming 70 percent of particpants who are being women from all walks of life in Africa and the World over.