On December 13, the Third Sector Information Network (Rede de Informações para o Terceiro Setor – Rits) launched its Centre for Research, Study and Education (Núcleo de Pesquisa, Estudos e Formação – Nupef). The objective of the initiative is to organise and promote research, disseminate knowledge, and train and qualify people in various fields and on various subjects related to civil society’s position in terms of the challenges created by the dynamics of the information and communication society.
The second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) took place in Tunis from November 16 to 18 2005. While heated debates on the future of the internet were taking place inside of the police-surrounded conference venue, citizens’ demonstrations reclaiming the host country’s compliance with international human rights agreements were being severely repressed in downtown Tunis.
Training African community technicians to set up wireless internet access points, making the case for women’s involvement in technology policy, convincing the world’s governments that the internet should be considered a global public good. 2004 was another busy year for APC.
Groklaw, the web site, created and edited by Pamela “PJ” Jones, begun as an experiment in applying Open Source principles to legal research, is reporting the manipulation in Austria of the process that led to the WSIS.
During the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, one of my trips brought me to the Austrian booth in order to pick up some copies of the Vienna Conclusions to spread and advertise. When flipping through the text, I was quite shocked to find references to Free Software removed and a pro-DRM statement inserted in the findings of the “Digital Rights/Creative Commons” workshop (“To ensure ongoing innovation, Digital Rights Management (DRM) development and deployment must remain voluntary and market-driven.”). Also, references to the cultural and social significance of software as “digital cultural technique” were watered down.
Keeping track of ICT issues in the so-called “developing world” can always be a challenge, simply because these issues hardly get discussed in the ‘information society’.Here’s one report CTO CEO Sees Bumpy Rides in Roadmap for Networking the Commonwealth for Development that looks at technology issues in the network of nations linked by a shared history in (British) colonialism.
I am left alone in the Hotel Amilcar — what does Amilcar means, I wonder… guess everybody had some other things to find out about last week — moved to a new room as the whole wing is empty now and they turn off the water and the electricity. Feeling depressed, suspended between my default location and the WSIS hype with the nice APC faces.
WSIS, Tunis could not attract many ICT celebraties. I am sure, it would not have attracted, many common men and women, who are doing silent, but exemplary work in ICT, as they just cannot afford to travel at their own cost.
So WSIS creates a new digital divide, those who could afford to participate either on public money or private money and those who cannot afford to participate.
Looking back at the roots of the Digital Solidarity Fund, the responses it evoked, and the linked story of missed opportunities and promises that can still be worked out.
Free, as in free speech… not free beer — that’s the message of those campaigning against proprietorial software. But what happens when the issue transforms into ‘free as in tee-shirts’? And, no. We’re not talking about the Ubuntu approach here — which not only offers you free CDs, but free shipping as well… if you know where to get it from.