Does civil society understand ICT policies at all? Take your pick….
Take a position on an issue, and then justify your position. That’s the approach of the ‘spectogram’, a tool that seems to be used with growing popularity in non-profit organisations meets, conferences and consultations.
Thursday afternoon saw another contentious proposition come up: civil society doesn’t understand ICT policy issues!
Can you agree with it? (If so, what are you doing here?) Disagree, Mr/Ms Know It All? Are you sure you can cope with this fast changing, and ultra-tech field? Or is it just safest to stand somewhere in the middle?
Jehan Ara of Pakistan’s Software Association was blunt: "We know nobody understands (ICT) policy. Leave alone civil society…"
Said Andrew Garton of C20/Open Channel: "In Australia, we ave a very sophisticated civil society. So I would have said, what’s the problem."
Vickram Crishna of radiophony.org, a well-informed techie who demonstrated his understanding of issues earlier in the afternoon, simply said: "If we understood this issue so well, there wouldn’t have been any need to hold this meeting (the APC Regional Consultation on ICT Policy in South Asia, April 19-21, 2006 at Dhaka)."
Ravikant of Sarai.Net in New Delhi said: "We can’t assume that the people are dumb. There’s no need to teach the people."
Sri Lanka’s Nalaka Gunawardene of TVE Asia Pacific pointed out that the normal policy cycles were themselves unable to keep up with the rapid changes taking place in the world of technology.
And, some of the participants were actually seen shifting sides as they heard some of the (obviously convicing) speakers make their point!