Skip to main content

Amy Mahan. Photo: Bruce Girard 2008Amy Mahan. Photo: Bruce Girard 2008 The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) will dedicate Global Information Society Watch 2009 to Amy K. Mahan. A long-time collaborator of APC, Amy died unexpectedly on March 5 2009. She was a fervent supporter of the watchdog report which has become an essential reference for activists and critics in ICT policy all over the world.

Amy was part of GISWatch since its conception. When the idea of producing an annual review of policy implementation from a social change perspective was first mooted within our community, the response was mixed. While everyone recognised its potential, many felt that APC was already too stretched and that we should stay focused on projects already underway. The person who was most convinced that such a publication was a “must-do” for APC was Amy Mahan. GISWatch is now in its third edition and is a flagship initiative for APC.

Amy was a special contributor to GISWatch 2007 and GISWatch 2008 the chapters on how to measure progress and if not for her untimely death, she would have contributed to GISWatch 2009. She provided advice and actively promoted the publication in the policy and regulation research networks she was such a key part of.

GISWatch was not Amy’s only contribution to APC’s work. She was a frequent collaborator in our policy work particularly in Latin America and she wrote two training modules for APC’s ICT policy curriculum on ICTs and social exclusion and ICTs for development. Her contributions were always constructive, often critical, never negative, but driven by her commitment to the same social justice goals that APC stands for.

Amy was also a friend to many of us and we miss her very much. She has touched so many people in APC in some way that we know her memory will not fade away. Amy was a memorable person; made so by her intellect, her work ethic, her generosity, and something very hard to pin down, but which made her unusual. Someone that stands out. Brave, to the point, but always respectful.

Children using XO computers in Uruguay, where Amy lived with her family. Foto: Amy Mahan 2008

Amy will be remembered by all her friends and colleagues for never engaging in ICT work for its own sake. She was compulsive about concrete change towards more just societies emerging from ICT for development interventions. Her challenge to APC and others like APC to measure progress is spelled out in the final paragraph of her chapter in the 2007 edition of GISWatch:

“Drafting strategic documents – such as the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) Internet Rights Charter, or the APC Recommendations to the WSIS on Internet Governance – require a vision of how to measure progress. […] Indeed, as we write our vision statements, we must simultaneously be devising a vision of evidence that will be marshalled for advocacy and to celebrate successes.”

Amy touched all who worked with her, leaving a legacy of activist work that aspires to combine intellectual rigour and concrete outcomes that make a difference in the lives of people who lack resources, power and access.

Global Information Society Watch 2009 is a joint publication produced by APC and Hivos and will be launched in November 2009 at the Fifth Internet Governance Forum.