The first four World Social Forums — from 2001 to 2004 — were extraordinary moments of congregation, participation, debate and exchange amongst tens of thousands of activists from around the world, who transformed the WSF into the trademark meeting of civil society.
In late January, India’s technology mecca Bangalore became the venue for an international ‘camp’ intended to promote free and open source software (FOSS) among civil society. Asia Source, as the ‘tech camp’ is called, was held from January 28 to February 4, 2005 and "hopes to bring together over a hundred people from 20 countries to increase the use and awareness of FOSS amongst the non-profit sector in South and South East Asia."
The control wielded by big media and the need for strategies to challenge that power were among the central themes addressed at the First Information and Communication World Forum (ICWF).
Sihem Bensedrine, from OLPEC (National Council for Tunisian Freedom) believes that holding the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), in her country in November 2005, will help Tunisian people realise the importance of their right to communicate. It will also encourage work for changes in the communication field in our country, she added.
Presenters at the First World Forum on Information and Communication, discussed the possibilities of creating new methods of communication that are inclusive and have the potential of breaking down well-estalished communication patterns linked to the market and media corporations.
The World Social Forum has open information systems in place to go with an open political ethos. All of about 1,000 computers at the forum are using free software. The official website has been developed for the first time in ‘php,’ an open source language. A new translation system is also a free software tool. The Forum is hosted in Brazil, a nation whose government at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003, strongly opposed intellectual property on software, and succeeded in getting this omitted from the final resolution.
APC will be participating in a number of meetings at this fifth annual gathering of social movements, NGOs, and progressive groups who believe that “another world is possible”. On Thursday January 27th we are offering a workshop on “Networking for change and empowerment: building a gender and ICT policy agenda in the women’s movement”. Check out our agenda in English, French and Spanish.
The new year presents everyone at SANGONeT with a number of fresh and exciting challenges and opportunities, starting with the first SANGONeT "ICTs for Civil Society" conference and exhibition which will be held from 1-3 March 2005 in Fourways, Johannesburg. Read about this and other important plans for 2005 in SANGONeT’s monthly e-newsletter, "Lwati".
For an sector that talks of alternatives, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or voluntary sector stays surprisingly aloof from one significant alternative that has really worked — free software. But there are stirrings to bridge this huge chasm. In end-January, India’s technology mecca Bangalore is to be the venue for an international, APC-supported ‘camp’ meant to promote FLOSS among the NGO sector.
Beginning a process of regionalisation APC member Computer Aid International opened its Southern Africa Regional offfice in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new Computer Aid office will support existing and future partners in Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Those of us who use internet as a work tool are used to encountering spam messages (unsolicited email) with million dollar businesses, magic solutions or attractive prizes. All of which are of dubious origin, and therefore untrustworthy. What had not yet occurred, at least in Bulgaria, was for these messages to be directed specifically to non governmental organisations.
Through its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Policy Monitor for Latin America and the Caribbean, APC held a workshop on ICT policy strategies in Rosario, Argentina, which was attended by the Latin American members of APC, as well as important organisations from the region involved in the subject.
IPLeft, a social group for information commons in South Korea since 1999, launched the Korean Open Access Licence (KOAL) in October, 2004. KOAL is a newly-introduced model of open access to information in South Korea. Jinbonet, APC member in Seoul, has participated in IPLeft activities to develop this new initiative.
On 15 December 2004 BlueLink
the APC member in Bulgaria officially launched Civil Society Information Portal in Bulgaria (www.bluelink.info).
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) and the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos) are inviting applications for the second round of the GenARDIS small grants programme. Ten grant funds of up to 5,000 Euros each will be given to address gender issues in information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agricultural and rural development in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP countries). Submission deadline is 25 February 2005.
In November 2004, twenty young journalists and civil society representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro learned how to use internet as a tool for organising civil society social movements.
MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation called an expert group meeting on “Up-scaling ICT for Poverty Reduction”. The event was held in Chennai, India, from 17–19 November 2004. APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (WNSP) Asia Pacific Coordinator, Cheekay Cinco, was among the participants.
After months of research, the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) – APC member in the Philippines- convened a validation workshop to discuss the findings of its ongoing Philippine Communication Rights Report last October 6, 2004 at the Institute of Social Order, Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).
APC’s newest member, Bytes for All, is an online citizen’s network that connects the people of South Asia on the issues of information and communication technologies (ICT) and development. Bytes for All produces a summary of previous month’s hottest discussion topics on the network. APCNews will now be featuring the summaries on a regular basis. In November deliberations ranged from the FLOSS (Free/libre and open source software) movement in non-profit organisations, ICTs for development, internet governance, and transparency and accountability in transactions to internet standards.
A network of community computer centres, linked by wireless technology, is providing a helping hand for poor farmers in Peru. The initiative is being coordinated by APC member in Peru, Cepes. The BBC Online reports.