From 27th to 30th every year traditionally the hacker’s conference of the Chaos Communication Club takes place in Berlin. This year I went there for the first time – although I’m not so much into computer security and hacking. The reason were Christoph from OLPC Austria had a talk, there were some interesting talks focusing on society and social policy and also I had never been in Berlin before.
Most of the talks here were not related to ICT4D, but still interesting.
One project presentation which really impressed me was about Wikileaks. It’s a platform where all kinds of classified content are hosted and already caused several scandals which appeared in mass media. One of them was for example the illegal dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. They are currently trying to persuade the Icelandic government to put legal regulations into place which would make the country the first safe haven for all kinds of information – so it can’t be suppressed anymore by powerful nations or companies.
What made it into the mass media from here is that the GSM standard is even more vulnerable than thought before. This also might have implications for ICT4D – as it’s now easier than ever to wiretap phones. For a country with an autocratic regime where the majority of the communication takes place via mobile phone this is a big threat for people opposing the regime.
As already mentioned, Christoph from OLPC Austria had a talk where he presented the OLPC project and ongoing efforts, especially around the sugar environment. Sugar is even available for any other platform via USB-stick – Sugar on a Stick.
So far Peru Uruguay (sorry, got that wrong) is the first country where the OLPC project has been rolled out on a large scale and it will be interesting to see the results in the education sector. Including expenses for distributing, setting up and repairing the devices, the cost per child was estimated to $276 there.
From what I heard in Christophs talk and what I had discussed with him before, the main purpose of OLPC is not so much to have a traditional product with a release cycle, forcing the participating nations to purchase new versions again and again, but to have a basic platform where everybody can program applications for and which everybody can customize for their needs. In that respect I think it really created a momentum and quite a lot of people are working now voluntarily in Western but also less developed countries to create applications for eLearning for their local context.
Christophs talk is summed up very detailed in German at Dirk Ollmetzers blog.
Several other presentations I saw were about critical thinking, subversive actions to reclaim your city, fuzzing with phones and electrifying clothes.
My resumé of the whole event: It was fascinating to see so many people working on a transparent and open society in so many various ways.
Notes from the eDevelopment thematic Group seminar on the “Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector: Brazil Experience“.
Introduction and welcoming speeches
Cem Dener (ECSPE), Deepak Bhatia (GICT), Samia Melhem (GICT), Oleg Petrov (e-Development Thematic Group), Mikhail Bunchuk (Moscow Office), Eduardo Calero
Country offices in Albania, Brazil, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, St. Vincent, St. Kitts
Mr. Eduardo Santos, Project Manager, Ministry of Planning, Brasilia – download presentation
FLOSS in Brazilian government
Regulations for free software in Brazil:
- specific branch in the government responsible for informatics and information policies
- different committees for FLOSS implementation, legacy systems, systems integration
A lot of internal struggle about the usage of free software, everybody thought they had the best policy
A lot of trouble with migrating, adapting, intergrating -> decision to create new software
Brazilian Public Software Portal
- sharing software solutions in the government
FLOSS community in Brazil claimed they were also allowed the source code of a product if they purchased it
Public Software Portal evolved
- companies used software and provided training for other organizations
- groups of interest emerged from the users of the software
- Community, companies, municipalities – all users are very important and have different needs -> it’s an ecosystem
- Now: Providing software solutions for society
Software is more than only software
- it’s a change in attitude
- it’s about innovation – more qualified people
- many economic opportunities
- savings of more than $ 3.750.000 just by sharing software
Yesterday I participated at the Südwind Stammtisch. It was a meeting of different people from the organization Südwind and interested people from other organizations.
Südwind is an Austrian NGO which is dealing with awareness raising in various sectors – such as fair trade, the state of asylum seekers and generally foreigners in Austria or development assistance. Furthermore they operate several bookshops, a magazine and an online picture database.
The topic of the meeting was Web 2.0 and digital ways to communiate with interested people in general, and it was interesting to hear from Südwind how they were thinking of Web 2.0 – coming from a more traditional media perspective. They would like to engage people to contribute content via Web 2.0, but it seems more complicated than expected.
Florian Hörantner from Attac then introduced the 90-9-1 rule, which states that only 9% of observers and readers of content also become active from time to time and only 1% are contributing frequently. For internet users this ratio may even be worse.
A significant advantage of online media over traditional media which was identified was the huge user base of several social networks. Also the possibility to directly link to contextual information was appreciated. Another point which was brought up was the ecological aspect – as there is no paper waste with email.
What was questioned though, was if due to the information overload and email flood it was even possible to create long-term attention and engagement by online tools and messages only. Measures to support this were brought forward: tailor newsletters to fit the target group (simple vs. visually appealing), create possibilities for users to actively contribute and be transparent so that users also have influence on posted content, create incentives – such as competitions with prizes (e.g. foto competition).
Two other interesting – bot non IT-related – questions which were discussed were:
- What actions would cause somebody to change their behaviour in the long term?
- How to engage people which may not be interested in the topic, and how to persuade people which are interested in the topic but not sympathetic to your organization?
I’m glad having attended the meeting, it was very interesting and insightful. Südwind is in place working on various topics surrounding developing countries already 30 years and it’s great to learn from, and discuss with experienced NGO members.
Next date the Stammtisch will take place is 11 January 2010. The topic will be how to handle prejudice and populist propaganda in everyday discussion – and if I find time I will attend again.
You can find information and contact data there, and Fritz, our teacher who is currently there shares his experiences on the Zanzicode blog:
There is also a Zanzicode FlickR account with pictures.
So what is Zanzicode actually?
We provide free education in the field of Web Development to a small number of talented and motivated students of poor background in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Our goal is to help build the personal careers of our graduates as well as to kickstart a local web development community. After getting to know the place and the people during a support project for the Zanzibits School for Film and Multimedia in 2009, we firmly believe that there is both talent and demand for professional web work in Zanzibar.[from the Zanzicode page]
We are currently preparing the second round of classes for 12 more students, starting in January 2010.
If you are interested in getting involved the project – as sponsor or guest lecturer or if you are in the area and just want to say hello – please contact us.
As our partnership with the eDevelopment Thematic Group of the World Bank continues, we would like to announce a coming event: the eGovernment seminar on the use of FLOSS in the public sector. It will take place on 17 December in Washington and will be broadcasted live over webcast at http://wwwr.worldbank.org/edevelopment/live.
The event deals with free-/open-source software and its application in the public sector. Among others, the case of Brazil, which is one of the top-adopters of FOSS software in the public sector, will be discussed. The agenda so far can be found at the eTG event page.
What: eTG seminar: eGovernment Seminar on the Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector
Where: Washington DC, also available via webcast
When: 17 December, 9:00-12:00 Washington time
ICT4D.at will of course cover the event on Twitter and here on the blog.
eTG seminar: eGovernment Seminar on the Use of Free/Open Source Software in the Public Sector
was published on 07.12.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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Christmas time has just begun and the first donation has already been made!
ICT4D.at would like to thank Oliver Ruhm from the Austrian design company Zeughaus Brand Identity Design for the rebrush of our page design.
We uploaded the designs to FlickR – below you can see the slideshow of the set. It shows the design evolution to come to the final result.
We’re really happy with the result and we will implement the new design as soon as possible. If you have any remarks on it, we’re happy to read them in the comments.
So – once again – thank you Oliver!