CTO’s ICT Development Digital Library

The CTO’s ICT Development Digital Library (ICT DevLibrary) provides a unique collection of ICT-for-development reports and documents for policy-makers and practitioners in developing countries. It uniquely provides direct, “one-click” access to these documents, and makes these often bulky documents accessible to users on low bandwidth connections. Stocked with key reports published by the leading organisations in the field, the ICT Development Library supplements ICT Development Agenda, the CTO’s web-based newsletter which provides breaking, objective updates on the outcomes of decision-making meetings and summaries of important new reports.

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The purpose of the ICT Development Digital Library is to tackle several key factors restricting the ability of stakeholders in developing countries from accessing material important to their participation in ICT decision-making processes.

ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track?

I read Richard Heeks’s article ICTs and the MDGs: On the Wrong Track? back in February when it was first released at i4donline.net. Found it an alternate point of view.

Now that John Daly posts about it referencing the original source, I can’t help but give my comment on the article.

I guess I agree 95% with all the statements Heeks give, specially when he writes about the difference among “what one should do” and “what one has to do”, and the difference among “do what I did” and “do what I tell you to”.

But, I think he goes one step too far when he speaks about public investment and the importance of investment in a (developping) economy and mixes it with ICT fostering. IMHO, even ICT fostering necessarily has an important part related to investment, this investment has to be linked with uses and services, with the ability to use it (call it human capital investment, capacitation, etc.) and all the issues related with law, rights, permissions, etc. that will framework everything.

However, it seems to me that Heeks focuses too much on local economies development, entrepreneurship on ICT, etc. I don’t say that I don’t agree – how could I? I really do! :) – but I think this is not exactly ICT fostering but investment fostering.

A subtle difference? Maybe ;)

II Conference Internet and Solidarity

The II Conference Internet and Solidarity is – at last – a reality and will take place next 7th and 8th june in Barcelona.

The general goal of the Conference is to debate about whether access to the Internet (and, hence, to ICTs in general) is a fundamental right or not, and what would this right mean. In my (tried to) most sincere opinion, the programme of the Conference and the speakers are terrific and thrilling: 31 speakers in 5 plenary sessions and 5 parallel sessions from all sectors and ideologies.

Really worth it if you can afford spending two days in the jewel of the Mediterranean Sea: Barcelona ;)

Official websites:

BTW, I’ll be moderating the plenary session entitled Access to ICTs, a fundamental human right? on Tuesday 7th, with Marcello Branco and Jorge Cortell as speakers.

Three ideological reasons why people blog (and wiki)

There must be zillions of posts and articles about why people should blog, but all of them the ones I’ve read only deal with the reasons on the purposes side, i.e., what to do with your blog and why: let people know about you, about what you’re doing, create a community/network of interests/apprenticeship, etc.

But what about the origin side? I mean, what has happened in the World, in technology, that pushes me to blog: what about the ideological or philosophical point of view?

Under this approach, I guess there’re three main reasons why people are blogging (and wiking):

Democratization of technology and social software

Far from the beginning of the Internet, where one had to know about HTML programming and web site administration, Internet publication has become easy, very easy, being some online blog publishing services the most visible examples of the democratization of technology. Social software does not only mean that it is a software to create social relationships, but also a software that is at (almost) everybody’s reach, overcoming costs and technological skills barriers.

e-Democracy and re-appropriation of opinion making media

Democracy does not only deal with the right to vote once each four years, but with building one’s own opinion, and to build it freely, with (quality) information, so your vote is rational and taking in consideration your principles, ideas and interests.

The concentration of mass media, and their belonging to groups of interest close to the policy makers, makes this information have an increasing lack of freedom and plurality, hence quality. The need of some to have a better information and to share good information from independent sources (or just from the sources) pushes people to publish and/or read through new means of expression and opinion making.

Free Culture

There’s the increasing belief that intellectual property rights have gone far beyond their natural boundaries, and there’s even the statement that Culture as we know it is in danger. Human progress built upon existing knowledge is being obstructed by patents and copyright, that have entered a bias where they do not serve anymore the original purposes of their implementation.

Thus, creating a space of free knowledge – of free culture – and bringing back the idea that sharing information, knowledge and doubts is the basis of more knowledge and, thus progress, is an underlying reason for this unselfish contribution.

Three ideological reasons for blogging

[Three ideological reasons for blogging]

All in all it is a virtuous circle:

  • Social software makes easy to publish online, for whatever reasons, being one of them show one’s opinion and read others’ directly from the source, thus avoiding the filtering of mass media.
  • Free opinion leads, directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, to Free Culture.
  • Free Culture leads to more free/social software, because of ideological reasons, or just because there’s an increasing demand for it.
  • And the (virtuous?) circle begins again.

Digital divide: what can cooperation for development do

Next Monday (May 23rd) I’d be speaking in Sabadell introducing the presentation of the cooperation for development projects granted by the Fundació Sabadell Solidari.

I’ve been asked to talk about what cooperation for development can do to bridge the Digital Divide. As my speech will only be 20 minutes long, I’ll split it in four parts which are the main subjects one should focus when facing the digital divide. All in all, the force idea will be that bridging the digital divide is not (only) about connecting PCs to the network.

Thus, the four parts will be as follows:

  • Infrasctructure and connectivity: You must have a PC connected to the Internet to bridge the digital divide… o maybe not. What about cellulars? handhelds?
  • Capacitation and digital literacy: Enough with hardware and software? Know how to install it or customize it? Know how to use it?
  • Uses and services: Got a PC and know how to run desktop applications but… what for? e-Health? e-Learning? e-Governance? information and communication?
  • Law and rights: This is new but I think it’s getting more and more interesting. If all previous items are covered but copyright and intellectual property rights do not avoid the user to do anything at all… what for the whole ICT stuff? and… who should define how to rule the Internet, how to define it? is it a human right?

Only in 20 minutes, quite a challenge :)

CIVICUS Civil Society Toolkits

Civicus, the international alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world, has published Civicus Civil Society Toolkits, a series of documents (DOC and PDF) with instructions on “how to” different things such as correct writing, communication, management, evaluation, etc. and specially designed for nonprofits.

[via Nonprofit Online News (what happened to permalinks!?)]