e-Stas: briefings from the symposium on technologies for social action (III)

e-STAS is a Symposium about the Technologies for the Social Action, with an international and multi-stakeholder nature, where all the agents implicated in the development and implementation of the ICT (NGO’s, Local authorities, Universities, Companies and Media) are appointed in an aim to promote, foster and adapt the use of the ICT for the social action.

Here come my notes for part III.

Cases of Citizens’ initiatives (I)
Pedro Cluster, President of the “Desde la Calle” Society

Moving experience on how a homeless got media attention through his blog. Having had success in businesses, he ended being a homeless. After years in the street he somehow manages to get a living and then creates the “Desde la Calle” association to get homlesses out of the street. ICTs have boosted the reach of his speech beyond expectations.

Cases of Citizens’ initiatives (II)
Jenaro Garcia, Red Sin Fronteras Foundation

Created Red Sin Fronteras, an NGO to provide with connectivity remote rural areas. To do so, they made up “4×4 WiFi” [4WD WiFi] which, as the name itself states, is installing WiFi devices on 4WD cars so they can access [phisically] rural areas and bring them people connectivity.

Actually, the ultimate goal is not connectivity supply, but advocacy: by visiting little towns with the “connected” 4WD, they raise awareness on the existing content, services and opportunities for rural areas of being connected, so inhabitants ask (the administrations, the telcos) to set up internet access to their villages.

Cases of Citizens’ initiatives (III)
Red E-RUS. Network of Country Areas for the Rural Technological Development (Red E-RUS)

Goals: research in ICT4D, advocacy, fighting the digital divide, fostering human development.

Standards, Accessibility, Access and Sustainable Innovation in the field of ICT (I)
Free knowledge accessible for all
Jonathan Chacón, ONCE Foundation

We’d better focus on the users’ needs instead of creating new ones

Internet is a new gate to knowledge, but it’s a closed gate to some people: technological disabled, cultural disabled, temporal disabled.

Technological solutions [free as in freedom]:

  • Free software
  • Free hardware: we’re buying more power than needed/used. Grid computing, etc. take this extra power and use it for several purposes.
  • Free connectivity: same situation as hardware, where you sometimes cannot chose the quality of band you’re buying (i.e. sometimes too much for just e-mail)

Digital literacy should focus not only on technology, but on all kinds of disabilities. And standards ease access… but they are standards set for standard people, so we should be careful with those so-called standards: design for all, solutions for all. Accessibility is useful for absolutely anyone, not just disabled people.

If we now go back and see the Internet as a knowledge gate, access to Internet is access to knowledge, access to free knowledge.

Standards, Accessibility, Access and Sustainable Innovation in the field of ICT (II)
Innovation and NGO Technology
Allen Gunn, Aspiration Tech

Lessons learned in NGO Tech Innovation

  • NGOs should retain control of their own technological future
  • Too few NGO stakeholders understand technology: simple is needed, cool is installed
  • NGOs feel pressure to use technology
  • Innovation should be discussed in the language of the NGO mission
  • Innovation driven by “users stories”
  • Unsustainable innovation is no innovation

NGO Innovation Checklist

  • can you articulate the benefit of an innovation in simple language?
  • does the NGO feel in control of the process?
  • are we considering the full innovation life cycle?
  • will this allow us to focus more time on mission?
  • have all stakeholders been engaged?

3 drivers of NGO Tech Innovation

  • Free and open source software
  • Free and open content
  • Open interfaces for accessing data

Project: Social Source Commons: what software is out there for nonprofits and who’s using it, how, why, what other tools are useful in conjunction with a tool, etc.

Standards, Accessibility, Access and Sustainable Innovation in the field of ICT (III)
Access to knowledge and sustainable development
Eddan Katz, Yale University and Director of the Information Society Project

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Chinese proverb
Sell a man a fish, and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish, and you lose a great business opportunity. Karl Marx

Intellectual property is most times about the second quote. And there is an increasing push to more and more intellectual property rights of the ones that came before the Information Society

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Give a man a fishing rod, and he feeds himself and his family for as long as the rod lasts.
Help a man develop the knowledge and means to improve the fishing rod and to design and
produce new ones, and he may feed himself and his society for years to come.
WIPO Magazine

There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. Steven Wright

Teach a man to create an artificial fish shortage, and people will eat steak. Anonymous economist

Knowledge Management through the New Technologies for the Social Action
Managing Health Information in Low Resource Settings
William Lester, EngenderHealth

www.healthtoolkit.org

Access without training makes no sense. ICT training, thus, is an important issue and, paradoxically, training by ICT means (i.e. e-learning) is a very useful tool for training in the developing world.

A big problem with e-Health is how to adapt existing tools for developing countries. Those tools are based on some western/developed assumptions that do not take place in developing countries: a fixed address, national ID card/number, (known) birth date, unique medical record, etc.

Adaptation not only means technological adaption, but also cultural adaptation: of the so many web resources, one should be able to decide which to trust/choose.

www.healthnet.org

Lester really believes — he repeats it along his speech — that mobile phones are the ones that are making and will be making the difference in developing countries.

Congress Conclusions

  • In a networked society, access is a right, specially to achieve higher rights
  • Internet gives voice to the ones that never had it
  • ICTs give more democracy, more participation
  • The importance of the hinge role of NGOs to make all agents and users/beneficiaries meet
  • Social innovation enhanced by ICTs
  • Let new technologies be designed to satisfy users and needs, not vice versa
  • We should work together in the Net and as a network

See also:

e-Stas 2007, Symposium on Technologies for Social Action (2007)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “e-Stas: briefings from the symposium on technologies for social action (III)” In ICTlogy, #42, March 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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7 Comments to “e-Stas: briefings from the symposium on technologies for social action (III)” »

  1. Pingback: ICTlogy » e-Stas: Expert group on the decalogue for ICTs for nonprofits

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  4. If I were asked what was the main conclusion from this simposium, I should answer the sinergy between technology and social action. What we are doing is much more than the end of digital divide; we are providing to many people the possibility to access to a better quality of life. I think digital breach is a very narrow term, because what will hapen once you has passed to the other side of the breach?. Perhaps we could use the term “Digital Gate” expresing the idea that the people need to enter in a place where life y better.

  5. Luis, with your permission, I will definitely incorporate to my discourse your term “Digital Gate”, as I find it far more interesting that the usual “Digital Bridge”, often used when talking about rethinking the Digital Divide as opportunity, not as a challenge :)

  6. Pingback: Hot links » Blog Archive » Fishing 169

  7. Pingback: Hot links » Blog Archive » new fishing info 169

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