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)

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

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 II.

Tools for collaboration and social networks for the Millennium Development Goals (I)
Raoul Weiler European President of the Club of Rome and Adviser of the Wikimedia Foundation
Social Networks for Enhancing Sustainability & Democracy

Yochai Benkler The Wealth of Networks; Jay Rosen; Lawrence Lessig… social networks can improve the democratic system, by decreasing democratic deficit.

Things that are going to happen:

  • Shift from Groups and Hierarchies to networks as social organizational models (M. Castells)
  • shift from centralized to decentralized decision processes
  • increasing capabilities of individuals as tghe core driving social force
  • the new fact of networked environment is the efficacy basis

Renewal of Commons:

  • Open source and middle-ware
  • OLPC
  • Information & Knowledge (wikipedia)
  • Creative Commons
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Micro-credit (M. Yunus)
  • Social business enterprises (M. Yunus)

Tools for collaboration and social networks for the Millennium Development Goals (II)
The Vit@lis Network
Fabio Nascimbeni, Director of Vit@lis

Vit@lis mission: to gather, share, reuse all the ICT projects that have taken place around the European Commission @lis programme during the last years.

Key issues: multilinguism, intellectual property rights, starting seed capital, real reciprocity, practical policies, multidisciplinarity; sustainability and transferability, articulate information, articulate results, motivation vs. financing, ideas vs. financing, continuous political consensus.

Goal: You sometimes realize that what costed 1,000,000 $ to implant in a couple of places, can be replicated in three more places by just adding 100,000 $ more. That’s the point: to share knowledge that can be applied, replicated with increasing scale benefits.

Tools for collaboration and social networks for the Millennium Development Goals (III)
Digital inclusion strategies cases in Brazil and Bolivia
Carlos Alfonso from Red de Informações para el Tercer Sector

Digital literacy: universalization, democratization, dissemination of digital tools.

The RITS network promotes information society access by all means. Besides digital literacy, there’s an incredibly huge effort to set up hundreds of telecentres, wireless connetivity and mesh networks, community radios, etc.

At the political level, they try and (a) break the official or de facto monopolies on telecommunications and (b) change the legal environment that obstructs the development of the Information Society

Tools for collaboration and social networks for the Millennium Development Goals (IV)
2015: A better world for Joana
Esther Trujillo Jiménez. Director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Dep. of Telefónica.

There’s an increasing concern about businesses and their behaviour. More and more NGOs, indexes, reports explain how businesses behave and, in case they don’t do it “right”, some actions are organized against them such a boycotts, demonstrations, letters to CEOs, etc.

On 2002 the FRC (Corporate Reputation Froum) was created for the members to help themselves to achieve a better reputation and social behaviour. One of the projects that they are running is explaining the MDGs to the society. Joana is the character that is going to explain the society about the MDGs, how to achieve them, what have been done, etc.

See also:

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

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

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 I.

Opening Lecture
A case of Social Enterprise: Global Giving – the power of the masses in social projects
Mari Kuraishi President of the GlobalGiving Foundation

Quickly verifiable information flowing freely to many ore outlets has lead to a behavioural change

Eric Beinhocker’s The Origin of Wealth: there are shifts in classical technology, accompanied by behavioral shifts, combined with a mechanism for allowing communication.

The nonprofit sector seems to be lagging 10 years behind the private sector in digital development matters. But how can/should this new technology be applied?

A couple of interesting links:

Social Businessmen and Corporate Volunteering (I)
Stuart Gannes, Digital Vision Program of the University of Stanford

Need to provide with connectivity the peri-urban environments, crowded with rural immigration that have no way back, but a strong need to remain connected to their origins (family, etc.) and also to provide with connectivity those rural areas so they don’t have to run into extreme poverty at the cities they get to.

Engines of off-grid innovation: increasing foreign investments, wireless data networks, private investing leads public sector. The drivers for innovation could be financial services, community services and e-citizenship and e-government.

One of the ways to achieve this is to teach entrepreneurship. This should be combined with ICT, the secret sauce of innovation, extending the social grid.

From prototypes to impact, some successful initiatives:

Social Businessmen and Corporate Volunteering (II)
Belén Perales, Responsible for the Corporative Social Responsibility of IBM Spain

IBM fosters volunteering among their employees and, if their commitment with a specific project reaches 40 hours in total and during 5 continuous months, then IBM supports the employee’s project by donating technology and/or some corporate time. Besides this, there’s the volunteering day (actually two or three days per year) where everyone likely to volunteer can spend a whole day doing it during worktime.

Some IBM corporate social responsibility projects, where IBM corporate staff volunteer their time to nonprofit projects:

  • Eternal Egypt, digitalizing Egypt cultural heritage
  • Proyecto Atapuerca, establishing wireless networks for archaeologists
  • Genoraphic Project, to create a DNA database to study the past (through ancient humans genomes)
  • Kidsmart, special computers to ease digital literacy for kids, also adapted for disabled kids. The corporate volunteers build the special computing desks.
  • MentorPlace, where the corporate volunteers act as experts that give advice on ICTs
  • Reading Companion, to practice English pronunciation
  • TryScience, for science diffusion
  • Web adaptation technology, to adapt web pages for visual disabled
  • World Community Grid, through grid computing, to do more and better research (there’s supposed to be 650,000,000 underused computers in the world. There’re now 270,000+ members and 550,000+ computers connected, that have achieved the equivalent computing power of a PC working nonstop during 81,000 years.
  • OnDemandCommunity, to foster IBM corporate volunteering

The Citizenship’s role in the ending of the digital divide and the promotion of the knowledge society (I)
Montserrat Mirman, Compromiso Digital, Council of Innovation, Science and Enterprise of the Andalusian Local Government

Digital Escort is a digital literacy programme based on digital volunteers (sic) [I understand she talks about online volunteers, not ICT volunteers]

The volunteer profile is somehow a digerati, prone to social action and aiming to share his time.

The Citizenship’s role in the ending of the digital divide and the promotion of the knowledge society (II)
Rocío Miranda de LarraFrance Telecom Foundation

What is the civil society? What is the Third Sector? Could be civil society = third sector + citizenship?

The Third Sector is quite young in Spain, but growing: due to good economic and social environment, law changes (including tax laws) and social demand

The Third Sector / Foundations roles should be: complement other sectors’ roles (i.e. the Government) and foster innovation. In concrete:

  • Foster innovation incorporation in NGOs and foster its use, as they can assume more risks, have more flexibility; Digital Literacy projects should be a must in this field
  • Look for new uses of ICTs
  • Diffusion of ICT use, projects…
  • Advocacy, putting the stress in accessibility
  • Canalization
  • Intermediation

The Citizenship’s role in the ending of the digital divide and the promotion of the knowledge society (III)
Jaime Estevez, Director of Europa Press.net

Join journalism, social action and new technologies, so citizens can be main characters in the society. Public debate participation and social networking among nonprofits is of highest importance. To do so, a public platform was created so candidates can interact with their voters and vice versa. The problem is that people are not eager to participate with the traditional top-down rules, so the success is not in that there are tools, but how participation is designed and expected to take place in those tools/platforms.

Europa Press has now created a blog aggregator where politicians and citizens share a meeting space on the Internet where they deal, from each one’s blog, about public interest issues:cuadernosciudadanos.net

See also:

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

e-Stas: Expert group on the decalogue for ICTs for nonprofits

At Sevilla, some people attending the e-Stas conference meet just before the conference to exchange ideas and reflections on how ICTs can not just help nonprofits but build “pure” ICT driven projects for development or social action.

The scope of the working session is to reflect on social projects based on new technologies, not just use them. Thus, the goals are as follows:

  • what can new technologies bring to social projects
  • how can we design social projects to standardize ICT use, methodology
  • what is the role of each sector (universities, private sector, public sector, nonprofits, etc.)

The hand that gives is always on the hand that receives. So, we should think about grassroots activities and proposals and stop thinking top-down.

People split into groups to treat, each one, the former three questions under five different perspectives. After a first brainstorming in groups, a good bunch of ideas are put in common:

Infrastructures

What:

  • Technical issues, to design standards and the technologies themselves
  • Social issues, such as accessibility
  • Infrastructures to serve or support services

How:

  • Boost wireless connectivity
  • Local authorities to foster infrastructures and global access
  • The market should be competitive, and there’s still a long road towards it
  • Technical standardization to access the network
  • Include into the design people with disabilities, we need a broader concept of design

The who’s question is a tricky one, as everyone should contribute, gather around projects and try and reach consensus.

Participation

What:

  • Helps participation to anyone
  • Allows disemination of information and awareness
  • Spreads resources, mobilization
  • New forms of participation, mobilization

How:

  • Immediacy, things happen in real time
  • Personalization, I participate as I like to
  • Bidirectionality
  • Design for all: everyone can participate

Who:

  • University as a testing groud: research, experimenting
  • Government: funding and projects information dissemination
  • Third sector: foster and promote the Internet as a new engagement channel, and promote his own technification per management issues
  • Private sector: implant the “design for all” issue, foster corporate volunteering and fund social participation

Summarizing: technologies can promote participative democracy besides representative democracy. It gives power to nonprofits and the social actors in general.

Internet is not a channel, but an environment, a place.

The problem is: when we talk about we, this we is just 10% of the population. What about the remaining 90%? Will this 90% benefit from a better access for the connected 10%?

Development and MDG

what can new technologies bring to social projects

  • ICTs bring voice
  • teach to fish, not give a fish
  • ICTs is about skills, not about computers
  • ICTs to enhance humanitarian aid by achieving more efficiency and efficacy
  • ICTs to boost progress
  • give access to the best that we (developed countiries) have
  • ICTs as a bridge to negociate the “now” with the “future”
  • market forces are going to shape the world, thus ICTs would change/reshape the way this market forces can act: equity, social justice, education, health, power
  • introducing a network enhances development, by participating in the network
  • technology changes the cost of a network by dramatically changing its cost. there’s a practical benefit of introducing a network, introducing communities that never took place before. do people benefit from taking part of a network? the answer is yes
  • south-south collaboration, being part of a “cloud”
  • pressure from the stakeholders and pressure from the clients
  • share different points of view and catch all sensibilities to guarantee access

how can we design social projects to standardize ICT use, methodology

  • assess the ways to introduce new processes
  • introducing technology must be user driven, grassroots designed, not funders pushed
  • bottom up, let the users drive the innovation
  • technology can foster existing tensions, magnify changes, multiply problems: thus, changes based on technology should be somehow “controlled” not to get out of control
  • make shure that not empowered groups can catalyze changes appropriately
  • simplicity

what is the role of each sector (universities, private sector, public sector, nonprofits, etc.)

  • the best stakeholder model is the “stone soup” model
  • let’s gather every passionate group, stakeholder inside the group
  • need to explain things in a way that every other sector understands, in his own “language”, what the whole thing is about. in this sense, there’s a need for the role of a bridge to make ends and parts meet. the academics could play this part
  • what’s the role of the government? there’s a problem on keeping the monopoly on telcos

Digital Literacy

Technology can do nothing to bridge the digital divide: it’s just technology, it’s just means, it’s just tools to set up projects.

How:

  • by doing projects, lots of them
  • taking into account the environment
  • population
  • evolving
  • engaging

Who:

  • administration: foster and boost the participation of agents, including bringing resources to projects
  • university: advocacy, research
  • businesses: working together with NGOs by bringing resources such as know how, funding, capital
  • nonprofits: engagement with the end users, dynamize the projects
  • citizenship: diffuse knowledge

one PC does not constitute a digital literacy project

Social groups, social innovation, social intervention

What’s the definition of innovation? Too much a complex society…

What:

  • promote relationship sharing
  • promote integration by other means, specially through anonymous channels

How:

  • Share
  • Debate
  • Special training for workers in social fields
  • Social entrepreneurship

Who:

  • add as much actors as possible
  • relationship fostering
  • somebody has to take risks: the Administration? businesses? There’s a need to fund social innovation projects

See also:

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