Go to http://www.debalie.nl/dossierpagina.jsp?dossierid=38576# for conference video documentation.
The term incommunicado generally refers to a state of being without the means or rights to communicate, especially in the case of incommunicado detention and the threat of massive human rights violations. The latter also implies an extra-judicial space of exception, where torture, executions and \”disappearances\” occur all-too-frequently in the lives of journalists and media activists, online or offline, across the world.
After the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the bilateral order, the discourse of human rights has become an important placeholder for agendas of social change and transformation that are no longer articulated in third-worldist or tri-continentalist terms. Yet despite the universalizing implications of human rights, they can also invoke and retrieve the complex legacy of specific anti-colonial and third-worldist perspectives that continue to inform contemporary visions of a different information and communication order.
The term \’incommunicado\’ was chosen as the name for this research network of activists, academics and geeks to acknowledge that while questions related to info-development and info-politics are often explored in a broader human rights context, this does not imply embracing a politics of rights as such. Instead, one of the aims of the Incommunicado project is to explore tactical mobilisations of rights-based claims to access, communication, or information, but also the limits of any politics of rights, its concepts, and its absolutisation as a political perspective.
Incommunicado 05 Conference
The program of the Incommunicado 05 conference, held in Amsterdam on June 15-17, 2005, had an explicitly broad and investigative character. Besides obvious WSIS topics such as internet governance and open source, the event attempted to put a few critical topics on the agenda, such as the role of NGOs, the \’critique of development\’ in the internet age, and the question of \’info-rights\’. Some debates were also new and had to be explored, such as the role of ICT corporations as \’partners in development\’ at the UN or the role of culture and corporate sponsorship in the ICT4D context.
While participants agreed that the standard scope of ICT4D debates and research needed to be expanded, there was not yet any agreement on how this might best be done. What is certain is that the kind of critique the incommunicado network was set up to explore and facilitate is unlikely to proceed through the consensus-building model of civil society caucuses and inter-institutional networks. Given the commitment to different, even mutually exclusive logics and models of institutionalisation in different camps, from media activists to a development NGOs and academic ICT analysts, the mutual engagement in a spirit of self-critique has its more or less obvious limits.
But this is not necessarily a weakness. Part of the Incommunicado idea was a critique of the assumption of a general comprehensibility and commensurability of efforts grouped under \’civil society\’, a shift in emphasis to trace the faultlines of such conflicts and identify their stakes rather than their resolution and subsumption to a master-paradigm that would then serve to contextualise and inform a new politics.
We are witnessing a shift from in the techno-cultural development of the web from an essentially Euro-American post-industrialist project to a more complexly mapped post-third-worldist network, where new south-south alliances are already upsetting our commonsensical definitions of info-development as an exclusively north-south affair. Before the recent “flattening of the world” (Thomas Friedman, 2005), most computer networks and ICT expertise were located in the North, and info-development – also known by its catchy acronym \’ICT4D\’, for ICT for development – mostly involved rather technical matters of knowledge and technology transfer from North to South. The old \’technology tranfer\’ discourse is becoming questionable, if not put upside down. While still widely (and even wildly) talked about, the assumption of a \’digital divide\’ that follows this familiar geography of development has turned out to be too simple. Instead, a more complex map of actors, networked in a global info-politics, is emerging.
Different actors continue to promote different – and competing – visions of \’info-development\’. New info-economies like Brazil, China, and India have suddenly emerged and are forming south-south alliances that challenge our sense of what \’development\’ is all about. However tempting, these new developments and particularly the emerging alliances should not be romanticized in terms of a new tri-continentalism. However, the cohesion of the new south-south alliances originates in part from the shared resistance to an emergent Euro-American front on intellectual property rights (IPR) and related matters.
Ambitious info-development projects struggle to find a role for themselves either as basic infrastructure, supportive of all other development activity, or as complement to older forms of infrastructure and service-oriented development. Often they are expected to meet a host of often contradictory aims: alleviating info-poverty, catapulting peasants into the information age, promoting local ICT and knowledge based industries, or facilitating democratisation through increased participation and local empowerment. Meanwhile, of course, info-development also facilitates trans-national corporate efforts to offshore IT-related jobs and services in ever-shorter cycles of transposition, leaving local \’stakeholders\’ at a loss as to whether or not scarce public subsidies should even be used to attract and retain industries likely to move on anyway.
Info-development creates new conflicts, putting communities in competition with each other. But it also creates new alliances. Below the traditional thresholds of sovereignty, grassroots efforts are calling into question the entire IPR regime of and access restrictions on which commercial info-development is based. Commons- or open-source-oriented organisations across the world seem more likely to receive support from southern than from northern states, and these coalitions, too, are challenging northern states on their self-serving commitment to IPR and their dominance of key info-political organisations.
Meanwhile lesser-known members of the UN family, such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), are beginning to feel the heat brought on by “no-logo”-style campaigns that are targeting the entire range of public international actors and bring an agenda of accountability to the institutions of multilateral governance. As a response to the increasingly contradictory info-political activities of the major agencies like the ITU, UNDP, UNESCO, and WIPO, even the UN has begun to lose its aura. As public tagging of a perceived positive UN role in governance, humanitarianism, and peacekeeping shifts towards corruption and inter-agency rivalries, (carefully guided by neo-conservative think-tanks), the ensemble of supra-state apparatuses supposed to sustain visions of a post-imperial order suddenly seems mired in a frightening family dispute that threatens to spin out of control.
Critique of Info-Development
The critique of development and its institutional arrangements – of its conceptual apparatus as well as the economic and social policies implemented in its name – has always been both a theoretical project and the agenda of a multitude of \’subaltern\’ social movements. Yet much work in ICT4D shows little awareness of or interest in the history of such development critique. Quite the contrary, the ICT4D debate, whose terms are often reproduced in the members-only loop of a few influential NGO networks like APC, OneWorld, or PANOS, along with a small number of states and influential donor organisations, remains surprisingly inward-looking, unable or unwilling to actively challenge the hegemony of an a-historical techno-determinism. These global NGOs and Western info development government agencies are new to the fact that there are now a multitude of actors that operate in \’their\’ field. The Incommunicado project is just of many efforts to broaden the \’ICT4D\’ scope. A part of this process is a critical investigation into the role of info developmental NGOs.
Even many activists believe that ICT will lead to progress and eventually contribute to poverty reduction. Have development scepticism and the multiplicity of alternative visions it created simply been forgotten? Or have they been actively muted to disconnect current struggles in the area of communication and information from this history, adding legitimacy to new strategies of \’pre-emptive\’ development that are based on an ever-closer alliance between the politics of aid, development, and security? Are analyses based on the assumption that the internet and its promise of connectivity are \’inherently good\’ already transcending existing power analyses of global media and communication structures? How can we reflect on the booming ICT-for-Development industry beyond best practice suggestions?
Pushed by a growing transnational coalition of NGOs and a few allies inside the multilateral system, open source software has moved from margin to center in ICT4D visions of peer-to-peer networks and open knowledge initiatives. But while OSS and its apparent promise of an alternative non-proprietary concept of collaborative creation continues to have much counter-cultural cachet, its idiom can easily be used to support the \’liberalisation\’ of telco markets. Long occupied with the struggle between free software and open source approaches, FLOSS research is only now addressing some of the paradoxes of immaterial labour and its voluntarist ethic.
Civil Society vs \’The Grassroots\’
We have become used to thinking of \’civil society organisations\’ and NGOs as \’natural\’ development actors. But their presence is itself indicative of a fundamental transformation of an originally state-centred development regime, and their growing influence raises difficult issues regarding their relationship to state and corporate actors, but also regarding their self-perception as representatives of civic and grassroots interests. In spite of the neat sociological grammar of declarations and manifestoes, increasingly hybrid actors no longer follow the simple schema of state, market, or civil society, but engage in cross-sector alliances. Responding to the crisis of older top-down approaches to development, corporations and aid donors are increasingly bypassing states and international agencies to work directly with smaller non-governmental organisations. And while national and international development agencies now have to defend their activity against both pro- and anti-neo-liberal critics, info-NGOs participating in public-private partnerships and info-capitalist ventures suddenly find themselves in the midst of another heated controversy over their new role as junior partner of states and corporations. Responding by stepping up their own brand-protection and engaging in professional reputation management, major NGOs even conclude that it is no longer their organisational culture but their agenda alone that differentiates them from corporate actors.
The spectacular world summit on the information society (WSIS), barely noticed by the mainstream media but already uniting cyber-libertarians afraid of UN interventions in key questions of internet governance, is over. While many info-activists are assessing (and re-assessing) the hidden cost of invitations to sit at \’multi-stakeholder\’ tables along with mega-NGOs and corporate associations, others are already refusing to allow an organisational incorporation of grassroots or subaltern agendas into the managed consensus being built around the dynamic of an \’international civil society\’. Mirroring the withdrawal from traditional mechanisms of political participation, there is growing disaffection with multilateralism as the necessary default perspective for any counter-imperial politics. Unwilling to accept the idioms of sovereignty, some even abandon the very logic of summits and counter-summits to articulate post-sovereign perspectives.
If WSIS actors operate with a kind of matrix that covers the relevant institutional actors, policy becomes a matter of shifting resources and responsibilities by way of playing different actors against each other. Some of that makes sense to us, alliance-building within the specific ensemble that constitutes the info-development regime. WSIS could perhaps been a very different space had it not been hosted by ITU but UNESCO, now everything was framed by default by ITU\’s a-historical don\’t-even-think-of-mentioning-NWICO techno-managerialism. On a different level, the very idea of info-development implies a commitment to the logic of representation – needs, actors, and remedies can all be identified etc., and this is where policy-making indeed becomes a matter of faith. The formalisation associated with development processes – the discomfort with informal economies, the translation of diffuse desires into needs, and the transformation of people into autonomous bearers of rights to development – is just a consequence of this more fundamental commitment. On this level, a critique of info-development must also explore the role the logic of representation continues to play.
But often the ultimate space of \’critique\’ is defined in terms of an almost mythological \’grassroots\’ and popular democracy as authentic sources of legitimacy and \’last instance\’ of accountability, so all you need for a critique of civil society and NGOism is to show their gradual (and almost inevitable, it seems) estrangement from a social movement grassroots, facilitated by their adoption of corporate models of professionalisation and an emphasis on organizing efforts that are compatible with an intergovernmental summitism. The WSIS summit machine, however, continued to hum along, largely unimpressed by action plans, civil society declarations, and manifestoes, and in this failure already seemed to produce its own critique. The label \’civil society\’ papers over so many differences that its use should perhaps also be considered in tactical terms, a way to create a very specific kind of intelligibility for political claims that does not really limit their rearticulation in alternative idioms.
In an eager response to the newfound enthusiasm for ICT4D through Public-Private Partnerships (fuelled largely by the ongoing UN financial crisis and the broader neo-liberal privatisation agenda), major info-corporations are advertising themselves as “partners in development” and promote ICTs as the vehicles for “good governance and effective service delivery” („e-governance“), but also to stake out their own commercial claims, crowd out public-sector alternatives, and subvert south-south cooperation. \’PPP in ICT\’ will be the focus of another project by members of the Incommunicado network, soon at
Within ICT4D research hasn\’t been a priority. What we found most often are best practice stories, and while there must be critical assessment reports, they tend to be written for internal use only. Ministries, funding bodies, foundations and NGOs are not eager to share their inside knowledge with outsiders out of fear that any \’negative\’ information will compromise their position in the scramble for funds and eventually lead to budget cuts. This makes it hard, if not impossible to have an open debate about the terms that floating around, and also to come up with new concepts.
Beyond setting up lists and collaborative weblogs, research is also a means of \’opening up a space\’ both in terms of activism and knowledge production. This also requires calling into question the assemblage of ‘mots d\’ordre’ that make up the info-development discourse. Such \’mots d\’ordre\’ – including, but not limited to \’access,\’ \’capacity building,\’ \’poverty alleviation,\’ and \’stakeholderism\’ – are not made to encourage debate but to foster agreement on a consensual perception of what info-development is. We have witnessed this in the context of WSIS, and Incommunicado got started in the context of WSIS. However, even if it maintains a critical distance to it – as do, by now, virtually all groups that have been involved – it is still marked by this focus on the critique of a policy-driven process organized around a fairly standard set of actors. But what\’s actually happening below the threshold of civil society is a rich and dynamic source of new forms of info-political engagement and new conceptual approaches, so research on the development discourse must engage such micro-level studies as well the \’donor discourse\’ – reproduced in a trans-national regime that includes state and non-state agencies, philanthropic and profit-oriented efforts – that serves to filter such efforts from the outside of the established research system.
Finally, ICT4D research needs to be considered in the context of shifts in the mode of production of \’science\’. Some sociologists argue, for example, that we are witnessing a transition from a an \”academically-centred mode\” that values scientific autonomy and peer evaluation, to a \”flexible mode\” that is participatory and trans-disciplinary, addressing a host of economic and social questions through research that is accountable, open, and transparent. Such a flexibilisation of scientific production is the ultimate wet-dream of donors more committed to the vague notion of a \”knowledge society\” than to the controversial questions of what such a new scientific ethic of accountability, openness, and transparency might actually mean in practice, including a controversy over the criteria of relevance and reliability that determine whether or not efforts that do not uncritically accept the hegemonic assemblage of \’mots d\’ordre\’ still receive support, or a debate among researchers over whether they should really embrace a new flexibilisation paradigm that still remains committed to the exclusion of \’lay people\’ outside the institutionalized expertism we have come to accept as the only source of research.
This is a call to join a new listserv, which focuses on public-private partnership initiatives in the field of information and communication technologies, with a particular emphasis on the economic and political dynamic usually referred to as \’development\’.
Following the growth of private-sector involvement in public infrastructure projects across the globe, corporate investments have often become a substitute for public funding formerly provided by intergovernmental agencies, international aid organizations, and governments. Usually considered in terms of a pooling of private and public resources, public-private partnerships aim at a cooperative provision of services and products to exploit synergy effects. Public institutions are expected to become more \’proactive\’ in terms of their engagement with private actors, the development process as a whole more equitable and sustainable.
Such official pronouncements aside, assessments from the ground tend to give the relatively new tool of PPP a much more ambivalent review. While major info-corporations are indeed offering themselves as “partners in development” and support ICT development as vehicles for \”effective service delivery” and \”e-governance\”, they also take advantage of the newfound enthusiasm for Public-Private Partnerships to stake out their own commercial claims, crowd out public-sector alternatives, and actively discourage alternative forms of development cooperation.
The idea of this list arose during a two-day conference, Incommunicado 05: From Info-Development to Info-Politics, held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in June 2005. Incommunicado 05 attempted to offer a critical survey of the current state of \’info-development\’, generally known by its catchy acronym \’ICT4D\’ (Information and Communication Technologies for Development), but also created an interest in more focused follow-up projects that would engage specific dimensions of the info-development process. After PPP in ICT had already became a topic of debate during the conference, members of the incommunicado network suggested that PPP-in-ICT should be one of these projects.
What we envision is a lively exchange of research and reports from the ground, a sharing of experiences both via a mailing list and – later on – a collaborative weblog.
Given that PPPs in ICT involve a complex set of actors – including intergovernmental institutions, states, local authorities, transnational corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – the scope is both specific – PPP in ICT – yet broad enough to address related developments and processes. To be taken up at a later time, we also propose the joint development of a code of conduct for PPP that addresses the specificity of ICT, including the current imbalance in PPP projects that privilege transnational corporations over local small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and community organizations.
A great deal of \’research\’ is done outside the institutional loops of the academy, NGOs, or development consulting, so we hope that the framing of this topic will be of interest to whoever wants to engage in a substantial PPP-in-ICT exchange, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves a researcher, community and/or media activists, etc.
On PPP-in-ICT and PPP-Watch
The domain used for this project is pppwatch.org. In the context of software, \’pppwatch\’ refers to a small demon used to monitor the PPP connection. In the more general context of info-political efforts, the idea of a \’watch\’ also suggest common cause with other \’watch\’ projects that attempt to create a modicum of transparency in processes – regardless of whether they involve public or private actors – where there is none. Both offer apt metaphors for a project that intends to keep an eye on the evolving dynamic of \’partnerships\’ in the field of ICT.
We are hoping that you will participate in this project. The listserv will “go live” once an initial threshold of 50 subscribers has been reached. To subscribe (online subscription will be enabled once the list has gone live), please contact Soenke Zehle (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lisa McLaughlin (email@example.com).
Acevedo, Manuel has been involved in information and communication technology (ICT) for human development since 1994, when he joined UNDP in Cuba and helped set up the INFOMED national public health network. He was part of the Info XXI group at UNDP HQ in 1996-97, promoting the introduction of ICT in the operations and culture of the organization. In 2000 he set up a novel ‘e-Volunteering’ unit at the UN Volunteers agency, where initiatives like UNITeS (the United Nations Information Technology Service) or the UN Online Volunteering Service were launched and managed. He served on the task force establishing a ‘Private Sector Strategy’ for the agency, partly based on experiences with companies in those ICT4D initiatives. He participated in the UN ICT Task Force, serving as co-chair of the Capacity Building Committee. He represented the UN Volunteers programme during the preparatory phase of the 1st phase of the World Summit for the Information Society, preparing the report ‘Volunteering in the Information Society’. Since late 2003 he works as an independent consultant, and is working on a Ph.D., doing research on ICT mainstreaming in large development cooperation agencies, and studying the crossover between the ‘human development’ and ‘network society’ paradigms. He is introducing ICT4D into the curricula of some academic programmes about Development and Cooperation in his native Spain, and also promoting the integration of ICT into Spain´s international cooperation policies. He lives in Madrid.
Anderson, Jon W., is an anthropologist, has taught in Germany and Norway, and currently is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the Catholic University of America. He is co-director of the Arab Information Project with Michael C. Hudson at Georgetown University\’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, where he created the first course in North America on new media and information technologies in the Middle East. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, chair of the Electronic Publication Committee of the Middle East Studies Association and the Advisory Group on Electronic Communication of the American Anthropological Association, and founding editor of Working Papers on New Media: Information Technology in the Middle East. His research has ranged from tribal culture and Islamic cosmology to new media in Islamic cyberspace and information technology in Arab countries, where he has conducted research in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Recent publications include \’Vers une theorie technopractique de \’Internet dans le monde Arabe\’\'; (Maghreb-Machrek, 2004), \’New media, new publics: Reconfiguring the public sphere of Islam\’; (Social Research, Fall 2003), \’New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere\’ (co-edited with Dale Eickelman, 1999; second edition 2003), \’Arabizing the Internet (1998); The Internet in the Middle East\’; (Middle East Executive Reports, December 1997); Globalizing Politics and Religion in the Muslim World\’; (Journal of Electronic Publishing, September 1996).
Bendrath, Ralf, (37) is a political scientist, currently part of the Collaborative Research Center \”Transformations of the State\” at the University of Bremen conducting a case study on privacy regulation in the project “Regulation and Legitimacy on the Internet”. He has worked extensively on cyber-security, information warfare, international security policy, and peace research. Ralf Bendrath is also chief editor of worldsummit2005.org, the leading civil society website on the WSIS. In WSIS Civil Society, he is co-coordinator of the international \”Privacy and Security\” Working Group and active in several caucuses. He was a civil society member in the German government delegation to the WSIS Geneva summit in 2003. He is a founding member of the German advocacy group \’Netzwerk Neue Medien\’ and also active in European Digital Rights (EDRi). His research network “Forschungsgruppe Informationsgesellschaft und Sicherheitspolitik” (FOGIS) has organized the first public international conference on \’Arms Control in Cyberspace\’.
Benjamin, Solomon is an independent researcher operating from Bangalore, India. He received his doctorate from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Master\’s degree in housing and settlement design from the Department of Architecture at MIT. Dr. Benjamin focuses on issues of urban governance, economy and poverty. Over the last two years, Benjamin has focused on the way Indian cities are being re-structured by big business in collaboration with international capital. The specific focus here, in the case of Bangalore, is on politics of land and city administration as influenced by this city\’s IT elite. In particular he focused on the way e-governance has re-worked land titles to facilitate the entry of the corporate groups. At present he is working on the so-called urban reform agenda promoted by US-AID and the World Bank in particular. Benjamin was a keynote speaker at several Worldbank symposia, presenting his study on the influence of business on land politics in Bangalore. Benjamin was sector leader Economic and Livelihood Development for the design phase of the Kolkata (Calcutta) Urban Services Program (KUSP) funded by DFID. He has lectured extensively in universities in research institutes in the US and Europe, and has joined several international research projects. He has consulted to the UNDP, UN-Habitat, SDC and advised various national level policy groups and state governments. He is a visiting faculty at the National Law School in Bangalore. Benjamin\’s publications include \’Urban land transformation for pro-poor economies\’ in \’Differentiation in South Africa and Indian Cities\’ in Geoforum (Pergamon Press) Volume 35, Issue 2 (March 2004), edited by S. Oldfield, 177-187, and (2000-2001) Democracy, Inclusive Governance, and poverty in Bangalore as part of a series \’Urban Governance, Partnership, and Poverty\’. IDD, School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham (2000-1).
Biekart, Kees, is a political scientist, holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at the international Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. His research deals with civil society, democracy and the role of NGOs, with an emphasis on Latin America. He is also a fellow of the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute, where he worked in the 1990s coordinating \’activist research projects\’ on and with the Central American peasant movement, the politics of European NGOs, and on new social movements. His publications include \’The Politics of Civil Society Building: European Private Aid Agencies and Democratic Transitions in Central America\’ (TNI/International Books 1999) and \’Compassion and Calculation: The Business of Private Foreign Aid\’, co-edited with David Sogge and John Saxby (TNI/Pluto 1996). He is currently living in Amsterdam and otherwise travelling in the global orbit.
Blommestein, Neeltje (1973, Netherlands). Neeltje is (co-)responsible for IICD’s Monitoring & Evaluation system and coordinating M&E activities in Burkina Faso, Mali, Zambia and Uganda. She used to coordinate the Global Teenager Project, a worldwide educational project. Educational background: Msc in Business Information Systems.
Burch, Sally is a British journalist, based in Ecuador since 1983. She is executive director of the Agencia Latinoamericana de Información (ALAI), a regional communications organization linked to social movements. During the first phase of the WSIS process, she acted as joint coordinator of the civil society working group on \’content and themes\’. In 1993-95, in the run-up to the 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), she was coordinator of the global Women\’s Networking Support Program of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). She has published numerous articles on ICTs, social networking and democratization of communication, and is co-author of three books on these issues, (with Osvaldo León and Eduardo Tamayo), published by ALAI, which are available online: \’Social Movements on the Net\’, October 2001; \’Se cayó el sistema: Enredos de la Sociedad de la Información\’, July 2004; \’Movimientos Sociales y Comunicación\’, febrero 2005 (to be published shortly in an abbreviated English version).
Busaniche, Beatriz , is a free software activist and a member of Fundación Vía Libre, Argentina. She has a Mass Communication Degree from the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, and is currently following Sociology Studies at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She has participated actively in the whole WSIS process from the Southern hemisphere. She is actively engaged in the Education, Academia and Research caucus (former civil society bureau member), and in the Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks (PCT) working group. Together with the Free Software Foundation Europe, Fundación Vía Libre followed the WGIG Process, by sending comments to IPR Executive Summary and Cibersecurity and Cibercrimen Issue Paper. She works on Free Software, Patents, copyrights and trademarks and Education. She attended events and gave speeches throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America. Recent publications include: Free Software Foundation Europe and Fundacion Vía Libre: \”Comments on IPR and Cybercrime and cybersecurity Issue Papers. \”WGIG; with Diego Levis\”Between words and actions – Civil Society and Education at WSIS\”, ITID Journal (Information Technologies and International Development) MIT Press; \” – algunos duelos jurídicos por la distribución del conocimiento\”, México DF, October, 2004, Heinrich Boell Foundation (in Spanish), and \”Patentes de Software – ¿Por qué las pymes y organizaciones sociales deben decir NO?\” (in Spanish).
Butt, Danny works as a writer, consultant, and educator on culture and technology, based in Aotearoa New Zealand. His last few years were spent in the academic sector; including being founding Director of the Creative Industries Research Centre at the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) in Hamilton, which he left to do more research and consultancy, including in cultural and political issues. Besides occasional organizational consultancy, Danny is the New Zealand member on the Panel of Authors for UNDP/IDRC/ORBICOM\’s Digital Review of Asia Pacific. He is also chairing the Place, Ground and Practice Working Group for the Pacific Rim New Media Summit at the International Symposium on Electronic Arts 2006.
Carnu, Andreea Iuliana is a Romanian born new media artist and activist. Between 1991 and 2004 she lived in the USA where she obtained a BA in new media art and foreign languages(french, german and italian); she has recently moved to the Netherlands. She is a co-founder of Indymedia-Romania and has recently begun organizing Dorkbot Eindhoven. Her interests lie at the intersections between art, technology and theory.
Chaparro, Enrique A., (48, Buenos Aires) is an information security consultant and researcher, and a free software advocate. He has worked as a consultant for numerous private sector companies, governments throughout Latin America, and multilateral organizations as the United Nations Development Programme and the InterAmerican Development Bank. He is also a frequent speaker on free software and information security issues, and as such he has given talks for organizations and universities in Latin America, Europe and the U.S. His most recent field of research is the set of complex relationships between computer technology and society, with a special focus on the appropriation of knowledge and the artificial barriers to development posed by the aggressive \”intellectual property\” policies set forth by the U.S. and Western Europe. He is a member of Fundacion Via Libre, an Argentinian NGO focused on the sharing of knowledge, and on free software as its vehicle. He is also a member of IACR (the International Association of Cryptologic Research), IEEE CS Technical Committee on Security and Privacy, and the Argentinian representative before Technical Committee 11 (Security) of IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing). Since 2002, he has been a member of the FSF Free Software Award Committee. Mr. Chaparro holds a degree in Mathematics from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, and M.S. and M.Phil. degrees from University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Royal Holloway – University of London, Egham, Surrey, UK.
Cisler, Steve is a librarian by training who only began using computers when he was middle-aged (42). He had a one Macintosh public computer lab in his branch library in the San Francisco area in 1984. In 1985 he joined The Well, a computer conferencing system, and ran a forum on information and libraries for many years. In 1988 at Apple Computer library he started a grant program called \’Apple Library of Tomorrow\’. He made dozens of grants for innovative projects in the U.S. and Canadian museums and libraries. He supported the first copyright free online book about the Internet (Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Big Dummies Guide to the Internet”), and at the same time he became very interested in local community networks like the Free-Nets and early citizen-run community web sites. He worked on de-regulation of the radio frequencies and standards that became known as 802.11 or Wi-Fi. Over the past seven years he has consulted in Latin America, Thailand, Jordan, and Uganda on short-term ICT projects involving telecenters, school computer labs, and indigenous groups. Texts: EduAction: Product Placement in Learning Environments, Digital Divide:Metastasis of a Buzzword.
Claassen, Heimo (Journalist): Earlier German, now Belgian national, thus \”European\” of sorts; Sociologist by origin (Frankfurt/Main \”School\” for the theoretical, Lund/Sweden University for the empirical part), working as independent journalist from Brussels (for German language papers/media, some English language publications too) mostly on North/South relations, for some three decades by now; thus involved \”from the beginnings\” in the \”digital divide\” (and on the very practial side of it too – e.g., how to get out news from Mobutu\’s Kinshasa or Apartheid South Africa.) More theoretical-analytical involvement with the upcoming \”browser war\” in the mid-90s (e.g., at the German IMD conference \’98. A number of current publications on \”digital divide\” issues, and editing of thematic issues of the German Entwicklungspolitik magazine (#11/2002, featuring Roberto Verzola e.a., and in the same journal, 3/11/2003 on the onset to the WSIS).
Dean, Jodi teaches political theory, feminist legal theory and ‘Public Spheres, Globalization and Democracy’ as an Associate Professor in the department of Political Science, Hobart-William Smith, Geneva, NY. Dean’s research and writing focuses on the contemporary space or possibility of politics. A current research project is ‘We are Geneva’, a community media project that draws from disadvantaged people’s familiarity with cell phones to involve them in collaborative journalism on the web. Jodi Dean is co-editor (together wit Jon Anderson and Geert Lovink) of ‘Reformatting Politics’, a collection of work from the SSRC internet and civil society project. Books include: Solidarity of Strangers (1996), Aliens in America (1998), Publicity\’s Secret (2002). Dean has edited Feminism and the New Democracy (1997), Cultural Studies and Political Theory (2000), and with Paul A. Passavant, Empire\’s New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri. Also see her weblog and her homepage.
Dinesh, T.B. leads a software product development team in Bangalore, India, for the past five years. He has been working on open source Web based Technologies with special emphasis on enabling and empowering the non-profit and citizen based organizations. Development of the Pantoto communities software and its application domains have gotten him excited about various activities and groups in social development sector. Janastu is an NGO that is setup to promote active involvement with projects in the social development sector. His work involves some traveling mostly in India in with regards to ICT applications and other issue based support for NGOs. Due to his experience of living in Bangalore, establishing and running a development team and deploying Web applications for Indian needs; and as a result of organizing discussions on IT and Society, he has been forced to notice the IT capabilities and challenges present in Bangalore and in India. Prior to his endeavors in Bangalore, Dinesh worked in The Silicon Valley, where a few friends envisioned and designed the Pantoto project. His earlier work was centered at CWI in Amsterdam as a research scientist, where he worked in the area of programming environment generation. Dinesh, received his PhD from University of Iowa, and B.Eng from India.
Eliasz, Toni is a rising young visionary advocate, and a speaker on international digital divide issues. He has gained a reputation as a mission driven social entrepreneur with the aim to understand the opportunities and risks of future technologies (especially Information and Communication Technologies, ICTs) and use this knowledge to contribute towards sustainable world and society. Toni is one of the key figures of a Global eRiding Network, a world-wide movement of non-profit technology consultants. Toni co-founded Ungana-Afrika, a regional ICT capacity building organization, that incubates and manages ICT support programs within Southern Africa\’s development community. As an executive director of ngana-Afrika his main responsibility is the overall performance of the organisation with focus on the strategy, fund-raising, and partnerships development. Before Ungana-Afrika, Toni had six years career experience combining technology and business positions in software industry in Finland. He holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Sciences from University of Helsinki. During his free time, Toni is continuing his Ph.D. studies focusing on the Global Information Society.
Endt, Menno is an Amsterdam-based student/artist of Media and Culture, with a strong focus on social network theory. He was involved in the production of the issuecrawler-movie for an installation at the ZKM exhibition \’making things public\’ in Karlsruhe, Germany. For incommunicado 05, Menno researched the ICT4D situation in Iran and the involvement of the Iranian government in stimulating the use of ICT.
Esterhuysen, Anriette (South Africa) is the Executive Director of the Association for Progressive Communications, an international nongovernmental organization that focuses on the use of information and communication technologies by civil society for social justice and development. She was Executive Director of SANGONET, an electronic information and communications service provider for the development sector in South Africa from 1993 to 2000. She has a background in information and communications in the social justice and development sectors. Anriette is also a founder of WomenNet in South Africa and served on the African Technical Advisory Committee of the Economic Commission for Africa\’s African Information Society Initiative. She was a member of the Social Science Research Council\’s Information Technology and International Cooperation Steering Committee and is currently a member of the UN ICT Task Force. She servers on the governing boards of Isis Women\’s International Cross Cultural Exchange, Ungana-Afrika in Pretoria, and the Society for International Development.
Fonseca, Felipe has been the co-founder of Projeto MetaFora, a collaborative incubator for social technology projects (currently inactive); and the MetaReciclagem movement that aims the transformation of communities through the re-appropriation of technology. Felipe is also one of the founders of CoLab. Felipe acts as a consultant to the Brazilian Ministry of Culture\’s Pontos de Cultura (Cultural Points) project, that will create nearly 1.000 free-software-based media labs throughout the country. Felipe works with projects related to free knowledge and independent media since 2002. He has helped develop or plan projects such as Liganois, an interaction environment for the users of brazilian Telecenters; Conversê, the social website for the Pontos de Cultura project; MetaOng, a collaborative website about third sector and enterpreneurship; and Xemelê, an ongoing research on learning and community management systems. Felipe and MetaReciclagem became fellows to the Waag/Sarai platform in 2004, and developed research on MetaReciclagem (also see here).
Freire, Alexandre has a bachelors degree in Computer Science at the University of São Paulo, where he is currently finishing his master\’s degree, working with agile development methodologies. He contributes to many free and open source software development communities, and tries to use FOSS whenever he works. Alexandre has worked for Brazil\’s largest IT companies like Mandic (Brazil\’s first BBS and Internet service provider), Americanas.com (latin-america\’s biggest e-commerce portal), and has also coached a team of developers in an Italian-based multinational development house, AdMetam. After leaving show business he joined forces with a team of other hackers, activists, artists and anthropologists to create the Digital Culture department inside the Ministry of Culture. They are currently implementing the digital culture aspects of the Cultural Hotspots program, which aims to create, using exclusively FOSS technologies, a distributed network of cultural-related projects that will learn to digitalize, produce, remix and distribute, local cultural production.
Gjorgjinski, Ljupco is educated in political philosophy, international relations, economics and diplomacy. He has served as Governor on the Governing Council of the University of Toronto, as well as worked for the President of the Republic of Macedonia as his External Advisor on the Information Society – only to cite each of his most distinguished positions among many others in Canada and Macedonia, respectfully. He now works as Executive Director of the \”Kiro Gligorov Foundation\”. His research focus is on Information Society governance, observed from the point of view of political philosophy and through the prism of art and cybernetics.
Griffioen, Daan born in the Hague (Netherlands), studies Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. Daan is currently finishing his master\’s, and is participating in the Incommunicado research group. After the conference, he recently started writing his thesis about global civil society organizations and the Internet. The research he did for this conference is about One World.net as a unique digital platform which effectively helps solving important development issues in a multipurposed way.
Gurstein, Michael is currently a visiting Professor in the School of Management at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Principal with Michael Gurstein & Associates, Vancouver BC specializing in community-based technology applications. He is an Honorary Professor at Central Queensland University in Australia. A Canadian, he completed a B.A. at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge and was a senior public servant in the Provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan. From 1992-95 Dr. Gurstein was a Management Advisor with the United Nations Secretariat in New York. Among the projects with which Dr. Gurstein was directly engaged in the early 90s was an extensive analysis and evaluation of a major program in Community Radio among the Inuit and Cree aboriginal people of Northern Quebec funded by the Government of Canada. Dr. Michael Gurstein has pioneered in the development of the strategic and policy thinking concerning community ICT implementations and has advised and consulted widely in this area including with a number of UN agencies, and Departments and agencies of the Canadian, US, and Australian governments among others. His publications include \”Community Informatics: Enabling Communities with Information and Communications Technologies\” (Idea Group, 2000); and \”Burying Coal: Research and Development in a Marginal Community\” Collective Press, Vancouver.
Haaster, Kim van is an Amsterdam-based cultural anthropologist. She recently worked at the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam, as a production assistant for the conference ‘A Decade of Webdesign’ organized by the INC in collaboration with PZI Rotterdam and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She has obtained her MSc in Cultural Anthropology of Non-Western Societies at the University of Amsterdam. For her Masters thesis, Kim researched the workings of intercultural contacts in tourism in contemporary Cuba. For incommunicado 05 Kim researched the \’University of Informatics Sciences\’ (UCI) in Cuba.
Kagai, Bildad, is the coordinator of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) as well as the CEO of Circuits and Packets Communications Limited, one of the leading Open Source Software companies in Kenya. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, 31 years ago, Bildad sobtained a degree at the University of Nairobi, in Building Economics and Management. Bildad started his career at the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (UNHABITAT) in 1997 after graduation as a database consultant. He consulted for GTZ (German Agency for Technical Cooperation) and the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC) where he introduced Adaptive Technology to victims who got visually impaired following the 1998 terrorist twin bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Bildad started his business career in 2001 as the Business Development Manager of Circuits and Packets Communications Limited where he encountered open source software for the first time. In November 2002, a number of like minded open source enthusiasts met under the auspices of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and formed the Open Source Task force for Africa. Consequently on 21st February 2002, he helped launch the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) during the second preparatory meeting of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS PrepCom2) in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then, FOSSFA has been the leading light campaigning for Open Source and Free Software in Africa with tremendous success in various countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and Namibia amongst others where Open Source initiatives have started to thrive. Bildad is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya as the CEO of Circuits and Packets Communications Limited which also hosts the FOSSFA Secretariat.
Karamagi, Ednah, is the general manager of BROSDI, the Busoga Rural Open Source & Development Initiative in Uganda. Until 2004, she worked as head of research, information and consultancy at Karabole Research and Resource Center, a local NGO in western Uganda. She is specialized in the use of both modern and traditional ICT for development methodologies, empowering participatory methods, community development, gender, knowledge sharing and information management. She is currently writing a book on knowledge sharing and information management tools for poverty reduction in rural communities.
Keenan, Thomas, teaches media theory, literature, and human rights at Bard College, where he is associate professor of Comparative Literature and directs the Human Rights Project. He is author of Fables of Responsibility (Stanford University Press 1997), and is finishing a book called Live Feed: Crisis, Intervention, Media, about new media and contemporary conflicts. With Andras Riedlmayer, he started International Justice Watch (JUSTWATCH-L), an Internet discussion list on war crimes and transitional justice. He has served on the boards of WITNESS and the Soros Documentary Fund.
Keller, Paul heads the Public Research programme of Waag Society in Amsterdam. He has been one of the co-editors of the \’Next 5 Minutes 4\’ conference in Amsterdam in September 2003. For Waag Society he coordinates the Euro-Indian exchange programmes (Waag-Sarai Exchange Programme) and \’Towards a Culture of Open Networks\’ and leads the project DISC (Domain for Innovative Software and Content). He is Public Project lead for the Creative Commons in the Netherlands. He is also an active member of the European Noborder network.
Koskela, Seppo born in 52 in Finland, hitchhiking through Sahara and West-Africa 80 – 81, a proud member of the extended family Jammeh in The Gambia since then, political activist in 70s, media activist and video teacher and organizer in 80s and 90s, from now on (in 00s) working in a small scale research project called \”Applied Linux Institute Project\” in University of Helsinki, Department of Communication with my wife professor Sinikka Sassi.
Krogt, Stijn van der (Netherlands, 1966) is Team Leader of the Country Programme teams, and member of IICD’s Management Team. In addition, he is Programme Manager for IICD in Bolivia (and previously in Jamaica and Ghana). He is responsible for facilitating and guiding local project partners, and coordinates the overall programme activities.
Educational background: Ph.D. Economics / Development Economics.
Lovink, Geert, is a Dutch-Australian media theorist and activist. In January 2004 he was appointed as associated professor/research professor at the University of Amsterdam and Hogeschool van Amsterdam, where he founded the Institute of Network Cultures. He received a PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2003. He is a co-founder of the Amsterdam-based free community network \’Digital City\’ and the support campaign for independent media in South-East Europe Press Now. Since 2000 he has been a consultant/editor to the exchange program of Waag Society (Amsterdam) and the Sarai New Media Centre (Delhi). He is (co)organizer of conferences, festivals and (online) publications and the founder of numerous Internet projects such as Next Five Minutes, Tulipomania Dotcom, Nettime, Fibreculture, and FreeCooperation. He recently published Dark Fiber (2002), Uncanny Networks (2002) and My First Recession (2003). Most of his texts can be found online.
Maassen, Paul (1973) holds a Master of Science degree in Industrial engineering & management, with a specialization in non-western management and information management from the University of Twente (The Netherlands). After his graduation he started working for Dutch telecom incumbent KPN as a management trainee. In 2002 he switched back to his desired working habitat: non-profit development sector. He started with the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries. His field of expertise within Hivos is the role ICT can play for development. He represented Hivos as a member of the Dutch delegation to the WSIS, and will do so again in November of this year. As of 1 July 2005 he will take the position of programme manager ICT, Media & Knowledge Sharing.
Marres, Noortje is currently completing her Ph.D. thesis \’No Issue, No Public: Democratic deficits after the displacement of politics\’ at the philosophy department of the University of Amsterdam. In recent years, she has co-organized the workshop series The Social Life of Issues and she was one of the editors of the festival Next Five Minutes 4 which took place in Amsterdam in 2003. She recently contributed an article to the catalogue Making Things Public (MIT Press, 2005) on the debate between the philosopher John Dewey and the journalist Walter Lippmann about the fate of democracy in the technological society. Together with Richard Rogers, she wrote the piece \”Subsuming the Ground. How local realities of the Ferghana Valley, the Narmada Dams, and the BTC pipeline are put to use on the Web\” (available via SSRC).
McLaughlin, Lisa is an associate professor at Miami University-Ohio where she holds a joint appointment in Mass Communication and Women\’s Studies. Her Ph.D. is in media studies. McLaughlin is editor of Feminist Media Studies, an international peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge. She is also the representative to the World Summit on the Information Society on behalf of the Union for Democratic Communications, an organization that brings together academics, activists, and practitioners whose work is critical of the communications establishment. During the first phase of the WSIS, she was a member of a sub-committee on civil society participation and the civil society content and themes group. McLaughlin has published a number of articles and chapters on feminism, media, and the public sphere, and, more recently, on feminism and the political economy of transnational public space. She teaches courses in international communications, global media governance, and feminist media theory and practice. Her current work focuses on ICTs and the corporatization of development as it has emerged under the auspices of the United Nations. At present, McLaughlin\’s research concentrates specifically on Cisco Systems\’ Networking Academy Programs and the corporation\’s Gender Initiatives that have originated as public-private partnerships brokered through the UN.
Muthoni, Dorcas (Kenya), has a background in Computer Science. She is in private business where she is the director of the company Openworld Limited (www.openworld.co.ke). She also works at a non-profit organization called the Kenya Education Network, where she serves as the Technical Manager. She is involved in two projects. One is the LinuxChix Africa (www.africalinuxchix.org), an initiative that facilitates the active participation of African women in the FOSS movement across this region. The second project dubbed ITDAWN is a development project that is working towards a Linux distribution for Kenyan schools.
Mwaniki, Antony is the Business Manager & Chief Executive for OneWorld International Kenya, a company set up by OneWorld International to provide SMS driven information services. The company received an award for excellence during an exhibition for private sector companies held in Nairobi in February 2005 and was a finalist for the Halfkin Prize. Antony is a Civil Engineering graduate of the Nairobi University and has Masters of Science Degree in Construction Management from the University of Leeds and a Masters in Management from the London Business School. At the London Business School Antony majored in entrepreneurship and managing change. Prior to joining the London Business School in the year 2002, Antony worked as a project manager on various building and infrastructural projects for 8 years with one of Kenya’s oldest consultancy firms in the area of Construction, reaching the position of partner at the firm before he left in 2002 to go to the London Business School. He joined OneWorld International in his current capacity in January 2004.
Naughton, Tracey has professional experience that spans crystal sets to the latest innovations in information and communication technology. Her foundation interest is in technology, specifically the content it carries, as a means of fostering democratic participation, communication and development. She has been a media producer and policy advocate for seventeen years, twelve of which have been based in Africa. In the late 1980’s in Australia, the regulatory environment for participatory media was opened and Tracey led the national team that advocated for the establishment of new, local media services. As a result, a single frequency was allocated to community television across Australia, in 1992. Concurrently she was President of a Community Newspaper and program presenter on a Melbourne wide radio station. In recognition of her contribution to media democratisation, she received a Professional Development Award in 1991 from the Australia Council for the Arts and undertook a twelve-month field research project on community media in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. In 1993 Tracey moved to South Africa to take up an AusAID Contract as Advisor to the nascent community radio sector there, subsequently contributing to a large network of community based radio projects, and the national co-ordinating network. She then adopted Johannesburg as a base and has since consulted in twenty African countries and others in Asia in the area of community based ICT initiatives, including community radio. She is currently engaged in the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society which is credited as the first UN multi-stakeholder process that is realising the approach to global governance described in the Millennium Development Goals. Tracey Chairs the WSIS Media Caucus and the Civil Society Bureau.
Nederveen Pieterse, Jan, professor of sociology at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, specializes in transnational sociology with research interests in globalization, development studies and intercultural studies. He taught in the Netherlands, Ghana and as visiting professor in Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and lectured in many countries. He is associate editor of Futures, European Journal of Social Theory, Ethnicities, Third Text, and Culture & Society and Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science. Recent publications include: Globalization or Empire? (Routledge, 2004); Global Mélange: Globalization and culture (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003); Development Theory: Deconstructions/ Reconstructions (Sage, 2001); Globalization and Social Movements (co-edited, Palgrave, 2001); Global Futures: Shaping Globalization (edited, Zed, 2000); and about 200 articles and chapters.
Niederer, Sabine (1977), works as a producer and researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam. Sabine graduated in 2003 as an art historian (MA) at Utrecht University, with a masters thesis on manipulated photography (from Dada-2000). In 2003, she worked as producer of the international games conference Level Up. From 2001-2004 she worked as curator of Hoogt4, the platform of film-related arts at Filmtheatre ‘t Hoogt in Utrecht. Until recently she taught (media) theory at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Sabine is one of the editors of the bimonthly film and video program ‘Cinematiek’, and writes music video reviews for the Dutch broadcasting company NPS at www.cinema.nl.
Nwakanma, Nnenna, holds a triple Bachelors degree (in the Social Sciences, History and Religion) and a Masters degree in International Law and Relations. She has worked within international development organizations and institutions in Africa as an Information, Documentation and Relations Officer: The Home Health Education Service, The Helen Keller Foundation (HKI) and The African Development Bank (AFD). Nnenna is the co-founder of different pan-African organizations: The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), The Africa Network of Information Society Actors (ANISA), and the Africa Civil Society for the Information Society (ACSIS). One of the major Civil Society Actors in the World Summit on the Information Society, she represents the African Civil Society on the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF)), and advises on the Africa Information Society Initiative (AISI). She is also the co-author of Our Side of the Divide and Silenced: Censorship and Control of the Internet. At present she works as a consultant to governments, civil society organizations, business entities and international development organizations on various domains of her expertise in African Development: Human Rights, Conflict Management, Gender Mainstreaming and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
Op de Coul, Maartje has been new media evaluation manager for OneWorld International since November 2002. As such she conducts worldwide audience and partner surveys and develops and coordinates evaluation activities for a variety of OneWorld projects. For one of them, the Open Knowledge Network, she has developed a methodology and oversees its implementation in several African countries. In the past 2 years she has also conducted 20 ICT for development case studies in South Asia, Southern Africa and Central America and developed a general framework for evaluation for the OneWorld network. Furthermore she contributes to the development, testing and publication of a toolbox for evaluating information products and services. Before she joined OneWorld Maartje worked as an ‘ICT for development’ programme officer with Hivos (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries) from 1997-2002. She was responsible for co-writing, implementing and monitoring the Hivos ICT policy, the programme management of ICT projects and awareness and capacity building on ‘ICT for development’ issues both nationally and internationally. Maartje graduated (with honours) in History (of International Relations and Latin America) from Utrecht University, Netherlands, 1997. Recent publications: What can computers do for the poor?, June 2004 on openDemocracy.net, and ICT for development Case Studies on Southern Africa, South Asia, Central America (Synthesis report) Dec. 2003.
Oueadraogo, Sylvestre (Burkina Faso) is lecturer in economy at the University of Ouagadougou. He is an ICT4D expert, coordinator of Local Information and Exchange Networking and President of Yam Pukri. Sylvestre is the author of \”Computer and the Djembe, between dreams and Realities\”, Harmattan, 2003. His passion, however, lies in applied sciences, especially in the application of science for the benefit of the projects in the countries in the process of development. After his doctorate in 1996, he started again to work in the associative field, but this time by creating an association which is called YAM PUKRI, which in local language MOORE means Open your mind. This association has as principal objectives training, popularization and the advise in new technologies (computer and Internet). To date, six centers of formation were create and we add up more than 3000 people trained since 1998. YAM PUKRI association is a pioneer in the field of ICT\’s association in Burkina Faso. He has partnership with several organizations in the world and more mainly Terre des Hommes, Genève in the area the training of the young people to new technologies. In 2002, YAM PUKRI concluded an agreement from partnership with IICD and within this framework, they have created a Local Information and Exchange Network (LIEN).
Plaetevoet, René is the coordinator of the European Platform for Migrant Workers Rights and the co-founder of december18.net the online network for the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants. An international group of volunteers maintains the portal site and supports the online campaigns which the organisation has set up in favour of the universal ratification of the UN Migrant Workers Convention. From 1999 to 2004, René was international coordinator with oneworld.net, the leading civil society portal site on human rights and sustainable development.
Pullens, Roy (1976), researcher Incommunicado 05. Research titled ‘Migration Management: Export of the IOM Model for EU Security’. From artschool student to disillusioned artist. From disappointed student media studies to motivated trouble maker in possession of cute boyfriend with huge sideburns.
Raqs Media Collective. Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta are members of the Raqs Media Collective and co-initiators (with Ravi Sundaram and Ravi Vasudevan) of the Sarai Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Delhi. At Sarai, Jeebesh Bagchi coordinates the Cybermohalla project, Monica Narula is coordinator of the Media Lab and Shuddhabrata Sengupta is co ordinator Research Network. All three work at the Sarai Media Lab and are editors of the Sarai Reader series. Their work (as Raqs) includes the installations -\”A Measure of Anacoustic Reason\”, \”Lost New Shoes\”, \”The Impostor in the Waiting Room\”, \”The Wherehouse\”, \”5 Pieces of Evidence\”, \”Co-Ordinates of Everyday Life – 28.28N/77.15E::2001/2002\” , \”Location(n)\” , \”A/S/L\” and the \”Temporary Autonomous Sarai\” (in Collaboration with Atelier Bow Wow, Tokyo), \”OPUS\” a web based system designed for the sharing of creativity, and print projects for \’Utopia Station\’, \’Soda\’, \’Data Browser\’ and the Sarai Readers. Raqs has exhibited at the 51st and 50th Venice Biennales, Documenta 11 (Kassel), at the Taipei and Liverpool Biennales, Palais de Beaux Arts (Brussels), Emocao Artifical (Sao Paulo), Generali Foundation Gallery (Vienna), Ars Electronica (Linz), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Roomade Office for Contemporary Art (Brussels) and at the Bose Pacia Gallery, New York.
Rebernak, Jerneja was born in Slovenia in 1981 and has lived in Italy since 1989. She has graduated in Communication science at the University of Ljubljana in 2004. Currently she is enrolled in the Research Master in Media Studies at the University in Amsterdam. She is an activist from the group Dost je! and was coordinator of the project Vox Pupuli, a group focused on the elaboration of posters on the enlargement process of NATO. She participated at conferences in the Czech Republic “Media and Xenophobia” organized by Eyfa and helped as a volunteer in the “Tuning into diversity” organized by Miramedia, the Netherlands (2004). Her current interests and topic of research are Communication Rights in the WSIS process and the state of civil society in Tunisia.
Riphagen, Margreet (1977), producer at Waag Society, graduated in 2000 at Integrated Communication Management at the Hogeschool of Utrecht. After graduating, Margreet worked three years at an advertising agency in Utrecht, as an account manager. In June 2003 she started working at Waag Society as a producer. The projects she has been working on are Pilotus (pilotus.com) and the Storytable (storytable.com). In 2005 she produced the Creative Capital Conference in Amsterdam, together with The Netherlands Knowlegdeland. Apart from her job at Waag Society, Margreet also does voluntary work. From 2000 until 2003 she was magazine manager at Expreszo (gay youth magazine) and at the moment she works as a volunteer for FemFusion (lesbian platform) where she is training to be a fundraiser.
Rogers, Richard, is University Lecturer in New Media at the University of Amsterdam, recurrent Visiting Professor in the Philosophy and Social Study of Science at the University of Vienna, and Director of the Govcom.org Foundation (Amsterdam). Previously, Rogers worked as Senior Advisor to Infodrome, the Dutch Governmental Information Society initiative. He also has worked as a Researcher and Tutor in Computer Related Design at the Royal College of Art (London), as Research Fellow in Design and Media at the Jan van Eyck Academy (Maastricht), and as a Researcher in Technology Assessment at the Science Center Berlin (WZB) and in Strategic Computing in the Public Sector at the JFK School, Harvard University. He earned his PhD and MSc in Science Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and his B.A. in Government and German at Cornell University. Over the past five years, Rogers and the Govcom.org Foundation have received grants from the Dutch Government (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science), the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation. Rogers is author of Technological Landscapes (Royal College of Art, London, 1999), editor of Preferred Placement: Knowledge Politics on the Web (Jan van Eyck Press, 2000), and author of Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press, 2004). See here for maps, also see Info-Id, Issue Network, and Issue Crawler.
Rossiter, Ned, is a Senior Lecturer in Media Studies (Digital Media) at the Centre for Media Research, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, and Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney. Ned is co-editor of Politics of a Digital Present: An Inventory of Australian Net Culture, Criticism and Theory (Melbourne: Fibreculture Publications, 2001) and Refashioning Pop Music in Asia: Cosmopolitan Flows, Political Tempos and Aesthetic Industries (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004). He is also a co-facilitator of fibreculture, a network of critical Internet research and culture in Australasia. Research interests: Digital media cultures; information economies; network societies; social movements & ICTs; media theory; political philosophy. Current research projects: organized Networks as New Institutional Forms; Political Economy of the Internet and Civil Society; Creative Industries, Information Economies and the Precarious Condition of Labour; Latin American-Asia New Media Initiatives Group.
Rustema, Reinder (1972) is a writer and lecturer, teaching at the University of Amsterdam and the Arts & Technology school in Breda. He travels between both his homes in Amsterdam and Paris. He actively contributes to many usenet newsgroup and other internet fora. His wide area of expertise ranges from such diverse fields as digital culture, politics and the public domain. He wrote an MA thesis on The Rise and Fall of the Digital City In Amsterdam. In 2005 he launched the website petities.nl where Dutch citizens can sign or initiate a petition. He is self-employed through RRR Media, a company he started five years ago. Rustema has been on the Internet Society board since 2003.
Rutten, Kris studied Comparative Sciences of Culture and Development Studies. During his education he was a trainee for the Digitaal Platform IAK/IBK (http://www.digitaalplatform.be) where he did research on themes such as Patents, Communities, Gender and Network Literacy. Afterwards he collaborated in concrete projects for the non-profit organization Constant (http://www.constantvzw.com) and the Digitaal Platform IAK/IBK. For both organizations he does editing work on a regular basis. Recently he started working as junior faculty member at Ghent University (http://www.ugent.be), more specific for the Department of Education within a team which focuses on culture, education and media.
Rutten, Matthijs is a third year student Integrated Communication Management at the Hogeschool of Utrecht. The main subject of his Communication Studies is European Public Affairs. After his graduation he is planning to obtain his master in political science at the University of Amsterdam. He currently works as a communication and research intern at the Institute of Network Cultures for the international work conference and public event ‘ICT for Development’. These events are organized by the INC, in cooperation with Waag Society, De Balie in Amsterdam and the Delhi-based media centre Sarai. The international character of the coming work conference and public event corresponds with his international orientation; before and during his study he spent several months in South America, South East Asia and the Middle East.
Sarker, Partha Pratim works as an International Consultant to \’ICT for Development\’ issues and co-founded a citizen’s network – Bytes for All – which is one of the oldest and most popular ICT4D network in South Asia. Partha has worked to rebuild bytes for all as a public domain that is community driven and brought out different on-line portal issues on ICT for public health, disaster mitigation, mass education, rural connectivity, non-English computing, E-governance etc. He also runs a popular discussion channel – Bytes for All Readers Forum – which is being integrated to the network. An ITU fellow, Partha also works as an Asian correspondent to Government Technology International Magazine in USA and has consulted with different other groups including IDRC, APC, UNESCO Regional Office in New Delhi, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) etc. His articles are published at Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, Southern Review Journal, GKP Publication on ICT for Poverty Reduction, UNESCO publications on Profiles and Experiences etc.
Schneider, Florian is a filmmaker, writer, and developer in the fields of new media, networking and open source technologies. In his work he focuses on crossovers between mainstream and independent media, art and activism, theory and technology. As a filmmaker he directed several award-winning documentaries and made theme-evenings for the german-french tv station Arte on the topics of migration and new global movements. He is one of the initiators of the KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL campaign at documentaX and subsequent projects. He founded, designed and supported countless online-projects, such as the European internet platform D-A-S-H and the online-network KEIN.ORG. He is the director of the new media festivals MAKEWORLD (2001), NEURO (2004) and one of the co-organizers of the upcoming FADAIAT2 event in Tarifa/Tangiers, in June 2005. His publications include contributions in Der Spiegel and other renowned magazines and newspapers. From 2001, he has published Makeworlds paper 1-4, a newspaper magazine for theory, art and activism.
Schout, Loe (1952) has a background in journalism and communications. As Head of Communications and Marketing, he played a pionering role in the online dissemination strategy of Hivos, one of the first Dutch development agencies to have utilized the internet. He is currently head of the ICT & Knowledge Sharing desk being responsible for the implementation of Hivos\’ ICT support programme in developing countries. As of 1 July 2005 Loe Schout will lead the new Culture, ICT and Media bureau. Schout published articles on internet, networking, civil society building and development in various magazines.
Sedee, Anne, has a background in political studies as well as IT. Current work: manager IT Milieudefensie (Dutch section Friends of the Earth), ICT consultant Niza, program committee What the Hack, board XminY and Worldcom.org.
Sigillito, Magela, from Uruguay, is the head of the Internet operations of ITeM (Instituto del Tercer Mundo – Third World Institute) a non profit research and advocacy organization. She is the coordinator of the Choike website (www.choike.org), a leading portal on Southern civil societies. Choike is active in the World Summit for the Information Society, producing research papers with a Southern perspective and manages www.whiteband.org the website of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP). Ms. Sigillito was the manager of Chasque, the first Internet provider for the public at large in Uruguay, until December 2004 when that operation was transferred from ITeM to a private firm. She is a member of the boards of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and of IFIwatchnet. Ms. Sigillito holds a degree in Librarian and Information Sciences from the National University of Costa Rica and has worked on ITs for development since the early eighties.
Sorj, Bernardo is Director of the Edelstein Center for Social Research and Professor of Sociology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He was visiting professor in several universities in Europe, United States and Latin America and more recently he was awarded the Chaire Sérgio Buarque de Holanda from the Maison des Sciences de L’Homme and the Chaire Simón Bolívar, Institut des Hautes Études de L’Amerique Latine, Paris. He is the author of 17 books and more than a hundred articles published in several languages related to the international system, contemporary social theory and Latin American development. The title of his most recent books are firstname.lastname@example.org-Confronting Inequality in the Informatin Society (Unesco), and in Portuguese and Spanish Unexpected Democracy – Citizenship, Human Rights and Social Inequality-. And Internet and Poverty.
Starink, Gerben is a Amsterdam-based student/artist of Media and Culture, currenntly starting his masters about open-source software. The main subject of his studies is Open Source. For incommunicado 05, Gerben researched the situation of postcolonial discourse in ICT.
Stoop-Alcala, Fatima, researcher and blogger for the Incommunicado conference, hails from the Philippines where she graduated with a double-degree in Humanities and Education, minor in Political Science. She also took up a master’s course in Development Studies. In 1993 she began teaching politics, communication, gender and art appreciation in De La Salle University and the University of the Philippines both in the city of Manila. Fatima also headed rural communication development programs for NGO’s and later delved into copywriting and concept development for several ad agencies. A roleplaying game-junkie, she met her Dutch husband in one of the virtual worlds where she lived. She’s now back to being a student, this time taking up Interactive Media in the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Fatima is specializing in Interactive Communication.
Sundaram, Ravi is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi and among the initiators of the Sarai programme on media and urban culture. His work deals with the intersection of the city and contemporary electronic cultures, issues of legality and non legality, and new conflicts around property and the electronic commodity. Sundaram has spoken and presented on these issues in India and around the world; his essays have been translated into many languages. In Sarai, he works with the research project Publics and Practices in the History of the Present (PPHP), which examines the emerging inter-media junctions in Indian cities. He has co-edited the critically acclaimed series: the Sarai Readers: The Public Domain (2001), The Cities of Everyday Life (2002), Shaping Technologies (2003), and the new Crisis Media (2004). Among the recent conferences recently he co-organized was Contested Commons/Trespassing Publics: A Conference on Inequalities, Conflicts and Intellectual Property. In Spring 2005 he is a visiting Fellow at Princeton University.
Tarman, Glen, is the coordinator of the Trade Justice Movement , the UK coalition of over 70 NGOs, trade unions and other organisations campaigning for fundamental changes to the unjust rules and institutions that govern international trade. He is also a member of the coordination team of MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY , a one-year only, 400+ organisation alliance from UK civil society that has come together to demand political action on trade justice, debt and aid through massive public mobilisation throughout 2005 including the G8 Summit. Glen is the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY coordination lead on new media strategy (as well as trade). MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY is the UK national platform of the Global Call for Action against Poverty . Glen was formerly publicity manager at OneWorld where he had responsibility for media relations, online marketing, promotion and public relations for the online development and human rights network. Previously Glen coordinated the UK activist networks for the World Development Movement and VSO as well as working in a number of media and communications roles in global issue campaigning, development education and NGO profile-raising. Glen has written widely on all forms new media campaigning as well as undertaking various consultancy work, training, and public speaking on digital activism and the role of the internet for action on global causes.
Velden, Maja van der, is a Research Fellow, Department of Information and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway, working on a multi-year project entitled \”Local Knowledges in Global Communications\”. Since the late 1980s, Maja has been involved in ICT for development, human rights and social justice issues as an activist, journalist, and researcher. Her present research investigates the impact of ICT on human knowledge and focuses on cognitive justice as the basis of an ethical framework for ICT design and policy. Her most recent article, \”Programming for Cognitive Justice\”, discusses the Development Gateway and the Open Knowledge Network, arguing for socio-technical designs that assume the diversity of knowledge. Originally from The Netherlands, Maja has lived for extended periods in Tanzania, Palestine, Canada, and presently lives in Oslo, Norway. Her articles can be found at her site or her research blog.
Verzola, Roberto is an engineer by training, and a long-time social activist. He introduced many Philippine and Asian NGOs to computers and the Internet, as Chair of People\’s Access and Interdoc in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He set up the first email s
Institute of Network Cultures, Hogeschool van Amsterdam
Concept & Programme:
Geert Lovink and Soenke Zehle
Menno Endt, Daan Griffioen, Kim van Haaster, Roy Pullens, Jerneja Rebernak, Matthijs Rutten, Gerben Starink, Fatima Stoop-Alcala.
Timi Stoop-Alcala (coordinator), Andreea Iuliana Carnu, Jodi Dean, Menno Endt, Daan Griffioen, Kim van Haaster, Kris Rutten.
Barbara de Preter (coordinator), Stefania Milan, Nat Muller, Gerbrand Oudenaarden, Gerben Starink.
Doede Bardok and Marc de Wit.
Kernow Craig, Greenpepper Project.
Kernow Craig, Christo Buschek, Florian Schneider.
Susanne Lang, Gerbrand Oudenaarden, Florian Schneider and Gerben Starink.
International Working Conference
Amsterdam, De Balie, June 16-17, 2005
Concept: Geert Lovink & Soenke Zehle
Organized by the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam) together with Waag Society (Amsterdam) and the New Media Centre Sarai (Delhi), with support from HIVOS, IICD, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Live stream at http://www.debalie.nl/live!
Direct link to the live video stream: http://live.nu/1.ram.
Direct link to a live audio stream: http://live.nu/balie-lo.mp3
Online resources at www.debalie.nl.
(registration is closed)
Check De Balie Online for all streaming video of the Incommunicado Conference.
Situating the workshop agenda in the broader context of the UN Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as well as the controversy over an emerging international civil society, the public event on Wednesday night will introduce the topics of the work conference to a broader non-specialist audience. Offering a working definition of info-development/ICT4D, the public event will raise some of the key conference issues, including the extent to which this field is indeed characterized by a shift from North-South to South-South alliances and the role played by info-development NGOs.
With contributions by:
Soenke Zehle and Geert Lovink
Introduction and Overview
ICT4D is widely considered a key element in processes of democratization, good governance, and poverty alleviation. This plenary will situate the rise of ICT4D in the context of the transformation of development as a whole, and outline individual workshop agendas.
With contributions by:
Respondant: Heimo Claassen
NGOs in Info-Development
We have become used to thinking of NGOs as \’natural\’ development actors. But their presence is itself indicative of a fundamental transformation of an originally state-centered development regime, and their growing influence raises difficult issues regarding their relationship to state and corporate actors, but also regarding their self-perception as representatives of civic and grassroots interests. Following a survey of some of the major info-development NGOs and networks, this workshop will address questions related to the politics of representation pursued by these actors: why should they sit at a table with governments and international agencies, and who is marginalized by such a (multistakeholder) dynamic of \’inclusion\’ dominated by NGOs?
With contributions by:
Maja van der Velden
After WSIS: Exploring Multistakeholderism
For some, the 2003-5 UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is just another moment in an ongoing series of inter-governmental jamborees, glamorizing disciplinary visions of global ICT governance. For others, WSIS revives \’tricontinentalist\’ hopes for a New International Information and Communication Order whose emphasis on \’civil society actors\’ may even signal the transformation of a system of inter-governmental organizations. Either way, WSIS continues to encourage the articulation of agendas, positions, and stakes in a new politics of communication and information. Following the effort to actively involve civil society actors in WSIS activities, the idea of an emergent \’multistakeholderism\’ is already considered one of the key WSIS outcomes. This workshop will take a critical look at different approaches to the idea of multistakeholderism.
With contributions by:
Stijn van der Krogt
Open Source, Open Borders
Some of the organizations active in the WSIS process lost their accreditation because participants used their visa to say goodbye to Africa. Widely reported, the anecdote suggests that media and migration form a nexus that is nevertheless rarely explored in the context of ICT4D. In this session, we will survey some of the work on migrant and refugee media. It will also introduce the agenda of the wireless bridge project, a sister event of the incommunicado work conference that will take place in Tarifa (Spain) later in June.
Jo van der Spek
With contributions by:
Francois Laureys in conversation with Sylvestre Oueadraogo
Kim van Haaster
Oliver Vodeb and Jerneja Rebernak
Jo van der Spek
Special session on electronic waste, organized by Waste, advisors on urban development and development.
In this session, a highly diverse group of people from the development, ICT, recycling, finance, insurance, and waste management worlds consider strategies and approaches in relation to preventing, reusing or recycling WEEE, or waste from electronic and electrical equipment in the Netherlands. The impulse behind the session comes from a twinning project between Stichting WASTE, in the Netherlands, and the NGO ACEPESA, in Costa Rica. The goal of the session is to arrive at ideas for interventions in both the Netherlands and Costa Rica.
Session organisers: Anne Scheinberg, Kiwako Mogi, Stichting WASTE, Gouda (www.waste.nl).
Portia Sinnott, Micro Services Plus, California, Joost Helberg, Vereniging Open Source Netherlands, Stephan Wildeboer,OS-OSS, Angela Jonker, Flection Netherlands
dhr Herben, Province of Limburg, Netherlands.
After Aid: Info-Development after 9/11
What is the status of aid in the promotion of ICT4D, and how have ICT4D actors responded to the politicization and securitization of aid, including the sale of security and surveillance technologies in the name of info-development? To what extent does info-development overlap with new info-infrastructures in the field of humanitarian aid (ICT4Peace)? Are global trade justice campaigns a response to classic development schemes?
Chair: Ravi Sundaram (Sarai, India)
With contributions by:
Enrique Chaparro (Fundacion Via Libre, Argentina),
Glen Tarman (Trade Justice Campaign, UK): Join the band: ICTs, popular mobilization and the global call to make poverty history
Steve Cisler (librarian, USA): Outside the Church of ICT
Shuddha Sengupta (Sarai, India): Knowing in your Bones: Politics, Anxiety and Information in Delhi, 2005
ICT4D and the Critique of Development
The critique of development and its institutional arrangements – of its conceptual apparatus as well as the economic and social policies implemented in its name – has always been both a theoretical project and the agenda of a multitude of \’subaltern\’ social movements. Yet much work in ICT4D shows little awareness of or interest in the history of such development critique. Quite the contrary, the ICT4D debate, whose terms are reproduced in the members-only loop of a few major NGO networks like APC, OneWorld, or PANOS, along with a small number of states and influential donor organizations, remains surprisingly inward-looking, unable or unwilling to actively challenge the hegemony of an ahistorical techno-determinism.
Even many activists believe that ICT will lead to progress and eventually contribute to poverty reduction. Have development skepticism and the multiplicity of alternative visions it created simply been forgotten? Or have they been actively muted to disconnect current struggles in the area of communication and information from this history, adding legitimacy to new strategies of \’pre-emptive\’ development that are based on an ever-closer alliance between the politics of aid, development, and security? Are analyses based on the assumption that the internet and its promise of connectivity are \’inherently good\’ already transcending existing power analyses of global media and communication structures? How can we reflect on the booming ICT-for-Development industry beyond best practice suggestions?
Jan Nederveen Pieterse
ICT corporations at the UN
The controversial agreement between Microsoft and the UNDP, issued at a time when open source software is emerging as serious non-proprietary alternative within ICT4D, is generally considered in terms of a public-private partnership, to be assessed on its own terms. But it should also be considered in the broader context of rising corporate influence in the UN system, from the almost-no-strings-attached Global Compact, widely criticized as multilateral collusion in corporate \’bluewashing\’, to the Cardoso Panel on UN-Civil Society Relations and its controversial definition of civil society.
Soenke Zehle (Incommunicado, Germany)
With contributions by:
FLOSS in ICT4D
Pushed by a growing transnational coalition of NGOs and a few allies inside the multilateral system, open source software has moved from margin to center in ICT4D visions of peer-to-peer networks and open knowledge initiatives. But while OSS and its apparent promise of an alternative non-proprietary concept of collaborative creation continues to have much counter-cultural cachet, its idiom can easily be used to support the \’liberalization\’ of telco markets and cuts in educational subsidies. What is the current status of OSS as idiom and infrastructural alternative within ICT4D?
With contributions by:
Culture and Corporate Sponsorship in the ICT4D Context What is the aim of Western cultural organizations in the context of ICT4D projects? Think of the hip design event Doors of Perception in Bangalore and Delhi, our own Waag-Sarai Platform, Beijing and its new media arts inside the Millennium Dome, or the German media festival in Chiang Mai (Thailand). What is the agenda of these organizations? Is the ‘electronic art’ they are exporting merely paving the way for the big software and telecom firms to move in, or should we reject such a mechanic, one-dimensional view?
Introduction: Solomon Benjamin (Bangalore)
Open informal discussion.
New Info-Politics of Rights
Recent framings of ICT as an object of civil society politics have resulted in the coupling of ICT with the notion of “rights”: issues of the spread, use and adaptation of these technologies are increasingly defined in terms of human, civil, communication and information rights, et cetera. This session questions the choice, perhaps the tactical optionality, of making ICT-related issues into matters of rights. The rights-frame formats ICT for particular modes of the institutional processing of issues. At the same time, ICT and the discourses knitted around this object themselves can be seen to spread the rights frame. Considering that counter-cultural engagements with new media were previously framed as tactical undertakings, the question is whether the rise of “rights” does not thwart the potential of a creative, aesthetic, affective politics of the tactical. Or is the case that networks have a better use for rights than institutions? This is the context in which we ask: what are rights for, how are they used by NGOs, when does the coupling of ICT with rights work, and when does it fail?
With contributions by:
Digital Bandung: New Axes of Info-Capitalism
We are witnessing a shift from in the techno-cultural development of the web from an essentially post-industrialist euro-american affair to a more complexly mapped post-third-worldist network, where new south-south alliances are already upsetting our commonsensical definitions of info-development as an exclusively north-south affair. One example of this is the surprising extent to which a \’multilateral\’ version of internet governance has been able to muster support, another is the software and intellectual property rights reform (WIPO Development Agenda). info-development, that is, has ceased to be a matter of technology transfer and has become a major terrain for the renegotiation of some of the fault lines of geopolitical conflict – with a new set of actors. But does this really affect the established dependencies on \’northern\’ donors, and if so, what are some of the new alliances that are emerging? What is this new ‘post-Bandung’ movement?
Open informal discussion
Nuts and Bolts of Internet Governance
One of the few areas where WSIS is likely to produce concrete results is internet governance (IG). The IG controversy revolves around the limits of the current regime of root server control (ICANN/US) and possible alternatives, but it is also significant because it signals the repoliticization of a key domain of a technocratic internet culture that long considered itself to be above the fray of ordinary info-politics. The sense that IG has info-political implications and should be subject to discussion beyond expert fora is, however, much more widespread that actual knowledge of the techno-cultural dynamic actually involved in governing the internet. This workshop with be a nuts-and-bolts session for non-techies.
With contributions by:
Moderated by Soenke Zehle and Geert Lovink
Plus: WSIS Awards, Dutch nominations, announced by Jak Bouman
Rethinking \’underdevelopment or revolution\’ through ICTs
This session is focused on appropriation of ICTs by social movements that don\’t fit into the public private development industry framework. Rather than consider the success or failure of strategies to patch ICTs into a \’development\’ framework that means binding peripheral locations and populations more tightly to service of the metropole, we\’ll discuss ICTs and revolutionary activity in Brazil, Korea, Bolivia, and elsewhere. With remote participation from, amongst others, Dongwon Jo from MediACT in Seoul, Dorothy Kidd from University of San Francisco, Pablo Ortellado/Indymedia Brazil and members from ERBOL and CMI Bolivia.
Live videoconference with San Francisco, coordinated by Sasha Constanza Chock
Incommunicado 05 is a two-day working conference working towards a critical survey of the current state of \’info-development\’, also known as the catchy acronym \’ICT4D\’ (ICT for development). Before the recent “flattening of the world” (Thomas Friedman, 2005), most computer networks and ICT expertise were located in the North, and info-development mostly involved rather technical matters of knowledge and technology transfer from North to South. While still widely (and even wildly) talked about, the assumption of a \’digital divide\’ that follows this familiar geography of development has turned out to be too simple. Instead, a more complex map of actors, networked in a global info-politics, is emerging.
Different actors continue to promote different -and competing- visions of \’info-development\’. New info-economies like Brazil, China, and India have suddenly emerged and are forming south-south alliances that challenge our sense of what \’development\’ is all about. Development-oriented systems (like simputers and MIT’\’s $100 computer system) emerge and re-emerge. The corporate sector suddenly discovers the “bottom of the pyramid” and community computing, in their drive for markets beyond those now increasingly stagnant in the OECD countries, and among the prosperous and professional in the rest of the world.
However tempting, these new developments and particularly the emerging alliances should not be romanticized in terms of a new tri-continentalism. Brazil\’s info-geopolitical forays are anything but selfless. And while China\’s investments in Africa have already been compared to the 19th century scramble for Africa led by European colonial powers, many expect it to be soon exporting its \’Golden Shield\’ surveillance technologies to states such as Vietnam, North Korea, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, for all of whom it is acting as a regional internet access provider.
However, the cohesion of the new south-south alliances originates in part from the shared resistance to an emergent Euro-American front on intellectual property rights (IPR) and related matters. In parallel, and in eager response to the newfound enthusiasm for ICT4D through Public-Private Partnerships (fueled largely by the ongoing UN financial crisis and the broader neo-liberal privatization agenda), major info-corporations are advertising themselves as “partners in development” and are promoting ICTs as the vehicles for “good governance and effective service delivery” („e-governance“), but also to stake out their own commercial claims, crowd out public-sector alternatives, and subvert south-south cooperation.
Ambitious info-development projects struggle to find a role for themselves either as basic infrastructures supportive of all other development activity or as complement to older forms of infrastructure and service -oriented development. And often they are expected to meet a host of often contradictory aims: alleviating info-poverty, catapulting peasants into the information age, promoting local ICT and knowledge based industries, or facilitating democratization through increased participation and local empowerment. Meanwhile, of course, info-development also facilitates transnational corporate efforts to offshore IT-related jobs and services in ever-shorter cycles of transposition, leaving local \’stakeholders\’ at a loss as to whether or not scarce public subsidies should even be used to attract and retain industries likely to move on anyway.
Info-development creates new conflicts, putting communities in competition with each other. But it also creates new alliances. Below the traditional thresholds of sovereignty, grassroots efforts are calling into question the entire IPR regime of and access restrictions on which commercial info-development is based. Commons- or open-source-oriented organizations across the world seem more likely to receive support from southern than from northern states, and these coalitions, too, are challenging northern states on their self-serving commitment to IPR and their dominance of key info-political organizations.
Meanwhile lesser-known members of the UN family, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), are beginning to feel the heat brought on by “no-logo”-style campaigns that are targeting the entire range of public international actors and bring an agenda of accountability to the institutions of multilateral governance. As a response to the increasingly contradictory (dare one say confused) info-political activities of the major agencies like the ITU, UNDP, UNESCO, and WIPO, even the UN has begun to lose its aura. As public tagging of a perceived positive UN role in governance, humanitarianism, and peacekeeping shifts towards corruption and inter-agency rivalries, (carefully guided by neo-conservative think-tanks), the ensemble of supra-state apparatuses supposed to sustain visions of a post-imperial order suddenly seems mired in a frightening family dispute that threatens to spin out of control.
In spite of the neat sociological grammar of declarations and manifestoes, increasingly hybrid actors no longer follow the simple schema of state, market, or civil society, but engage in cross-sector alliances. Responding to the crisis of older top-down approaches to development, corporations and aid donors are increasingly bypassing states and international agencies to work directly with smaller non-governmental organizations. And while national and international development agencies now have to defend their activity against both pro- and anti-neo-liberal critics, info-NGOs participating in public-private partnerships and info-capitalist ventures suddenly find themselves in the midst of another heated controversy over their new role as junior partner of states and corporations. Responding by stepping up their own brand-protection and engaging in professional reputation management, major NGOs even conclude that it is no longer their organizational culture but their agenda alone that differentiates them from corporate actors.
The spectacular world summit on the information society (WSIS), barely noticed by the mainstream media but already uniting cyber-libertarians afraid of UN interventions in key questions of internet governance, will conclude later this year. While many info-activists are assessing (and re-assessing) the hidden cost of invitations to sit at \’multi-stakeholder\’ tables along with mega-NGOs and corporate associations, others are already refusing to allow an organizational incorporation of grassroots or subaltern agendas into the managed consensus being built around the dynamic of an \’international civil (information) society\’. Mirroring the withdrawal from traditional mechanisms of political participation, there is growing disaffection with multilateralism as the necessary default perspective for any counter-imperial politics. Unwilling to accept the idioms of sovereignty, some even abandon the very logic of summits and counter-summits to articulate post-sovereign perspectives. And alongside this of course, is the day to day reality of those at the grassroots and most importantly working as policy, research and practice info-intermediaries to find ways of using (and remaking) ICTs to be of benefit to the “multitudes”.
The \’incommunicado\’ project started early 2004 as a web research resource combined with an email-based mailinglist. It was founded by Soenke Zehle and Geert Lovink, who had earlier collaborated during the European Make World and Neuro events, that attempted to develop critical work around new media and no border issues.
Incommunicado didn\’t start out of the blue. It was a merger from two lists, Solaris, founded late 2001 by Geert Lovink and Michael Gurstein, and a defunct G8 Dotforce list. The Solaris email list was an early attempt to develop a critical discourse around the ICT4D policy complex and was inspired by the then-newly opened centre Sarai in Delhi, a place that embodies new cultural practices beyond the classic development models. Beginning in late 2003, the first World Summit on the Information Society accelerated the awareness that critical voices, inside and outside the Machine, had to gather in order to reflect on the circulating metaphors and rhetoric. Poor outcomes of the alternative \’WSIS, We Seize\’ campaign, which positioned itself outside of the world conference spectacle, proved that there is a great need for a radical critique of notions such as \’information society\’, \’e-governance\’, \’digital divide\’ or \’civil society\’.
At the moment there are 300+ subscribers to the list, and at any given moment in time 50-70 users are either reading the incommunicado rss-news or searching the collaborative weblog, whose topic areas include network(ed) ecologies, ICT for Development, internet governance, analyses of the NGO sector, and emerging South-South relations. So far, incommunicado has been an exclusively online resource and list community, consisting of researchers, ICT practitioners, activists and social entrepreneurs. The event in Amsterdam in June 2005 will be the first meeting of this emerging network. Future plans include the launch of an open-access journal or an incommunicado reader.
On Being Incommunicado
The term incommunicado generally refers to a state of being without the means or rights to communicate, especially in the case of incommunicado detention and the threat of massive human rights violations. The latter also implies an extra-judicial space of exception, where torture, executions and \”disappearances\” occur – all-too-frequently in the lives of journalists and media activists, online or offline, across the world.
After the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the bilateral order, the discourse of human rights has become an important placeholder for agendas of social change and transformation that are no longer articulated in third worldist or tricontinentalist terms. Yet despite the universalizing implications of human rights, they can also invoke and retrieve the complex legacy of specific anti-colonial and third-worldist perspectives that continue to inform contemporary visions of a different information and communication order.
The term \’incommunicado\’ was chosen as the name for this research network to acknowledge that while questions related to info-development and info-politics are often explored in a broader human rights context, this does not imply embracing a politics of rights as such. Instead, one of the aims of the incommunicado project is to explore tactical mobilizations of rights-based claims to access, communication, or information, but also the limits of any politics of rights, its concepts, and its absolutization as a political perspective.
Sally Burch talks about her WSIS experiences and how social movements are linking up in order to exchange experiences and concepts. Solidarity is no longer going in one direction, from North to South. The World Social Forum is creating a new platform where social movements, that previously only worked on one issue, can come together. Burch stresses the need for communication rights in a media landscape which is increasingly dominated by big players and converging technologies.
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