Sylvestre Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) works at an NGO called Yam Pukri, meaning 'open your mind'. Whereas Western countries tend to think that everyone should have a computer, Ouedraogo stresses the fact that it is more important to learn how to use the computer as a tool for information gathering and communication means.
The Australian digital media theorist Ned Rossiter (Northern Ireland-based) comments on the rise of China and the consequences of geopolitical shifts for the future study of media. He regards the rise of civil society as a consequence of the void left by neo-liberalism, and addresses the limits of transferring central tenets of representative democracy - accountability, representativeness, transparency - to non-state actors. Furthermore, Rossiter elaborates on the crisis of civil society and the emergence of new forms of institutional articulation like the organized network.
Richard Rogers (The Netherlands) focuses on the implications of global civil society's 'issue drift'. As global civil society moves from issue to issue, from place to place and from forum to forum, the question is: do they remember to keep up with what is happening on the ground? Rogers and his colleagues at the Govcom.org Foundation strive to answer such questions through web and news analysis. Analytical software tools such as the Issue Crawler and the Issue Scraper are based on the assumption that the web can be mapped to show where an issue is currently 'located'.
Long-time analyst of development regimes, Jan Nederveen Pieterse (USA) summarizes Incommunicado 05 as 'civil society meets development', since commercial parties and governments were not represented at the conference. The current vortex of change, in which corporations try to maintain information monopolies, calls for a new political rendez-vous in which emerging information economies can challenge these monopolies in areas like intellectual property rights.
Tracey Naughton (South Africa) comes up with a few humbling accounts of the fundamental obstacles to (info) developments. She argues to go back to the seventies, a time in which work for and with the poor could be done in a direct and non-bureaucratic manner. According to her we need a more human-centrered globalization, one in which people are in the centre of development concerns and work is done on the ground by people who have a holistic combination of skills.
Monica Narula (Delhi) talks about the 'listening project' she did with Raqs Media Collective. Sometimes you have to listen beyond the words, and an event like Incommunicado 05 means being attentive to one another. At Sarai, Narula works with the broadsheet collective, with which she publishes a broadsheet, a poster/factsheet/newspaper. Narula recognises that the contemporary vision of the world is thoroughly mapped, difficult to break down, and while the north-south metaphor has been useful, it will limit our view if we cling to it.
Muthoni Dorcas (Kenya) is the co-founder of LinuxChix Africa, an initiative that facilitates the active participation of African women in the FOSS (free and open source software) movement across this region. She considers free software an affordable way for people to develop software for local markets. Refusing to talk about Africa as 'poor', Dorcas rather thinks of it as a continent under-utilizing its manifold resources.
Thomas Keenan (USA) points out that the human rights movement is very sensitive to the criticism. Critics therefore are often regarded as being in support of the wrong actors, and betraying its ideals. Keenan considers the notion of 'global civil society' to be a very tricky term, since its dynamic is strongly related to global media platforms (satellite tv, internet etc). There is a certain actuality to global civil society that needs to be criticized, acknowledging the danger that it is being enlisted as the front actor of a borderless market world.
Ednah Karamagi (Uganda) stresses the importance of including the rural population in development projects. Otherwise, the divide between the rural and the urban will simply increase. NGOs play an important role in Uganda, because they succeed in reaching out to local grassroots organisations. ICTs should be considered in terms of technologies rather than just machines, including the use of community radio in local languages, or using technologies for music, dance and drama.
ICT consultant Michael Gurstein (Canada) compares the use of civil society in developing and developed countries. He discusses its involvement in the WSIS process and advocates the need to strengthen citizen involvement rather than 'civil society'. Furthermore, Gurstein suggests possible uses of the idea of digital orientalism in the digital divide debate.