Felipe Fonseca (Brasil), free software activist and consultant to the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, discusses the strategic use of free software by the Brazilian government, the tension between governmental FOSS adoption as a cost-cutting measure and the need for a broader debate about software development. Fonseca advocates a broader definition of digital inclusion beyond access, including the creative re-appropriation (rather than mere use) of these technologies and their possibilities.
Through examples from his 8-month, 30,000 km offline travels, Steve Cisler (USA) reflects on whether or not there really is a need for the kinds of information technologies he used to promote as an Apple researcher and IT consultant. Reporting on his encounters, he raises a number of questions regarding ICT4D approaches, including the allocation of development resources, the emphasis on different kinds of literacy, the need to write grant applications that are 'buzzword compliant', and the total-cost-of-ownership model as an alternative and more comprehensive approach to project evaluation.
For Anriette Esterhuysen (South Africa) of the APC network, development critique tends to forget the practitioners, who are marginalised by theoretical discourses simply because they don't hear and speak them. Naive critiques of private sector involvement in development fail to acknowledge that markets are necessarily part of the solution.
For Enrique Chaparro (Buenos Aires), the buzzwords in the ICT for Development discourse (info-society, info-development) are simply substitutes for an older discourse. He focuses on free and open source software, but acknowledges that computers will neither end world poverty nor close the digital divide.
The free software activist Beatriz Busaniche (Argentina), member of Fundacion Via Libre, talks about the free software community and its ethics, the need to shift from technical to political discussion of software and ICT, and the tendency to approach ICT as a new utopianism. She addresses civil society as a dangerous concept that shifts emphasis from citizens and the grassroots to self-selected organizations marked by their dependence on donors and the burden of having to 'represent'. Busaniche places the development of free software into a broader political, even revolutionary 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.
Solomon Benjamin Urban Planner Solomon Benjamin (India), speaks about Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, and his work in a cross-disciplinary team on city-based work focusing on local politics. Bangalore is a city on which the recent boom of the IT industries has had a huge impact. Stressing that we shouldn't lose sight of what is happening on the ground as we theorize ICT matters, Benjamin argues that civil society initiatives enrich the local knowledge and create a platform that is also available and valuable to other actors.
Reflecting on his work on internet adoption in Middle East countries, John Anderson (USA) focuses on social uses of technology and the alliances needed to build them. Some of the debates around information rights seem a repeat of earlier 'mass media' discussions on new terrain. Both imply a generality of communication whereas communication is always very specific. On the notion of a 'global civil society', Anderson feels that the premier position of NGOs is undeserved, since civil society is always intensely local.
International Festival Plastic Bag Videos
The series of videos created under the motto “many and half good” continues. In this fourth video a different mode of reference is made. The video works by Bruce Nauman from the early 70s is here recycled and recontextualized. The narrative through an appropriation of Nauman's structure introduce a kind of exhaustion, or rather complete which passes notions of technique and ability.