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IT for Change Bulletin, April 2009


 

IT for Change – Bulletin, April 2009

In this Issue:
  1. Advocacy Update: Promoting Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in India
  2. New Publication: An Empowerment Approach to Gender Equality in the Information Society - Regional Analyses from Asia
  3. New Publication: ICTD - Is it a New Species of Development?
  4. Workshop: ICTs for Participatory Local Development
  5. Announcement: IT for Change Panel at the Upcoming ICTD2009 Conference in Doha, Qatar
  6. Vacancies: Communications and Publications Officer and Research Associate

1. Advocacy Update: Promoting Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in India

In February 2009, representatives from academic institutions, NGOs and CBOs, research and advocacy groups, professional associations and FOSS enterprises met in Bangalore to launch the National Coalition for Free and Open Source Software in India. IT for Change is one of the founder members of the coalition, which works along a broad consensus for promoting FOSS. It aims to provide stronger and more effective responses to events relating to FOSS as well as initiate proactive actions as a collective. Some of the initial efforts being undertaken by the coalition include challenging software patents, making school curriculum vendor-neutral and promotion of FOSS in the Indian public sector.

IT for Change has also launched an online portal to advocate and promote FOSS in the public sector, by aiming to reach out to decision makers and technical staff. The site argues for FOSS in the public sector and lists case-studies on successful government FOSS initiatives (in India and abroad), and also instances of pro-FOSS government policies. In order to help move organisations towards FOSS, the site provides various resources including contact details of FOSS vendors and user guides to FOSS applications.

2. New Publication: An Empowerment Approach to Gender Equality in the Information Society - Regional Analyses from Asia

This collection of papers comes out of a project undertaken as part of the regional activities of the World Summit on the Information Society's (WSIS) Gender Caucus. To strengthen gender advocacy during the WSIS processes, it was felt necessary to analyse in detail whether and how ICTs do, and can potentially, bring about structural transformation in gender relations, and therefore the conditions framing such access needed to be explored. This volume seeks to address this policy advocacy imperative in the Asian context. Containing contributions from Angela Kuga Thas, Deborah Wheeler and Mridula Swamy that examine the situation in East, West and South Asia respectively, this collection offers an analytical framework for women’s empowerment in the information society, grounded in the particularities of the Asian region. It captures the question of the ‘opportunity structure’ for gender equality in the information society while problematising the notion of ‘access to ICTs’.

This document is the second in the series of publications from IT for Change under the ‘Information Society for the South’ research umbrella. To read the volume online, please click here. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the document, please write to us at ITfC@ITforChange.net.

3. New Publication: ICTD - Is it a New Species of Development?

This paper was delivered as a lecture at the Michigan State University in February 2009. ICTD today is imagined and understood by many through an ideological framework of neo-liberalism and market fundamentalism. Unpacking this hegemonic neo-liberal view on ICTD, this paper details a two-fold discourse, where the utopic preoccupation with technology and an ahistoric conception of the world converges with the construction of ICTD as an engine to propel the marketisation of development. While criticising the multi-stakeholder approach to development, the paper strongly argues for community-centric principles rooted in socio-political realities. Further it also calls for a review of the existing vision of ICTs and development, by revisiting the interpretation of the information society paradigm, as well as the need for an alternate practice models to deploy ICT opportunities for development.

4. Workshop: ICTs for Participatory Local Development

UNDP and IT for Change organised a 2-day workshop on 'ICTs for Participatory Local Development' in December 2008. This workshop reviewed and discussed the possibilities of harnessing the transformatory potential of ICTs for participatory local development. It brought together researchers, policymakers and practitioners from around the world to build appropriate recommendations for enabling use of ICTs in a systemic way, with a strong accent on improving participation and empowerment as key objectives of employing ICT and ICT-based service delivery in development. The workshop also feeds into the development of a customisable roadmap and toolkit for highlighting the possibilities of ICT-enabled participatory local development, and the corresponding policy and institutional contexts. A detailed report on the discussion and debate at the workshop is available.

5. Announcement: IT for Change Panel at the Upcoming ICTD2009 Conference in Doha, Qatar

IT for Change is organising a panel at the 3rd International IEEE/ACM Conference on Information and Communications Technologies and Development (ICTD2009), a premier interdisciplinary conference on ICTs and human development, titled 'Tracing the Genealogy of ICTD Research: Premises, Predispositions, and Paradoxes of a Field in the Making'. As a field in the making, ICTD is situated right at the centre of an unfolding global transformation process marked by complex and intense power struggles. It thus comprises a contested multi-actor space often implicating competing positions – between technical and social actors, the corporate sector and development constituencies, and the state and communities. Against this background, this panel seeks to examine what visions of development dominate ICTD research; to what extent the issue of power is central to ICTD research; how power is organised among and exercised by different actors within the ICTD research domain; and how the nature of funding of the ICTD research domain, on the one hand, and geopolitical locations of agenda-setting, on the other, potentially influence its form and outcomes. The panel will take place on April 17, at 11 a.m., and the panelists are Michael Powell, Kentaro Toyama, Onno W. Purbo and Parminder Jeet Singh. Do join us if you are attending ICTD2009!

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