These notes are anecdotal, my impressions and experiences and items that caught my attention. They are not comprehensive.
UN meets Silicon Valley, Mountain View, CA, February 28, 2007
Sylvia Caras, PhD
Last night the rain poured down and I wondered if there might be slides that would block the one road over the mountains this morning. It was cold and clear when I woke at 4:30 AM, still adjusting to a 10 hour time change, then it took from 7 AM `til 8:45 to drive 40 miles `over the hill` from Santa Cruz to the Computer Museum, 20 minutes in the meter light line changing highways. As I was locking my car, I was greeted by a man who remembered me from prior meetings, and later in the day I saw others I'd met before, though no one from the Internet Governance Forum.
The main auditorium is reminiscent of the garage where computer history had been made, only two slim vertical poles near the exits interrupt the otherwise unbroken flat floor space, the ceiling reveals girders and lighting tracks, a wall curtained in cement-gray fabric, another wall from a distance appearing to be made of brown corrugated cardboard, perhaps 250 stacking molded chairs set out and on the platform three folding canvas directors' chairs. There are perhaps 200 people already seated when I arrive, maybe 5 minutes after the start, as Barrett, Intel, is explaining that the Global Alliance which he chairs has low bureacracy because it has no budget and only a few staff. In the room, the average age I'd guess in their 40's, some people of color, some women, the men all in jackets and ties, unusual garb for Silicon Valley though not for the UN, no visible disabilities though three! later panelists mention disability access. There are two long tables full of mostly UN printed materials and since I have brought a wheeled file box for my laptop and gear, I take several of the heavy books.
Toure, new ITU Secretary-General, notes that ITU, founded in 1865, is the mother of the UN, that WSIS was unique among UN meetings because there were no protesters outside since civil society had been invited inside. He plans for a balanced ITU budget and intertnational agreements on cyber security and infrastructures by 2008.
Pakistan has used technology in many ways, for instance for national ID cards which feed into a database on citizens, health management, and the prime-minister chairs a commission on e-governement.
Harry: The Youth for Technology Foundation has created digital villages in Nigeria and this year will build one in Uganda. Phone costs over most of Africa are high - one year of broadband access is more than one year of annual income. She suggests cell phone ownership is a basic human right. Trains youth in electronic skills, engaging with content focus on HIV/AIDS and water-borne diseases
Frucherman - scanned books for voice synthesizer, relax intellectual property protections and provide open content.
Johnson - coming: connectivity, mobile devices (also to classrooms), decreasing hardware costs. Holistic, aligned, intentional approach needed. Current activities by a few leading companies are excellent but critical mass and coordination is needed.
India has lot of programmers who are people with disabilities.
Reilly: Cisco Academies are training to staff the compnay's own development needs. (Could be a trend towards privitization of education, targetted curricula? Sylvia)
Internet speech could bridge the language divide, provide access for those not literate or with reading-related disabilities.
Half the room raised their hands when asked if theyd read the MDGs.
One speaker emphasized social inclusion through digital inclusion, and there was a panel which provided examples of how relevant local content had been developed. I like this positive language better than digital divide and social exclusion. The organizations strategy was to work with an already strong local group to identify one local challenge and see how technology could be used to meet it, molecular size revolutions (Friere). See more at http://www.cdi.org.br/
There was a lot more about local content, what incentives (financial here understood) are there to create it, the point made that local resources are of interest to that countrys diaspora as well as tourists, ... and that content must be user-centric
Tipson asked what content do we want globally, what are we preserving locally (and I wondered if local only means language or is there something else being discussed. The conversations seemed somewhat coded to me, as if I were missing a point. Sylvia)
Khan noted there are 900 million illiterate in the world, there was input that lots of content doesnt require literacy (music, video, gambling, comics) until finally Cuba intervened to ask why are we suggesting strategies to circumvent illiteracy, why not use the internet to teach people to read and write, and told of an award-winning program Cuba had implemented. He said what I had been thinking about perpetuating disadvantage with supports instead of working to erase the disadvantage.
On the Computer Museum wall are photos of 40 whove been named fellows over the years, some familiar names, some not, and only two women, Grace Hopper (of bug" fame) and Jean Sammet (computer languages).
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has set up Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) to serve as the voice of world business on internet governance issues and information communication technologies (ICTs), a business peer group on policy development -http://www.iccwbo.org/basis/ 20 people attended the information breakout to find the BASIS strategy for influencing the UN - creating a large coalition and speak with one voice. Would it be helpful for both civil society and pwd to connect with them about knowledge access issues?
Stanford has a Digital Vision Project, Berkeley supports developing world ICT projects, probably other universities. There might be a way for pwd to use this expertise if we could develop a project that might fit with their goals.
I lunched at the health table. Facilitator Joan Dzenowagis, WHO, didn't come, and at the table was Alex Leblois, www.g3ict.com, who invited me to the Global Forum (ICT access for pwd) at the UN March 26 (Linda, might you like to go?), and afterwards I spent a few minutes viewing the computer museum exhibits including a boxy drab Control Data computer, like one of the first I learned. Memories of batch processing, waiting late at night for results, careful careful checking because runs were not frequent.
Global Forum regional meetings: 2007 Q3, Buenos Aires; Q4, Cape Town; 2008 Q2 New Delhi; Q3 Bejing; Q4 Tunis - are there pwd and civil society representatives that can go?
A strong cup of Starbucks tea is helping me stay awake, jangling me a bit. There are less people here now, after lunch. However Im still tired, and anticipating the 40 mile drive home, I left before the summings up, the key learnings and next steps closing. I didnt see any report-out of the prior days UN-specific work. If it isnt posted soon, follow up can be made through firstname.lastname@example.org
GAID Action Session, February 28, 2007, Mountain View, CA USA
UN GAID to form working group to promote open ICT ecosystems
Create "Environment Guidelines" to promote ICT and innovative entrepreneurs
Support quality, financially sustainable mentoring of entrepreneurs to make "Investor Ready"
UN GAID to promote and publish best practices for ecosystem to support and scale innovation
Take ALL UN and development agency publications available online and free of charge
Open access to communication -
Bring into Telecenter FPI
Bring together KEY content providers
Form a network of Silicon Valley organizations to generate a common platform (UN GAID to catalyze)