How creativity is being strangled by the law

Larry Lessig is one of our foremost authorities on copyright issues. In a time when “content” is not confined to a film canister, Lessig has a vision for reconciling creative freedom with marketplace competition.

No expert has brought as much fresh thinking to the field of contemporary copyright law as has Lawrence Lessig. A Stanford professor and founder of the school’s Center for Internet and Society, this fiery believer foresaw the response a threatened content industry would have to digital technology -- and he came to the aid of the citizenry.

As corporate interests have sought to rein in the forces of Napster and YouTube, Lessig has fought back with argument and with solutions: He chairs Creative Commons, a free licensing scheme for individual creators.

Lessig possesses a rare combination of lawerly exactitude and impassioned love of the creative impulse. Applying both with equal dedication, he has become a true hero to artists, authors, scientists, coders and opiners everywhere.

In the video below, Lessig gets TEDsters to their feet, whooping and whistling, following this elegant presentation of "three stories and an argument." He brings together John Philip Sousa, celestial copyrights, and the "ASCAP cartel" to build a case for creative freedom. He pins down the key shortcomings of our dusty, pre-digital intellectual property laws, and reveals how bad laws beget bad code. Then, in an homage to cutting-edge artistry, he throws in some of the most hilarious remixes you've ever seen.

More about digital copyright.


OER Introduction Booklet and free Webinars

The Development Gateway Open Educational Resources (OER) dgCommunity drives a Community Awareness & Sensitization project focusing on the use of Open Education Resources in Developing Countries. The dgCommunity has just released a free OER Introduction Booklet and are planning to offer free Webinars introducing the concept of Open Educational Resources and its potential to serve Education and Development programmes and practitioners.

The first two sessions will happen on Monday December 3, 2007 – 8 am Washington DC time and Friday December 14, 2007 – 8 am Washington DC time.

The Booklet and the Webinar both provide:
- a definition of Open Educational Resources,
- an introduction to Open licenses and Standards,
- an introduction to the Production and Distribution of OER,
- a list of OER content repositories, search engines and projects.

This project directly serves the OER dgCommunity main objective, which is to sensitize Development practitioners and citizens to Open Educational Resources, for the benefit of all. The Booklet and the Webinar are also to be considered as gateways for beginners to major OER projects, content repositories and search engines. An important part of its content introduces third part initiatives and portals in the domain of Open Education.

Click here to download the BETA version of the OER Introduction Booklet

Click here to subscribe to the OER Introduction Webinars

More on Open Educational Resources.


Contentious Citizens: Civil Society's Role in Campaigning for Social Change

Written by Paul Hilder with Julie Caulier-Grice and Kate Lalor, this report prepared by the Young Foundation and funded by the Carnegie United Kingdom (UK) Trust in May 2007 provides a detailed analysis and historical overview of the social change campaigning landscape with particular reference to campaigning in a network age. According to the report,
"Social campaigning (as distinct from campaigns used in warfare, politics or business) covers the very diverse practices used in civil society for advocating change to decision-makers - often through public mobilisations or the staging of popular demands, but also through less obvious processes of lobbying and elite organising. It plays a vital role in publicly identifying social problems, proposing ways of tackling them, staging competing claims for the good society, and encouraging association, volunteering and active citizenship."
The report discusses the 4 principle challenges of campaigning in the twenty-first century:
  1. "How can progressive or sustained campaigns be built in an environment of media moments, celebrity dependence, and tabloid petitions?
  2. Who writes the script of the campaign, choosing and framing actions and deciding what counts as success?
  3. How can you counter the risks associated with corporate co-option and collaboration with government?
  4. How can you target decision makers most effectively in the era of network governance and where campaigns can take place at the level of the local, national and global?"

"Campaigning has always been messy, rough, and argumentative. It is the grit that keeps the smoother world of electoral democracy fair, and it is the currency through which societies talk to themselves honestly about their virtues and their vices. This report seeks to describe what’s happening – but also to suggest some potential remedies, including better ways of protecting campaigning for social change and better ways of building up civil society’s capacity to campaign, ranging from the role of schools in supporting new initiatives and new social infrastructures."

Click here to download the PDF document (4.5 MB).

More on campaigning for social change.


e-Inclusion and Media for Indigenous Peoples

UNDP has organized a Workshop on e-Inclusion and Media for Indigenous Peoples at the e-Bario Knowledge Fair, 6-7 December 2007.

The Workshop addresses the use of the Media as well as Information and Communication Technologies in realising the human rights for development that have been denied to indigenous peoples for too long. The Workshop aims to formulate the e-Bario Agenda on e-Inclusion for Indigenous Peoples as a supplement to the UN Declaration, as well as develop a global network of Indigenous Peoples’ telecentres.

The adoption on 13 September 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reflects the continuing concern that indigenous peoples suffer from historic injustices that still prevent them from exercising their right to development.

The UNDP Workshop on e-Inclusion and Media for Indigenous Peoples addresses the use of the Media as well as Information and Communication Technologies in maintaining and strengthening the distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions of Indigenous Peoples, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.

Presentations, case studies and discussions will be facilitated towards developing an action plan for 2008 and beyond, as well as the formulation of the e-Bario Agenda on e-Inclusion for Indigenous Peoples as a supplement to the UN Declaration, that will highlight their rights of access to information and the required access to contemporary ICTs and media that will enable indigenous peoples to exercise such rights towards enhanced levels of e-inclusion. It is also intended as a catalyst for developing a global network of Indigenous Peoples’ telecentres that will foster the exchange of experiences and knowledge towards accelerating the pace of achieving e-inclusion for the world’s Indigenous Peoples.

The Workshop is being held in conjunction with the e-Bario Knowledge Fair, which is being organised in the remote and isolated community of Bario in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, one of the East Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Bario is the site of the multi-award-winning e-Bario Telecentre Project which is instrumental in bringing information and communication based development to this highly distinctive and hitherto isolated indigenous community.

The major outputs of the workshop will also be presented at GK3, the Third Global Knowledge Conference, organized by the Global Knowledge Partnership and being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 11-13 December 2007.

More on telecentres and e-inclusion.


e-Bario: An excellent example of community engagement using ICT

I have seen several successful examples of communities benefitting from ICT over the last few years. Yesterday's post on the "E-Bario Knowledge Fair" reminded me of one that I regard as one of the most successful - the e-Bario project.

The district of Bario comprises a small group of remote Kelabit communities in the highlands of Sarawak in Malaysia. Only about 1000 people out of approximately 5000 Kelabit remain in the highlands, the rest having moved away in pursuit of jobs and education.

Photograph by Gary Loh Chee Wyai (2006)

The e-Bario project was coordinated by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and financially supported by the Demonstrator Application Grant Scheme and Canada International Development Research Centre (e-Bario 2004). The project connected the village to the Internet, not only to provide a means for the villagers to communicate with their relatives and others outside Bario, but also "to identify opportunities for such communities to develop socially, culturally and economically from the deployment of the technologies" (Bala et al 2004, p.116).

The researchers realized the importance of engaging and empowering the community, and of placing the emphasis on the people and the process, not the technology. They identified with and learned about life in the village from the community, and the community learned about ICT from the researchers. They adopted a Participatory Action Research (PAR) model, in which community members performed major portions of the research.

In their analysis of the e-Bario project, Bala et al (2004) conclude that a prerequisite for success and sustainability is the use of a collaborative approach in which the community participates fully in all stages and parts of the project. They also suggest that since the information solutions span education, health, commerce, agriculture and culture as well as communications, there is no single agency that carries responsibility or authority for community development by means of ICTs. Instead, a range of agencies needs to be mobilized and coordinated for full benefits to flow to the community (Bala et al 2004, p.124).

Bala, P., Harris, R.W. and Songan, P. (2004) "E Bario project: In search of a methodology to provide access to information communication technologies for rural communities in Malaysia". In Marshall, S., Taylor, W., & Yu, X. (Eds.) (2004) Using Community Informatics to Transform Regions. Idea Group Publishing, London., pp.115-131.

e-Bario. (2004). e-Bario. Website accessed 15 August 2007 at: http://www.unimas.my/ebario/

Wyai, Gary Loh Chee (2006). Bario: the Land of the Kelabits - my third day. Website accessed 19 August 2007 at: http://ebario.blogspot.com/2006/04/my-third-day-at-bario.html


E-Bario Knowledge Fair: The Kelabit's Gift to Malaysia

Registration for the e-Bario Knowledge Fair, 6-8 December 2007 is now open. This is a unique event, bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers with the direct beneficiaries of their deliberations.

The e-Bario Knowledge Fair is a multi-disciplinary conference being held in the remote village of Bario, in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, one of the states of East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Bario is the traditional home of the Kelabit People, one of Malaysia's smallest indigenous ethnic minority groups. It is also the home of the multi-award winning e-Bario telecentre project that introduced computers, telephones and the internet to this hitherto isolated community.

The Knowledge Fair is being held to showcase how this highly distinctive and resourceful community has appropriated ICTs for their own betterment, on their terms and in a way that is wholly compatible with their long-held and cherished traditions and culture.

Furthermore, the Knowledge Fair is hosting the UNDP Workshop on E-Inclusion and Media for Indigenous Peoples, as a forerunner to a further programme on e-inclusion for Asia’s Indigenous Peoples. The combined outputs of these events are intended to form an important supplement to the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples insofar as it relates to the right of access to information and access to ICTs for Indigenous Peoples; especially as two thirds of the world’s Indigenous Peoples live in Asia and almost all live in relatively remote areas with meagre resources.

More on the Kelabit of Sarawak and Malaysia


Open Licenses: A quick review by the Commonwealth of Learning

One of the serious problems faced by many educational institutions in developing countries is that of gaining access to educational materials at an affordable price. The movement to create open educational resources is therefore a welcome one. To participate in this movement as a user or provider one needs to understands the intricacies of copyright law and licences.

Open Licenses - an article published by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) - is part of an upcoming book on the use of copyright for authors, educators and librarians. It was written by Julien Hofman and Paul West.

From the introduction:

"An open licence, as used in this chapter, is a neutral expression for a licence from a copyright holder allowing anyone to use the copyright material subject to the conditions in the licence. There are many different open licences, some for computer software and some for other forms of copyright material. Each has its own terms, conditions and technical vocabulary and their supporters do not always agree with one another. Some, disliking the business practices of commercial software suppliers and publishing houses, want to replace copyright with open licences. Some want to allow anyone to profit from the work of others without even telling them they are doing this. Despite the resistance to copyright by some open licence supporters, open licences are legal tools that use copyright law to achieve their objectives. It follows that for understanding open licences legal analysis is at least as important as ideological commitment."

More on Open Licenses.


African SchoolNet Toolkit

This Toolkit has been published by the African SchoolNet and sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning. It is designed to help education planners and practitioners integrate information and communication technologies (ICTs) into education systems.

From the introduction:
"Education systems are under the spotlight worldwide today. Many countries are grappling with significant development challenges, such as meeting UNESCO’s “Education for All” goals, as well as other social objectives. The information age is creating economic pressure for countries to develop into knowledge societies in order to become or remain internationally competitive in a global economy."

The African SchoolNet Toolkit Part 1: ICTs in Education and SchoolNets provides an overview of SchoolNets - what they, where they are located, what they do and what makes for success.

The African SchoolNet Toolkit Part 2: Planning SchoolNet Programmes contains lots of very practical advice, including information on: hardware, software, power supply issues, internet services, training, help desks, and illustrates this with actual African examples.

Toolkit Part 1 (1.2 MB - PDF document)
Toolkit Part 2 (1.1 MB - PDF document)

More on Africa.


"eLearning Africa", May 28-30, 2008, in Ghana

The 3rd International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training will take place from May 28 to 30, 2008 in Accra, Ghana under the Patronage of the Ghanaian Minister for Education, Science and Sports, the Hon. Prof. Dominic K. Fobih.

eLearning Africa has established itself as the largest and most comprehensive capacity-development event for technology-enhanced education and training on the Continent. Initiated in May 2006 in Addis Ababa under the Patronage of the Ethiopian Minister for Capacity Development, H.E. Ato Tefera Waluwa, the pioneer event attracted more than 830 participants and 250 expert speakers.

The 2nd eLearning Africa was hosted by the Kenyan Ministry of Education in Nairobi in May 2007. It attracted 1406 participants, with nearly 80% coming from Africa. The conference programme featured the input of 308 speakers and chairpersons from 55 countries and offered 69 presentation sessions and 17 pre-conference events. Major international and African corporations, as well as development agencies and foundations supported the conference.

eLearning Africa addresses the whole of Africa. A rotating event hosted by a different African government every year, it supports and reinforces the growing pan-African eLearning community.

eLearning Africa 2008 will address sixteen themes, covering all aspects of technology-enhanced education and training:

  1. Unleashing the Capabilities of Universities Through Information and Communication Technologies;
  2. Corporate eLearning in Africa and Beyond;
  3. Introducing eLearning into the School System;
  4. Designing and Delivering eLearning;
  5. Building the Infrastructure for Education in the 21st Century;
  6. Open Source and Open Content;
  7. eLearning in Medical Education and the Fight Against HIV and AIDS;
  8. Advanced Technology Developments;
  9. eLearning Supported by Development Partners;
  10. Empowering Women Through ICT and eLearning;
  11. Improving the Quality and Outreach of Technical and Vocational Education;
  12. Libraries as Access Providers to Resources and Expertise;
  13. Quality Development and Quality Assurance;
  14. Achieving Inclusivity Through eLearning;
  15. eLearning for the Public Sector;
  16. Policy Issues and Large-Scale Take-Up of eLearning.

More on Ghana and Africa.

More on e-learning.

Get your bachelors or masters online! Dotschools.com


A vision for free, global (online) education

Richard Baraniuk is a Rice University professor with a giant vision: to create a free, global online education system. In this presentation, he introduces Connexions, the open-access publishing system that's changing the landscape of education by providing free coursework and educational materials to everyone in the world. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA.
It's rather small, so you may want to click on the "full screen" icon




Transforming education, empowering communities, promoting development

I have just discovered a useful website - the "Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative" (GeSCI). It was actually established in 2004, borne out of the work of the United Nations ICT Task Force which identified education as an area in critical need of development, and one where ICTs have the potential to make positive impacts.

The UN ICT Task Force approved a proposal for a UN-affiliated organisation to provide demand-driven assistance to developing countries seeking to harness the potential of ICTs to improve the quality of teaching and learning in primary and secondary education. GeSCI is headquartered in Dublin, with the support of the governments of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland. Canada was one of the founding partners.

GeSCI provides strategic advice to Ministries of Education in developing countries on the effective use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for education and community development. Adopting a demand driven, collaborative and comprehensive approach, GeSCI aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning through the strategic and effective use of ICTs, thereby transforming education, empowering communities and promoting development.

GeSCI has developed five thematic areas or work streams to respond to the needs of the developing countries:
  • Policy Development
  • Strategic Implementation Planning
  • ICTs in Teaching & Learning
  • Infrastructure & Connectivity
  • Monitoring & Evaluation

More on e-schools.


Agriculture and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

With some of the world's poorest countries, Sub-Saharan Africa is a development priority for the donor community. Sub-Saharan Africa is a diverse and complex Region and is behind on most of the Millennium Development Goals. Agricultural development can make a major contribution to poverty alleviation and growth. Increasing agricultural productivity is key to improved food security for both rural and urban poor.

The World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has just released an assessment of the Bank's assistance to agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa during 1991-2006. The report comes at a critical time for the Bank, as it reassesses its work in this area, in light of the recent release of the World Development Report on agriculture, and statements from World Bank President Zoellick, that highlight Africa and agriculture as top priorities for development.

To effectively support the implementation of the Africa Action Plan and its appropriate focus on agricultural development as a key priority, IEG recommends that the Bank:
  1. Focus attention to achieve improvements in agriculture productivity, including: establish realistic goals for expansion of irrigation and water and drought management; design efficient mechanisms to provide farmers with critical information; support the development of marketing and transport infrastructure.
  2. Increase the quantity and quality of analytical work on agriculture and ensure that policy advice and lending are grounded in its findings.
  3. Establish benchmarks for measuring progress by: improving data systems to better track activities supported by the Bank; strengthening M&E to report on project activities; developing a system to coordinate agriculture activities in a country with road access, market proximity, and soil conditions.

To download a copy of the report click here.

More on agriculture in Africa.


Social Software and Social Participation

Wikileaks - an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis - is an example of social software (wiki technology) being used for good governance.

"EUtube"™, the European Commission's new channel on YouTube, was officially launched on 29 June, 2007. EUtube is one new example of the use of the "Web 2.0" communication technologies at EU policy level.

The mission of YouthNoise is to inspire and empower young people everywhere to catapult their passion and idealism into movements to sustain the planet. This is achieved by encouraging young people to submit videos to this YouTube channel. See also the website at: http://www.youthnoise.com/

Here is a YouthNoise video about the obstacles that students in California face to getting a good education.

More on social software and social participation.


Citizen's Voices in Governance

One of the wonderful things about Web 2.0 is that it enables everyone to publish, and hence to have a voice. Here's one way to encourage citizens to have their say:

FixMyStreet is a website that keeps local governments/councils "on the ball" by enabling residents to publicise the problems that affect their neighbourhood. Residents can upload a photographs of the problems, e.g., a broken street light, an abandoned car, rubbish in the street, etc., and specify exactly where the problem is located. The website team informs the relevant council and logs the complaint. The web site publishes a tally of complaints and responses, so everyone can see which councils are responsive and which are not. A bit of "public shame" goes a long way to getting action.

The following video - Citizen's Voices in Local Governance Series - Marketing Culture and Environment: Bohol Investments Promotions Center - shows how local government can assist in cultural maintenance and in providing local employment.

More on local governance.


Social Network Sites go "Open Social"

Internet social network site leader MySpace is joining Google's "OpenSocial" platform for sharing applications across the Web. Google plans to create a distribution network for interactive applications known as "widgets" - programs that make it easier to share music, pictures, video and other personal interests on social network sites. Other participating social networks include: Bebo, Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Ning and Orkut.

Social network sites are websites that allow a user to create a public self-profile and also maintain a list of other users in their social network. The user can usually view the profiles and social networks of others within the system. The sites usually provide a several ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, and discussion groups.

After joining a social network site, the user is asked to answer a series of personal questions. The user's online profile is generated from these answers which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profile's look and feel. The visibility of a profile varies by site and according to user discretion. Users are prompted to identify others in the system with whom they have a relationship.

Wikipedia provides a list of over 100 social network websites, with MySpace and Facebook being the mostly widely used in 2007. MySpace, with over 100 million visitors, is very popular with teenagers, and Facebook, with over 70 million visitors, is popular with college students. Each social network site seems to focus on a specific target audience based on location, nationality, ethnicity, or interests. Some social network sites, e.g., LinkedIn and XING, are specifically aimed at professionals.

Click here for an interesting article on "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship" by danah m. boyd and Nicole B. Ellison.

More on social networks.


Web 2.0 for Teacher Professional Development

'Out of Isolation Circles: Web 2.0 for Teacher Professional Development' is a slideshow by Hala Fawzi about how teachers can use Web 2.0 to break out of their isolation to engage in socially interactive professional development.

Here is a short video from www.teachertube.com in which Graham Stanley gives an introduction to Web 2.0 and Language Learning for teachers.

More on Web 2.0 for teachers