Skip to content

Digital Sketches

digital citizen media, ict with a focus on Central Asia and the Middle East.

Category Archives: ICT

This year topics on the agenda of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt – are amongst others managing critical Internet resources, security, openness, privacy, access and diversity. On Sunday in their opening talks both the Egyptian Prime Minister and the Minister of Telecommunication were stressing especially the economic opportunities internet offers. Not one word was referring to the open character of internet, technical- and content wise.  “Egypt’s legitimacy to host such a meeting is questionable as it has repeatedly been guilty of violations of online free expression,” Reporters Without Borders said.

However minister Tarek Kamel of Communication and Information Technology welcomed explicitly the two fathers of the internet – Sir Tim Berners Lee and Bob Kahn – both very much in favour of an open and inclusive internet. Tim Berners Lee gave a summary of the past twenty years of the Internet existence as we know it. There has been lots of debate about the open structure of internet – transparency and openness versus security and safety. Berners Lee: ‘But two webs will not work, it has to be one web. No matter which device you use. Not only a matter of the language and signs you use. This universality implies an international approach. As time went on, standards did not seem enough. The web had to serve humanity to its up most including the disabled, poor and illiterate.’ Berners Lee than officially launched the World Wide Web Foundation. With support from the Knight Foundation the WWW Foundation will not look at connecting computers or counting webpages: ‘we look at humanity and want to empower the people’. He closed with the announcement of a workshop the next day on the precise goals and tasks of the new foundation.

The IGF has had its political incident just a few hours before. The Open Net Initiative – related to the Hivos partner The Berkman Institute – had their banner removed at the start of their workshop. The banner was taken away by security officer removed because it referred to amongst others Tibet and the Great Firewall of China. After their presentation ONI announced to write a letter to officially protest to the UN/IGF organisation against this act of censorship. Robert J. Deibert: ‘ When we refused to remove it, their security guards bundled it up and took it away. If this is a form of internet governance than how can privacy, access and freedom of expression be seriously discussed at this congress?’

Also read the Jac sm  Kee’s post on GenderIT

including the videoclip on of the situation at the APC website

Je kunt uitgaan van de vraag: hoe kunnen professionele media overleven in deze digitale tijden? Hoe moeten media – en kranten in het bijzonder – hun productiekosten en inkomstenstroom opnieuw vormgeven? Hoe kunnen bloggers en andere on line media inkomen genereren? Hoe een mediabedrijf te starten en financieren, gebaseerd op bijdragen van het publiek?

Van deze bekende vragen zijn zeker de eerste twee niet bijster nieuw zoals is te zien op de Amerikaanse nieuwsuitzending uit 1981 over de San Francisco Chronicle en Examiner en hun inspanningen hun krant online te zetten. Deze herkauwde vragen hebben vooralsnog weinig concrete antwoorden of bevredigende oplossingen opgeleverd. Deels omdat het de verkeerde vragen zijn, stellen Persephone Miel en Robert Faris van het Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Lees verder op Netkwesties

Tags: ,

‘Making a wiki is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich’, is the slogan of the company PBwiki. This week founder David Weekly visited an ICCO meeting as a keynote speaker. The Peanut Butter metaphor will not last much longer because in a few months time this name will be changed. Better integration in the desktop, use of spreadsheets and calender will be included in the new version; formerly known as PBwiki.

The meeting started with a handful development organisations – ICCO, IICD and Euforic – giving a short presentation of the way they use PBwiki in their daily work. Some organisations even integrated PBwiki in their intranet to make individual and collaborative planning, reporting, communicating, documenting and supporting easier. This was a gathering of enthusiastic wiki users. Of course the co workers who are less happy in using on line tools did not attend the meeting.

When does it work? You need:

– to focus on the need —-and deliver

– a simple structure

– manage access levels

– initiators, collaborators and audience

– timely support

We work smarter together; is David Weekly’s philosophy. He chatted about the start of PBwiki – he wrote it in a few hours – about the current situation and future business plans. He shared some wiki tips and emphasized the importance of privacy: all data uploaded is encrypted and saved on servers at three locations. Some of his clients – amongst others the Royal Bank of Scotland, FedEx and the Financial Times – are dealing with highly confidential stuff. You own your data, according to David.

Wiki’s will not do the work for you. One of the speakers talked of the parallel with gardening; a wiki does need attention and maintenance. Only then it will pay of, look nice and make people happy. Just like a garden does.

Watch the videoclip of the PB Wiki meeting

The end of the year means conference time. Last week I attended two. The first about Internet Governance (IGF) and the other about media development (GFMD). What struck me most was that Hivos was the only organization attending both congresses.  The world of infrastructure, technology on one hand and the world of content on the other hand still seem to be very separate worlds. The Internet exists at least twenty years and still a deep river runs between the two.

Internet is pre-eminently a medium that combines both; the best content of the world is worthless without a solid and stable communication and distribution technology behind it. To fully profit from the possibilities the Internet offers, content people have to work closely together with the technies, not only on micro level – in editorial teams – but also on governance level.

My first two days in Athens felt surreal. Here we are, staying in a posh hotel, attending a congress on media (Global Forum for Media Development) with 450 media people. Meanwhile a few blocks away thousands of Greeks were demonstrating and fighting with the police.


Few people wanted to involve, one of them was Sameer, hub manager at He went out to have a look at the riots in the old city and shoot some video. Afterwards he showed me the material and his Flip camera; magnificent in its simplicity, quality and price.

kerstboom2I went for a walk to the centre on my third day in Athens (Wednesday 10 Dec). First I went to the Parliament building.  At 12.30 hr. the demonstration was forced to spread. For this the police mainly used tear gas.  Nasty stuff.  The demonstrators looked like average citizens (students but also older people, white collars ect). They could well  belong to the ‘Generation 700’; well educated people in their twenties and thirties with a monthly income of about 700 euro’s. That might be enough ten years ago but this is definitely not the case any more.

The scene I still remember clearly – without taking a picture – was the young boy crying on the pavement, leaning against a window.  Some people were helping him, to get the tear gas out of his face by blowing cigarette smoke in his eyes. The ten year old happened to be on the wrong place when the police starting firing the tear gas.

I continued walking to the Athens Polytech that was taken over by students and other youngsters. It is located about 500 metres from the Parliament.  The Polytech has a history regarding uprising. Wednesday the situation at the University looked grim; many black clothes and gas masks, some hollow looking junkies at the entrance  and big speakers blasting out loud punk rock music. The surrounding streets were a complete mess; everything that was inflammable – cars, trees and houses – was burned.alphabank


What always surprises me in this kind of situations;  the way ordinary life continues.  Also in Athens men continued doing their shopping, women kept selling cookies even when the police turned up behind their back, lots of people went for a walk in the old city centre during their lunch break. And of course, the taxi driver did not want to drive me back to the hotel (2 km) for less than 20 euro. No way buddy.



The Greek do not trust their government; corruption is said to be wide spread and the investments in the Greek society are insufficient; in health, in welfare and especially on education.  Of course, the concept of democracy is never finished and needs constant maintenance. Because times, yes they are changing. But it is ironic to see the country that invented democracy in such a troubled state.

Independent Greek paper Kathimerini; English edition

The Economist; Rioters without Frontiers

BBC on Greece; including peaceful protests