[GKD] Soros: Transparency Can Alleviate Poverty

2005-03-29 Thread Michael Gurstein
Dear Colleagues,

From time to time, List Members have raised the issue of transparency
and accountability and its importance in aiding development. The
following article by George Soros describes some recent developments in
this area.

Mike Gurstein


Transparency Can Alleviate Poverty
By George Soros
Financial Times (16 March 2005)

Countries that are rich in natural resources are often poor because
exploiting those resources takes precedence over good government.
Competing oil and mining companies, backed by their governments, have
often been willing to deal with anyone who could assure them of a
concession. This has bred corrupt and repressive governments and armed
conflict. In Africa, civil wars have devastated resource-rich countries
such as Congo, Angola and Sudan. In the Middle East, democracy has
failed to materialise. Lifting this resource curse could make a large
contribution to alleviating poverty and misery in the world, and there
is an international movement aimed at doing just that. The first step is
transparency; the second is accountability.

The movement started a few years ago with the Publish What You Pay
campaign, which urged oil and mining companies to disclose payments to
governments. In response, the British government launched the Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). On Thursday, three years into
the process, the UK will convene an important EITI conference in London,
to be attended by representatives of governments, business and civil

Much has been accomplished. International extractive companies are
starting to acknowledge the value and necessity of greater transparency.
BP has agreed to disclose disaggregated payment information on its
operations in Azerbaijan, and Royal Dutch/Shell is doing the same in
Nigeria. ChevronTexaco recently negotiated an agreement with Nigeria and
Sao Tome and Principe that requires publication of company payments in
the joint production zone. Investors representing nearly $7,000bn
(£3,650bn, Ä5,250bn) in capital have endorsed EITI and called on
companies to be more transparent in the reporting of payments.

But the most encouraging sign comes from the producing countries
themselves. Nigeria is reorganising its state oil company, introducing
transparency legislation, and launching sweeping audits of the oil and
gas sector. It plans to begin publishing details of company payments to
the state this summer.

The Kyrgyz Republic became the first country to report under EITI, for a
large gold mining project. Azerbaijan will report oil revenues later
this month. Ghana and Trinidad and Tobago have also signed up. Peru, Sao
Tome and Principe and East Timor are in negotiations to implement the
initiative. Equally important, local activists are starting to use EITI
as way of demanding greater accountability for government spending. My
own foundation, the Open Society Institute, has established Revenue
Watch programmes in producing countries.

But there is a lot more to be done. Two-thirds of the world's most
impoverished people live in about 60 developing countries or countries
in transition to the free market that depend on oil, mining or gas
revenues. The recently published transparency index from Save the
Children UK, the charity, shows that transparency is the exception, not
the rule. Many important producing countries have yet to make even a
gesture towards disclosure. Angola, Bolivia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Chad,
Mauritania and Gabon are among the countries outside EITI that need to
be brought in. There is no reason why big Middle Eastern producers and
Indonesia should not join this transparency push and embrace the EITI.
It is also critical that state-owned companies, which account for the
bulk of global oil and gas production, be subject to full disclosure.

Other governments need to follow the UK and help expand the EITI. France
appears to have done little to encourage countries within its sphere of
influence, let alone ask its own companies to disclose information. The
Bush administration's recent decision to initiate a parallel
anti-corruption process through the Group of Eight leading industrial
nations leaves the US outside the leading international forum for
addressing resource revenue transparency and reinvents the wheel.

The US and Britain have not used their power in Iraq to promote
transparency in the oil sector. Let us hope the new Iraqi government
does better. It is difficult to see how democracy can take root if the
country's most important source of income remains as veiled in secrecy
as it was under Saddam.

The EITI is one of the most effective vehicles available for achieving a
global standard of disclosure and accountability. This week's summit is
an opportunity to define more precisely what it means to implement the
EITI by establishing some basic minimum requirements for host countries.

Those committed to 

[GKD] UK Government Moves To Outcome Based Conditionality

2005-03-14 Thread Michael Gurstein
A potentially very important development.


[via PRS Watch]

UK Government Moves To Outcome Based Conditionality

Report: http://www.dfid.gov.uk/pubs/files/conditionality.pdf

The UK Government launched a new policy on conditionality this week,
which calls for outcome based conditionality and a de-linking from World
Bank and IMF lending signals. The new policy paper 'Partnerships for
Poverty Reduction: Rethinking Conditionality' notes that the UK
Government will stop making their aid conditional on specific policy
conditions, including in sensitive economic areas such as privatization
or trade liberations. Instead, the report notes that aid will be
provided on the basis of a set of jointly agreed outcome or impact based
benchmarks drawn from developing countries own national plans, where
possible. Conditionality will be limited to fiduciary concerns only and
used to ensure aid is not used corruptly or for purposes other than
those intended.

The policy states that the UK government will be steered by the
following five principles:

*Developing country ownership
*Participatory and evidence-based policy-making
*Transparency and accountability

Amongst other things, the policy states that the UK Government will
work with other donors to improve aid harmonization and limit the
overall burden of conditionality. In particular, the report notes that
the UK Government will encourage the World Bank and the IMF to monitor
and streamline their combined terms and conditions. Interestingly, the
policy also notes that though the UK government will continue to use the
analysis from the IMF and the World Bank in making its assessment of
progress towards poverty reduction, it will not always follow their
funding signals. An IMF or World Bank program going 'off-track' will
not automatically lead DFID to suspend its assistance.

Finally, the report highlights the circumstances in which the UK will
consider reducing or interrupting aid:

a) countries move significantly away from agreed poverty reduction
objectives or outcomes or the agreed objectives of a particular aid
commitment (e.g. through an unjustifiable rise in military spending, or
a substantial deviation from the agreed poverty reduction program); or

b) countries are in significant violation of human rights or other
international obligations; or

c) there is a significant breakdown in partner government financial
management and accountability.

Civil society groups have been broadly welcoming of the report, but
question whether it will actually be put into practice.

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[GKD] Proceedings of Community Informatics Research Network Conference Now Available

2005-02-11 Thread Michael Gurstein
The Community Informatics Research Network http://www.ciresearch.net
held its 2004 Inaugural Conference and Colloquium with the theme,
'Sustainability and Community Technology: What Does this Mean for
Community Informatics?', at the Monash Centre, Prato, Italy, 29
September - 1 October, 2004.

Proceedings are now available for purchase.

The CIRN 2004 Prato Conference proceedings (ISBN 0-9581058-3-9) include
all the refereed and non-refereed papers from the academic,
practitioner, and PhD streams.

There are 48 papers in the two volumes, coming to more than 600 pages of
text and graphics, with contributions from many countries. The
Proceedings are an excellent resource for your organisation's research,
teaching, and practical activity in community informatics.

Additional information (including the table of contents, list of authors
and introduction) is available at http://www.communities.org.ru/prato/

Proceedings CD:

In addition to all the conference papers being reproduced as bookmarked
PDFs, the Proceedings CD contains:

* MP3 sound files of the Conference Opening and Keynotes from Don
   Schauder, Laura Ripamonti, Erica Rosalen and Mike Gurstein, as well as
   their accompanying Powerpoint presentations.
* 200+ Prato photos taken by participants 
* Inaugural Issue of the Journal of Community Informatics
* CIRN Brochure
* CIRN Cape Town 2005 Announcement

Publishers of the book are the Centre for Community Networking Research,
School of Information Management  Systems Monash University and
Community Informatics Research Network, Inc.

The book has been desk-published in Russia by the Centre of Community
Networking and Information Policy Studies (CCNS).

To order and purchase a copy of the proceedings please go to:

As the number of copies printed is limited, you are encouraged to order
promptly. Priority will be given to e-payments via Paypal. If you have
not used Paypal before, please follow the instructions carefully, as
refunds will include an additional cost of transfer fees.

 If you require a purchase order or are only able to pay by
international bank transfer, please contact [EMAIL PROTECTED] as
soon as possible to expedite arrangements.

The cost of the two volumes and CD is AUD 76 (approximately EUR45,USD58)
plus AUD 17 (approximately EUR10, USD13) postage and handling per set.

Estimated surface mail times within Europe are two weeks, North America
four weeks, and up to two months for other countries. Current CIRN
members will receive a 10% discount on the volumes.

We invite you to purchase additional copies for your institution, and to
distribute the information below to colleagues. As there are only a
limited number of copies available for purchase, please encourage them
to do so quickly!

Best regards,

Anna Petrova 

Centre of Community Networking and Information Policy Studies (CCNS)
St. Petersburg, Russia 

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[GKD] Southeast Asia Tsunami and the Effective Use of Community ICTs

2005-01-04 Thread Michael Gurstein
Dear GKD Members,

I guess like everyone else, I've been watching the tragic events unfold
on television with a sense of sadness and powerlessness. Not much that
one can do from so far away except at this point to make a donation and
to make the kinds of noises that get governments to move away from

Fortunately my family and I weren't personally impacted so far as we
know, but the events took on a very direct force when we saw what seemed
to be video from a resort in Thailand where we had stayed 3 years ago
and which indicated that the bungalow where we were staying would have
been completely inundated by the wave.

And thinking of it and scanning the Net for information and for stories
I'm struck by a couple of things concerning the role (and lack of role)
of the Net in these events. The Net appears to be playing a very
significant part in responding to the needs of those at a distance--the
on-lookers for information, stories, ways of contributing and so on;
families and friends of those possibly impacted with attempts at
creating listings of the found and the lost and for those on the ground
to manage the concerns and queries of those farther away; and one
expects that behind the scenes much of the co-ordination and planning
that is being done by aid organizations is being done in ways that are
pushing the boundaries of Computer Mediated Communication and managing
at a distance.

But I guess I'm a bit surprised that the Net wasn't able (yet?) to
bridge the information divides between those who had some idea about
what might be coming (the scientists and those immediately impacted) and
those who might have been able to make some use of that information in
the places where the impact took appreciable time to be realized.

The problem here was not, I think, a Digital Divide, rather than
perhaps it is another example of what I've referred to elsewhere as the
gap between access and effective use
http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue8_12/gurstein/index.html. From
what I can gather most if not all of the communities impacted had
Internet access in one form or another. What they (and here I would
include those with the knowledge who couldn't use it as well as those
without knowledge) lacked, rather, was the social, organizational,
informational, and applications infrastructure which could have turned
Internet access into an effectively usable early warning system.

Those who had the information couldn't use it, and those who needed the
information couldn't/didn't get it. The degrees of separation
imposed by nationality, language and perhaps most important, domains of
knowledge and profession (and the related social linkages, network based
trust relationships, communication pathways and so on), just weren't
there--and one wonders whether that was simply a matter of it still
being early days in our Internetted world or something more profound and

It seems likely that some sort of Tsunami Early Warning System will be
set up in the region probably with an ICT base (I seem to recall
something similar being in place for the Pacific Islands, for hurricanes
as well as Tsunami's I would assume), but given the infrequency of these
events, how useful it will be seems questionable. So I'm wondering now
whether rather than spending a huge amount of money creating a dedicated
Tsunami Early Warning System, the governments in the region (or better
yet the effected communities) wouldn't be better advised to think about
how to use the access that they have available to them in ways that will
allow them to have some warning. This would mean that they develop local
means for scanning the information universe and then ways of linking the
knowledge that results into local social and institutional structures
that can translate that knowledge into effective uses such as early
warnings. Here I'm not thinking just of what are almost singular events
like Tsunamis, but also of more recurrent weather events and even more
common social, economic and political events in the larger world that
will have a potential impact, sometimes negative, but also potentially
positive, on community well-being.

From a Community Informatics perspective, I'm also wondering whether
there shouldn't be a significant future role. Certainly, the Community
side of the equation will be of immense importance as much of the
reconstruction will be done of and through existing local communities.
But what of the Informatics side. Some skepticism has been expressed
concerning the value of ICTs in this context where the need for water,
shelter and food are so pressing. Certainly, there is a need for
Management/Organizational Informatics at least from the perspective of
managing aid and a considerable degree of infrastructure reconstruction.

But what of Community Informatics...Is this something to be left to a
later stage when other matters have been dealt with and as has been
suggested, there is some resources and time available for what some

[GKD] Invitation to Virtual Conference on Indigenous ICT Use

2004-03-09 Thread Michael Gurstein
Kuh-ke-nah International Indigenous SMART Communities Gathering

17-18 March, 2004

In the Oji-Cree language of Northern Ontario in Canada, Kuh-ke-nah means
everyone...together. For Oji-Cree people it describes a traditional
network of families living and surviving  in the vast wilderness that we
now know as the Canadian Shield. Today, Kuh-ke-nah also describes
Canadas SMART First Nations.

The SMART First Nations Demonstration project is a three year initiative
led by the Keewaytinook Okimakanak (Northern Chiefs) Council in
partnership with the government of Canada that blends community
leadership with technological innovation. Together with everyone the
Kuh-ke-nah First Nations are defining a new network of community
development, opportunity and wellness.

During the past ten years, the Deer Lake, Fort Severn, Keewaywin, North
Spirit Lake and Poplar Hill First Nations have applied information and
communications technologies (ICTs) to build new skills and transfer
knowledge, reduce longstanding forms of cultural isolation and physical
remoteness and enhance community well-being.

Since 2000, these communities have adopted a SMART approach to ICT
development. Each year theyve identified and implemented new education,
health and cultural services. And everyday the people living in the
SMART First Nations are showing others how everyone really can be
brought together through the use of ICTs.

The Kuh-ke-nah International Indigenous Gathering is the culminating
event of the SMART First Nations Project.  The Gathering will provide a
virtual space for bringing together Indigenous people from around the
world to show how they have used information and communications
technologies. Participants will demonstrate on-line how they are
influencing positive change in their communities by addressing community
needs, achieving community development goals, improving community
services, supporting cultural expression and building new capacities.

The Kuh-ke-nah Network will host a virtual two day conference where
lessons learned, good practices and the SMART project outcomes will be
shared. On-line delegates and guests will exchange views and workshop
new approaches and alliances. Kuh-ke-nah Chiefs and community ICT
champions will show how advanced e-learning, telemedicine and community
development applications have been both influenced and supported by
Indigenous values and needs.

This conference will appeal to Indigenous ICT workers and policy-makers
alike. Community representatives as well as government, academic and
industry representatives will make the Kuh-ke-nah SMART International
Gathering a diverse and rich experience -- a new world of communities in
development. Register now at:


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[GKD] CFP: Building Bridging Community Networks Conference

2003-12-15 Thread Michael Gurstein
, University of Brighton 
Michael Gurstein, (Visiting) Professor, School of Management New Jersey
Institute of Technology
Don Schauder, Professor, School of Information Management and Systems,
Monash University
Graeme Johanson, School of Information Management and Systems/Centre for
Community Networking Research, Monash University
Larry Stillman, School of Information Management and Systems/Centre for
Community Networking Research, Monash University
Michel Menou, CoVITALC, Latin America  Caribbean
Scott S. Robinson, Depto. De Antropologia, Universidad Metropologia,
Stewart Marshall, Professor, Faculty of Informatics  Communication,
Central Queensland University
Wal Taylor, Faculty of Informatics  Communication, Central Queensland

Send  abstracts, position papers, full papers to Peter Day

Please forward to relevant lists, and please excuse cross-postings

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[GKD] Community Informatics Research Network

2003-10-14 Thread Michael Gurstein
(This is in partial response it seems to Margaret Grieco's post about
Public Sociologies)...



Community Informatics: Enabling Communities With Information and
Communications Technologies

At the Many Voices, Many Places - Electronically Enabling Communities
for An Information Society Colloquium http://www.ccnr.net/prato2003/
held at the Monash University Centre in Prato, Italy a group of
participants from some 7 countries and representing a variety of
universities and research networks agreed to proceed to the creation of
a formal Community Informatics Research Network (.Org) (CIRN).

There was an agreement by the CIRN Interim Committee of the Whole that
the organization would be open to participation and membership by
individuals, institutions, for profit and not for profit enterprises and
networks, with an active interest and involvement in Community
Informatics Research and particularly those from Developing Countries.
The approach agreed to was also that this organisation would seek to
build a network of the related organizations that for subject, language
or other reasons feel more comfortable operating on their own. In other
words it would be pro-actively facilitating the formation of a
structured open network among CI research groups.

An interim executive steering committee consisting of Michael Gurstein,
NJIT; Peter Day, U. of Brighton; and Don Schauder, Monash U./Wal Taylor,
Central Queensland U., and Larry Stillman of Monash U. as the Interim
Secretary/webmaster was formed to work towards the timely incorporation
of the group as a not for profit society under the Australian
corporations act.

In addition, an invitation was extended by Dr. Peter Day and Brighton
University to host CIRN's first research conference in the spring of
2004. The Founding conference of CIRN it was agreed, would be hosted by
Monash University at the Prato Centre in late September 2004.

It was also agreed that the CI Researchers list
http://vancouvercommunity.net/lists/ciresearchers would be the e-list
for the organization and that a website based on the design developed by
CQU would go on line as soon as possible and hosted by Monash U. in
conjunction with CQU.

Michael Gurstein agreed to provide an interim linkage with the newly
created CI Research Network of the Commonwealth of Independent States
formed in conjunction with the St. Petersburg (BIC) conference

Several members of the Interim Committee of the Whole agreed to liase
with a variety of other CI research networks and specifically the CRACIN
network in Canada and the network which is currently being created in
the United States.

It was further agreed that efforts would be undertaken to find resources
to move forward with the continued development of the Open Archive
Community Informatics Text Book building on the work of Sergei Stafeev,
Mike Gurstein and Michel Menou in the publication in English and Russian
of Community Networking and Community Informatics: Prospects,
Approaches, Instruments Part 1 of a CI Text book (St. Petersburg, 2003)
And the website http://www.ci-text.dr.ag/ 

A statement to be forwarded to the World Summit on the Information
Society on behalf of CIRN was adopted and will be circulated in a
subsequent message.

Those with an interest in either affiliating with the Network or
learning more about it are invited to subscribe to the Research list or
to the more general Community Informatics interest list.

To subscribe send a message



Subscribe CIResearchers

And/or Communityinformatics


Peter Day, U. of Brighton

Michael Gurstein, NJIT

Don Schauder, Monash U./Wal Taylor, Central Queensland U.

Community Informatics Researchers News: 

* An informal meeting in conjunction with the Information,
Communications and Society Conference at the Oxford Internet Institute
in the UK
agreed that efforts would be undertaken immediately to begin the
development of an on-line journal with interim resource support
committed as available through NJIT/NSF; CIRA in Teeside, UK; Monash U.
in Australia; and the CRACIN Network in Canada. A follow-up meeting to
brainstorm on the design and development of the journal will be held
in conjunction with the AoIR meeting in Toronto in October and with an
interim discussion on the CIResearchers e-list as a lead-up to that

* Dr. Peter van den Besselaar, Head of the Social Sciences Department
Netherlands Institute of Scientific Information, Royal Netherlands
Academy of Arts and Sciences, (NIWI-KNAW) presented an important outline
of the scope of Community Informatics Research including its links to
his own work in Digital Cities and related Community Networks, in a
keynote presentation at the Communities and Technology Conference in
http://www-winfo.uni-siegen.de/wulf/CT2003/ .

* Brian

[GKD] Computer Virus Vaccination Day

2002-03-07 Thread Michael Gurstein

How about some positive viral marketing with this idea.


-Original Message-
From: Annie Brody [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]]
Sent: March 5, 2002 2:34 PM
Subject: Virus Vaccination Day April 20th 2002

Dear Colleagues,

I apologize for multiple postings of this message.  Feel free to forward
to other organizations you think might be interested.

  NPower NY, NY Cares, and Symantec
  Present Virus Vaccination Day April 20th 2002!


Virus Vaccination Day is a one-day community service event devoted to
helping New York City non-profits protect themselves against prolific
computer viruses. Computer viruses, like their human counterparts, come
in all kinds of forms and degrees of malignancy, from less harmful
strains that insert the word wazzu into Microsoft Word documents, to
extremely harmful varieties that can cause hard disks - or entire
networks - to crash. Specially-trained volunteers will install donated
virus protection software from Symantec on non-profit computers. To
round out the virus check-up, volunteers will tutor agency staff in how
to update their software in the future, perform general computer
maintenance, and inventory their hardware and software for future
technology planning.


Virus Vaccination Day is a collaboration between NPower NY and New York
Cares. NPower NY is dedicated to putting technology know-how in the
hands of New York City's non-profits. New York Cares' mission is to
unite and enable caring New Yorkers to help people in need and improve
our city through volunteer service and creative giving.


Contact: [EMAIL PROTECTED]  or call 212-677-9622.

Annie Brody

Director, Special Projects
20 University Road
Cambridge, MA 02138


TechFoundation delivers technology, expertise and capital to help
nonprofit organizations to harness the power of information technology
to serve humanity. We envision a world where nonprofit organizations can
access the same resources to serve humanity that businesses use to
create wealth.

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