Roundtable on Information Access, Public Initiatives and Civil Society Engagement

by Dina on June 24, 2009 · 0 comments

in Civil Society Engagement,Onlineactivism,Participatory Media,Social Media

Last week, I attended the Round Table on Assessing the Efficacy of Information and Communication Technologies for Public Initiatives, hosted by the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), Bangalore, on 17 June 2009, in collaboration with the Liberty Institute, New Delhi.

The discussion was really interesting, and I do hope it is the start of many such events. It was a great opportunity to share and learn around projects, processes and outcomes! I got to know more about many really interesting projects and the people associated with them – Edwin from Open Space who was the facilitator, Barun Mitra of Liberty Institute that runs EmpoweringIndia, Muthatha Ramanathan, the JaagoRe guys from Janaagraha, Ravi Rangan of Comat, Siddharth Sharma of Intellecap, Nitai Mehta of Praja, Gokul of Mapunity, Gautam John of Pratham books, Meera from the Bangalore-based Citizen Matters, Sanjay Jain of Google, Gaurav Mishra of Vote Report India, a bunch of folks from CIS – Pranesh, Anja, Kiran, and many more!  The Tactical Technology Collective folks were there too, and Allan and David distributed some of their guides and toolkits which were a real hit in terms of content and production values!

Zainab has a really detailed report on the roundtable, the picture above is from her post. The discussion was also live-tweeted under the #cisia tag!

A few things that struck me when reflecting upon the event:

  • that there is a need to combine efforts and share resources across the various projects, for instance, back-end integration with the government
  • that there’s need to engage audiences in the projects by different ways of dissemination
  • that ‘data’ needs to be presented and disseminated in ways that are relevant to people’s lives and in line with their own usage patterns, habits and behaviour
  • and that there are opportunities within this diverse groups to help and collaborate.

On one of the breaks, Gautam John, who I enjoyed meeting F2F after following his tweets for a while, introduced me to Sachin Malhan and his team who are working on a really interesting set of projects under the umbrella, Inclusive Planet. I was quite impressed with what they’re trying to do – creating innovative crowd-sourced online services for the differently-abled with the vision of leveraging these services to building a community on the web. The common theme across their projects is ‘access’. Check out Readable, their beta platform that enables the blind to share and access books and materials relevant to their study or leisure in formats totally accessible to them.

Peter and I were also invited to be on a Panel Discussion hosted by  CIS, on Social Media and Mobilisation. It was a good conversation, although not always easy when the audience is so diverse – we had open source geeks nd technologists, online & offline activists, ngo’s, marketers, social media users & newbies. Zainab has a nice synopsis at her blog.

Thanks Sunil, Nishant and Zainab of the Centre of Internet and Society for inviting me to these events, and to Zainab for being such a great host!

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