[governance] RE: GAID

Michael Gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Sun Mar 4 16:10:50 EST 2007

Thanks Wolfgang for your interesting observations and comments...

I should be clear I guess... My concern is less with the specific
involvement of civil society in the process. The GAID structure (fwiw)
appears to include a tri-partite representation from civil society
http://www.un-gaid.org/en/council/members . Rather my concern comes from
precisely the top down structure and more particularly the absence of
effective participation in the operation from those actually involved in

This observation and "critique" I should say comes less from theoretical
notions of what role civil society "should" play in these processes of
governance and more in the quite empirical and pragmatic observation
that ICT4D won't/can't work unless there is significant involvement in
the design, implementation and development of the activities by those
actually doing the job on the ground.  

Again from simple observation (and direct experience here in Canada and
elsewhere) the only way to ensure that the lessons of what works and
doesn't becomes part of the overall process is for specific measures to
be taken to ensure that this happens. The best way I think, that this
can be accomplished is by having some formal process of inclusion of
practitioners (and activists) in the decision making structures.

It should be noted, BTW, that this is in fact happening in a number of
jurisdictions (for example India, Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka) where
governments are currently undertaking major programs of support for
community based ICT4D initiatives in considerable degree with practical
and close cooperation with local NGO's who are (and have been) working
in these areas on the ground for years (I mentioned this in my recent
note to the Governance list referring to the workshop organized by
Parminder, Anita and their colleagues at IT4Change).

These latter and quite recent (in most instances post-WSIS) initiatives
suggest some exciting possibilities for how a GAID might operate which I
guess to some degree was the basis for my disappointment (and
"critique") for how it was in fact operating.

Having a meeting of the GAID with "civil society" as a parallel to the
meeting with Silicon Valley would be, I agree, a very useful initiative
but whether at the World Social Forum or in a context where for example
some of those NGO's involved in the South Asian initiatives (and their
counterparts in other parts of the world) would be more likely to be in
attendance is something that I would like to see considered.



Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
Centre for Community Informatics Research, Development and Training 
gurstein at gmail.com 
Vancouver, BC CANADA v6z 2s1
tel: +1-604-602-0624
fax: +1-604-602-0624

-----Original Message-----
From: Wolfgang Kleinw├Ąchter
[mailto:wolfgang.kleinwaechter at medienkomm.uni-halle.de] 
Sent: March 4, 2007 12:16 PM
To: Michael Gurstein; governance at lists.cpsr.org; incom
Cc: wsis at ngocongo.org
Subject: GAID

Dear Michael
thanks for your cirtical analysis, in particular with regard to civil
society involvment. I share most of your views.However, if you compare
GAID with UNICTTF I cen see some (small) progress with regard to CS
participation. My conclusion from the meeting is, that CS has indeed to
rethink its role in this process and to offer also some innovative
contributions to the work programme regardless of the UN type top down
organisational arrangement you have critisized. 
The purpose of the Santa Clara meeting was to improve first of all the
relationship between governments and the private sector. This was the
intention  of the Motto "UN Meets Silicon Valley". Why not to consider a
similar meeting where the relationship between governments and civil
society is in the center? Why not to use one of the big civil society
meetings in the next year to invite GAID to have a parallel meeting and
to discuss the CS-GOV relationship, according to the points you have
raised in your analysis? 
The biggest CS event is the annual World Social Forum, the alternative
to the WEF in Davos. My proposal is that civil society starts to discuss
a project which could be labeled "UN meets the World Social Forum" where
a joint meeting between CS and GAID is organized in parallel with the
January event in 2008.    

Best regards

Von: Michael Gurstein [mailto:gurstein at gmail.com]
Gesendet: So 04.03.2007 19:26
An: governance at lists.cpsr.org; incom
Betreff: [governance] FW: [TriumphOfContent] UN Officials Discuss
Digital Divide


	-----Original Message-----
	From: TriumphOfContent at yahoogroups.com
[mailto:TriumphOfContent at yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of BBracey at aol.com
	Sent: March 4, 2007 10:03 AM
	To: TriumphOfContent at yahoogroups.com;
Thornburg-Center at googlegroups.com; nedavis at iastate.edu;
resta at mail.utexas.edu; joycepittman51 at yahoo.com; mclaughb at nici-mc2.org;
ray at rose-smith.com
	Subject: [TriumphOfContent] UN Officials Discuss Digital Divide

	UN Officials Discuss Digital Divide
	Associated Press 03.01.07, 10:20 AM ET
	Officials from the United Nations met with Silicon Valley
executives to discuss the "digital divide" - the growing gap between the
world's wealthiest and most computer literate people and the
impoverished masses without Internet access.
	Wednesday's meeting, organized by Intel Corp. (nasdaq: INTC
tkr=INTC>  - news
<http://www.forbes.com/markets/company_news.jhtml?ticker=INTC>  - people
er=INTC>  ) and the U.N.'s Global Alliance for Information and
Communications Technology and Development, was billed as the first
between U.N. officials and technology executives and venture
	More than 100 executives and officials from more than 30
countries attended the half-day conference. They brainstormed low-cost
ways to get broadband Internet access to Africa, build computer centers
throughout the developing world and encourage entrepreneurship.
	"Silicon Valley is the world capital of innovation, and we are
counting on its contribution," said Sarbuland Khan, executive director
of the U.N. technology alliance, founded last year. "In the information
and communication field, the melding of markets and social
responsibility is bringing to life new solutions to age-old problems
like poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy."
	Intel Chairman Craig Barrett said the Santa Clara-based
semiconductor company was working with 60 governments in the developing
world to bring low-cost financing of personal computers and high-speed
Internet access to 1 billion people. The company is also working with
education ministries in 40 countries to train 9 million teachers by
	"It's what the world needs and governments want for their
citizens," Barrett said of the public-private partnership. "It's the
right thing to do and makes business sense."
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