Sunday, June 19, 2005

A strange encounter

WSA present at Incommunicado 05 (photograph: Wim Ouwerkerk). Posted by Hello

Friday evening I was in de Balie in Amsterdam at the closing of the international conference Incommunicado 05. It was a most strange encounter. When I saw the program I knew that the conference would have a rather critical audience. The program contained a section Quotes with titles like: New Actors, New models, New Frameworks; Knowledge Society, WSIS, Cognitive Justice; Pro-poor partnership; (New) Means of Production; ICT Apartheid; Open Source South South; ‘Their’ Empowerment; Multiliteracies; The Limitations of NGO Actions; ICT4D and the Critique of Development; Corporatization of the UN.

After a closing discussion about the conference, I was allowed to present the Dutch nominees for the World Summit Award (WSA) competition as a kind of an entre-act. I presented the goals of the World Summit Award, showed the activities in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and indicated that we are discussing the future of the World Summit Award. I also presented the Dutch nominees one by one. When I was finished, I invited the audience for questions. The first questioner thought that it all sounded so positive. I guess he meant that it sounded too positive to his taste. I invited him to consult the catalogue and see the best-practices selected; but best-practice was a bad term in this environment. There should be more research and more publications in open access journals. The person in question was most likely not aware of the fact that WSA had already nominated the Open Access Journal initiative in 2003. Another member of the audience asked whether it was possible to institute an e-censorship category.

Then a lady in the audience took the microphone and asked the organisers, why I was invited in this conference. Having talked two days about their items the World Summit Awards appeared to be out of context of this conference, she said. Besides, the World Summit Award did exactly what the UN ICT4D hoped for, organising best-practices and this was not what the conference was looking for. (Funny thing: UN ICT4D was one of the sponsors of this conference!). I left the answering to the organisers, Geert Lovink and Soenke Zehle. But to me it was clear that this audience would go to Tunis with another intention than the World Summit Award network people.

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