Friday, September 02, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 0

Last night I arrived in Bahrain after a flight from Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi and then on to Manama, the capital of the kingdom of Bahrain. I was met at the airport by Mr Ahmed Mahmood, an official of the ministry of commerce. I met him before in March during the Bahrain e-Content Award contest, where I was invited as an observer.

Bahrain International Convention Centre

Today there is no official program, but I went along with the others to the convention centre. It is better than staying outside where there is sunshine, a temperature of 40 degrees and high humidity. The type of weather does remind me of New Orleans (it is unbelievable what is happening over there). Besides it is nice to write the blog in an air-conditioned building, where you can work anywhere as it is fully covered by wi-fi.

Left: Anastasia, the project manager of the WSA; right: Waheed, operational manager on behalf of the Bahrain hosts

Tomorrow it will all start: the Grand Jury of the World Summit Award. The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global contest for selecting and promoting the World’s best e-contents and applications. It sees the bridging of the Digital Divide and narrowing of the Content Gap as its overall goal and – as of today - involves representatives from 168 countries on each continent. Putting its focus on cultural identity and diversity, the WSA looks for multimedia projects that effectively and creatively work with quality contents and digitalise educational, scientific and cultural heritage. It is held in the framework of and in cooperation with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

So in 2003 when the World Summit was held in Geneva, Peter Bruck came with the idea to start a global competition of best practice in multimedia. The idea was operationalised by ICNM, an event organisation bureau in Salzburg, which had already a lot of experience with organising the EUROPRIX and the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award (TTA) and with the support of the European Academy of Digital Media (EADiM). In one year we got 136 countries to participate, 803 products to evaluate by 40 jurors. Given the restricted funds it was a success.

Left: Cecilia and Ana of ICNM putting the manuals together; right: Dejan working on the product database of 742 products

As the second leg of the WSIS will be in Tunis in November 2005, the competition was started up again. This time with the help of 168 countries. So more entries to be judged you would think. Last time we had 6.8 products per country, which would mean that this time we would end somewhere around 1.000 products. As it looks now 742 products have been registered. I will come back with more details on the platforms and categories.

This Grand Jury will be hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain and the ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Bahrain Internet Society. And they really are active: 16 people from the ministry are involved. The Bahrain Internet Society has collected a great number of sponsorships. There are 38 eminent Grand Jury members coming and they will be served by a staff of 8 people from ICNM in Salzburg (Austria) and the whole process will be managed by three people. It is quite a logistic operation, but it is going to be a very intensive process, I am sure, if the 2003 Grand Jury is any measure to go by.

The Grand Jury will last till September 11, 2005. So stay tuned.

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