WSIS in America

June 20, 2005 Comments Off on WSIS in America

Cleveland, USA

Sitting in front of a couple of dozen American community technology activists at the CTCNet conference in Cleveland this past weekend, I quickly realized that it’s tough to talk about WSIS in America.

Of course, the tough part was not explaining what WSIS is, or why it matters at an abstract level. Nor was the problem talking about the differences between the policy side of things (the summit) and the opportunity to network with others doing community technology work (the platform). People in our WSIS workshop got all of this, and engaged in a lively dialogue.


The tough part was creating a strong feeling that international connections matter – that there is something to learn from other countries, and that US CTC’s are part of a larger global movement. At least, that’s how it felt sitting on a panel at the front of a large room (actually, a large hallway).

Much of this flows from the fact that the US has such a rich history of community technology itself. There is so much to be gained from connecting and learning across the country, so why look elsewhere? But another factor is that the international connections just don’t exist in a big way – there are few relationships or information channels that put the wisdom, learning and passion of the global telecentre movement on the American community technology radar.

The good news is that this is slowly starting to change, and it is looks like CTCNet is leading the way. They are putting a good deal of effort into the Telecentres of the Americas Partnership (TAP) – a coalition of telecentre networks from Canada, Latin America, Puerto Rico and the United States. TAP has the potential to create exactly the kind of connections that are needed – connections aimed at building relationships, telling stories and sharing tools that telecentre people use to do their work. It’s these simple, practical things that make a movement work.

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