Community media peeps

July 9, 2005 § Leave a comment

Delhi, India

It turns out Ian Pringle is a fellow traveller, another veteran of the Canadian community media scene. He worked at Co-op Radio in Vancouver for years, and knows folks I’ve worked with like Peter Royce from Vancouver Community Networks and Catherine Ludgate from IMPACS. And, he now lives in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, the place where I did community television for over five years.


It’s always invigorating to meet people who come from the community media world. There’s a shared passion for helping people find the tools, skills and self-confidence to express themselves … which is certainly a big part of why telecentres matter.

Ian gave me a quick verbal tour of the UNESCO Community Multimedia Centre (CMC) program in Asia. It was interesting to learn that the first CMC ever was in Sri Lanka (I didn’t know that!), and that there are now eight Sri Lankan CMCs. Probably a good group to include in our Sri Lanka telecentre managers workshop tentatively planned for the fall. There is also interesting CMC work happening in India, Nepal, Bhutan and (just now) the Philippines. Definitely worth reaching out to these groups once is rolling.

We also had a chance to talk about a pet idea that keeps rolling around in my head: integrating Asterisk into telecentres. Asterisk is an open source PBX that provides interactive voice messaging and mass SMS delivery capability. SMS + Asterisk could be used to localize, synthesize and send out Internet information collected in a telecentre, just as the CMCs are doing with radio. In fact, it could be the best of both worlds, combining the targeted, demand driven nature of telecentre-based Internet access (SMS messages) with the access-anywhere, ubiquitous technology nature of community radio (mobile phones). Ian suggested the Philippines might be a good place to try this out as it’s a place where even farmers use SMS. Hmmm.

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