Learnings from A2K Workshop Day 1

This is my first post about my participation in the Access to Knowledge, Technology and Information Workshop (March 12-14, 2007) held in Suan Dusit Hotel, Bangkok.

I admire Al Alegre of FMA for his ability to organize the first day without a predefined programme at the outset. What he did was to evoke from the participants (from various Asian countries) their ideas on how to run the three days. I think that methodology is within the realm of open space technology.

The process:

  1. Ask the participants to write on a piece of card (often called metacard) the thing they would like to share and another piece of card the thing they would like to learn in the entire duration of the workshop. One idea, one card.
  2. Post the accomplished cards on separate walls (the share cards on one wall and the learn cards on another).
  3. Organize the share cards according to themes (facilitator’s task or may be subjected to metaplan approach). Discuss, discuss, discuss.
  4. Match the learn cards with the themes (based on share cards). In case there are cards with no themes yet, either there will be more resource persons to tackle the learn cards or the ‘orphaned’ learn cards will be abandoned all the way.
  5. Decide on the agenda of the meeting and the schedule for tackling it.

The formal session started in the afternoon, where two great resource persons, Lawrence Liang and Michel Bauwens, talked about Intellectual Property and the Asia Commons and Web 2.0 and peer production.  Here are the points I’ve learned from their pieces and the forum that ensued:

  1. Web 2.0 has changed the content production landscape. With minimal influence from capitalism and nation-states, content producers, e.g., bloggers, have redefined what democracy, where production is not merely top-down or bottom-up but laterally nor done by a single large organization claiming authority over content but by small groups capable of globalizing their stuff.
  2. Within the framework of real people empowerment, it’s challenge for Web 2.0 to be implemented at the grassroots level. Thus far, it is the intermediary entities (student activists, professionals and NGOs) that are able to maximize the technology. How the infrastructure is set up at a rural village where it is the farmers or their children who make use of it is indeed a challenge.
  3. Of course, capitalism has always been capable of adjusting. FOSS, for example has been as profitable to corporate firms much as it has been beneficial to non-profit groups. Social networking outfits have also proliferated, earning from online ads while providing (almost) free services to bloggers.
  4. There should be no rush for Asian intellectual-property activists to get recognized. They need to slow down a bit and apply the dialectical and historical materialism (note: this phrase did not come from Lawrence but from me) in analyzing the IP and access to knowledge and culture pattern in the world. A look at the history of violence and dispossession is needed to better appreciate the present and strategize for the future.
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