May 2005

Bytes for All

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Open Source

Open access, free too
One of the interesting discussions that came up during the month was about open access journals which promise to make information and knowledge more freely available, regardless of the money anyone willing (or unable) to pay. An interesting article on 'Why open archives will win' is available at 
http://groups. yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5565

Free, but customs don't think so
The Ubuntu GNU/Linux CD is an easy-to-install, easy-to-use 'distro' or, package of all the software one need to install Ubuntu. Trilok Soni of India has complained that Customs has been threatening him with duties to import this free-of-cost and free-as-in-freedom CD.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_ readers/message/5485

Free software, free society
Meanwhile, in Kerala, an interesting initiative comes up involving four different countries, including Brazil and India.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5569

Open content license
Young lawyer Lawrence Liang, based in city of Bangalore, has argued about why documentary and alternate film makers in India could well think of starting to license their works under an 'open content' license. Liang explained that Open content licenses have basically been inspired by the Free Software movement, where they try to reverse the principles of copyright to build a more vibrant public domain of materials which can be used by people.

Digital divide

Novatium from Chennai
Chennai-based Novatium Solutions is a group that has some great ideas. All of us, who understand what it means to be on the wrong side of the so-called 'digital divide' will sure wish them well.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5487

Villagers' info needs
What is the kind of information that a village needs? Many views on this point, following an interesting discussion over which quite a number of posts came up.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5486

Literacy
When we talk about IT what happens to literacy? As ICT becomes an even more fashionable subject, what happens to basics? A fascinating example of what can be done http://www.pratham.org/

Radio

Radio too
When we think of ICTs, we need not think of computers alone. 'C' is the middle-letter of the term, after all, and communication comes in different forms including supposedly low-cost and low-tech solutions like radio.  The potential of radio still missing in India.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5489

e-Governance

From India's Silicon Valley
BangaloreOne opens with a bang. But this topic about a proprietory software based project in India's Silicon Valley also raked up some controversy. BangaloreOne has already been charged with 'tender scam' and 'doctoring the general bid'.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5506

Citizen cartographers
As BytesForAll debated the issue of how free are our maps, particularly in South Asia, Shekhar Krishnan came out with an interesting link titled 'March of the Citizen Cartographers'
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5575

Technology

Jhai PC
Lee Thorn of Jhai Foundation wrote that they have completed the Jhai PCs 1.4 build (six for the Proof of Concept, one additional will stay behind for a rebuild to 1.8), tested everything on the system completely, and has created user, assembly, and preliminary maintenance documents.  The Jhai PC itself draws six watts without its current communication hardware. In the next version it will draw about eight to ten watts, including a Pentium 4 equivalent card, flash memory and storage, and communication hardware. Vonage hardware has been used for voice communication.
http://www.circlesoft.com/Jhai/userdoc.pdf

Digital library
Monica Narula of Sarai.net in Delhi highlighted sometime back the plans for a Digital Library of India (http://www.dli.gov.in/home.htm) planning to put out a million out-of-copyright or permission-granted books in the publicdomain. One only hopes such projects remain on track, and turn out to be more than just promises. She said about the project that for the first time in history, all the significant literary, artistic, and scientific works of mankind can be digitally preserved and made freely available, in every corner of the world, for our education, study, and appreciation and that for all our future generations. Dr. Arunachalam and team, at the MSSRF in Chennai are strong supporters of Open Access journals.

Helping others
Sharing knowledge, and making it available to everyone who needs it, is a great way of helping others. In the world's largest encyclopedia, there are 'wisdom of crowds' and the Wikipedia project which, with 500,000 articles in English since its 2001 debut and about 1.5 million articles in other languages, is fast becoming the largest, most comprehensive and up-to-date encyclopedia in the world -all free to copy and share. http://en.wikipedia.org

Publications
A special double issue of Information Technologies and International DevelopmentMichael Best informs of a special double issue of 'Information Technologies and International Development', which he calls 'required reading for anyone interested in the World Summit on the Information Society'. It includes 37 essays 'creating a unique resource for scholars, activists, and practitioners trying to understand the substance and the politics of the Summit'. In addition, an online resource containing an additional 82 papers along with interactive spaces has been offered for the readers to add their own reactions and critiques.
http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/wsis

Calicut Medical Journal
The Calicut Medical Journal has just been launched. The current issue can be seen http://calicutmedicaljournal.org/current.html. Other Open Access research journals from India include the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine (http://www.bioline.org.br/jp), Neurology India (http://calicutmedicaljournal.org/current.html. Other Open Access research journals from India include the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine (http://www.bioline.org.br/jp), Neurology India (http://www.bioline.org.br/ni), Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies(http://users.primushost.com/~india/ejvs/)

Announcements

Refugees and IT
Computer literacy refugee training programme
http://groups. yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5481

Tool for diagnosis
Isabel is a tool that helps in getting a more precise diagnosis of patients.
 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5528

Online text books
There is a very interesting project to share school text books online.
 http://mission.akshaya.net/dpi/

Agri trade
Comtradeonline.com is a new initiative from agriwatch.com. It'sbeing described as a 'free website for commodity trade'.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers/message/5574

Genealogy project
From Sri Lanka came in reports about a genealogy project
http://www.rootsweb.com/~lkawgw.

Creative Commons- commonsense cause for India?
From Thejesh GN (gnthej@gmail.com) came an interesting post on update about an Indian version of the Creative Commons. While it's not related directly to computing or IT, the CreativeCommons.org idea is a great one when it comes to sharing the information and knowledge that is available in cyberspace. Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation based in the United States, but with volunteers from across the world, that aims to increase the public domain of knowledge and creative content that is available for others to build upon and share. With over 4 million works available on the Internet under Creative Commons licences, the movement is being heralded by countries around the world as a new model for copyright in the 21st century. Thejesh wrote that with Indians making their presence felt online it becomes necessary to have a proper and legal way to share their creations. Creative Commons is the best and cheapest way to share the art, music or knowledge.

There are around 29 internationalised versions of the Creative Commons. Some feel that time is ripe for India to have its own Creative Commons. iCommons oversees the internationalisation of Creative Commons idea.

Commons in other countries
South Africa: The Creative Commons South Africa website (http://za.creativecommons.org) was recently nominated for the prestigious 'Prix Ars Electronica – International Competition for CyberArts' in the Digital Communities section. http://za.creativecommons.org/commons-sense/index.htm#1.

Later in May 2005, a meet in Johannesburg is working on a three day meet to 'strategise towards the realisation of an African Digital Information Commons.' This international event will encourage understanding of how alternative approaches to copyright and content-sharing, enabled by digital technologies and electronic networks, can be used in the so-called 'developing countries' to enhance education and innovation.

Ghana: Earlier this year, a discussion in Ghana was looking at 'what can Creative Commons and Open Content do for Africa?'  African musicians, artists, creators, authors, educators and organisations are starting 'to discover the possibilities of using Creative Commons to distribute their work, learn by collaborating with others and grow their brand.'

Bytes for All: www.bytesforall.org  or http://www.bytesforall.net
Bytes for All Readers Discussion: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bytesforall_readers
To subscribe: bytesforall_readers-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Compiled by Frederick Noronha, Bytes for All, Pakistan

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