July 2006

Open Content: Towards a Healthy Asia Commons

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In the past few years there has been a polar and distinctive, often disturbing trends in the field of media and communications, especially in the digital world. As more and more consolidation is beginning to happen of erstwhile 'open spaces', creative appropriation and diversity is beginning to emerge in the Internet and alternative media space by small, enterprising, and creative individuals and organizations who are creating stupendous amounts of local content.

Much has been debated about open source. But not many understand the nuances. Lesser still are able to look at the whole picture. Recently, our centre was involved in documenting the open document format awareness meeting held in India. The interoperability issue is critical not only in mission-mode projects but also in large national programmes, especially those that deal with the governance and administration. The back end architecture must be framed in such a way that when integration of services begins to happen, data flows can happen seamlessly.

Whether it is in the sphere of governance, or education, or health, key development sectors across countries must be able to share knowledge freely. Access to knowledge not only deals with the information and knowledge flow aspects, it also deals with building up a collective understanding and context of the commons.

It is in this aspect that CSDMS, along with Bellanet International Secretariat and South Asia Partnership had been engaged in Asia Commons conference held in Bangkok. International Development Research Centre, Canada has been one of the key supporters of the conference helping in crystallizing a research and collaboration agenda for the Asia Commons.

We are pleased to share this special issue of i4d magazine, covering a number of important processes and issues that emerged in conceptualising what a healthy Asia Commons would be like. Networks, partnerships and collaborations among the 135 odd participants who met face to face in June has been preceded by almost a year long engagement in developing a conceptual understanding of these issues. New collaborative projects are emerging and we are hopeful to have played a part in facilitating the evolution of the Asia Commons community of practitioners.

Long Live Asia Commons!

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