Africa, Asia, Europe: Web enthusiasts for social innovation

10/8/2008 | Christian Kreutz

The other day I watched some videos from the Web2.0 Expo in New York. I have to say I liked most presentations, but at the same time I was bored that it is all too often about business and just another start up. Therefore, I was surprised to hear Tim O'Reilly, who coined the concept  Web2.0,  made a very different and even more interesting presentation. He was demanding that it is about time to start using the web for social change and do good. This comes right in the moment when events are happening all over the place to make a difference.

Here I list some interesting things I have come across with during the past months. Please let me know if you know of more.

  • Info-Activism Camp next year in February in India. Great initiative by Tactical Tech, who also did a seminar last year on mobile and activism. They are running a competition: Struggling to make an impact on your target audience? Are issues unresolved despite your best efforts? Do the internet, mobile phones or information design present exciting possibilities in advocacy but difficult to take advantage of? The Info Activism camp, to be held in Bangalore, India from February 19 to 25, offers rights advocates the chance to make a greater impact in their work.
  • In the UK a lot of different events have happened lately such as UKcatalyst awards, 2gether08 (a festival of ideas, popular technologies and progress). And soon to come, the Social Innovation Camp, which goes for its second round from 5th-7th December 2008. David Wilcox reflects nicely about the process behind the Social Innovation Camp.
  • Africa Barcamps are taking place all over Africa – Uganda, Kenya and Madagascar. Erik Hersman has a detailed list of events. Their primary purpose is on technology and software development, but here and there already overlap with social action. Another initiative is Barcamp Africa, which takes place in Silicon Valley to bridge all the innovative minds in both continents.
  • Mobileactive08 is happening next week. Over the years it has grown in size of participants, ideas and engagement. Particularly, mobile activism has been spreading lately with lots of fascinating projects. Check out the sessions. I need another post to develop more on the topic.
  • In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, there was a Barcamp recently with topics such as free and open source software, localization and social development and citizen journalists.  From one participant, Thomas Wannhof,  I have heard there is another one already planned in Saigon, Vietnam.
  • Here, in Germany, I have already blogged about the Social Camp and now there are regular meetings called Social Bar.

What I find intriguing is that all those events take full potential of the social web. The majority of people involved do not even know each other from before, so they coordinate mainly over the web to meet face to face. Not overall huge activities, but nice to see how it flourishes all around the globe.

It seems like a wide diversity of people want to make a difference. It is also quite amazing the transnational dimension, that creative minds connect worldwide for interdisciplinary approaches and new concepts to use information and communication technologies for change. One can say that the technological side of the web and ICT4D becomes finally a more social face or movement. :-)