Media&Makers: JUBA 2012 – Open Knowledge and Sustainable Media Forum brings together policy makers, journalists, researchers, open source developers, and civil society stakeholders to develop scenarios for a sustainable media sector and civil society in South Sudan, with an emphasis on openness, accessibility and transparency.
Let’s create the world’s first Open Source Country – a new model for Africa and the world! In collaboration with leading African and international open source and open knowledge specialists the event will explore potential elements of a new ‘open source culture’ in South Sudan that can tackle issues of post-conflict transformation, ICT innovation, education, resource management, policy transparency and economic development. The process will examine established and prospective South Sudanese open knowledge, development and cultural collaboration projects with the aim to create a strong, sustainable and open civil society.
The “OPEN KNOWLEDGE” Stream
The ‘Open Knowledge’ or “Makers” stream of Media&Makers: JUBA 2012 builds on the groundwork of #OSJUBA and TEDxJuba in promoting open source solutions in South Sudan, with a focus on open data & knowledge, ICT, and innovation. A central objective of the “Makers” component of the conference is to work through a strategic visioning process with participants to identify needs and opportunities around open source solutions (incl. open data, open knowledge, open ICT, etc.) in South Sudan, and asks whether South Sudan can capitalise on its historic window of opportunity as it builds its new identity and become the world’s first Open Source Nation.
The event is hosted by r0g_agency and MICT in collaboration with UNESCO, UNICEF and partners in South Sudan including the Juba Civic Engagement Center (CEC), the Gurtong Network, AMDISS and the University of Juba. The meeting acts as a follow up to the #OSJUBA conference held in Berlin in June 2012.
Vision. Opportunity. Future.
Creating Models of Open Development in South Sudan
As a model, Open Source is about the effective, free and unhindered sharing of information–using this for creative, sustainable and innovative solutions to challenges facing a community or nation. It helps provide access to and distribution of vast amounts of knowledge and experience that rightfully belongs in the public domain, and uses tools for collaboration and participation to create ‘open spaces’ for action and knowledge that in turn fuel social, economic and cultural development. Such “Open Spaces” are a key element in the complex establishment of democratic structures in post-conflict regions, and have the ability to act as powerful platforms for the empowerment of civil society, fostering open and better governance and more effective development by and for the population at large. At the most critical level, as noted during the global Social Media Week 2012 by South Sudan’s ambassador to Germany H.E. Sitona Abdalla Osman, they can ‘give a new voice to those members of society who have historically been voiceless, never having been able to exercise their rights to speak.’
These are also the fundamental elements of the global Open Source’ and Free Culture communities (i.e. among them the Free and Open Software Foundation of Africa (FOSSFA), the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), and the Open Government Partnership (OGP)) that fuel innovation, education and social development, enabling and supporting citizen participation, access to information and freedom of expression. Using mechanisms readily available in the public domain, tools that access open data, networks, opinions and methodologies such as crowdsourcing, eLearning, social networking and open technologies, open systems allow citizens to have a say in their future.
How to merge both mandated government policy with informal or ‘grassroots’ initiatives, where information, communication and knowledge sharing are not necessarily applied with common goals or interests, forms part of the challenge that new governments like South Sudan face in creating stable, prosperous and effective civic institutions. Often, these goals and methodologies are abstract and difficult to conceive, especially where infrastructure is weak and access to information, technology and experience is limited or hindered. Practical scenarios for the implementation of open source methodologies – in government, education, health, urban, social or economic development – can be created with Open Source systems.
Open source tools, open data resources and open knowledge mechanisms work to narrow the digital divide by using systems and solutions that operate often with simple technologies adapted to unique, complex or remote environments, using resources efficiently, and lowering the thresholds of access and technical literacy. As such Open Source systems can form the basis for collaboratively ‘building’ a new and sustainable national entity – one that serves all in all regions, even with the naturally competing and divergent interests within society.