Thursday, November 19, 2009

Asia Source 3

Press release I (re)wrote for Asia Source 3.

While most technology conferences happen as swanky, slick, and well-rehearsed events, the recently concluded Asia Source 3 took the opposite track and ran a camp that was spartan yet spontaneous. From November 7 to 12, 2009, Asia Source 3 gathered 150 representatives in the Yen Center to discuss developments in open source. For those six days, the campers lived in a communal environment that married fun and relaxation with exchange of ideas.

Asia Source 3 campers represented a large cross section of non-governmental organizations, small businesses, youth networks, and technology entrepreneurs from 15 countries (see full list below). While technology issues permeated the discussions, it took place with an emphasis on the economic and social context of cooperation among developing countries.

This is the third such event in the region, organized by the International Open Source Network (IOSN) and InWEnt - Capacity Building International of Germany ; earlier camps took place in Bangalore, India in 2005 and Sukabumi, Indonesia in 2007. It is based on the source camp template of the Tactical Technology Collective, an NGO that consults for other NGOs on technology. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), the ASEAN Foundation and the Open Society Institute funded Asia Source 3, with the aim to increasing awareness and adoption of free and open source software.

"We believe that the continuous strengthening of the Free Software community through source camps like this contribute to a more open collaborative environment," said Dr. Alvin Marcelo, Director of IOSN for ASEAN+3. "While the rising popularity and relevance of open source software is now unstoppable, the challenge is to harness the many activities into a coherent whole. And we are able to achieve this through community building."

Asia Source 3 also marked the official highlight of five years of regional FOSS support by InWEnt in Southeast Asia. "We are honored to be part of this movement through our training and network program it@foss" said Balthas Seibold, Senior Project Manager of InWEnt. InWEnt has trained and connected more than 1000 experts from Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines in more than 30 training courses under its it@foss program.

In the tradition of previous camps, Asia Source 3 emphasized spontaneity over rigid planning. “We try to create an environment of collaboration and community," said Allen Gunn, the event's head facilitator. "No keynote speakers, no panels, no powerpoint slides. Instead, we set-up mini-discussions."

This approach makes the exchange of knowledge and development of relationships more organic and natural. It creates opportunities to broaden expertise, and forge new ideas and connections. Asia Source 3’s theme dwelt on building capacity among technical experts and organizational practitioners. It dealt with the topics of managing and broadcasting information through free and open source software and migration from proprietary alternatives.

Asia Source 3 was jointly organized by UNDP-International Open Source Network (UNDP-IOSN) through its ASEAN+3 Centre of Excellence (based at the University of the Philippines Manila) and InWEnt - Capacity Building International Germany, together with the Tactical Technology Collective, Aspiration (USA) and the Centre for Internet and Society (India). Funders include the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), the ASEAN Foundation and the Open Society Institute.

Asian countries represented in Asia Source III include Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam.

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