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Comment affirmer la présence des mouvements sociaux sur le net ?

dimanche 30 novembre 2003, par Joëlle Palmieri

Les mouvements sociaux restent encore trop peu visibles sur le net. Manque de volonté politique ou de compétences techniques... La situation évolue cependant. Des convaincu(e)s se sont réuni(e)s pour identifier les problèmes et élaborer des stratégies.

The social movements and activists meet problems in their use of ICTs, both technical and political (lack of awareness). The situation is slowly changing, and here come NGOs who have started providing assistance to the social groups for their visibility in the global network. We have brainstormed to idenify which are the main problems, and we have shared some strategies in order to improve the situation.

« Use of ICT by Social Movements » was one of the workshops, proposed by Les Penelopes and moderated by Christina Haralanova, as part of the agenda of European Social Forum (ESF). Its aim was to discuss the challanges that social movements are facing in their work with ICTs, and propose some strategies that will help them in their efforts.

ICTs are powerful and inexpensive way of sharing experience and communicate with local and most of all with far away organisations and activists. They offer new opportunities to the social movements for joining initiatives and building social alternatives on different scales.

The question of whether the field of ICTs is necessary to the development and visibility of social movements is not anymore doubted. Right now, more important is the one which identifies the area of social movements as a particular area in the whole ICT space. Why ? The answer is political. Better to say, several answers were given during this workshop.

The participants

Examples of the eperiences with communication among social movement activists were provided from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, and Quebec, Canada. They specified the problems, that were faced in their way to publish information related to protection of human, social and women’s rights, in communication and helping social movements to appear online. Among the participants were the following organisations : – Les Penelopes, the French feminist network – Social Rights Bulgaria Network, a free forum for protecting human and social rights via the Internet – Alternatives, a Canadian social NGOs network – CARTA, Italian social rights network and magazine – representatives of Indymendia, ATTAC and different environmental organisations from Europe.

Strategies to synchronise social rights activities with the use of ICTs

Mini-site strategy Josefina Gamboa from Les Penelopes has described the idea of how feminist and women’s orgnisations are getting more online visibility. By using SPIP system, based completely on Free Software, they are providing a non-technical solution to their target groups for creation of a small website. It is possible to choose from 7 templates the design of the website and download it on the computer. From then on, the implementation is simplified, and made possible for everyone to use it, free of charge.

The aim of Les Penelopes is to help to as many organisations and feminist movements to appear online, and to give them the technical tools to do so. A better online visibility will help them share their knowledge and organise better in a common action.

Internet Rights Bulgaria Foundation (IRBF) has presented their two strategies of synchronising social rights activities online. One is political, and the other is more technical.

Social Rights Bulgaria is an online media, providing news and articles about the social movements and policy in Bulgaria. It reinforces activists to share experience and to communicate with others, by using the forum on this website. While the Socilal Rights Bulgaria is providing a political tool for social change, the other project of IRBF, under the name NGO-Bg is provinding the technical tools for Bulgarian social NGOs to obtain visibility online. It is being developed to serve as a gateway for bridging social actions. The tools, that are offered are running on Free Software, and they include hosting of a small website, secure e-mail address, ICT training and reference manuals for social NGOs.

Analysed results from the workshop

1. The discussion came to the conclusion, that it is not possible to communicate only in one way in order to obtain success. Online communication should be combined with other means in order to bring to better results in the joint work of social movements. 2. There was an idea to create a website where the success stories of NGOs and social movements who have appeared online should be published. The problems are clear, but not many solutions have been presented so far. 3. A theory, that says that the technical difficulties are easier to overtake if there is awareness from the part of social movements regarding the USE of ICT, was presented by Christina Haralanova. An example was given with women from Bulgaria, who have discovered the information power of Internet and use of e-mail, and who do not have computers yet, but they have found their ways of using Internet centres or their friends’ computers, with the only objective to be compatible and visible for foreign partners. 4. Common conclusion was that social rights topics are not well accepted by the readers. They are a source that people not always like to be aware of, especially if the topic does not concern them directly. But by providing this type of information we are changing society and its way of thinking, towards more tolerant and social. That is why these topics should appear in the different types of media (including Internet).

This workshop was meant more to iniciate a discussion, rather than provide results or fix problems. It gave ideas, produced a creative dialogue, gave the participants idea about the situation in Bulgaria and other parts of the world regarding social movemnts and their use of Internet. The expectation is that we will continue to work in this area and provide opportunities for a better visibility and use of the ICTs by the social rights activists. Let’s not stop here, but start here.


Christina Haralanova – 26 novembre 2003

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