"The system's down." The Information Society in tangles

2003-12-16 00:00:00

New ALAI publication:

"The system's down." The Information Society in tangles

To mark the occasion of the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS), whose first phase will take
place in Geneva, Switzerland from 10-12 December, the
Latin American Information Agency (ALAI - Spanish
acronym) has published the book "Se cayó el sistema"
enredos de la Sociedad de la Información. ("The system's
down." The Information Society in tangles, available in
Spanish only)

This Summit, convened by the United Nations and organized
by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, will
tackle a full agenda relating to the basic orientations
which will shape the world of communication and new
information and communication technologies in the current

Delegations representing governments, the private sector
and civil society will participate in the global event.
In this publication, the authors (Sally Burch, Osvaldo
León and Eduardo Tamayo) outline alternative proposals
that have been developed by civil society during
preparations for WSIS, and which cover the most
controversial points relating to public control and
private interests, intellectual property rights, the
right to communication, control of the Internet and
costs, amongst others. Similarly, the authors track
fundamental precedents which mark processes and struggles
aimed at overcoming imbalances and achieving progress in
the democratisation of communication across the world.

>From the outset, the publication questions the concept
of "information society", which is rapidly taking centre
stage, more for its impact than for is conceptual
quality; and which given the discredit of
"globalisation", seems destined to become the brand of
our times and the future. Similarly it criticizes the
purely commercial and technology-centred focus that is
being imposed at the Summit, which has been presented as
a meeting "for engineers, cybernetic experts and dominant
business groups". The book also emphasises civil
society's stake in societies-in plural-of the future,
that respect cultural, ethnic, regional and linguistic
diversities; with human rights and sustainable
development as central pillars; and based on principles
of transparency, diversity, participation and social

Given the over-emphasis that the organisers of the WSIS
have given to technologies, it's probable that
fundamental themes will not be dealt with at the Summit,
this book sustains. However, that spaces for

interchange, reflection, and to formulate consensus on
proposals have been established at the civil society
level, is a positive and necessary step towards
transcending the summit, in order to open the debate to
society as a whole.

The digital version of the book (230 pages, in Spanish)
is available to the public on the following website: