The SIG-III Blog

Notes from the ASIS&T special interest group in international information

Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category

Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent

It’s a little over a month old, but I’ve not yet posted about the following report by Bruce Etling, John Kelly, Rob Faris, and John Palfrey, so I will do so now. It is titled Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent, and is published by Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society.

Arabic Keyboard

Image by dweekly, used under the Creative Commons license.

I’m being kicked out of my office this afternoon while some of my university’s tech people work on my Internet connection. While I am without my computer I will work on SIG-III’s annual report, but I hope to be able to steal a bit of time away to read this report as well. If you’ve read it and have any thoughts or reactions, leave a comment below — I’d love to hear what you think.

On the same topic, I’ll also point to Nasrin Alavi’s We Are Iran. As with Etling et al’s report, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on Dr. Alavi’s book. She’s even put a sample chapter online as well.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

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Written by sigiii

July 21, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Ajit Pyati, SIG-III Officer, in First Monday

Ajit Pyati

SIG-III’s Ajit Pyati (above) has just published an article titled “Public library revitalization in India: Hopes, challenges, and new visions” in First Monday. Here is the abstract:

With India’s growing economy and status as an emerging world power, a new consciousness is developing in the country about the need to reinvest in public services. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) is an advisory body constituted by the Prime Minister to provide recommendations for improving India’s knowledge infrastructure. As part of this Commission, a set of recommendations has been developed to improve India’s long neglected library system. This article explores the implications of these recommendations, with a specific focus on India’s public library system and the social development gains that are often associated with public libraries. The potential of India’s public libraries to serve as community information centres (CICs) is highlighted, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in implementing a new vision for public library revitalization. The article serves as an invitation for concerted action, reflection, and dialogue with regard to this important and pressing issue.

The full article may be found here.

Article by Ajit Pyati. Blog post contributed by Aaron Bowen.

Written by sigiii

July 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm

The Globalization of Search

Baidu

Naver

Yahoo China

Images by rustybrick, Bob Xu, and Colin Zhu,
used under the Creative Commons license.

This past September 16, Financial Times posted an article about the contest between search engines for dominance of Internet search traffic in different parts of the world. Whereas Google is dominant in North America, they have had trouble breaking into markets in other parts of the world. In China, for example, the majority of Internet search traffic goes to Baidu.com. Yahoo holds an advantage over Google in other parts of Asia, and (according to FT) Naver receives 60% of South Korea’s search traffic.

The article discusses how and why different search engines are able to establish dominance in different regions:

Some common themes lie behind these local success stories, internet veterans say: Google has played second fiddle to rivals who invested much earlier, perfected their technology to work with local languages and came up with innovations that Google is now having to copy.

These companies have since been able to consolidate their hold thanks to their well-known local brand names and a strategy that often relies on combining search with a range of other portal-like services to keep users on in-house sites.

Article by Richard Waters, Robin Kwong, and Robin Harding in Financial Times. SIG-III Blog post by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

September 19, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Posted in Asia, Globalization, Search

Tagged with

The Libraries of Timbuktu

A manuscript from Timbuktu

Image by ازرق, used under the Creative Commons license.

Not many outside central Africa are familiar with them, but the libraries of Timbuktu are an extensive wealth of knowledge and culture. From today’s Der Spiegel:

Fabled Timbuktu, once the site of the world’s southernmost Islamic university, harbors thousands upon thousands of long-forgotten manuscripts. A dozen academic instutions from around the world are now working frantically to save and evaluate the crumbling documents…

Albrecht Hofheinz, an Arabist from Oslo, estimates that there are up to 300,000 forgotten manuscripts in Mali. Insect bites have discolored the pages, he says. “The paper disintegrates, is destroyed by mold or eaten by termites.” Time is of the essence. Some of the volumes are being photographed using a digital photo studio provided by the University of Chicago. The first of the documents are expected to be available on the Internet by the end of the year.

This will be an excellent resource for scholars of Islam and of central Africa! I look forward to watching this work unfold and progress, especially since it is the result of years of effort.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

August 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Best practices for digital education: A case study of ICT in India

Smart classroom

Image by Idiolector, used under the Creative Commons license.

Last month Leigh Linden published Complement or Substitute?, a useful study that goes beyond the question of whether information and communication technologies (ICT) can make a positive difference in education and asks instead how they may be best implemented to make such a positive difference. Writing about Linden’s research on the World Bank’s PSD Blog, Ryan Hahn offers the following summary:

Employing a pair of randomized evaluations of computer use in classrooms in Gujarat, India, Linden found that computers improve learning outcomes when they are used as a complement to the normal curriculum, rather than as a replacement for the standard offering. He also found that the weakest students benefitted most, as the computers allowed for further practice of material already covered in the classroom. Finally, Linden also found that the computers were about as cost-effective an intervention as girls scholarship programs, cash incentives for teachers, and textbooks.

Classroom in India

Image by World Bank Photo Collection,
used under the Creative Commons license.

What would be interesting to see now is the extent to which cultural attitudes towards education in Gujarat inform the effective use of these ICT in the classroom. Would the results be different in another city or another country that possesses different attitudes towards education? How so? I would love to see this research project repeated in one or more locations in different parts of the world. I would love to see how the results change or don’t change in different global settings. If you know of any similar experiments, please point to them in the comments — I would love to hear about them and have a dialog about the strengths of different digital education programs in different parts of the world.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

July 17, 2008 at 6:27 pm

A very cool use of Second Life

Image by kedguest, used under the Creative Commons license.

Today I ran across these two articles, one by Tom Peter in the Christian Science Monitor, and the other by Holly Jackson at CNet news. These articles note the use of Second Life as a venue for intercultural exchange, particularly at the virtual campuses different universities have set up in Second Life. (See for example the image of San Jose State’s virtual campus in the screenshot above). Peter says that

Around the world, universities, and even the US Department of State, are turning to online virtual worlds to create cultural exchanges. In these immersive, 3-D environments, users from around the globe can collaborate in ways that were previously impossible.

He also notes a group of university students in the United Arab Emerates who used Second Life to visit a virtual rendition of Darfur, make a pilgrimage to (virtual) Mecca, and interact with a group of Korean students to promote a cross-cultural exchange.

I find this a very worthwhile and exciting use of Second Life (or a second life clone such as IMVU, Gaia, or There). I believe such interaction will offer positive benefits as the world continues to grow interconnected and international projects such as Mainland Brasil (the Brazilian version of Second Life) continue to expand.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

July 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Quick note: the blogosphere in Peru

Concurso de Blogs para Escolares project

Eduardo Avila at Global Voices notes the introduction of a blogging contest for Peruvian high school students, sponsored by the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences [es]. The project website is here [es].

Written by sigiii

June 3, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Blogosphere, South America

Tagged with