The SIG-III Blog

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

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In the news this week: the Question Box

Chalk drawing of a question mark

Image by SlinkyDragon, used under the Creative Commons license.

Ken Banks at IT World writes about the Question Box — a service allowing a person to ask a question through a telecom box placed in a village, and then receive a response from someone on the other end of the line who has a computer in front of him/her. Banks explains:

It works like this: A villager presses a call button on a physical intercom device, located in their village, which connects them to a trained operator in a nearby town who’s sitting in front of a computer attached to the Internet. A question is asked. While the questioner holds, the operator looks up the answer on the Internet and reads it back. All questions and answers are logged. For the villager there is no keyboard to deal with. No complex technology. No literacy issues. And during early trials at least, no cost. Put simply, Question Box, as it’s called, provides immediate, relevant information to people using their preferred mode of communication, speaking and listening.

You can see photos of the Question Box and of people using it on the Question Box Project’s Flickr photostream.

Banks also notes that the Grameen Foundation this week launched its AppLab initiative in Uganda. (AppLab stands for application laboratory, and is essentially a project to get people in different locales around the developing world building information access applications for mobile devices such as cellphones. Their about us page has more detail). Kiwanja posts an insider’s view of the project’s rollout in Uganda to his blog.


Written by sigiii

July 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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Written by sigiii

February 20, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to the SIG-III blog

The Special Interest Group for International Information Issues (SIG-III, part of the American Society for Information Science and Technology) maintains this blog as a means for communicating with members, colleagues, and others interested in international information issues — in other words the global flow of information, and how people from different countries and cultural backgrounds think about and use information differently.

I (Aaron Bowen, your blog administrator) regularly post articles on different aspects of this topic — current news on information access and use in different countries, as well as related social issues such as globalization, the digital divide, and censorship. Specific examples of these articles include social networks in different countries and how people use them differently, or censorship and subversion on the Web in modern China. In addition to facilitating blog discussion on international information issues, SIG-III members have a live discussion of them every year in the Global Information Village Plaza, part of the ASIS&T Annual Meetings.

Each header on each post is a hyperlink. Clicking it will take you to a page with the original post and all discussion comments that have been added.

We welcome your views! While we reserve the right to remove posts we deem to be spam or malicious in nature, we do not place restrictions on what you may post and we welcome all ideas. Thanks for taking a look at the blog and for contributing your thoughts!

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Written by sigiii

February 18, 2007 at 1:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Government surveillance

Is it acceptable for a government to monitor channels of digital information, including personal information, that pass within its borders? If a government has a legitimate interest in doing so, how may it build trust among its citizens that it is not unnecessarily monitoring their communications or collecting their personal information? When should a government have its powers in this regard limited?

In the case of the current wiretapping operatings in the U.S. (outlined in this article by Dan Mitchell in The New York Times), to what extent should people around the world be concerned that the U.S. Government may be monitoring their Internet communications?

(The NY times requires a login to read their articles online. Creating a login and password for the NY Times is free and may be done here).

Written by sigiii

August 21, 2006 at 2:29 am

Government censorship

Should a government be allowed to (try to) censor information that its citizens receive? Are there circumstances under which this practice should be considered explicitly acceptable or explicitly unacceptable?

Written by sigiii

August 21, 2006 at 2:26 am