The mass digitization of large volumes of books has begun. The initiative which is being spearheaded by Google will be carried out in five major US libraries. The goal of mass digitization is not to create collections but to digitize everything, or in this case, every book ever printed. To do this economically and with some speed, mass digitization is based on the efficient photographing of books, page-by-page, and subjecting those images to optical character recognition (OCR) software to produce searchable text.
So why digitize books? We must accept that majority of knowledge and information in the world over is found in books, scrolls and or manuscripts. Since time immemorial, our history has been recorded by mankind in written formats in hope of learning from those who had a foresight to record and teaching the future generations of their history.
The recent technologies that were developed in mid 20th Centaury have provided mankind with not only unique opportunities to digitize information but to also disseminate it via a number of channels using a variety of dissemination tools.
Mass digitization of books is a very great initiative by Google because, given the fact that people are slowly but steadily moving from manual systems to computerized systems, it will be a great Idea to access a book of one’s choice online. It will also make it possible for more books to be utilized other than having them shelved for years. In other words, the readership of some books will increase.
However, there are negative implications of this mass digitization of books by Google. How much will Google charge the people accessing these books online given the fact that they have practically “copied” them and duplicated them from University libraries at no cost?

CTA celebrates 25th Anniversary .

A silver anniversary marks a milestone for any organization. It seemed appropriate then, that the 25th anniversary of CTA’s existence was celebrated in style in Brussels, Belgium during the CTA seminar whose theme was “The role of Media in the agriculture and rural Development of ACP countries.” A total of 150 participants from Africa, the pacific and Caribbean attended the annual seminar which took place in Brussels. Representatives from the ACP and EU embassies based in Brusssels were invited to the ceremony which was held at the historical palais des colonies in Truven Brussels. The CTA annual seminar 2009 was characterized with a number of Panel discussions which were usually followed by instructive discussions on the role of Journalists in Agricultural development. Scientists, researchers and heads of media houses from Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean had a feeling that Journalists always majored on reporting politics, scandals and sports rather than Agriculture. They added that the journalists mainly did it to satisfy politicians. The response from Journalists was quick, they said that the logic applied to current events and the information collection and processing techniques are universal, in other words, they are not specific to any given sector. The media which is one of the strategic links in the information dissemination and transmission chain between the various stakeholders in agriculture and rural development in African, Caribbean and pacific countries is key in information dissemination on agricultural issues. At the 2009 CTA seminar a number of topics were tackled on how the media can be brought on board to report on Agricultural issues. These topics included: 1. Mainstreaming Media in development: The way to go. 2. How can media better serve rural communities? 3. Media and ARID issues 4. Media and climate change 5. Media and Gender equality 6. Contribution of media to Agricultural policy programming and knowledge management. 7. Building the capacity of media in Agriculture and rural development 8. Media, emerging and new media service and ICTs. Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), one of the participating organizations from Uganda had the privilege to make a present on the role of web 2.0 tools for sustainable agriculture in Uganda. This panel presentation which was derived from a broad topic of “Media, emerging and new services and ICTs” was very important during this seminar. It was noted that web 2.0 tools/technologies were a new form of media not only in Africa but also in the pacific and Caribbean. The web 2.0 tools that were mainly discussed included twitter, YouTube, Face book, RSS, blogs, wikis, word press and Google alerts. The presentation focused on how these various web 2.0 tools can be used by farmers for sustainable agriculture and what potential they had in terms of increasing production, diversifying productivity and reducing risks. However, participants from various organizations were cautioned to only use web 2.0 tools that the promote cause of the organization’s goal if the benefits are to trickle down to the users. This is because web 2.0 tools are too many and more are emerging. With this year’s theme “The role of media in agricultural and rural development of ACP countries” it was clearly noted that sustainable agriculture is the only basis on which humanity can be sustained meaning that if agriculture is unsustainable, then the human species in unsustainable too and involving the media in information collection, sharing, packaging, and dissemination was very important in achieving sustainability of Agriculture in ACP countries. The seminar took place at a time when the rest of the world was participating and celebrating in two key agricultural related events of Blog action day with the theme “Climate change” on 15/10/2009 and world food day with the theme “Achieving food security in times of crisis” 16/10/2009. For more details about the CTA seminar please visit their website: Follow CTA on twitter at: Written By Maureen Agena.


Sustainable Agriculture: What is the role of ICTs?

The annual CTA seminar 2009 is taking place in Brussels with the theme of “Sustainable Agriculture,what is the role of the Media’ This is so interesting because media plays a big role in influencing decisions and government level.
We must know that information is a very importatnt if sustainable agricultre is to be achieved in African, Pacific and Caribean countries.
Agriculture is the only basis on which humanity can be sustained meaning that if Agriculture is unsustainable then the human species is unsustainable too.

We need to incooperate ICTs,New media such as web2.0 in all our agricultural activities if the benefits are to tricke down to the farmers.

Maureen Agena

Fast Internet connection will improve journalism

By Maureen Agena

THE installation of fast Internet marks a new era for communication between Africa and the rest of the world. Operated by an African firm SEACOM, the optic fibre will connect South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique to Europe and Asia.

The project comes at an opportune time to increase on the application of citizen journalism, a practice still limited and understood by only a few. Citizen journalism, also known as “participatory journalism” is a kind of journalism where ordinary people can publish news globally on news websites or media houses. An act that has so far been the province of established journalists and media companies.

The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media. This means that anyone with access to the Internet or even a cell phone can report, start a blog or chat.

As a result, it is becoming cheaper and easier for individuals and organisations with the right skills to publish their own newsletters, produce both audio and video materials in addition to hosting public chats. However, it is vital to not that while the media scene is changing in Uganda, mainstream media still carries weight and has influence in setting the public agenda.

One of the initiatives aimed at promoting citizen journalism is the Citizen Journalism in Africa (CJA) project.

The project aims at building the capacity of civil society organisations to use online and offline instruments as a means of publication, lobby, networking and knowledge sharing with their constituencies.
Fifteen organisations in Uganda are benefiting from this initiative led by Women of Uganda Network, an organisation that empowers women through use of ICTs and Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative.
Ugandans should, therefore, effectively utilise the faster and cheaper connectivity for informative reporting on the situations and issues that affect them. Ugandans have more room to report about their environment as well as participate in information sharing.
The writer is an information officer with Women of Uganda Network.Read more Newvision

Talking,Listening and Responding

By Annetjie van Wynegaard and Gabi Falanga

People using digital media are not nameless entities sitting behind a computer, but personalities with complex identities. Yesterday’s panel discussion “Gender, Civil Society
and Digital Media” focused on the social aspects of the digital citizen. The conversation was led by Maureen Agena and Nthateng Mhlambiso as part of the Digital Citizen Indaba
at Rhodes University.
Agena is the information officer of Women for Uganda Network (Wougnet). She spoke about how specific technology for women is being implemented in rural areas of Uganda.
Social online networking tools are limited in rural Uganda due to high costs, poverty and lack of skills. She said: “The biggest media being used is radio and telephone because
Uganda is a verbal community.” Radio and telephones enable citizens to communicate in their own languages, such as the Luo spoken in Northern Uganda.
Telecentres have been set up in parts of Uganda where citizens are able to access emails and the Internet. Wougnet provides practical skills training for women. “They are
very eager to participate although they don’t have the skills.
They want to talk, they want to listen, they want to respond.” Agena said that “women should be in a position to make use of available media opportunities to improve their
livelihoods”.read more on Highway africa


Open Chat on Blogging and HIV/Aids

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, Rising Voices hosted a live chat on Wednesday, December 3rd at the 3 p.m. Nairobi time. The chat was facilitated by Serina Kalande and Daudi Were and the discussion was building on a similar chat that Serina and Daudi organized back in April of this year which asked the following question: “how can citizen media be used to supplement and improve the mainstream media’s coverage of the AIDS epidemic? This chat focused on one of Rising Voices grantee project, “REPACTED” in Nakuru. We learnt how the organization has implemented blogging and video outreach programs to spread awareness about their initiatives in AIDS prevention and advocating for the rights of HIV-positive individuals. Other discussion topics included; * Factors to weigh when HIV-positive bloggers go public about their status,
* How blogging and Network forums support networks form online,
* What are other new media tools, such as mapping mashups that can be used effectively? As a primer to the conversation, members were encouraged to take a look at a recent post written by Juliana Rincón on Global Voices about “AIDS awareness through video”. Especially fascinating is a video pod cast produced by QAF Beijing, which interviews South African grand justice Edwin Cameron, the country’s only government official who has gone public about his HIV status. It was a very interactive and important open chat. The next chat was scheduled for 9th/02/2009. Feel free to join next time


The BBC has shown interest in citizen Journalism. “Dignity in Poverty” is a BBC citizen journalism project.The Dignity in Poverty project coincided with the UN’s Eradication of Poverty Day – which was also the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The BBC Citizen Journalism Project invited WOUGNET to contribute to the stories for the day. Javie Ssozi and Berna Ngolobem of WOUGNET interviewed members of kifumbira zone in kamwokya,a suburb in Kampala,uganda. They found out about the situation in this area.See detail on of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is one of the beneficaries of the Citizen Journalism Project in Africa.
Citizen journalism in Africa has started to bear fruits and this is a great achievement to the project.