Steve Cisler
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Walter Siembab
Lawrence Hecht
Kenneth Pigg
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Steve Cisler
Jessica Brown
Ryan Turner

Guns, Wars and Blank Screens  

Steve Cisler lives in San Jose, CA, and travels widely and writes about community networking all over the globe. A good selection can be found at

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Steve Cisler (left) with Michael Stein, formerly with LaborNet and the Institute for Global Communications (IGC) and currently working as Technology Coordinator for Children Now, and Fred Silverman, former Director of Community Affairs, Apple Computer, and most recently a consultant to the National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology project.
Steve Cisler, March 29, 1999

Out from behind the screen.. and back again.

After a week on the road and offline, I'm immersed in the media: newspaper, NPR, mailing lists, streaming audio reports, web discussions, and phone calls. It's all related to the war in the Balkans and to events in Paraguay, not to the Dow hitting 10,000.

In two different parts of the world my friends' screens have gone blank, but it's just a side effect of the killing and bombing in both locations. The government in Yugoslavia closed down B92 radio and its counterpart in Pristina, but after a while they began rebroadcasting ( ) using streaming audio to Holland which was re-broadcast back to Serbia. Before the shutdown, B92 had over 1.5 million listeners. Reports are coming in from Greece, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovena, Russia, and second hand from Kosovo with pleas, rants, accounts, and calls for action. This is a war with many more nuances than our invasions of Panama, the Gulf War, or the recent bombings in Iraq. It is more nuanced because of the various channels of media. In spite of spin control here in the U.S. and in Brussels at NATO headquarters and severe repression of media sources in Yugoslavia, words are getting out. Few of us have the luxury of seeing it as a black/white situation.

International Community Media Resources

Videazimut - an international non-governmental coalition promoting audiovisual communication for development and democracy. See    and its statement of principles at

The Peoples Communication Charter - . Includes articles on Respect, Freedom, Access, Independence, Literacy, Protection of journalists, Right of reply and redress, Cultural identity, Diversity of languages, Participation in policy making, Children's rights, Cyberspace access, Privacy, Harm, Justice, Consumption, and Implementation.

Media Institute of Southern Africa - Community Voices Conference & Annual Congress Resolutions, includes positions on: Definition of Community Media, Call for the Establishment of Community Media Centers, Promotion of Community Media, Sustainability and Funding of Community Media, Media Development Fund (MDF), the Development of New Communications Technologies and Community Media, Commercial Media's Role in Promoting/Supporting Community Media, Building The Capacity of Community Media Operations, and Independent/Community Audio Visual sector development. For more information, contact John Barker, Coordinator (Broadcasting), MISA, Private Bag 13386, Windhoek, Namibia,

The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters at  Site includes AMARCs Declaration of Principles.

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Kate Snow, then director of the Somerville Community Computing Center, at the Women's "Pouvoir Est Communication" (Power is Communication) Conference, funded by the UN Fund for the Population of Morocco and the National Endowment for Democracy, led by the internationally acclaimed Moroccan writer, Fatima Mernissi, is December, 1995. (See Kate's piece on Technology Sisterhood is Global" in the Spring '96 issue of the Community Technology Centers Review at )
The tragedy in Europe has overshadowed another one taking place in Latin America. I spent a couple of weeks working on community technology centers (Amic@s) in Asuncion, Paraguay in September 1999. I recently received a long message from the coordinator, Sergio Aranda, who has been working with community groups to start up more technology centers in residential neighborhoods around the city.

March 23 was to be the day for the opening of a fourth center, but Mayor Burt had to go out of the country on a trip and so they moved it up a few days. Luckily, the ceremony was a big success because on the 23 of March the Vice President of Paraguay was assassinated. Peaceful protests followed where a huge crowd of young people gathered in front of government buildings. Police attacked the students, and then a group of snipers on the buildings above opened fire on the crowd. The police stood by! The Mayor, however, had anticipated a military attack on the student protest and he had all the big garbage trucks come out and block the streets. Tanks approached but could not get around the trucks or municipal bulldozers. Then the people began throwing things at the tanks: stones and even radios! and the armor returned to the barracks. The snipers were on the roof of the ISP that provides service to the telecenters (Amic@s), and they totally messed up the antenna arrays that got a high speed wireless feed. So my friend and his centers were off the air until the crisis passed. Now he is worried that he won't be able to open the other centers.

Using the Asset-based community development techniques he had groups of local people to participate for the first time in a planning committee for these centers which are on hold. His goal is to keep the groups together until the technology can be deployed again after things settle down. That may be starting to happen. There's a new president today, and the old one resigned and got asylum in Brazil. His ally, a former general named Oviedo, fled to Argentia and was also given asylum. There is a lot of corruption in Paraguay, and some thought Oviedo had illegal financial dealings with top Argentine officials.

My friend was supposed to present his project at the Internet Society conference in June, but he probably won't be able to attend. I will take his place if he is unable to leave Paraguay. It won't be the same.

Related web sites: -- Paraguay search engine with links to sources in Spanish and Guarani. -- Amic@s centers in Paraguay -- B92 Belgrade -- Archive of nettime postings