iSummit2008: A Quick Recap

iSummit 2008, the yearly gathering of iCommons held this year in Sapporo, Japan, finished up today after three days of presentations and discussions on open content and open culture. Talks covered various aspects related to the creation and distribution of open content: open publishing, open business, open translation, and various themes of openness in areas such as research and education.

The morning of the first day of the summit featured keynote presentations by Heather Ford, Jimmy Wales, Joi Ito and Mohamed Nanabhay (all liveblogged at the iSummit blog). Mohamed, who also blogs for Global Voices from Qatar, talked about the experiences at Al Jazeera in adopting new media, incorporating a participatory component, dealing with resistance to change, and figuring out how to define new business models.

Mohamed Nanabhay of Al Jazeera at iSummit '08

Attendees then split among several labs (tracks): DIY video, Education Policy, Frontiers of Openness in Japan, Internet Bill of Rights, Local Context Global Commons (LCGC), Open Business and Research Workshop on Free Culture.

In the second session of the LCGC lab (which Leonard, Hanako and I attended), talks outlined a number of online open publishing projects, including openDemocracy, Overmundo and Global Voices.

Tony Curzon Price described how openDemocracy functions as a community of editors, and not of writer-consumers or activists. He explained that editors in this context are people who “solicit information and bring the best out of authors”, with the central community of openDemocracy being a community of people who seek out writers for a particular topic.

Tony Curzon Price of openDemocracy
Tony Curzon Price of openDemocracy

Oona Castro explained that Overmundo, of which she is the executive coordinator, is a Brazilian project incorporating editors for each of 26 regions within the country and one editor for the capital. The project focuses on travel tips and cultural topics, avoiding politics, with the basic structure of the site allowing users to join and contribute content.

Day one finished with keynote presentations by Johanna Blakley, Anthony Falzone (see this podcast interview) and Erin McKean.

On day two, morning keynote presentations began with Jamie King, who spoke about his experience distributing Steal This Film over peer-to-peer networks, followed by David Bollier and Rishab Ghosh. In the separate tracks, the three of us gave presentations about translation in Global Voices and Project Lingua as part of a session on “Open Content, Open Translation“, blogged about by Wojciech Gryc at the iSummit blog.

In the afternoon session of LCGC, presentations included a talk by Wojciech Gryc on Article 13 initiative, a project working to promote open access, open source, and open media in areas such as Chad and Kenya. Gautam John spoke about the challenges faced in incorporating open content at Pratham Books, a nonprofit childrens book publisher in India. The day finished with keynote presentations by Global Voices co-founder Rebecca MacKinnon, followed by Adam Haupt and Jessica Powell.

Rebecca MacKinnon speaking at iSummit \'08
Rebecca MacKinnon speaking at iSummit '08

Day 3 started with Hiroaki Kitano, researcher in biological networks and inventor of the Aibo robot, Paul Keller, David Wiley and Tsuguhiko Kadokawa. In the separate labs, each group came up with action plans for the next year, and presented them in the final session (liveblogged here).

For more coverage of iSummit, see podcasts for day one and day two, and the live blog coverage of many sessions and presentations.


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