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Central Asia: Finalists of BarCamp Ideas Market

Global Voices has already provided an overview of BarCamp Central Asia, which took place on 15-17 April, 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

In this post we would like to give our readers a closer look at online projects, developed by young bloggers and IT specialists from Central Asia. BarCamp Ideas Market – a special section of the event was dedicated to new ideas and future Internet trends in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

The professional jury received 24 applications. 15 start-ups (13 from Kazakhstan and 2 from Kyrgyzstan) were pre-selected and 5 finalists got a chance to present themselves to all attendees of the conference.

Those were: the Portal for Business Education; a crowd-sourcing project aimed at mapping university teachers that are taking bribes, Vzyatochnik.info (Bribe-taker.info) [ru]; a Kyrgyz portal where Internet users can express their thanks to anyone who did something good for them, spasibo.kg (Thanks.kg) [ru]; a forum for IT specialists programmers.kz [ru]; and the CityIdentica project.

The list of finalists – especially vzyatochnik.info – shows that the tendency of watching the authorities and public servants is growing in Central Asia. The idea of vzyatochnik.info is similar to the Russian projects Roskomvzyatka.com [ru] (mapping the bribery in the spheres of education, traffic police, army, etc.) and Rospil.info [ru] (collecting information on possibly corrupt state procurement contracts). In case of vzyatochnik.info, the creator wants to blacklist university professors, who take and extort bribes from the students.

Screenshot of the site vzyatochnik.info

If students are forced to pay bribes to their faculty members, they can anonymously file a complaint with the site. This leads to the “suspect” being put in the “gray list”. The information is then monitored and evaluated by the site's experts and, if it proves to be true, the faculty member's name is being moved to the “black list”, where all complaints on this person are collected. Then, as the website developers say, they will send the collected information to the administration of universities and law enforcement bodies.

If complaints turn out to be false, the teacher’s name is sent to the “white list” and in one week period it is removed from the site. This website is probably the most promising project of those presented on BarCamp Ideas Market and might have a big social impact in Kazakhstan. Development of similar projects can be now expected also in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

There are also other projects, which did not enter the top five list, but still seem to be interesting. Social network medkarta.kz was created to bring together people who face heath problems and seek ways to solve those problems. The health sector is a big market in Central Asia and, due to low salaries, doctors are often interested in promotion of expensive medicines to their patients instead of recommending them cheaper versions. The site developers want to make it possible for people to consult with each other directly on the issue. Not much is happening on the site at the moment, but the idea seems to be good and, perhaps, the site will get a new impulse after the BarCamp.

The name of myschool.kz [ru] speaks for itself. Schools that are members of the portal become “e-schools”, with online classes schedule, student ratings, information on exams and everything that every school normally has on paper. Taking into account the spread of Internet and technologies in the world, especially in education, the site may face a lot of competitors in Central Asia.

Screenshot of the site top7.kz

Another start-up presented during the BarCamp was top7.kz [ru]. Its idea is to create a top seven rating of pretty much everything. For instance, one of the articles describes the top 7 methods of not getting bored while staying in a queue [ru].

  • 7. Listen to podcasts
  • 6. Go online (Facebook, Twitter, email)
  • 5. Take your organizer and write down what you should do today, tomorrow, in a month
  • 4. Meet new people
  • 3. Read a book
  • 2. Eat an apple
  • 1. Write a new chart for top7.kz.

There is not only fun, but also useful information on the site, for example: top 7 criteria for finding an apartment to rent, top 7 take-away drinks in Almaty, top 7 pieces of advice for choosing a bicycle.

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