Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tale of One World: Welcome to Corporate Information Society Day

On Thursday I attended the "Tale of Two Worlds" event at the UN for "World Information Society Day". The event was billed as addressing the "Digital Divide" and was subtitled "Keeping Pace with a Moving Target". The military sounding subtitle was a bit incongruous with the peace themed utopian 50's modernist architecture of the meeting room and the whole UN complex. It is in keeping, I guess, with the current "War Against Terror" that the UN entrance has been taken over by a huge security tent where everyone is submitted to intense searches. As the woman in front of me said, "This is worse than the airlines." Well, the UN has certainly been one of the victims of the violence, so I understand their caution.

The meeting was held in the ECOSOC Chamber.There was not much participation by any of the Civil Society types that made an important presence at the World Summits on the Information Society in Geneva and Tunis.
At this meeting, the VP of Nokia was a keynote. His theme was that cell phones can save the world. Most of speakers were from tel-coms (Nex-tel, Microcast, Telefonica, CITEL, POphoneBox, etc). There was a live feed from Claudia Benassini Feliz from Monterrey Mexico. She and Heather Hudson from USF were the only women and only non-corporate, non-gov presenters. However their mantra was very much private "partnerships" forever. Basically the corporations were present want to promote UN funding to set up corporate training and telecenters using their products.This is the power point presentation of Randolf Saint-Leger, CFO of POphoneBox Communications.One of the questions from the floor was about the rights of disabled people to have access to all levels of participation. These were the flags that lined the hall outside the General Assembly room. I wanted to take a picture of the flags outside, but by the time the session was over, the flag poles lining the UN entrance were empty. Do you ever wonder how they hang those national flags every day in front of the UN? I noticed that each flagpole has a little box attached at the bottom which contains the flag that goes on that pole. Each box is supposed to be locked, but many of the locks are broken and you can see the flags peeping out.

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7:25 AM  

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