This two-year project is designed to diversify the information currently available to the citizens of Central Asia. Donor: UNDEF (The United Nations Democracy Fund)
To diversify the information currently available to the citizens of Central Asia by promoting the use of Internet media and new media techniques to produce, promote, and distribute content that represents a real alternative to the government– dominated information flow.
Journalists, NGO representatives, civic activists, and young people will take part in the region’s most comprehensive new media training program to date. This training program will include a training-the-trainers course, workshops, the region’s first Social Innovation Camp, distance learning, internships, and scholarships, all led by a mix of local experts and European trainers who will showcase the latest in Internet- and mobile-based techniques and tools for creating content. Project staff will also provide free technical consulting to Central Asian NGOs and independent media on improving the ability of their websites to reach wider audiences.
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On 27-29 May, Transitions, Soros Kyrgyzstan, and Internet Movement — an NGO from Bishkek — held the first-ever Social Innovation Camp in Central Asia. The event, held on the Issyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan, provided an opportunity for around 80 activists, techies, designers, and social innovators from across the region to compete in self-organized teams to build web-based tools for social impact. Funding for the event came from the United Nations Democracy Fund and Soros Kyrgyzstan.
Each project development team consisted of three to 12 people, including a programmer and designer. The camp team had preselected eight exceptional ideas to develop, including a project aimed at putting an end to school crime; a social network connecting patients with appropriate physicians; a project promoting environmental awareness among school children; a news portal bringing together conflicting Kyrgyz and Uzbek ethnic groups in southern Kyrgyzstan; and a youth Internet radio in Kyrgyzstan.
After a day of inauguration and two days of site development under the gaze of the picturesque Tien Shan mountains, teams presented their projects on the afternoon of the third day. The jury, after 15 minutes of deliberation, awarded first place to the project "Together for Good Deeds," which connects people who need help with those who can best meet their needs. Second place went to "Stop Bullying," a program devoted to improving the situation in schools through transparency and public attention, and third place was awarded to the author of an animated movie for his personal contribution to the team working on the ecological education project.
Popular social media outlets were successfully harnessed by teams to spread awareness of their projects’ progress and to invite testers to the recently launched sites. Some teams even used the sites to establish communication with external consultants. The team developing the social network for doctors and patients, for example, has already recruited 300 participants to its prototype website.
Stories about the camp appeared on national radio and television.
Photos can be seen here.