Learner’s Submission: The Importance of Networks


“The importance of networks is given by the application, reflection and maturation of KM – Knowledge Management – in all sectors involving group relations in a democratic and decentralized way between public knowledge and sensitive knowledge, mostly in how to deal with new challenges and deployment between BI – business intelligence and CI – Competitive intelligence. Its importance goes beyond reception, connection and dissemination of information and knowledge.

It aims to balance and focus on challenges and unpredictability of future prospective of the society and the world through the wide dialog actually disseminated and debated by the networks. Another important point of the networks is the potential to unite the people and cultures regardless of country, as the communication has its biggest benefit that is to unite humanity and its knowledge in the search of improvement and solutions to continuous evolution and to ensure two-way direct diplomacy.

The access to information, the transparency of public property strengthens democracy and knowledge of the people valuing the individual. It allows people to interact directly with information being able to openly discuss it and helps to improve on a healthy basis the social politics, science and technology development. Social Networks has made easier to fight corruption through identification, connection and dissemination of knowledge with its powerful tool that is avoiding that knowledge suffers censor and misinformation by groups against law enforcement.

On the other hand there is also the risk of hoax. However, the same social networks can protect and instruct about how to avoid hoax using tools to provide search of information and knowledge. In Brazil, we have examples of flagrant from sectors in the media and politicians that were corrupted and tried to censor information to the public. Thanks to these networks, such groups of corrupts and criminals were identified. Also, abusive bills were re-discussed and reevaluated forcing politicians to make necessary changes to attend society according to the democratic state of Law.

True peace is constantly celebrated through the debate of ideas and sustainable arguments as has been occurring through networks. On a democratic way it helps to produce alternatives to reflection and meditation on conflict management and resolution allowing societies to auto adjust with no need of excessive State paternalism. Social Networking has been the main and most modern means for the people to achieve a customary law with harmony and knowledge, gradually reducing culture shocks by increasing learning.

Another example to be followed is the work that is being produced by UN in Brazil via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ONUBrasil that has been maintaining population informed and interactive with subjects that are not always transmitted by the Brazilian media, which has few informative and clarifying vehicles of information. The UN channel, ONU Brasil, has been of great importance emphasizing topics that surprised Brazilian people who sometimes don’t even imagine what happens around the world. My reflection is that through this channel, UN has broken a huge barrier in communication and a kind of knowledge that was far beyond people’s eyes and ears.” – Graziano Nardis – Santa Catarina, Brazil

Learner’s Submission: Access to Data in South Africa


“There is legislation in South Africa that relates to access to data. The main act that deals with access to information in South Africa is The Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), Act of 2000. PAIA gives the right of access to any information held by the State and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.

PAIA has a number of objectives which are: to give effect to the constitutional right of access to any information, to set out justifiable limitations on the right of access to information aimed at protecting people’s privacy, confidential commercial information and ensuring effective, efficient and good governance; to balance the right of access to information with all the other rights in the constitution; to promote a culture of human rights and social justice; to establish mechanisms and procedures to enable persons to obtain access to records as swiftly, inexpensively and effortlessly as is reasonably possible; to promote transparency, accountability and effective governance; to empower and educate everyone to: understand their rights in terms of the act; understand the functions and operation of public bodies; and effectively scrutinize and participate in decision-making by public bodies that affects their rights.

The South African Human Rights Commission offers a guide to this law and how to use it. There is also a DVD guide available through the South African History Archive which includes case studies of how citizens went about using the Promotion of Access to Information Act in order to obtain data and information. This DVD was made possible through the funding of the Claude Leon Foundation and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.

There is also an Electronic Communications Transaction Act of 2002 that regulates electronic communications and transactions and works to promote the sharing of electronic information. Currently, there is a hot topic that is in the news that deals with the Protection of Information Bill. This bill is now being debated in Parliament and would allow government to withhold information from the public that they believe could be ‘harmful’ to the benefits of nation building. However, it is proposed that the bill allows government to withhold information relating to tenders, for example, since it covers the protection and preservation of all things owned or maintained for the public by the State and also commercial information in the government’s possession. Many journalists and citizens at large are very concerned about this proposed restriction of access to information because of the imminent allegations of corruption within the South African government, especially with regard to tenders.

I personally have never had the need to access data from the state or from the private sector and have not had the need to use any legislation to obtain information or data. I have only made use of the University of South Africa’s library, other libraries, the internet and the media for my information requirements.” –  Shanti Coetzer – Pretoria, South Africa

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