Subtle Strategies in Unleashing Community's Inner Capacity

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Onno W. Purbo

Personally, I admire the power of universal access, economic and social services, openness, human development and innovation. I believe in it. I witness its power when unleashed. It surely will be the key enablers to transform the society into knowledge based society.

Unfortunately, in practice on grass root, it is not about the concept / the term “universal access”, “openness”, and “innovation”. It is more about how to create a movement within the society / community to get the universal access, to embeded openness in their culture, to flourish innovation within the 240 million Indonesians. Unlike, most western countries, we (Indonesian) cannot heavily rely our life to the government for various reasons. It is an art in itself, to create a self-finance, a sustainable, self-propelled movement within such large number of people with minimal support from the government.

Being an activist with no funding, I am very much bias in most of my activities. All of the strategic actions would aim for maximizing the bang for the buck. Trying the provide benefit to as much people / communities at lowest possible overhead cost (no cost if possible) and facilitate the transformation of 240 million Indonesians into information / knowledge producers as the stepping stone towards knowledge based society. I found the critical lower level keywords would be,

  • Self-finance, Sustainable
  • Empowerment, Education

The Up Side

In short, keeping in mind all less / no government and all must be self-finance, some of the main strategies would be around “education” / awareness process, such as,

  • Conventional and Electronic Media will buy “good” and “inspiring” stories. It helps in disseminating and convincing many Indonesian to join in. It is key for snowball effect needed to create the mass or the “economic scale if you like”.
  • Encourage students / people to become knowledge / information producers – the simplest form would be books / blog writer or even help in answering questions in forum / mailing lists. Availability of abundant knowledge in local language would be the fundamental key to be able to lift off.
  • As more people wants to gain more knowledge, self-finance education / awareness process funded by the communities themselves. Self-finance is key in sustaining the process for long term movement.

Self-finance movement. As community / people believe in it, they will voluntarily, with no external pressure, invest their time and money into the movement. Thus, a self-finance sustainable movement will be guaranteed.

The downside

It takes years, more than 10 years to see the results. Requires dedication of committed informal community leaders.

Some of the main field experiences

  • One of my favourite story would be the liberation of 2.4GHz band in Indonesia. It is a 10++ years of process. A separate paper on the story on 2.4GHz liberation has been written.
  • In 2008, the open source activists and the Indonesian ministry of research and technology provided free e-books on open source ICT education into the Indonesian education system. We hope to see more Indonesians to use open source software and save US$300 million / year to buy proprietary software. A video interview of Onno W. Purbo by Gurumurthy will be provided.
  • Internet Sehat (Healthy Internet) has been promoted by ICT Watch, such as, Donny B.U., for the last 4-5 years. It is now becoming an accepted jargon and movement in Indonesian ICT / Internet activities.
  • ICT for Women (Perempuan Melek IT in Indonesian) has been promoted by my wife (Nurlina Purbo) since early 2008. It is a simple approached by carrying several laptops visiting many neighbourhood and running 3 days free demo for mother / women. The responds is unbelievable, lots of demand for such simple activities as mother becoming the key for children education. They need the ICT / PC skill to teach their children as the kids received it in their school. The approach is captured and published by MetroTV e-livestyle talkshows and many written media / newspaper and creating more snowball effects. Snapshot of pictures and video on this will be provided.

Into the Next Level

Some of the upcoming strategic movement would be

  • Community based Internet Telephone. It is currently funded through ISIF. It has strengthen the main Indonesian softswitch VoIP server and the software. All can be downloaded from and Hope to see the transformation of Telephony infrastructure in the upcoming years.

Pranala Menarik