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Frerichs, R.R. Response to "three practical suggestions for Manila conference." SEA-AIDS Network, April 18, 1996

Posted in response to:

SEA-AIDS, March 17, 1996

From Jean-Louis Lamboray

Here are a few practical suggestions regarding the 1997 Manila conference.

First, few of us come to conferences to acquire new technical knowledge. We come to do business and learn from each other's experience through small group discussions. Therefore, the conference could be set up explicitly in such a way that time and space is available for "business sessions".

Second, many of us waste inordinate amounts of time trying to link up with each other. To facilitate contacts, I propose that all participants be given a private e-mail address for the duration of the conference. These accounts would be accessible through dial-in from laptops, and from a computer room. Maybe a computer firm would be interested in providing the service free of charge, including support for beginners?

Third, the organizers could set up cyber-sessions, during which participants and people from anywhere in the world could use "chat" technology to interact, and raise questions with moderators about the "hot" issues of the conference.

Jean-Louis Lamboray

Team Leader

UNAIDS South-East Asia HIV/AIDS Project

R.R. Frerichs Posting

I am very supportive of the excellent suggestions made by Jean-Louis Lamboray, UNAIDS South-East Asia HIV/AIDS Project, on ways to increase communication during the 1997 AIDS Conference in Manila.

While many of us are becoming more comfortable with electronic communication and recognize the benefits of using the Internet to link with other people and organizations, the activity is not yet widely available in the developing world. The four main factors that limit access to electronic communication are:

  1. too few companies offering Internet access;

  2. too high a cost for computer, higher speed modem, and monthly access fee;

  3. extensive reliance on English language; and

  4. reluctance to experiment with new technology.

If free market forces are allowed to prevail, factors 1 and 2 will be solved over time. Open competition brings prices down to affordable levels, as has occurred with radios, televisions, cameras, VCRs and the like. Factor 3 can be partially solved by using English translation, grammar and spelling software to compose messages. It is Factor 4, however, that will be helped most by the thoughtful suggestions of Jean-Louis Lamboray. Conference participants would be exposed, in a friendly and supportive environment, to new technology, and encouraged to communicate over short distances with friends and colleagues. Once they feel comfortable with this activity, then the next step of international communication will come easier. 

Please give full consideration to Lamboray's forward thinking on ways to promote electronic information exchange.