Week Seven

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This past week my research has focused on the internal governance of ODC which affects its rights to freedom of expression and copyrights. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with ODC senior editor-researcher Chandara to discuss governance concerns in the organization and why they need to be resolved in order for ODC to produce and present content effectively. On Monday, I followed up on these discussions by interviewing ODC executive director Try. The purpose of this meeting was to learn more about the history of ODC as well as the pressing governance concerns of the platform which are negatively affecting staff morale, and thus ODC’s work.

Try and I had a productive two-hour discussion on a wide array of issues concerning copyrights and the use of the platform. ODC finds itself stuck in an uncertain operating environment which negatively affects content production and presentation on the ODC platform. On one hand, ODC is an independent Cambodian NGO having achieved registration status in August of 2015. On the other hand, ODC’s content is hosted on the shared Open Development Mekong (ODM) platform. While this January 2016 transition to a Generation II platform presented intriguing opportunities for open data collaboration in the Mekong Delta region, governance guidelines were not clearly defined and that uncertainty is now echoing across the platform. What is the nature of the relationship between ODM and ODC? How much independence does ODC have over its own research priorities? How much independence does ODC have to determine the format and design of its own platform? How much independence does ODC staff have to work on Cambodian projects exclusively? Who may become a data contributor or acquire super-admin account privileges? Clarity and consistency are elusive. These governance concerns on the Generation II platform threaten to undermine collaboration on the platform and affect ODC’s content production and content presentation. This section of my paper will investigate these concerns, explain their importance, and provide recommendations so that ODC can focus on content production and fulfilling its role as the leader of the open data movement in Cambodia.

Additionally, I am also working on developing specific copyright and internal operations recommendations for ODC. Fortunately, ODC already has many of these systems in place and my paper merely provides confirmation to ODC that it has taken the correct steps. Specific recommendations include: (1) Using the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0 to protect its content, (2) Updating its Term of Use, (3) Developing a Cease and Decease Letter, (4) Foregoing registration of works with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, (4) Collaborating with foreign entities on LANGO, (5) Following a formalized prepublication review process which includes line editing, copy editing, peer editing, and security review, (6) Following a formalized post publication review process which includes testing cross-device functionality, cross-browser functionality, and functional integration, (7) Adhering to a “paraphrase” approach as opposed to “imitation” or “metaphrase” for the translation of works, and (8) Adopting a red team approach to challenge the organization to improve its effectiveness.  I explore these recommendations in-depth in my paper and I will continue to add recommendations to this list.

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Last weekend, Lauren and I traveled to the Mondulkiri Province! Mondulkiri is a seven-hour bus ride from Phnom Penh and the town is located in the eastern “mountainous” region of Cambodia. On the first day, we traveled to an elephant sanctuary and learned more about the status of elephants in Cambodia. We had the unique opportunity to interact with the elephants which included feeding and washing them. The Mondulkiri project does a great job of rescuing elephants and providing a great environment for them to thrive. On the second day, we took a 45 minute tuk tuk ride to the majestic Bou Sra waterfalls.

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We were the only foreigners in the park and many Khmer families were enjoying the sunshine and waterfalls. I had a great trip and Cambodia continues to amaze me with its amazing people and places. This coming weekend we will be taking our first international trip to Thailand!