Tuesday, April 7, 2009

International Mapping & Database Projects

We've got a lot to learn from directory efforts in other countries. Two examples stand out, in particular: Brazil and Quebec.

The Brazilian solidarity economy directory (called "Solidarius") has been in development since 2005 and, after two phases of participatory "mapping" of enterprises, now lists over 22,000 initiatives and is developing powerful information tech features to increase the usefulness of its database to grassroots economic movements.

Here's the link to Solidarius.

This directory includes basic and advanced search features, a virtual marketplace for solidarity economy products and services, educational and informational resources, a network-building facilitation feature, and an integrated social currency that facilitates exchange among solidarity economy consumers and producers.

The software (which we need to learn more about in terms of technical specifications) is, as far as I understand, open source.

The Quebec database is another informative project, though my lack of French makes it difficult to fully explore. Here's the link. One aspect of this project is that is it a "portal" rather than simply a directory. They intend to create a kind of "one stop shopping" for information on the "social economy." The directory, then, is placed in the context of news, job offers, events postings, and an online commerce feature.

The Brazilian database developers are currently working with those in Quebec on a system through which both databases would "talk to each other." I don't know the details of this project.

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