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Background Summary: A Global Computer Network for Change

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an extensive global computer network, dedicated specifically to serving non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and activists working for social change. Composed of a consortium of international member networks, APC provides effective and efficient communications and information-sharing tools to NGOs and individuals. Member networks exchange email and participate in selected electronic conferences with over 50 partner networks worldwide. Many of these partner networks provide the only email access for NGOs in their countries. Through this global partnership, APC offers vital communication links to tens of thousands of NGOs, activists, educators, policy-makers, and community leaders in 133 countries.

APC member networks develop and maintain an informational system that allows for geographically dispersed groups to coordinate activities online at a much cheaper rate than can be done by fax, telephone, or for-profit computer networks. APC wants to assure that electronic communication tools are available to people from all regions in the world. By collaborating with over fifty partner systems in Southern countries, APC helps to increase the information flow between South and South. To further assure equitable access to computer technology, APC initiated a Women's Networking Support Program, which focuses on increasing access to networking technologies and information sources for women and women's NGOs.

The APC Networks are distinguished by the depth and quality of their information resources, by the global reach of their communication services, and by the diversity of their membership. APC developed from a dedicated grass-roots constituency and has become a true global community. The Network provides information in several languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Estonian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Croatian, Slovenian, Russian, English, Swedish, German, Polish, French, and Esperanto. In addition, APC provides extensive user support and training to help people access the system easily and learn to use it efficiently.

The APC Networks are designed for use by NGOs, United Nations agencies, research organizations, government departments, educational institutions, multistakeholder groups, and individuals who communicate with NGOs. People use APC as an information and organizing tool for a wide range of issues, including peace, human rights, public health, environmental issues, population, social and economic justice, development, education, poverty, and demilitarization.

Dial Locally, Act Globally

All APC member networks provide users with an Internet email address. APC users can communicate with any of the over 40 million people who have an Internet email address; as well as with most commercial, academic and other networks. Many APC networks provide navigational tools to help their users access information that is otherwise difficult to locate on the Internet. For example, users can access any public computer on the Internet, including universities, libraries, research institutions, and public databases. Several APC networks make information publicly available on the Internet via the Worldwide Web (WWW) and via Gopher P - a user-friendly, text-based, menu-driven information search tool. Several APC networks offer SLIP and PPP access which allows the use of a graphic interface to Internet services.

APC provides the following networking tools:

· Electronic Mail (email)· Electronic Conferences, both private and public· Databases· Fax and Telex· Internet Navigation Tools: Gopher, Telnet, Worldwide Web, FTP, WAIS· News and Information Services· International User Directory

The APC is a community without borders. NGOs and activists worldwide use APC Networks for both their internal organizational communications as well as their public organizing efforts. In addition, many progressive news services distribute their publications electronically on the APC Networks.