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Global Scoutnet Mission Statement

Introduction

One of the key ideas of our founder was that the World Brotherhood of Scouting and Guiding should foster peace and goodwill among peoples by "forming a friendly alliance [...] for mutual interchange of views, correspondence, and visits, and thereby to promote a closer feeling of sympathy between the rising generations". (Baden-Powell, "The Scouter", December 1911). This led to the "invention" of the Jamboree and other international gatherings.

Moreover, he recognised the need to effectively spread the information to leaders all over the world. He found many ways to do this... he put to good use both the written word (in books and newsletter) and his sketching skills, in what was his age's version of multimedia. He also embarked in many "scout cruises", which were a peculiar but effective way to bring his spoken word to scouts and leaders all around the world. However, he recognized that the best way to train adult leaders was alyways to put him together with other leaders, some very experienced (Camp Chiefs) and others who are still in training. So Gilwell Park and other training camp sites became invaluable resources to the ever-growing Scout movement.

The mission statement of Global Scoutnet is to provide a low-cost, wide-reaching, many-to-many communication tool to Scouts, Guides and adult leaders all over the world, which can be the equivalent of a Jamboree or of a Gilwell Park training camp.

This mission statement was developed at the "Building the Global Village" seminar, organized by the European Region of WOSM in 1994.

Global Scoutnet: more than just a pretty page!

In those countries where Internet use is easily available, many scout groups have started creating a "Group Page". This is a good exercise; it involves summing up what makes your group or unit unique, and explaining it to outsiders.

However, the great limit of this kind of experience is that you aren't really having an exchange with someone else. You are just preparing a showcase, like thousands of other groups are doing. Even when you visit someone else's page, you might find it informative, but this won't reflect on the author of the page.

Clearly, some other medium must be used to complement web pages.

Actually, the medium we need is much older, and dates back to the early seventies. We are talking about electronic conferences, where all participants can take part in a discussion but can do so at the place of their choice and at the time of their choice.

How we do it

The key to the widest possible availability of global telecommunications requires us to use as many different technologies as possible.

Some people might have access to only one kind of technology; some other might prefer to choose the cheapest one for them.

The technologies we currently use are Internet and Bulletin Board networks.The Internet has been subject to an ever growing attention by the media, so there should be no need to further delve into the subject.

A Bulletin Board System (BBS) is an amateur telecommunications system, accessible by dial-up phone lines, usually for free. The equipement needed to access it is a computer of any kind, a terminal emulation program, and a modem. Services provided by a BBS include the distribution (download) of software and other files, and participation in electronic conferences. Bulletin Board networks allow many BBS to share their electronic conferences, thus reaching a much wider public.

In North America and Europe, the Internet is widespread enough that most leaders can afford a PC sufficiently equipped and the ISP (Internet Service Provider) fees.

In developing countries, Internet access is quite restricted, with ISP fees at least an order of magnitude higher than in Europe for a much less reliable service, but the matter is made worse by much lower earnings in those countries. Available PCs are expensive, too, and often they are not up to the requirements of most internet software. In these countries, we need technologies which can work on cheap hardware, and can coexist with low-quality telephone lines. Bulletin Board networks can be profitably used in this context. Even commercial networks often use similar technologies: AT&T has been offering for years the "AT&T learning network" to educational institutions all around the world, providing essentially the same services as a BBS network; we also know of at least one NGO using a CCmail network over dial-up lines; last but not least, UUCP connections are still in use.

Moreover, there is still a significant membership in the hobbyist BBS community in Europe, which is more than willing to help Scoutnet. Also, a BBS network can have a more "controlled" environment; this can be much more effective in responding to parental concerns about internet contents than any "grading" scheme of www pages!

So we use as many technologies as needed to reach as many people as possible.

Organization of Global Scoutnet

Global Scoutnet is a federation of national networks which have the same aims.

Each national network has a Country Coordinator, elected or nominated according to a national policy. All these Country Coordinators form the Country Coordinators Council (CCC), which is the governing body of Global Scoutnet.

The CCC elects a Global Coordinator, who handles day-to-day operations and represents the network.

What happens inside each national network is a private affair, provided a few basic rules are respected.


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Last update: 04.05.2003
Disclaimer: Global Scoutnet has nothing to do with "GSO"; any resemblance with their name is an unfortunate accident.
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