If May 3rd gets to be World Press Freedom Day, then after today's events, July 14 (in addition to already being Bastille Day) should be Citizen Media Day.
The "celebrations" really started yesterday, with Ashoka Changemakers (with the support of Google) launching a global competition (fully supported in nine languages, no less) to source innovative ideas in citizen media. I've got to say, I love how the timeline goes "backwards" in Right-to-Left languages like Arabic. Many thanks to our work with Ashoka Israel in launching Kikar (loosely, "Market square") in Hebrew.
Later in the day, at 5:30pm, I will be moderating a panel on "Online Activism after #ArabSpring : What's Next?" - there are a few seats still available, more information and RSVP at http://www.meetup.com/intlrel-76/events/23103221/ . Follow along on twitter with the hashtag #AAS, and there's a remote possibility we may be able to livestream the event.
Finally, we get to wind down at Circa Bistro with a happy hour co-hosted with ICTWorks - information and RSVP here: http://ict4drinks-july14.eventbrite.com/.
So, I've been beating this drum for a while - oppressive governments are increasingly quick and intelligent in responding to protests that use mobile and new media to organize and get the word out. So, join us in July (http://www.meetup.com/intlrel-76/events/23103221/) to hear from an amazing panel and discuss the next steps in this cat and mouse game:
The Twitter Revolution. The Cellphone Revolution. The Facebook Revolution. While the "Arab Spring" uprisings succeed based on real-world organizing, protests and democracy-building, it's no secret that mobiles and social media provided tools to broadcast, coordinate and amplify these movements. Oppressive governments are responding both faster and smarter to these digital tools.
Please join our panel of experts discussing the role of online activism going forward. What are the next steps in information empowerment in a more hostile environment for online activism? What is the role of mobile and new media in affecting change in government, and what are the risks?
We will begin with a discussion by the panelists, then move into an open question and answer session. Afterwards, we'll transition to a happy hour at Circle Bistro.
Online Activism after #ArabSpring : What's Next?
May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. To celebrate my ability to post things I find inspiring to the Internet (where as many as 10 people other than my mother might read it (Hi Mom - happy mother's day in advance!)), here is a collection of tangentially related links on freedom, privacy, and the role of ICT in press freedom and citizen voice.
Does Facebook have int'l development impact?
http://www.ictworks.org/news/2011/05/04/does-facebook-have-any-internat… (What about SMS? http://researchspace.csir.co.za/dspace/bitstream/10204/3419/1/Butgereit… )
Freedom of the press in India: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/technology/28internet.html
Finally, someone is building an SMS listserv: http://www.mobileactive.org/smsall-growth-sms-mailing-list-pakistan-1
How governments censor: http://www.cpj.org/reports/2011/05/the-10-tools-of-online-oppressors.php
Getting around government censorship: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=383&report=97
Nearly half of NYT reports have sourced WikiLeaks so far in 2011: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/04/over-half-2011s-new-york-…
The US government doesn't think it needs a warrant to search electronic communications: http://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech-technology-and-liberty/does-govern…
Live from Uganda -- political unrest, strikes, and an attempt to block Facebook and Twitter traffic: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/04/19/uganda-government-attempts-to-… , One ISP stands its ground: https://twitter.com/#!/MTNUGANDACARE/status/58844526369976320
A few weeks back, I saw this show, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" at the Woolly Mammoth. It's by Mike Daisey, and is a work of non-fiction, describing his experiences infiltrating electronics factories in China (read a bit about that at ABC News, and watch the embedded TechCrunch interview. It's playing in Seattle soon, and might come back to DC eventually. It is absolutely worth watching. It perfectly captures the Apple fanboy, and technology enthusiasts in general, and will have you howling with laughter at you see yourself in his portrayals of these characters. By the end, however, you may not want to touch your iPhone. Or buy one. Or consider the conditions under which it was made.
To add on to that, Apple just got named as the least green tech company by GreenPeace, focusing primarily on their coal-powered data centers. Facebook came in second, while Yahoo, Google and Amazon were praised for their use of clean energy.
Unsurprisingly, the Libyan cell network is built to be Tripoli-centric, "giving him and his intelligence agents full control over phones and Internet" according to the WSJ. If that's not a stark reminder of the challenges of using SMS and mobiles in human rights work that I've been concerned about, I don't know what is.
The brilliant response here has been to wrest control over segments of the Libyan mobile network. This has taken some outside effort, external government support, and massive funding - it is, at least for now, successful at creating an independent domestic network with limited external access:
A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi's cellphone network and re-establish their own communications.
The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago.
That March cutoff had rebels waving flags to communicate on the battlefield. The new cellphone network, opened on April 2, has become the opposition's main tool for communicating from the front lines in the east and up the chain of command to rebel brass hundreds of miles away.
This is brilliant, and a bit funny. Until some innocent person taking a stroll is killed for insurgency.
A long quote from this blog by way of Warren Ellis and BoingBoing, emphases mine:
In summary, several Chinese language, but overseas based, websites have been blogging on the creation of a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China. This has been motivated, of course, by events in MENA, and the timing has been significant because it has coincided with two important political conferences in Beijing, but it appears to have no real-world substance whatsoever, to have begun as a hoax at best, and to exist only in cyberspace, and cyberspace outside China at that. But the interesting bit is the real world effect it is having inside China, and the momentum it is generating.
When I asked the Ginger Man if they could host a crazy crowd of ICT4D and mobile4dev geeks rolling in to network and share stories from the frontlines of technology and development, they replied simply, "bring it."
I forward that sentiment on to you. If you hack, build, or implement tools all the way from water pumps to LED lanterns to OLPCs to citizen journalism software, bring your best toy, story, or idea for how technology can support global development, promote equality, and topple authoritarian regimes.
RSVP here, but attendance will be governed by the space we have available: http://ict4dev.eventbrite.com/
Bonus: Learn about the upcoming Ashoka/Changemakers collaborative competition on building sustainable models supporting access, freedom of speech, information quality and privacy! You can read the background on our googly adventure.
Monday, March 12 starting at 5pm at The Ginger Man (301 Lavaca)
Register now at http://ict4dev.eventbrite.com/ - only 20 RSVPs available until we nail down a venue!
In Austin for SXSWi? A Geek? (ok, granted) Interested in changing the world? Building off of last year's amazing ICT4D meetup during SXSW, we're back at it this year with the second annual ICT4D Happy Hour: Geeks, Drinks, and Doing Good. We're also planning more than a day in advance this time (wow!).
We'll gather on Monday, March 14, 2011, starting around 5pm for a happy hour at a downtown watering hole (Hopefully the Gingerman like last year). Bring your favorite ICT4D toys (OLPCs, solar-powered GSM thingamajiggers, mHealth diagnostics and other gizmos) and your best ideas and inspiring innovations to talk about while sharing drinks with your colleagues from across the street and around the world.