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  • Anders Pedersen 14:16 on July 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Language as social justice, a goodbye to the anglo web and hello to diversified campaining 

    I recently had the chance to join in at the Open Translation Tools 09, where bloggers, translators and coders from across the world came together in Amsterdam for a discussion about the state of translation and which tools to wish for in the future. From Cambodia, India and South Africa projects showed how translation and localization of sofware into local languages enable the growth of social change. Projects like Global Voices Lingua and Meedan have proved that hundreds of people will gather to make global discussion possible across language barriers. But those projects are still small compared to the dramatic shifts in the destribution between languages on the Internet – the Chinese blogosphere alone with sites like Sina and QQ exceeds the total amount of English language content on the Internet. Welcome to the diversified diversified Polyglot Internet. I think it is important not to dismiss this as purely a tendency in the Global South. In the middle of the greatest newspaper crisis in history, US ethnic newspapers are flourishing and clearly benefitting from not having spend forty years losing touch with their readers.

    Contequenses for campaigning and advocacy
    One of the most impressive organizing efforts last fall came from “Voto Latino”, which mobilized young Latino voters in key swing states such as New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada through a powerfull cambination from MySpace to SMS and celebrity support. Voto Latino are now keeping up steam with an impressive support for Sonia as Supreme Justice nominee.

    Both the emergence of ethnic media in the US and diversified campaigns as Voto Latinos proves that efficient campaigns can merge from a point of diversity. The imploding Republican party has clearly defined it self as the party the white-male and surely doesn´t fit nor understand this model of campainging, as they showed to the fullest extend with the immigration debate in 2007. This campaign video shows that progressives such as Voto Latino are not always afraid of offering clear narratives and hard politics, while campaining for diversity, which is promissing to see.

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  • Anders Pedersen 16:18 on June 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Analog blogging – a way to bridge the digital divide 

    Great post I came across earlier this spring, which makes us learn quite a lot about how information can be distributed despite lack of access to media outlets. Alfred Sirleaf runs a giant black board on a street of Monrovia, Liberia clled the “Daily News”. Check it out:

    Liberia’s Blackboard Blogger from WhiteAfrican on Vimeo.

    At the board posts news from a network of volunteer correspondents from across the country. His writings are supported by symbols in order to get the message through to people with limited literacy skills. An analog blog can teach us how to think about online and offline communication in areas where internet, or let alone power is limited. Circulating information among people who already have the access to this information is much less challenging than broadening the scope to the wide public. Ushahidi, which we have praised on this blog, is trying to meet exactly those challenges of online-offline disconnect by talking to journalists from old media of radio and print, who still reach way more people.

    Alfred wants to bring the black board to other parts of Monrovia and Liberia. It will be interesting to see how bloggers and online activists can learn to connect better with communities offline and the “Daily News” black board format could be a great place to start!

     
  • Anders Pedersen 09:38 on June 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Another story on the cell in Africa – the way to better rural health care? 

    How will future development of health care in the global south come about in the future? A good guess is that brain drain of doctors migrating from Africa to Europe and USA will continue and that rural clinics will see few local doctors in the near future. In Malawi a new tech project FrontlineSMS Medic is pioneering new SMS based consultation services and already proving services for 25 clinics.

    The platform is based on Kenn Banks FrontlineSMS platform developed in 2004 and since utilized in a number of different settings across the world. The core of the platform is a laptop with cell phone connection, which enables users to receive and forward text warning, questions or medicine guidance to users without the need of an internet connection. For clinics in Malawi this means that staff workers wondering about everything from the right doze of medicine to the diagnosis, the SMS-service saves hours of driving to the nearest hospital. In this way FrontlineSMS helps building skills for local clinic staffs to improve the quality of services and offer treatment closer to users. FrontlineSMS is open sourced, cheap to run and already partner with big guys like the Clinton Global Initiative.

    The great thing about the cell phone story is Africa and other places is its unique usability and functionality which simply allows peoples creativity to work within all fields of development. One of the biggest mistakes about the African cell phone story must be expect it to be a an engine for limited fields such as communication and media. Surely FrotnlineSMS:Media doesn´t provide a revolution of health care overnight, but they do deliver an open source service, which cost close to nothing (500 dollar per clinic). Thereby FrontlineSMS serves as an example on how to create afordable health care solutions globally, with a continous lack of doctors and growing costs.

    Obamas 23 billion dollar investment to update the health journals of US citizens shows a scary example of the costs of health care improvements, so for most countries another cheaper way is most needed. The next generation of health care initiatives in the global south will be implementing cell phone based electronic storage of health information, where among others Nokia are moving fast with Frontline. It will be interesting to see if Fronline can saty small while growing and thereby keep the services afordable, open source and easy to implement, at the same time as they get involved with the big NGO-guys. We are looking forward to hear more!

     
  • Anders Pedersen 08:28 on May 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Ushahidi and the cell revolution 

    One of the most interesting projects about developing ways to include citizens in crisis reporting is definately Ushahidi. The principle is simply to bring together SMS-communication from citizens and reports in order to secure transparant ways of documenting conflicts in areas such as Uganda, Kenya and Congo. In January al-Jazeera introduced their platform as a part of the Gaza-bombings and with the upcoming Indian elections Ushahidi has developed a multi-featured platform with some of the best Indian developers. 

    The uniqueness of Ushahidi is not only the way that crisis and conflicts can be reported realtime, but even more that the information is made accessable real-time to citizens, often through the use of radio. This devlopment proves promissing times for the future efforts of documenting violations and using the information for self-organizing among citizens. The times where governments (and sometimes also NGO´s) could keep information to them selves  in order to maintain control are changing for the better.

    Just found this great short documentary on the impact of the cell from White African

    Hello Africa from UZI MAGAZINE on Vimeo.

    Latest fact to back up that serious development are happening fast: Nigeria just passed Germany this week and reach the top 10 globally on the mobile Opera Mini platform. More people now access internet from their cell than from PC. 

    Another great example of the opportunities that comes from making huge sums of information availible is the Google-mashup of Proposition 8 funders (the Mormons and other defenders of the “true marriage”), which enabled direct boycot actions throughout California. Simple tools to bring information online truly offer new ways of doing activism.

     
  • Anders Pedersen 16:21 on May 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    No-nonsense 2.0 campaigning – The Atheist Busses 

    Jon Worth, a Brittish blogger and campaigner recently  gave a great presentation at Re:publica in Berlin (the video starts after 5 min.) about the Atheist Bus Campaign. Over a short time span he and a Guardian journalist initiated a project which raised more than 100.000 pounds for adds on busses saying: “There´s probably no God. Stop worrying and enjoy your life” and thereby challenging the growing amount of evangelist commercials in Brittish public space. His talk gives a great insight about how campaigning with online tools work and the need for combining online- and offline organization. Today the project has spread to Spain, Netherlands, Canada, Germany etc.  and thereby proves that a good idea can be reprlicated in different contexts and societies. Jon highlights interestingly enough the coorporation with a traditional (old white males) organization as crucial, as the NGO could provide the facilitation, which made the campaign able to leverage to such a size. An off course don´t forget: “It´s a campaign you can explain over a beer!”

     
  • Anders Pedersen 14:22 on May 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Ushahidi – citizen based mobile documentation 

    One of the most interesting projects about developing ways to include citizens in crisis reporting is definately Ushahidi. The principle is simply to bring together SMS-communication from citizens and reports in order to secure transparant ways of documenting conflicts in areas such as Uganda, Kenya and Congo. In January al-Jazeera introduced their platform as a part of the Gaza-bombings and with the upcoming Indian elections Ushahidi has developed a multi-featured platform with some of the best Indian developers. 

    The uniqueness of Ushahidi is not only the way that crisis and conflicts can be reported realtime, but even more that the information is made accessable real-time to citizens, often through the use of radio. This devlopment proves promissing times for the future efforts of documenting violations and using the information for self-organizing among citizens. The times where governments (and sometimes also NGO´s) could keep information to them selves  in order to maintain control are changing for the better.

    Another great example of the opportunities that comes from making huge sums of information availible is the Google-mashup of Proposition 8 funders (the Mormons and other defenders of the “true marriage”), which enabled direct boycot actions throughout California. Simple tools to bring information online truly offer new ways of doing activism.

     
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