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  • Rune 20:48 on June 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    WorldWideVideo 

    While I’m not to convinced on the examples proposed by Max Gladwll on how social media might produce social change he gave me a chance to see a rather thrilling example of how strong webvideo can be, when kept as simple as in this one, by now seen by more than 21 millions viewers worldwide:

    For sure, this guy’s been travelling a lot – but apart from that the means are so dead simple – and still, the video bit produces a sense of unitity and universality that reminds me of all the kids playing football in every corner of the world in Michael Winterbottoms masterpiece, In This World.

     
  • timwhyte 11:52 on June 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: video   

    Turn the cameras on! 

    When the media yesterday carried the story that the Peruvian police reportedly murdered 40 indigenous Awajun activists in the Amazon, opening fire on their peaceful demonstration and dumping the bodies in a nearby river, the news stories all used the words “reportedly” and “according to the activists”.  Yet, catching video images on a mobile phone and broadcasting them around the world on the web is no longer a big deal. Would it matter for Awajun campaign if we didn’t have to write “reportedly”?  If there was video documentation circulating on the web of the massacre and cover up? Of course it would! So the real question we have to ask ourselves, is how can we help grassroots campaigners make use of the technology that is out there.

    It is a simple idea, really.  Give activists cameras so they can film human rights abuses they are fighting against, and let the world see evidence that is impossible to deny.  For 16 years now, Witness has been putting video in the hands of the human rights activists throughout the world.

    Since Witness started its work, the world of video has changed radically. The original technological catalyst was the arrival of Sonys Handycam, which made video recording and editing easy, inexpensive and accessible for grassroots social activists. Since then the rapid expansion of the internet and the proliferation of video recording devices, the technology has vastly expanded the possibilities for grassroots video documentation.

    Witness has not worked with the Awajun campaigners, but I wish that they had. What makes Witness’ work effective is their focus not just on the technology, but on the training and follow up for the social activists that use it.  As those who have worked with IT technology in developing countries know, it is often practical and organizational constraints that limit the its use, rather than the technology itself.  Witness provides cameras, training and follow up to certain partners. See a video on how they work here. Recently they have also launched the Hub, a web platform dedicated to human rights media and activism, tracking human rights issues throughout the world through video documentation.

    For an example of how campaigners can use the Hub, check out the coverage of the case between Shell and the Ogoni people in Nigeria.  In telegrams and short features, the mainstream media today is carrying the story that Shell agreed to fork out 15,5 million USD to the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other social activists from the Niger Delta executed by the Nigerian government.  If you — or the journalists who doing their pieces yesterday — want the details, the hub has background films and the campaigners side of the story, on their Shell on Trial page.

     
  • 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!

     
  • timwhyte 13:22 on June 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: web around the world   

    Free … if you have money 

    If you thought that the internet would be free of the country borders of the “real” world, think again. There are now signs that the immigration authorities between the rich and the poor countries are being established in cybersspace, not by governments but by internet companies themselves.  Those who control access will not look at the color of your skin or whether you are planning to overstay your visa, no, they are looking at something very specific: the average level of spending of internet users in your part of the world.  

    The New Your Times could report last month, that a number of free sites are starting to cut off access to users from the poorer parts of the world. The reason is simple: users in poor countries take up bandwidth but generally don’t spend much money on the in-site advertising.  This means that the explosive expansion of the internet in places like India, is actually a headache for web companies.  The many new users create a need for upscaling servers, but don’t contribute much income.  For companies that are already hard-pressed to show a profit, this means that cutting out Asia, for example, can mean a keeping down expenses.

    The NYT calls it The International Paradox (with a typically American sense of ownership of the web, implying that the natural home of the internet is in God’s own country…).   The Paradox is affecting especially the new Web 2.0 sites — Facebook, MySpace, YouTube — that have changed the way people use the web over the past few years, and are now expanding rapidly in the global South.  The users’ own photos and films on these sites require a lot of bandwidth and therefore the sites have been hit hard by their popularity in the south, where advertising revenue is minimal.  The math is forcing some companies — such as Voeh or DivShare — to block whole regions in the world.  Others such as Facebook and YouTube are now considering if they can somehow provide parred down versions of their sites to poorer countries.

    The question is of course whether we are seeing a temporary blip, while bandwidth catches up with demand and advertising agencies expand in the poorer countries, or a more long-term trend, where internet companies actively limit their user base to maximize profits. If the later is the case, we could end up with a situation where web services are free for those who can afford to pay for them. And inaccessible to vast number of potential users in the South.

     
  • Rune 21:49 on May 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Global Voices online 

    A longtime foreign correspondent who took a buyout a few years ago told me that when he visited the newsroom recently, the old globe that pinpointed the Post’s foreign bureaus was gone – it would have looked too embarrassing. (Todd Gitlin, openDemocracy)

    What better way to follow up on yesterdays post on the crises of the established media houses, than to point to one of its most promising supplements or even substitutes: citizen journalism from the Global South substituting the vanishing foreign correspondents – Global Voices Online. While the continued cut-backs in forreign correspondents on all major newspapers and networks remains a troublesome fact, citizen journalism spawned by new social media in the form of the Global Voices is one of the most promising projects to arrive in the battle over what shape the new developing publics and media formats will take in the years to come. 

    There’s still a long way to go before ‘small’ projects (in terms of funding, staffing, outreach and audience) like Global Voices will have an impact in itself without the all-important coverage by traditional media. Nevertheless, Global Voices is indeed already a truly amazing creation in itself today: it gathers bloggers from all over the world – and primarily outside Europe and North America – translates, curates, trains and inspires – and creates an outstanding global citizens-dialogue on a very broad number of issues.

    At the Global Change-course this autumn we will have a first run on a new collaboration with 20 leading editors and bloggers from the outstanding Global Voices-network, in which the Global Voices bloggers will act as mentors to our students and thereby directly train them in becoming skilled and experienced bloggers themselves.

     
  • Rune 22:20 on May 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: about this blog, crises of journalism   

    The crisis of journalism – and this blog… 

    Boiled down, this blog is about the intersection of media, publics and social change – with an emphazis on new social & digital media and technological tools that enable each and everyone of us to contribute in new was to both media, publics and the ignitement of social change.

    Hence, we’ll be blogging about new technological developments opening new perspectives for social changemakers (as you and I!); about the transformation of publics locally and globally with the rise of citizen journalism as the major revolution these years – and the intense crisis of ‘institutionalised’ journalism on the other; and finally, about the more floffy concept of social change in itself, which we – when busy not writing on this blog – spends a good deal of our time with making sense of…

    Quite a few posts from my hand are likely to come in the form of ‘today’s link’, instead of longer pieces on particular issues. Hopefully this can serve you as a reader as inspiration…

    Which brings me to… Today’s link – taking the second of the above mentioned bullets as starting point: the crisis of journalism.

    While much is being said and written about the crisis – or crises – of journalism – few pieces clears the ground so well as the recent one by Todd Gitlin just published at openDemocracy: Journalisms many Crises.

    An early quote sets the scene:

    “The surplus of crises has commentators scrambling for metaphors, even mixed ones. The Project for Excellence in Journalism put it this way in a recent report: “The newspaper industry exited a harrowing 2008 and entered 2009 in something perilously close to free fall. Perhaps some parachutes will deploy, and maybe some tree limbs will cushion the descent, but for a third consecutive year the bottom is not in sight.” The newspaper industry in the United States is afflicted with a grave and deepening sense that it is moribund, that the journalistic world they knew is vanishing; that it is melting away not just within their lifetimes but before their eyes.”

    Should you prefer the more tangible facts and figures, here’s your meal:

    “The numbers virtually shout out that this is not paranoia. Overall, newspaper circulation has dropped 13.5 percent for the dailies and 17.3 percent for the Sunday editions since 2001; almost 5 percent just in 2008. In what some are calling the Great Recession, advertising revenue is down – 23 percent over the last two years – even as paper costs are up. Nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone. Foreign bureaus have been shuttered – all those of the Boston Globe, for example, New England’s major paper.”

    In a Danish context, the crisis is perhaps not quite as dramatic – yet? – but nevertheless severe. Look for the latest resume of the discussions at the informal and closed meeting of media-managers by Lasse Jensen in Information.dk (in Danish).

    Your favourite blogger on this site – that being mr. Anders – already made the prediction a couple of weeks ago that 2009 will se the closing down of one of the major Danish newspapers due to some of the structural difficulties, that Todd Gitlin describes in his great piece.

    One important merit of Gitlins approach to the crises is to underscore that it shouldn’t be seen as an economic one alone. It has everything to do with content and coverage as well. Gitlin points to the horrendous coverage of the runup to the Iraq war and the failure to scrutinize the housing bubble as two major failures of institutionalised journalism, which calls for anything but a sole focus on finance when looking at the future of journalism.

    (And hey, should you have the time, today’s second link is the original source of much of Gitlins work: Pew’s The State of the News Media)

    All for now, Rune

     
  • 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.

     
  • Rune 21:28 on May 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Dagens link: Mobile Active 

    Her følger dagens inspirationslink: MobileActive.org er et fint blogger-projekt, der samler og giver overblik over brugen af mobile teknologier til at skabe sociale forandring.

    De har bl.a udgivet en fin rapport i november, der opsummerer brugen af mobilteknologi i borgermedierprojekter – læs den her.

     
  • 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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