Yesterday I spent my lunchtime at the Center for International Media Assistance's event on Media Development and Aid Effectiveness. This event celebrated the release of a new report, 'Rethinking Media Development,' which drew some conclusions from the ongoing Media Mapping Project. Many of these conclusions were reflected in the panel discusssion. Sina Odugbemi from the World Bank moderated a panel including Daniel Kaufmann (Brookings Institute), Mark Nelson (World Bank Institute), and Tara Susman-Pena (Internews). While 'aid effectiveness' took a backseat during much of the discussion, the panelists engaged in an interesting dicussion on the relationship media development has to media freedom and the development ecosystem as a whole. While there were many great takeaways from all the panelists, here are some of the most important:
While a good amount of research has been done on the relationship between media and development, this research has not been well applied to policy or practice. The "preponderance of evidence" supports the link between the media sector and economic development and governance, but this link is not entirely understood. This lack of understanding means the research hasn't been well applied to media development projects and policies.
Media development needs to be incorporated into an overall development strategy. It is equally important to incorporate national leadership and ownership of media projects, grounding media development in the culture and politics of the country.
Innovation is, according to Bill Gates, the "key to improving the world." Innovative technology is making its mark in the developing world, garnering the attention of both the public and private sectors. Companies like Nokia, Microsoft, and Google have led the trend of "reverse innovation," designing technologies especially for emerging markets. More direct, people-led innovation is occuring in Innovation Hubs all around Africa. These tech hubs, which provide space for collaboration and innovation, should continue to grow in 2012 and beyond. Last year, we all marveled at the ingenious mobile phone system created by the rebels in Libya - further raising confidence in the innovative minds of North Africa. But this week has helped bring awareness to innovation in a seemingly unlikely place - Afghanistan. READ MORE »
A new collaborative documentary project, 18 Days in Egypt, will tell the story of last years Egyptian Revolution through the experiences of citizens on the ground using their videos, tweets, and testimony.
Internet Freedom has been a hot topic recently. At the Freedom Online Conference last week, discussion focused on the roles different actors have in promoting and protecting human rights online. In Congress, SOPA and PIPA have stirred the debate about freedoms online within the United States. And now, there's a new bill on the block.
The Global Online Freedom Act, also known as GOFA, introduced in the House by Representative Chris Smith, specifically addresses the relationship private companies have to security and freedoms online. Originally introduced a few years ago, recent events have brought new life into this initiative. The bill aims at preventing repressive governments from transforming the Internet into a tool of censorship and surveillance by encouraging greater transparency and accountability in the US Internet security sector. While these monitoring and surveillance technologies have legitimate uses assisting law enforcement and protecting citizens, repressive regimes around the world apply technology developed by American companies to stifle freedom of speech and expression, as well as to quell dissent. Many companies do not have policies for dealing with the recent proliferation of cyber-repression, so this bill looks to give government guidance on these issues. READ MORE »
Digital security has become a part of everyday life. We all know about computer viruses, email scams and Facebook privacy settings and how they can run amok with our information. But for those who use these channels to advocate for democracy, digital security goes beyond protecting our embarrassing photos and banks accounts. It can serve as a connection to the outside world and a line of defense against harassment and arrest faced by activists around the world.
But security goes beyond anti-virus software, encryption and circumvention measures. Security has to be part of a complete solution, where tools are only part of the process. And each solution will be unique. Some of the steps and tools for tailoring a custom security solution I've found in my time at NDITech are: READ MORE »
The resulting report focused on the importance of 'informed communities,' which are able to fully participate in a democratic society. However, the information needs of Americans are unequally met, limiting the ability of some citizens to participating fully in government. The report presents three main ways to ensure communities are informed: maximizing available information, strengthening the capacity to engage with information, and providing opportunities for greater participation. Relevant information helps communities gather, contextualize and share information important to them. Providing tools and skills gives these communities the ability to utilize this information. Beyond this, opportunities must be present for participation in the governance systems. READ MORE »
Earlier this year, my fellow intern wrote about Social Network Analysis and how it can be used to study the connections that make up the social fabric of networks. Understanding these connections can help strengthen information flows, improve communication and build partnerships. Visualizing such connections can create interesting and beautiful images that are powerful illustrations of the reach of social networks. Moreover, these images can provide a better understanding of how we can leverage social networks to improve civic engagement.
While demonstrations (like this video of how Google+ posts are shared) are simply cool, they also show how online social tools actively spread information. Similarly, this video shows an augmented reality simulation of Facebook friendships at work. These videos help show how connections develop and evolve over time. Such demonstrations can deepen our understanding of how we influence other people, and how that influence is spread throughout a network. READ MORE »
Radio often seems like a lost art. Enthusiasm for mobile technologies and online resources overshadows more traditional, low-tech broadcasting methods. But by no means has radio been left behind. Community radio stations around the world are using new technologies to enhance their broadcasts so listeners can have more control over the programs, engage more fully with the content, and work towards fulfilling community information needs. Listener outreach and participation help radio broadcasting stay relevant, connect listeners to a broader information network, and provide a platform for community discourse.
After radio, mobile phones are one of the most prevalent technologies in the developing world. SMS provides radio stations a direct link with listeners, allowing for feedback and discussion. Frontline SMS has developed a tool to help community stations better facilitate dynamic interactions using text messaging. Kibera-based Pamoja FM is one example of the Frontline SMS tool in action. Pamoja FM promotes a peaceful society and empowers the youth of Nairobi’s slums by providing an outlet for discussion among a disenfranchised group. READ MORE »
Twenty-Eleven has been a year of social media. From the Arab Spring to the London Riots and now even the Wall Street protests, this year's unfolding events have sparked discussion about the impact of social technology in our world. Understanding the connections between social change and social media has become a priority for activists, organizations, and governments alike. But the story isn’t straightforward.
The discourse around Twitter and Facebook has become more critical as experts, news stories, and even humor websites have started questioning the influence of such tools. A recent Washington Post article challenged five common misconceptions about social media. This article raises interesting points about who’s actually using these tools, how governments are reacting to them and what they are actually accomplishing. READ MORE »