Anyone following the twitter hashtag #SudanRevolts in recent days must be stunned by the shocking lack of coverage in the mainstream media. The protests have been escalating since June 17 when female students at the University of Khartoum began demonstrating against the regime's austerity measures, which are increasing the prices of basic commodities and removing fuel subsidies. The dissent has quickly spread…
Archive for the ‘Conflict mapping’ Category
Tags: #SudanRevolution, crisis mapping, ICT, Sudan
I was just in Kenya working on the next phase of the PeaceTXT project with my colleague Rachel Brown from Sisi ni Amani. I'm finally getting to implement an approach to conflict early warning and early response that I have been advocating for since 2006. I came close in 2008 whilst working on a conflict early and response project in Timor-Leste.
Media and Communications in peacebuilding
Avoiding the Digital Divide Hype in Using Mobile Phones for Development To all of you digital divide warriors out there – nice work. With over 483 million mobile phone subscriptions in low-income countries – an estimated 44.9% penetration rate, few will deny the success of your efforts to expand mobile technology in the developing world. Rapid mobile growth rates further exhibit success in dissemination, and stats such as, “There are more mobile phones than toilets in India,“ and “There are more mobile phones than light bulbs in Uganda,” make us smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. While it’s true that, in most cases, these numbers exhibit stimulation in local economies, there are some fuzzy lines when it comes to determining what these numbers mean in terms of mobile phone access and development. The data shows that mobile technology is expanding, but does this necessarily mean that access to technology is coinciding with the expansion? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is somewhat blurred. UNDP’s report, Mobile Technologies and Empowerment, attempts to thoroughly and accurately depict the current contexts of mobile technologies in the developing world and then goes on to recount and suggest effective means for applying them to promote sustainable development. Practitioners can throw out all sorts of promising data about mobile phone subscriptions, but the fact is that these numbers do not equate to mobile phone ownership. In fact, according to the report, only 10% of the population in the world’s least developed countries has an individual mobile phone subscription, and 40% of the population in these countries is not even covered by mobile phone networks. Why is ownership so much lower than penetration? The report goes on to point out that costs for mobile technology ownership in the least developed countries remain high, potentially amounting to 15.75% of monthly average per capita income. In such cases, “mobile phones [can] actually undermine development if they only create further expenses for poor people.” While the poorest individuals in a country may not be able to afford a mobile phone, others may have more than one subscription, boosting penetration percentages. Access to mobile phones becomes even blurrier when considering that an estimated 80-90% of the people in these countries can access a cell phone within their community regardless of financial status. I hope that this doom and gloom spiel on the current standings of mobile technology didn’t dampen your spirits too much. Knowing where we stand in terms of mobile technology penetration is pivotal to successful M4D initiative development. Now that we’ve clarified the context of mobile penetration, it is possible to highlight some considerations for mobiles in development. 1) Like it or not, the digital divide still exists. Don’t ignore it. With relatively few individuals in developing countries actually in possession of a personal mobile device, expansive development initiatives need to avoid the expectation of ownership. The report asserts: Given the still relatively high cost of mobile phones and services in developing countries, specially in the LDCs, projects targeting broad development goals such as democratic governance, health, education, and justice, for instance, should not fall in to the “digital divide” trap and emphasize ownership of devices. 2) A mobile in the hand is worth nothing without effective means for use in the bush. By themselves, mobiles do not have the power to alleviate poverty. They should therefore always be part of larger development programs that address broad development goals. Getting phones in the hands of individuals is meaningless if the users do not understand the ways in which they can be leveraged. The point here is that mobile phones alone are not a solution to any problem, but, with well-developed planning, they can be effective tools for solving a problem. UNDP’s report describes numerous instances where mobile technology was effectively used as a tool for addressing a broad development goal within the context of the developing world. The advantages that mobile technologies can provide over other ICTs in developing countries are irrefutable. They’re less expensive. They enable two-way conversation. They don’t require high literacy. The list goes on. There’s no question that mobiles can play a significant role in the developing world, but their implementation requires consideration of concrete contexts and plans for sustainable goal achievement. UNDP’s report describes these contexts and provides considerations for implementing mobile technology in order to empower people in developing countries.
Tags: bloggers, conflict mapping, crisis mapping, global mulilateral organizations, mapping, Mexico, News, security, twitter
Media and Communications in peacebuilding
A must read! Desperate Plea for Help from Mexico: Bloggers lives are threatened by drug cartels.
Tamaulipas, Mexico November 09, 2011
To the international community, users of social media, bloggers of the world, communications media, and global multilateral organizations:
We, the Twitterers and bloggers of Northeastern Mexico release this manifesto in response to the murder of our companion on November 9, 2011 in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. We repudiate and condemn this criminal act that has provoked a state of terror. We demand justice in the face of the national silence this terror has imposed, and the state of amnesia and impunity it portends.
This murder is the fourth threat against bloggers that has occurred in less than two months. The first two occurred on September 13th and involved a couple whose bodies were hung from a pedestrian overpass, and who were accused of posting denunciations against organized crime on social media. The third murder occurred on September 25th, when a female journalist was decapitated and left in a public area with a message threatening social media users denouncing Mexican traffickers of death.
The absence of information that derives from the silence of local newspapers and media and municipal authorities at all levels, as well as the constant abuses and violations of human rights by police forces, has led many citizens to inform themselves and take precautions thru the use of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), chats and citizen’s blogs. These new forms of communication differ greatly from the diversity and freedom of expression enjoyed in other countries. In Northeastern Mexico this new social media has evolved into a form of self defense, conducted by citizens to broadcast and denounce violent acts resulting from the conflict between diverse groups of criminals and diverse national institutions in charge of our security.
In this context we want to make evident that:
1. The climate of violence, censorship and abuses by the authorities continue in the northeast border zone of our country, in locations such as Reynosa, Laredo, Matamoros and Mier, and there exists a high risk of death for every resident citizen in these parts of the Mexican nation.
2. This so called war, launched in 2006, has failed to stop the wave of violence that is shattering our nation.
3. The deployment of the military in these zones is evidence that the various police forces in Mexico have been unable to control these “zones of conflict”.
4. It is clear there is no intelligence mechanism, strategy or political support to wage this fight. At least, not through the direct use of the military for providing security and combating drug trafficking activity.
5. That the communications media (local, state and national) have been silenced in the face of both diverse interests and horrific threats from criminal groups.
6. That a justice system does not exist that can offer the ability to interact with the justice system in a safe, simple and appropriate manner to generate the necessary investigations, to expose the crimes that are committed and to bring the perpetrators to justice in a court of law. The guilty must be sentenced to obtain justice for the victims.
7. That, ultimately, we are unprotected in the face of these atrocities. This war has now cost the lives of victims in cyberspace, which is our domain.
The fight for territorial control of the border zone is also waged in a new battleground: the internet and its social media. The criminal groups attempt to restrain our voice that speaks out through the invasion of our accounts and servers, to kidnap us and carry out criminal atrocities or to make direct threats against our companions. This constitutes a flagrant threat against the only freedom left to us, now that the local, state and federal governments are indifferent to our demands, and without even bothering to verify they ignore the facts that we report on our social networks. In summary, we have been abandoned to our fate in this unequal fight of free citizens against the drug traffickers.
We need security for ourselves, our families and honest working society in general. Therefore, we ask from each of you:
1. Your full solidarity with the Mexican people that at this moment is immersed in chaos, violence without limits and violations of the most elemental human rights, as pointed out by Human Rights Watch in its special report released on this same day.
2. That you demand from the Mexican Government investigations to solve the contemptible murders of our fellow social media users and the threats imposed, as this violates freedom of expression and the free use of social media.
3. That the Mexican press demand from the national government guarantees of freedom of information, expression and the press, especially now that crime, violence and corruption are putting an end to not only journalism, but also our journalists and critical thought.
4. That cyber security be addressed so that our citizens can freely express themselves on social networks and online communication media.
5. That a commission composed of the media (news agencies, journalists) and non governmental institutions be formed that can function as international observers to guarantee access to the internet and the security of users.
6. Do not abandon us, we need you now more than ever. We have opened an e-mail account to allow you to communicate with us directly: Twitterermanifesto@gmail.com
Recently one of the tweeps I follow: @absology tweeted: “Wikileaks stole my tweet, twice! They call it crowdsourcing, I call it plagiarism.” (I am quoting him so as to not be accused of the same!) So here is wikileaks self proclaimed initiator of the Arab Spring, a group run by Assuage who is widely known as a EGOmaniac…functioning with the currency that means the most to him “social capital” That is getting credit for putting fire under the feet of HEGEMONIC powers that be, retweeting a average joe and not quoting @absology. Even when @absology tweets about it, they say “its CROWDSOURCING man, dont you care about the greater good we are doing?” (ok here i am not quoting just imagining)
However absurd this seems it does bring up some ethical issues to crowdsourcing, that is: who gets the credit, respect or $ when it comes down to producing results. This is the same question many in the indigenous communities were asking the plethora of “researchers” that came to there native and exotic shores to study, or rather dissect a people for their own gain- that is researching credit, publishing etc. while crowdsourcing is different as participants willfully post their information via twitter or text (or many other social networking ways), the question is who decides how to use that information? Is it a free for all when it is posted or sent? or is it the intellectual property of the sender? Perhaps this is a question better put to huge advertising companies or google+ about there methods of “getting to know the customer” but I ask conflict practitioners, development workers or those that want to use transmedia storytelling for good what are we doing to insure that the dignity of those that are part of the collective intelligence or a project or the participatory culture of a society intact?