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What's the Connection between Power, Development and Social Media?

Duncan Green's picture

I recently gave a talk about ICT and Development at the annual Re:Campaign conference in Berlin, organized by Oxfam Germany. Anyone who knows me will realize that this is a bit odd – despite being a blogaholic, I am actually Rubbish At Technology. In front of 300 trendy, young (sigh) i-thingy wielding activists, I felt like a Neanderthal at a cocktail party. Still, at least the fear of being shamed up finally got me tweeting two weeks before the conference.

I decided to make a virtue of necessity and set out some core processes in development, and then reflected on what ICT does/doesn’t contribute. Why take this approach (apart from being a techno-caveman, that is)? Because there’s too much magic bulletism in development –microfinance, GM crops and now ‘cyber utopianism’. What all of these have in common is that they are too often presented as ‘get out of jail free’ cards, delivering development without all the messy business of politics and struggle. At best, new technologies shift power balances, sometimes favourably, sometimes not, but they don’t replace the process of struggle in development.

Media (R)evolutions: The Change of the Media Landscape

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

 

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Brookings
Communication Technologies: Five Myths and Five Lessons from History

“Mobile phones in the developing world have myriad uses: banking services, reminders for medicine regimens, e-governance, and more. This is a far cry from a generation ago when 99 percent of the people in low-income countries lacked POTS, or “plain old telephone service.”

Information and communications technologies are now indispensible for development, prioritized through varying levels of market-driven measures and participatory politics.  From international organizations to local administrations, the importance given to these technologies for development today is a counterpoint to the immediate post-colonial era when telephones were considered a luxury and nationalized radio broadcasting was used for bringing “modern” ideas to populations. Along with policy changes, the move toward market forms works to ensure that people have phones and access to communication infrastructures, in turn providing incentives for entrepreneurs and political brokers to develop applications for delivery of social services and provide alternatives to users who in an earlier era lacked even basic access to these technologies.”  READ MORE

Addressing the Digital Divide

Tanya Gupta's picture

Perhaps the biggest challenge to harnessing technology for economic development is addressing the digital divide.  How can we do so?  This is a big question and to answer it comprehensively by looking at all the work on this area is beyond the scope of this blog. However let’s look at a few obvious ways of overcoming the digital divide:

(1) Development projects that focus on, and are relevant to the poor.  The Monitoring of Integrated Farm Household Analysis Project (IFHAP) was conducted every five years from 1996 to 2007 in the thirty-three (33) major rice- producing provinces in the Philippines.  The study noted the potential of mobile phones as key tool for information dissemination in agriculture as they are widely owned. In 2007, 90% of the farm households surveyed owned at least one mobile phone.  I agree with the authors of this study that while policy, infrastructure, and digital divide do indeed aid in assessing readiness; a social dimension is also present, which we ignore at our own peril.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mobile Media Toolkit
A Profound Media Shift in the Arab World

“A report from the Center for International Media Assistance analyzes the growth of digital media in the Arab region.

A new report from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) highlights a profound media shift happening in the Arab world. Amidst continued repression and threats to free expression, both online and offline, this year saw tens of millions of individuals and news outlets using social and digital media tools to capture and share events. The full report is available here: Digital Media in the Arab World One Year After the Revolutions.”   READ MORE

Call for Applications: 2012 Summer Institute in Communication and Governance Reform

Johanna Martinsson's picture

The World Bank’s External Affairs Operational Communications Department, the World Bank Institute’s Governance Practice, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California are currently accepting applications for the 2012 Summer Institute in Communication and Governance Reform, to be held from June 16 to 27, 2012, at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

The 12-day course will equip participants with knowledge about the most recent advances in communication and proven techniques in reform implementation. Participants will develop core competencies essential to bringing about real change, leading to development results in a wide range of sectors.  The course seeks to impart critical skills in the following key areas:

Interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Director of "Miss Representation"

Maya Brahmam's picture

At a screening at the World Bank of Miss Representation on March 8, I had the opportunity to interview the film's director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. What struck me during the interview was Newsom's firm commitment to changing how women and girls are portrayed in the mainstream media and her use of social media to instigate a conversation and advocate for change. Newsom also mentions that she wants to build a bridge to men and boys, who are a big part of the solution and talks about an upcoming project aimed at men and boys. Hope the interview provides some insights and provokes discussion.

Maya Brahmam's Interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom

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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Frontline SMS
New Resource: Using SMS as an Effective Behavior Change Campaigning Tool

“Behavior change campaigning is inherently interactive. In order to encourage positive behavior change it is important to not only push campaign messages out to people, but to listen to the responses. To run a campaign which has a real impact, you need to listen to ensure you’re being heard. This is one of the main reasons why SMS – as a widely accessible and inherently interactive communications channel  – is an ideal tool for campaigning.

This is the topic explored in a new resource which FrontlineSMS is releasing with Text to Change today; best practices when using SMS as a behavior change campaigning tool. This resource has been put together collaboratively to provide an introductory guide, suggesting some key points which can usefully be considered if you are planning to use SMS as a campaign tool. The resource is by no means exhaustive, but it outlines some key considerations which can hopefully serve to help guide discussions around best practices in SMS campaigning.” READ MORE

Let's KONYIfy Development through Virtual CDD (KONY 2012, Part 2)

Tanya Gupta's picture

In my last blog, I spoke about how a simple video message about a warlord who lives thousands of miles away from most of the video’s viewers, created by Jason Russell, inspired millions to “make Kony famous”, and end the atrocities of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). 

Many of us development professionals entered the profession with a desire to create a better world.  We knew it would take time and effort but were happy if we knew we made at least a small dent.  With technology, our dreams have suddenly become bigger.  Is it really possible to use technology to amplify development impact?  If anything the KONY 2012 campaign gave all of us believers in the power of technology to do good, something we longed for - HOPE. 

KONY 2012 and Lessons for Development (KONY 2012, Part 1)

Tanya Gupta's picture

Zero to 66 million views on YouTube in just five days (March 5-March 10).  Mostly teenagers and young people. Celebrity tweets from Oprah and others. 

The essence of the campaign: A simple video message about a warlord who lives thousands of miles away from most of the video’s viewers, created by Jason Russell, inspired millions to “make Kony famous”, and end the atrocities of Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Kony and the LRA are allegedly responsible for large scale killings, and rapes of women and children in Uganda, Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. 

There has been some criticism of their efforts: Some victims say it has come too late (Telegraph).  Others ask how are we ever going to awaken to our civil responsibility to demand more from our sitting governments if we are lulled into a dependency state for every civil service we should rightly expect from our governments? (CNN). Some African critics of the Kony campaign see a ‘white man’s burden’ for the Facebook Generation  (New York Times).  

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