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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.

The National Press Club
Freedom of the Press panel explores 'Arab Spring' aftermath

"The revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa have brought the promise of more open and accountable governments and societies but that outlook has dimmed, as autocratic regimes in the region have responded to the so-called “Arab Spring” by clamping down hard on reporters and citizens communicating on the web, a panel of experts said a National Press Club Freedom of the Press event Feb. 14.

“Wait a few more years before you call it ‘spring,’” said a skeptical Abderrahim Foukara, Washington bureau chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, one of the panelists.

As regimes have felt threatened by their own people’s demands, their security personnel have beaten, detained, spied on and even killed reporters. They have blocked communications via phone, satellite TV and the Internet. They have conducted surveillance of the computer activities of reporters and citizens alike."  READ MORE

Quote of the Week: Clay Shirky

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Disciplined and coordinated groups, whether businesses or governments, have always had an advantage over undisciplined ones: they have an easier time engaging in collective action because they have an orderly way of directing the action of their members. Social media can compensate for the disadvantages of undisciplined groups by reducing the costs of coordination."

Clay Shirky

Associate Arts Professor at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and Distinguished Writer in Residence in the Journalism Department, New York University

Quoted in Foreign Affairs article, The Political Power of Social Media, Jan/Feb 2011

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.

One
The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance – you better take it seriously!

“In three weeks, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance will enter into force. The Charter was adopted by the African Union (AU) five years ago. Now that fifteen member states have ratified it, the Charter becomes legally binding and operational. Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Cameroon were the 13th, 14thand 15th countries to ratify the Charter. Why should we bother about this document? A Charter that was ratified in majority by countries that don’t lead by example in terms of good governance; a Charter that might be just another paper tiger without any teeths; one of a range of legal documents that don’t change anything about the real lives of African citizens?

Not quite.

The African Charter actually doesn’t contain many new elements. But, much more important, it summarizes and reconfirms existing African engagements on good governance that the continent’s leaders have taken over the last thirty years or so. And the Charter takes them a step further, in operationalizing their implementation. So instead of adding to the pile, it tries to rationalize the African good governance architecture and improve its translation into reality.” READ MORE

Nothing New Under the Sun? Social Media, the Arab Spring, and the Reformation Era

Uwimana Basaninyenzi's picture

A few weeks ago, the Economist provided an interesting take on social media, the Arab Spring, and the Reformation era. The article, How Luther Went Viral, claims that centuries before Facebook and the Arab Spring, social media helped bring about the Reformation era.  Led by Martin Luther, the Reformation was a period of religious revolt that led to the division of Western Christianity and the start of Protestantism. The developments of this period were propelled by the advent of the printing press, which the article describes in rich detail. But it begins by making an interesting claim about how Luther and his allies promoted the message of religious reform with the social media of their day—pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts. So basically, the central argument of the piece states that what happened in the Arab Spring is what happened in the Reformation era: a new form of media provided the opponents of an authoritarian regime an opportunity to voice their concerns, affirm their discontent, and mobilize their actions.

#2: Activism versus Advocacy

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on February 8, 2011

In recent weeks, we have seen how citizens in several countries have taken to the streets in great masses to demand change. While real change is yet to be seen, it’s most certain that things will never be the same. In thinking about activism in the public sphere, and what methods are most effective in bringing about social and political change, the University of British Columbia recently hosted an interesting seminar, entitled “Advocate or Activist: What is the best way to effect change?”  The panel included: Stephen Toope, UBC President; Jacqueline Kennelly, Assistant Professor, Carleton University Department of Sociology and Anthropology; and Ronald Deibert, Associate Professor, University of Toronto Department of Political Science. They raised a number of interesting points, which I will try to capture in this post.  Here’s also a link to the podcast.

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.

Space for Transparency
Latin American Elections: How to Use Social Media to Promote Transparency

“Several presidential, regional and municipal elections were held between October and November in Latin America: In Argentina, Cristina Kirchner won by an overwhelming majority; in Guatemala, for the first time after the dictatorship a former member of the military was elected; in Nicaragua, Ortega was re-elected amid accusations of irregularities; and in Colombia, voters endorsed the position of President Santos.

As part of these electoral processes, TI chapters have implemented various strategies based on the use of new technologies and social media to engage citizens and ensure fairness and greater transparency of campaigns and elections.In Argentina, Poder Ciudadano waged the campaign Quién te Banca (Who is supporting you?) to provide information to citizens on election campaign spending, such as how much funding is received by candidates, the origin of the funds, etc. Citizens were asked to send photos of election campaign posters via sms, Twitter or Facebook. Poder Ciudadano processed the data received and submitted requests for information regarding the origin and allocation of the funds.”  READ MORE

#5: The UN E-Government Survey: Towards a More Citizen-Centric Approach

Tanya Gupta's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on January 10, 2011

Last year South Korea ranked first in global e-government ranking among all the countries in the world according to the United Nations E-Government  Survey 2010, with the US in second place.  The UN E-Government Survey provides a bi-annual assessment of national online services, telecommunication infrastructure and human capital of 192 Member States. 

  • Is South Korea’s government really making the best use of ICT for governance? 
  • Does it even make sense to measure the “level” of e-government development in a country and is it possible to do so?  
  • Are rankings preferred to “best practice cases”?  
  • Do the rankings include aspects of MDG priorities such as e-inclusion (gender equality)?  
  • Do they measure usage of technologies such as mobile technology and social media?  
     

#8: Media and Policy Makers Need to Connect to Online "Influentials"

Susan Moeller's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on September 6, 2011

Most of those who have been riveted to the breaking news in North Africa and the Middle East during the so-called “Arab Spring” and the recent grimmer months this summer have been focused on predicting the actions of the various heads of state—of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar Assad.  But many academics have been trying to figure out who have been the prime movers of the grassroots unrest sweeping the region. 

#10: Placing a Value on Social Media

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Orginally published on January 19, 2011

Lately, there has been a great deal of debate about the $500 million investment by financial giant, Goldman Sachs, and a Russian investor in the social networking site Facebook.  Sachs justified their investment by saying the company is worth $50 billion dollars.  Many financial analysts think this high dollar amount is ludicrous and unjustifiable because Facebook has not yet generated a great deal of profit.  However, the question many people are debating, and have been debating for some time, is: what is the true value of social media?

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.

One
Citizens and civil society tell governments: Make budgets public now!

Last Friday in Tanzania, nearly 100 civil society groups and 12 international organizations, including the International Budget Partnership, Greenpeace and ONE, launched a global effort to make public budgets transparent, participatory and accountable. Budgets are the most critical tool that governments have to address problems like poverty, provide critical services like education and health care, and invest in their country’s future. When the political speeches end, it is how governments actually manage funds to meet their promises and priorities that matters.

The Civil Society Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation envisions public finance systems that make all budget information easily accessible, provide meaningful opportunities for citizens and civil society to participate in budget decisions and oversight throughout the process, and include strong institutions to hold governments accountable for how they raise and spend the public’s money.  READ MORE

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