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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.

Technology Times
Take social media seriously or lose power, CTO tells African leaders

“August 23, 2011: CEO of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has urged African leaders to take fast-growing social media such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and others seriously or potentially risk losing power.

Since the rise of the internet across the globe, the world’s networked population has grown from millions to billions. Social media have become a fact of life for civil society worldwide, involving many actors, regular citizens, activists, nongovernmental organisations, telecoms firms, software providers and governments, among others. Despite the fast growing influence of social media, its usage has not hit its fullest potential on the continent.” READ MORE

"Voices 2.0" - Revolutionizing Participation within Development Cooperation

Patrick Kalas's picture

“……..I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul” (Invictus by William Ernest Henley)

The genie is out of the bottle. Scanning the news reveals that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones, Internet, Satellite television and social media are having an effect on events in the so-called Arab Spring. The “Facebook Revolution” is becoming a buzzword. Not sure how and why, click here. Does this have any practical significance for our operational activities in projects or programs aiming to increase participation in socio, economic and political change processes? The answer suggested here is Yes. Traditional participation approaches referred to here as “Voices 1.0” are being directly influenced by the witnessed proliferation of ICTs rendering them more interactive “Voices 2.0”. This complimentary shift has direct implications for operational work throughout the project cycle.

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.

Voices from Eurasia
Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block

"Spurred by events in the Arab world and high profile examples like the Indian Ipaidabribe.com, the role of social media to fight corruption and, more broadly, improve governance has been in the spotlight recently (see e.g. the Accountability 2.0 blog). Perhaps the most comprehensive reports we have come across in this area are from the Transparency and Accountability Initiative. Their global mapping report on technology for transparency and the latest piece on the state of the art in transparency, accountability and citizen participation are particularly informative. Ditto for the online tracking tool on technologies for civic engagement.

A recent post from Aleem Walji on the World Bank’s CommGap site, “From egov to wegov” provides a good summary of the key issues at stake:

As Tim O’Reilly famously said, the days of ‘vending machine government’ where citizens pay their taxes and governments solve their problems are gone."
READ MORE

Executive Course in Communication and Governance Reform Kicks Off

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Yesterday CommGAP started on a new endeavor: Yesterday we kicked off our Executive Course in Communication and Governance Reform. Over ten days we're working with our partners to build capacity in communication for governance in Africa and the Middle East. The goal is to enable senior communication experts to support governance reform in their home countries.

Together with our partners from the World Bank Institute, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania we have worked for more than a year to put together a cutting-edge program. In the first three days, we link communication and governance and talk about coalition building and political economy analysis. In seven days dedicated to communication our faculty will discuss strategic communication and how to utilize it for governance reform, media metrics and media research, social media, and organizational change.

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.

CIVICUS
Building bridges: The future of sustainable cooperation between informal online activists and civil society organisations

"NEW forms of information communication technology (ICT) have begun to counter the paradigms of exclusion by empowering the silent, the invisible, the marginalised, the cynical, the passive and the apathetic to engage and act. ICT has transformed advocacy by endowing transnational networks and communities with a greater capacity to research, report, publicise, organise, campaign and develop policy on pertinent issues.

It is clear that there is a gap between professionalised civil society organisations and the constituencies they purport to represent. Currently most traditional civil society organisations use social media as primarily a promotional add-on to their existing work." READ MORE

Quote of the Week: Clay Shirky

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Indeed, the best practical reason to think that social media can help bring political change is that both dissidents and governments think they can.  All over the world, activists believe in the utility of these tools and take steps to use them accordingly.  And the governments they contend with think social media tools are powerful, too, and are willing to harass, arrest, exile, or kill users in response."

-- Clay Shirky. The Political Power of Social Media: Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political ChangeForeign Affairs, January/February 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.

Research for Development
Rethinking African Governance and Development

“This article draws together the main strands of argument being developed by the Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP), as reflected in this IDS Bulletin special issue. The central question is what kinds of governance arrangements work better to support the provision of the public goods that are essential to sustained and inclusive development in Africa. Evidence at local, sectoral and national levels is pointing to the overall conclusion that what works is often a ‘practical hybrid’, combining authoritative coordination with local problem-solving and constructive borrowing from local cultural repertoires. Consistent with the general idea of ‘going with the grain’, we find that the most likely source of the necessary vertical discipline is a developmental form of neo-patrimonialism, not ‘good governance’, as currently conceived. Similarly, local collective action to address bottlenecks in public goods provision is seldom enhanced by standard donor and NGO approaches to citizen or client empowerment.” READ MORE

Yes, The Revolution Will Be Televised. Now What?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

In a media landscape saturated with images of tweeting revolutionaries and blogging dissidents, it's easier than ever to assume a causal relationship between the spread of technology and political revolution. But take a closer look, and the issue begins to look a lot more complex.

An informative and timely new essay by Marc Lynch, an associate professor at George Washington University and prolific commentator on Arab media and political issues, deftly sums up the main arguments, contradictions and knowledge gaps surrounding the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the phenomena collectively referred to as "the Arab Spring." Entitled "After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State," (subscription may be required), the piece implicitly argues for abandoning the usual "optimist/pessimist" trope that plagues such discussions, favoring instead a more nuanced and complex perspective on the impact of ICT in authoritarian states. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, I agree - see this previous post.)

Simulated Realities, Manipulated Perceptions

Caroline Jaine's picture

Twenty years ago, the French philosopher, sociologist and political commentator, Jean Baudrillard wrote an essay entitled “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place”.  Published in French and British Newspapers (Libération and The Guardian), it attracted huge criticism from people like Christopher Norris, who castigated Baudrillard and other postmodern intellectuals for arguing the Gulf conflict was unreal and essentially fictive. Some even labelled Baudrillard “a theoretical terrorist”.  He was not, however, in denial that lives were lost nor that “more explosives were dropped in the two months of the Gulf War than the entire allied air attacks in World War II”. His central issue was one of interpretation and the presentation of the facts through a media lens – his concern was whether these events could be called a war.

How Scalable Web 2.0 is Changing the World of Disaster Management

Tanya Gupta's picture

Disaster management 2.0: scalable human connections fired by high technology

Scalability, virtual communities and Web 2.0 have changed the world of disaster response.  The most successful and disruptive inventions of modern times owe much of their success to scalability.  Although people always had the ability to read books, it was only with the invention of the printing press that it became possible for millions of people to do so.  Web 2.0 and social media make the ability to connect with people scalable.  Scalable human connections combined with open source software and platforms, and unprecedented computing power, results in human-machine synergy also being scaled up. This human-machine synergy results in disruptive technology innovations.  Such disruptive innovations have most recently been seen in the area of humanitarian support to disaster and conflict affected countries.  USB drives were an innovation that disrupted the market for floppy disks.  Although they are not likely to go the way of the floppy disk, the world of traditional disaster relief organizations with proprietary systems, closed data sets and bureaucracy have been up-ended by the disruptive human-machine synergies of Web 2.0 and crowd-sourced humanitarian volunteer organizations.

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