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Information and Communication Technologies

Girls Invent Social Network for Farmers in 48 hours

Sabina Panth's picture

The AkiraChix, an-all girls’ team, was declared a winner of the recently held IPO48 software development competition in Kenya.  The IPO48 initiative brought together 100 participants from all over the country to pitch their ideas, question business models, form teams and create 17 prototypes and products which, by the end of 48 hours, were ready for the market (Afrinnovator).  The winning girls came up with an innovative M-Farm, a mobile-based marketplace that is targeted to small-scale farmers to increase their agriculture productivity.

One Year Later: ICT Lessons from the Haiti Earthquake

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

One year after the Haiti earthquake, the disaster response/development community is in a reflective mood. And well we should be: despite a massive cash influx in the wake of the disaster, the ongoing daily struggle for existence for many Haitians does not reflect well on the international community's attention span, coordination capabilities, and ability to respond in a sustained fashion to challenging and shifting local conditions. We can and should do better.

Pink Panties in the Mail

Sabina Panth's picture


The other day, I received a Facebook invitation to join a global network on ‘16-days of activism against gender-based violence’.  According to the description, the campaign has been helping to raise awareness about gender violence and its effect on women on a global-scale. The Facebook forum is intended for individuals and organizations championing the cause to share the achievements and challenges they have encountered toward building a global alliance.  The global alliance is intended to support the demands made to the states and institutions and the actions that are needed to pressure for better results.  Incidentally, I wrote my previous blog post on the increased use of social media in civilian-led activism and advocacy campaigns.  My membership to this new social networking site made me interested to learn more about how social media is helping to promote the cause of women’s issues worldwide.  Here are some of the examples I have collected, primarily from the Tactical Technology website.

From the Global Public Sphere

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

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

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA):
By the People: The Rise of Citizen Journalism

"CIMA is pleased to release a new report, By the People: The Rise of Citizen Journalism, by Eugene Meyer, a veteran journalist. Citizen journalism is seen by some as an antidote to the widening gap in societies where traditional news media—print and broadcast—are in decline. Yet in societies that could benefit most from these developing forms of news reporting, repressive regimes are working to suppress freedom of the press, whether in the traditional mainstream media or in the brave new world of citizen journalism. This report examines both the challenges and opportunities facing citizen journalism around the world."

It’s Our Money

Sabina Panth's picture

It has been argued that corruption cases are focused mostly on the offenders and retribution is calculated on material value. This leaves out the victims of corruption and the collective damage done to the society at large, especially when the malfeasance involves the misappropriation of public money.  The concept of ‘social damage’ is an emerging concept in the anti-corruption movement, which seeks to identify, quantify, and repair the impact and consequences of corruption on ordinary citizens.  It posits that citizens, as taxpayers, are entitled to a legal claim on public money and how it is spent because “every dollar lost in corruption is a dollar stolen from spending in education, social services, poverty reduction and job creation (Its Our Money)”.

Media Literacy in the Digital Age

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

A new report out from the Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy makes the case for emphasis on media literacy in the digital age. Entitled Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, the report by Renee Hobbs focuses on media literacy in the U.S., but some of its points struck me as potentially applicable in other parts of the world as well. Hobbs isolates several digital and media literacy skills that are necessary to take part in civic life in an information-saturated society (all of these are taken directly from her report):

Bantay Kurapsyon

Sabina Panth's picture

“Research on political participation has identified a number of deep-seated norms and values that are positively associated with the amount and quality of democratic engagement,” explains Delli Carpini, in the Handbook of Political Communication Research.  “One of the most central of these,” as Carpini points out, “is political efficacy, or the sense that one’s participation can actually make a difference (internal efficacy) and that the political system would be responsive to this participation (external efficacy).”  As I read this quote, I am reminded of a case in point that perfectly illustrates this theoretical concept.  

Something for Nothing?

Sabina Panth's picture

My blog posts have been highlighting the significance of empowered citizens and active civil society in driving development efforts.  But in doing so, have I been focusing solely on the voluntary spirit and good-will of the ordinary citizens? If so, is it practical to expect that the momentum will persist long enough to give the continuity and dedication required to realize the undertaking?   There is also a reoccurring theme in my blog posts about aid dependency and the project-based ethos of civil society organizations. Given the scenario, it is difficult to assess the strength and spirit of ‘naturally grown’ vs. ‘project instigated’ community activism.  As it is, community members are hard pressed to make ends meet and can barely afford to partake in community activities. And even when they do, their voluntary contribution is often directly proportional to their incentives. 

Elephants on the Autobahn?

Tanya Gupta's picture

When it comes to use of social media in development, development institutions remind me of lumbering elephants walking down the autobahn.  In any other sphere, development organizations would not be at such a disadvantage.  We have been building roads for ever.  There has not been any fundamental change in the technology of building roads.  Development organizations learnt slowly but well about development challenges in various sectors and are now legitimate experts in these areas.  All the same the title of “knowledge institutions” is a bit hard to swallow.  The reason, probably somewhat unfair, is that knowledge today, for most people is intimately tied to technology, social media too is viewed as a medium for knowledge, much like the network of roads and highways are a medium for commerce.  
 

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