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In 1994, Kevin Keith was convicted of murdering two adult women and a four-year-old girl and wounding a man and two children. Yet substantial evidence, raised at the trial and during appeals, suggested that Mr. Keith did not commit the crime. Four witnesses corroborated Mr. Keith’s alibi, while the photo lineup and subsequent statements in which surviving victims identified Mr. Keith were shown to be deeply flawed.
Yet for more than 16 years, Kevin Keith sat on death row awaiting execution. Keith’s supporters had for years done what they could to disseminate the evidence about Keith’s innocence, but they simply couldn’t reach enough people. A petition asking the governor of Ohio, the state where Keith was imprisoned, to grant him clemency had been created, but signatures were being added slowly and were in short supply.
How could activists working on Keith's behalf gather a critical mass of signatures? One successful tactic lay in targeting a Twitter user with a large and engaged audience, but could this have worked if Keith's advocates hadn't met the social media "whale" in person, at a conference? And how can we know if the growing number of signatures on the petition actually had anything to do with the governor's decision to grant Keith clemency? Read the case study to find out more.
Corruption in India has roots that are as deep and entrenched as they are wide-reaching. From governance and elections to the provision of basic services, they touch nearly all aspects of Indian society. So what if a platform, teamed with local NGOs, could successfully connect citizen reports of misconduct to people with the time and resources to address it?
Kiirti is a "technology platform to enable collection and aggregation of governance issues through phone, sms, email and the web. It provides tools to track the issues and, where applicable, forward them to the right authorities for resolution." The Indian organization is similar to SeeClickFix, founded on the East Coast of the U.S., which lets "citizens help themselves" by pointing to problems in their community and then communicating with public officials and other citizens to find solutions to these problems. While the SeeClickFix platform is technically global, try entering any city in India (let alone a rural town) and you won't find many reports. That's where Kiirti and the anti-corruption NGO 5th Pillar have a leg up.
Editor's Note: The U.S.State Department* has convened a two day long event as part of its Tech@State initiative and we'll be posting summaries of the individual talks at Movements.org. Are you at the event? Get in touch to share a blog post.
Today, the U.S. State Department* held its third Tech@State event focusing on a program that they call "Civil Society 2.0." The goal of this initiative is “to assist non-governmental (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) in using new digital tools and technologies to increase the reach and impact of their work.” Today’s event was the first in a series of convenings that State will be holding to bring together technologists, CSOs, and those who interface between the two groups. Participants hope to learn more about the challenges CSOs face and how the tech community can help. Here are some highlights of thoughts shared and points made by this morning's speakers, including Alec Ross of the Office of the Secretary of State, Brian Gallagher of United Way, Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, and Beth Kanter, co-author of The "Networked Nonprofit."
“There is very little trust in Latvia's institutions right now, so anyone who can expose the system is going to be a hero,” said Latvian political commentator Juris Kaza last spring. This was the case with the pseudonymous “Neo,” who uncovered a loophole in a government website that exposed the inflated salaries of bosses at state-run companies.
The climate was ripe for a public outcry. Latvia was hit hard by 2008’s global financial crisis. With unemployment rates increasing from 9 percent to 23 percent in one year, they were the highest in the European Union. As economist Paul Krugman wrote:
“The most acute problems are on Europe’s periphery, where many smaller economies are experiencing crises strongly reminiscent of past crises in Latin America and Asia: Latvia is the new Argentina; Ukraine is the new Indonesia.”
Enter Neo and the “Fourth Awakening Peoples’ army,” who uncovered proof that officials were harboring treasure troves padded by excessive bonuses instead of taking the salary cuts that they had promised the public they would. Neo made this data public by pulling it from the State Revenue Service website, re-presenting it so that it would be easy to read and understand what the information meant, and sending out links to his own presentations of the data via Twitter.
Neo quickly earned what the BBC called “cult status,” but a year since the information got out, are Latvians still mad? Has anyone been held accountable?
The digital activism daily is a round up of interesting stories related to technology, protest, activism and social entrepreneurship. In today's post, Turkey goes back on its decision to unban YouTube; another FailFare event is a success; and Facebook wants to be your "one true mobile platform." Want to point something out? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet it to @aym.
The new HarassMap project that hopes to crowdsource reports of sexual harassment in Egypt has received much media attention lately. The idea for creating a platform to crowdsource reports of sexual harassment and the desire to bring sexual harassment to the forefront of conversations has, however, been in the works for a number of years.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with Rebecca Chiao, one of the lead organizers behind the HarassMap initiative, about the origins of the initiative, and her team's plans to ensure its success.
The digital activism daily is a round up of interesting stories related to technology, protest, activism and social entrepreneurship. In today's post, Foursquare generates a lot of buzz for melding online activities (checking in, commenting on other peoples' activities) to offline action (namely, voting); the Omidyar Network has partnered with Hivos to support the first African fund for technology and government accountability in Africa; and Alexis Madrigal on how a Ugandan rebel group uses tech. Want to point something out? Send a note to email@example.com or Tweet it to @aym.
How is social media influencing - and transforming - the election process today in the U.S.?
The obvious challenge of engaging a large amount of young people with a social issue lies in in grabbing their attentions.
That’s why Yo Propongo stands out. Their initiative to sweep the Mexican capital's universities for realistic solutions to social ills grew out of an online nightlife guide, into a platform for youth to propose real solutions to a series of social problems. Yo Propongo began 6 months ago when it announced that the first social problem at hand would be drunk driving, and today is the last day to suggest proposals. How succesful will they be in getting policymakers and experts in the capital to listen to, and act on, the large quantity of suggestions that have been offered up by Mexican university students?
The number of internet users in Vietnam grows daily as more individuals gain access to the web. At the same time, the Communist Party of Vietnam has stepped up its efforts to squash online dissent and suppress the voices of citizens sharing their views on hot button issues like bauxite mining and territorial disputes with China. Dozens of activists and bloggers have been harassed and arrested. In this report, learn more about how the state is trying to control online content, how netizens are reacting, and what the future holds for digital activists in Vietnam.