The Blog — Technology and Social Movements
Social movements and campaigns for social change that harness new technologies, like the internet and mobile phones.
From Flickr user ucloccupation Networked Protests in the UK: How Old and New Tactics are Being Used to Fight Rising Tuition Fees
In spite of frigid temperatures, students in the United Kingdom have taken to the streets to protest against increases in tuition fees and cuts to higher education. Their concerns about the future of education are being voiced both online and offline, using a mix of traditional protest tactics and digital activism to get their message heard.
There is no central figure or group directing these protests; rather students have turned to social media outlets to share concerns and coordinate actions. As the BBC writes, "This DIY radicalism has its own news channels, on Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and blogs, leaving the traditional news organisations and political commentators looking in from the outside."
It was announced yesterday that Parliament will be voting on the fee increase on December 9, giving students one week to take a stand - can they get around police attempts to contain them and make a dent on Parliament's decision? Here’s a roundup of the various tools and tactics being used by students, organizations and concerned citizens.
Tunisia has one of the most well-developed telecommunications markets in Africa, relatively low broadband prices, and one of the fastest internet connection speeds on the continent. At the same time, the country is known for its pervasive internet monitoring and filtering, which threatens the work of activists and community organizers. What are Tunisian netizens doing to protest the government's policies and actions?
The location is appropriate: Latin America is sometimes called a laboratory for democracy, and Chile is in many ways representative of this. The current president, Sebastian Pinera, is the first conservative to win an election since 1958 - in between then and now the country has seen a coup and 16 years of dictatorship - and January's democratic turnover of parties was seen by many as signaling the end of Chile’s drawn-out transition away from dictatorship into a fully consolidated democracy. Both events are likely to be chock full of people from Chile's growing civil society sector.
The two day long PDF conference will be organized according to 5 main buckets: political mobilization, transparency, how new technologies can influence economic development, the new public sphere, and examples of projects that are employing new technologies to address concerns at a local level. It'll bring together activists, NGOs and tech experts from around the region, as well as 16 promising young people attending on Google scholarships for a series of panels and breakout sessions that will hopefully lead to some fruitful collaborations.
Immediately following PDF is Tech@State and the kick-off of Civil Society 2.0, an "initiative to create a self-sustaining movement to connect social good organizations with technology based tools and volunteers to help raise digital literacy and increase their impact in the 21st century." Here activists and tech experts will present their projects and breakout into smaller conversations covering everything from civic engagement to climate change to disaster response.
Last week, 19-year-old Ahmed Shabaan was allegedly beaten to death by police at the Sidi Gaber police station in Alexandria, Egypt, the same station implicated in the death of Khaled Said last June. Shabaan and a friend were arrested on November 7 after an argument when he refused to be searched by police agents at a checkpoint. His body was found in the Mahmoudia Canal a few day later. Video interviews with Shabaan's family have been spreading around the internet, and new details about Shabaan's death has sparked outrage from Egyptians against police brutality.
Yesterday Facebook announced plans to step up its rivalry with Google by enhancing its messaging service. The new product is about efforts to compete with rivals, but are Facebook engineers also eyeing the social implications of their work? With new groups, friendship pages, and now a messaging center, is Facebook making a concerted effort to foster stronger relationships among its users, and what does this mean for activism?
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."
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 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.
From Flickr user The Advocacy Project Nick Kristof Explores Do-It-Yourself Foreign Aid: What Did He Miss?
New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof wrote a lengthy piece for the Sunday magazine about passionate, determined individuals who are "chipping away at global challenges" by working for social change abroad. Kristof describes a number of innovative activists devoted to making changes and empowering the communities they serve, but are there any obstacles to taking on global challenges as an individual that Kristof leaves out?
From Free Mohamed Soudani Facebook Group One Year After His Arrest, Tunisian Activist Still in Legal Limbo
Exactly a year ago, on October 22nd, 2009, the Tunisian activist Mohamed Soudani disappeared after meeting with two French journalists. He spoke to them about getting expelled from Tunisian university and barred from continuing his studies at any of the country's public universities because of his involvement with an activist group. Unfortunately for Mohamed, these interviews coincided with the electoral campaign in Tunisia, which meant that the government was already harassing, arresting and jailing students, journalists and bloggers, human rights activists, and political dissidents. For about 20 days, no one knew Mohamed's location.