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October 11 2011

Jamaica, U.S.A.: #OccupyTogether Going Global

Diaspora blogger Labrish Jamaica says of the global spread of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon: “BRILLIANT! May this be the beginning of the end of the immoral, rapacious greed and criminality that has overrun democracy in favor of the 1% plutocratic overlords…”

Portugal: Lisbon Hosts Citizenship 2.0 Event

On October 13, Lisbon is going to host an event about new platforms that promote dialogue in society, aiming to stimulate the discussion between the Portuguese government, public administration, NGOs and citizens - Cidadania 2.0 (Citizenship 2.0). Some sessions are going to be livestreamed [pt], and the hashtag #cid20 is already being used on Twitter (@cidadania20).

Global Voices Podcast: 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting - Part 2

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello world!

In an addition to our usual monthly podcast, we have some special audio for you from the newly concluded 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia.

Nearly 100 bloggers from Arab countries gathered in Tunis from October 3-6, 2011 in a meeting hosted by Global Voices, Nawaat and the Heinrich Böll Foundation to discuss citizen media, safety online, post-revolutionary ideas, and of course to meet each other face to face - some for the first time. In the 12 interviews in these two podcasts (check out Part 1) you will hear about online anonymity using Tor, revolution in a historical context, forthcoming elections in Arab countries, filmmaking, blogging and hope. And much, much more.

Arab Bloggers Meeting, 2011: Part 2

Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and many other countries have citizens living through a time of change and upheaval. Our online information these days is fast and furious when it comes to the minute by minute events, but how should we find context in a time of revolution?

Zeynep Tufekci is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. She presented a wonderful talk at the conference about the importance of putting revolutions into a historical context.

Part of telling the story of revolutionary times in a digital age requires video. Clips on YouTube offer powerful snapshots, but it is also important to follow a narrative to gain a greater understanding. Alexandra Sandels is a Swedish journalist and co-director and producer of a documentary called Zero Silence about young people using the Internet for change. It was screened on the first day of the Arab Bloggers Meeting.

Bloggers from nearly all Arab countries attended the meeting to learn from one another about citizen media and activism. Hayder Hamzoz is a blogger from Baghdad, Iraq. We chatted about his activities online and how the website Iraqi Streets shows an alternative Iraq to the one shown in mainstream news headlines.

The dangers of being identified and apprehended for protest and online activity are numerous and in some cases horrifying. There are methods for staying safer that people can enact, and there is also software that can help. Roger Dingledine works on an anonymity or privacy or circumvention tool called Tor. We talked about how it works.

That's all we have for the special edition of the Global Voices podcast at the 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting!

Group photo from Arab Bloggers Meeting, Tunis 2011

Group photo, Arab Bloggers Meeting, Tunis 2011 by Ibtihel Zaatouri (CC-BY)

Thanks to everyone who took time to talk to me, to the organisers for creating such a fantastic forum, and to Mark Cotton who adapted our Global Voices theme tunes for this particular episode.

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Global Voices Podcast: 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting - Part 1

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello world!

In an addition to our usual monthly podcast, we have some special audio for you from the newly concluded 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia.

Nearly 100 bloggers from Arab countries gathered in Tunis from October 3-6, 2011 in a meeting hosted by Global Voices, Nawaat and the Heinrich Böll Foundation to discuss citizen media, safety online, post-revolutionary ideas, and of course to meet each other face to face - some for the first time. In the 12 interviews in these two podcasts (check out Part 2) you will hear about online anonymity using Tor, revolution in a historical context, forthcoming elections in Arab countries, filmmaking, blogging and hope. And much, much more.

Arab Bloggers Meeting, 2011: Part 1

Naturally the topic of Arab uprisings was a big part of the conversation. The role of the citizen journalist has been very important in describing events to a wider audience. I chatted with Egyptian blogger and Global Voices author Lilian Wagdy, about why the benefits outweigh the challenges of this difficult work.

Online activists and bloggers travelled from near and far to come to the meeting. Yazan Badran is a Syrian blogger and Global Voices author currently based in Japan. He told us what motivated him to travel the distance to be at the meeting.

Though the past uprisings are a constant topic of conversation, the Arab Bloggers meeting this year was a forum for pushing things onward. Nasser Weddady, a blogger from Mauritania, is also the Civil Rights Outreach Director for the American Islamic Congress based in Boston, USA. We talked about the main issues of the day.

A number of talks and presentations during the meeting shed light on current events as well as providing training and new ideas. Marek Tuszynski, co-founder and co-director of Tactical Technology Collective gave a presentation about clear visualisation for online activists.

Many participants attended previous Arab Bloggers Meetings. With Jillian C. York, Director of International Freedom of Expression Electronic Frontier Foundation in the United States (as well as Global Voices author and board member), we talked about her experience and why the EFF takes an interest in international freedom of expression.

In the conversation with Jillian, we talked about how Palestinian bloggers were denied visas by the Tunisian government to attend the meeting. Aternative methods were used to contact these bloggers and include them in the meeting. One blogger of Palestinian origin was there. I spoke to Saed Karzoun about the visa debacle, and what he hoped to bring to the event.

The location of the Arab Bloggers meeting in Tunis was highly relevant to the main topics discussed. Tunisia has seen a revolution and inspired many other movements in the region. Malek Khadraoui is the co-administrator of Tunisian website Naawat, an independent group blog. We chatted about how the network of bloggers across Arab nations offers both hope and valuable practical advice.

There were so many experienced, entertaining, knowledgeable and wonderful people at the Arab Bloggers Meeting, I could not fit them all into one edition of the Global Voices podcast. You can hear more of these great interviews in Part 2.

Thanks to everyone who took time to talk to me, to the organisers for creating such a fantastic forum, and to Mark Cotton who adapted our Global Voices theme tunes for this particular episode.

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

October 10 2011

October 09 2011

Croatia: Court Forbids Homophobic Priest From Blogging

Serbia Insajd, a Hungarian blog about South-Eastern Europe, reports [hu] that the Rijeka Court has banned Franjo Jurčević, a Kastav-based Catholic priest, from writing homophobic blog posts [Jurčević's blog, hr: http://zupnik.blog.hr/]. The court has also ordered Jurčević to publish the court decision in two national dailies at his own expense.

Mapping the Thailand Flooding Disaster

As of this writing, 252 people have already died in Thailand due to more than two months of heavy rains. Many parts of Bangkok, the country’s capital, are already submerged in floodwaters. Online Maps were created to monitor the floods and inform the public on the extent of the flooding disaster.

Bangkok flood. From twitter user @khunknow

The Thailand Flood Map highlights the areas which are 'severely affected, ‘critical', and ‘affected' by the floods

Below is the government’s Thailand Flood Monitoring System

The Water Measurement System monitors the water level in canals and rivers

The Highway Department identifies the flooded roads. Red Car means the road is flooded and impassable. Green Car means the road is flooded but passable with care. Blue Line refers to road diversions

A Brahman water-lowering ceremony was organized by the government to beg to Kang Ka, the River Goddess, to lower the flood in Bangkok rapidly. Hotline numbers are posted online to help flood victims. Red Cross is accepting donations to help Thailand.

Richard Barrow gives the situation in Bangkok

Despite the flood prevention wall, more than 1,200 families in 27 communities outside the flood walls along the Chao Phraya River, the Bangkok Noi Canal and the Maha Sawat Canal are still at risk.

I think there will only be limited flooding in certain areas for short periods of time. They have done a lot more in recent years to protect Bangkok from the floods. We were expecting bad things last year but it wasn’t so bad in the end. The rest of the country is a different story of course.

Empty shelves in a store during flooding. From twitter user @icetimicetim

The #thaiflood twitter hashtag has been very active in the past few days

@tumbler_p Heard that some of Bkk's so-called ‘mega tunnels' designed to drain flood water are out of operation. Don't tell me they're dummy tunnels..

@freakingcat Strongest rainfall in many months - Bangkok drowns

@bamboohuts Our deepest condolences to the victims of #thaiflood. we hope that this crisis will pass very soon with minimal amount of damages.

@TheLilyfish Amazing how people of Ayutthaya are so upbeat and friendly despite being under 3 metres of water…

Sandbags against rising water level. From twitter user @khunknow

@alexandrachua RT @Vvanessaaaa: Thailand has 77 provinces but 55 are flooded while the others are waiting for fate.

@ChaiyaBenz Flooding in Khon Kaen is getting serious too. The water is grow-up from Nampong River! Help!! #Thaiflood

@thai_intel reports says many thai shopping centers are offering free parking so flooded out car owners can keep them safe

@tulsathit Floods crippling over 1,200 factories nationwide, affecting 41,000 workers. Govt's called on the factories to hold on and not lay off labour

October 08 2011

Poland: Facebook Initiative Puts Pressure on Politicians

“One cannot ignore tens of thousands of votes”

More than 63,000 netizens gathered on Facebook to express their ideas on how to improve the Polish legislation. Image courtesy of the "Appeal to Parliamentarians" organizers.

For the past two months, a Facebook initiative called “Appeal to parliamentarians” [pl], with more than 60,000 fans, has been crowd-sourcing ideas to improve the Polish legislation. Ahead of the upcoming Oct. 9 parliamentary elections, the organizers presented ideas to political parties and promised to endorse those who would support the most popular of the netizens’ proposals.

The initiative arose from a campaign that the same group of people had started in order to change one of the most restrictive drug laws in the EU. With a proper videospot [pl], with a celebrity as the campaign face and, in the end, with over 60,000 facebook fans who didn’t agree with the perspective of going to jail for three years for smoking one joint. Eventually, the Polish Parliament adopted the new drug law [pl], and the Facebook initiative celebrated it as its victory, although many netizens described the amendment as irrelevant.

On the group's Facebook wall, one the the followers, Alex Raczynski, criticized the achievement but noted the relevance of the change as such on May 26:

Born in pain, incomplete, lousy, not changing much. But anyway the content of the articles doesn’t really matter here. What is important is the fact that old parliamentarian geezers bended under the pressure of society. Bravo my dears. Very slowly but consequently we head towards a civil society.

Encouraged by the success of the campaign, the organizers decided to widen horizons and transform the campaign into a tool for young people to put pressure on politicians. Especially in the context of the upcoming parliamentary election. They wrote on their Facebook wall:

Just think: which party would ignore at least tens of thousands of potential votes? Let’s invite friends, let’s get media attention and let’s put pressure on the politicias. Maybe they will finally start to listen to us?

“To the blackboard!”

A new campaign and videospot, posted on Sep. 15 by Apelujemy on Vimeo, encouraged Polish netizens to post their ideas in the Facebook group:

In the press release, the organizers stress their political neutrality and describe the action as the voice of young people who feel ignored or betrayed by political parties.

Michal Juda, one of the organizers, says [pl]:

The election is approaching and we don’t have anybody to vote for. We are reading the parties' agendas and we can’t find anything that really interests us. That’s why we have created this initiative, “To the blackboard!”. With the help of Facebook, we want to engage young people and create our own list of postulates. Then we'll show them to the politicians [running in the upcoming election] and ask for their positions on each one of them.

The new project elicited different responses among the fans of the group. On July 15, Pan Kapica encouraged [pl] the organizers to continue with the citizen initiative:

I will support every, even the smallest change of the Polish “anti-drug” law. Appeal to the parliamentarians has become a very strong, concrete citizen initiative – and Poland needs this. If we have achieved something like this, why not go further?

Damazy Podsiadło stressed the importance [pl] of the initiative but was sceptical about its actual impact:

The idea is good, it’s good to remind our deputies that they are representatives chosen by citizens in order to act in the people’s best interest. The mandate to govern comes from us (theoretically, but, more importantly, also legally), so we have the right to do such actions and we should organize them. I personally think that the parliamentarians are so cynical by now that they forgot it. So – it’s good that we have such initiatives but I still have doubts if we are really going to manage to achieve anything in the long term with their help only.

Kamil Fikou expressed [pl] the same concern in a more pointed way on the group's Facebook wall on Aug. 8:

Cool that this initiative is taking place, but the truth is that the government doesn’t give a shit about it.

Iza Forys supported [pl] the initiative on July 17:

I’m for many changes in the Polish law because this country is impossible to live in. And it’s enough to take a short look at other countries to see a diametric difference (and to be perfectly clear, I’m not talking only about the marijuana case). Everyday probably each one of us faces lots of absurdities and we all just shut our eyes to it, one has to function somehow in these conditions. But the question is – do we really have to or is it just because we are lazy? I will support every initiative that unifies people and tries to change something.

El Ogurro doesn’t believe [pl] in the power of Internet activism and pleads for real actions:

Or maybe it’s time to realize that the world isn’t changing on Facebook but on the streets with a Molotov in the hand.

And Sebastian Chmura complained about slacktivism:

It’s easy to click on “like” - but then nobody wants to go to vote

Despite scepticism, once the Facebook “blackboard” opened, thousands of people have answered questions and posted ideas about changes in the Polish legislation. The postulates touched upon such topics as employment, family politics and relations with church, and caused many discussions. One of the biggest concerns of the young people remained the drug law – thousands of netizens postulated decriminalisation of marijuana.

The action has received some media coverage [pl], but – more importantly - also some actual reactions from politicians who answered netizens’ questions in short video recordings [pl], available on YouTube (here, here, here and here). The peak of the campaign was the debate [pl] at the University of Warsaw with representatives of most political parties. Among these major parties the only party missing was the national-conservative party Law and Justice, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

On Sunday, October 9, the Polish election day, young netizens can decide who has passed the test and answered the “blackboard” questions correctly - and who has failed their expectations. Is this online debate a beginning of a new quality in the political culture in Poland? Alex Raczynski is optimistic in his Sept. 20 post:

I’m full of hope for a genuine bottom-up citizen debate about real things. Just look at what we’ve achieved starting with the drugs politics. […]

October 07 2011

Africa: R.I.P Steve Jobs, You Will be Missed

The co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011. Bloggers have taken time to pay tribute and remember his contribution to the world of technology.

Thanks Steve Jobs for making creative life much easier:

Thank you Sir, for making my creative life that much easier through the vision you created in Apple Products.

And for making a dent in the universe:

Thank you Steve, for making a dent in the universe.

Collins says Steve was a gift to the IT world:

Steve Jobs was truly a gift to the IT World.

Our sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and friends from this blog .

Steve Jobs holding a MacBook Air at MacWorld Conference & Expo 2008. Photo courtesy of Matthew Yohe, released into the public domain (CC-BY-3.0).

Swahili blogger Simon Kitururu writes:

. kuwa MTU mmoja anaweza kuwa changamoto kwa WENGI,…
…weye STEVE ulikuwa bonge la CHANGAMOTO na ni bonge la CHANGAMOTO bado

that one person can be an inspiration to many
…you STEVE you were a huge inspiration and still are

Moses says, “R.I.P Steve Jobs, you will be missed”:

Steve Jobs was without a doubt one of the Fathers of modern technology as we know it – a true Titan of all things digital. He defined and redefined everything from personal computers to mobile phones as well as movies and more recently tablets. He drove the vision of products and services that were quite simply “magical” – we would never have appreciated the art of technology that he brought to life through his well-known and unrelenting drive for perfection in all he did. The world would not be what it is today we’re it not for Steve Jobs.

One of Steve Jobs’ famous “closing” statements when recruiting new team members to Apple was to ask them if they wanted to “put a dent on the universe” by working for him. Indeed, Steve Jobs made many many dents in the technology universe, as we know it. R.I.P Steve Jobs, you will be missed.

EK13 Photography desktop screen shots of the London Regent Street Flagship Store. Image courtesy of EK13 Photography.

Kanyana's chooses best Steve Jobs quote:

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Open Mic writes a “cheesy tribute”:

So, Apple Inc. have just announced Steve Jobs' demise after and amazing career that brought us iPods and every i-Thing we can think of. Wangari Maathai, our very own Nobel Laureate, activist, environmental champion and perhaps our best prototype of positive feminism is set to be cremated soon. Here goes a cheesy tribute:

Its an adage: An apple a day, or so they say
But what becomes of the apple trees on that day
The gardener's away and won't ever return again
Another adage: Where there's trees, there's rain
An apple a day, but not today, not today
A torrent of rain, but never again, never again

The day the designer died:

No one embodies the three things we strive for at Appfrica than the man the world lost today. Design. Leadership. Vision. We salute you, Mr. Steve Jobs. Best wishes from me, Jon, and our colleagues and friends in Uganda.

Mr Cape Town looks forward to paying respect to Steve Jobs by getting his hands on Tweetdeck for iPhone:

Running social media accounts for brands is something which requires having access to these accounts on-the-move. The best thing for this is @Tweetdeck for iPhone and I am looking forward to paying respect to Steve by finally getting my hands on when when my upgrade is due in a few months!

Finally, a poem for Steve Jobs from Nana Acquah:

Here, when The Empty dies
We cry a little. Just a little.
And then we drink, drum, dance
And recount their great deeds
So the living will not forget.

The common die with all or most
Of their dreams still in them.
They die full. Losers. Cowards.
Procrastinators. Full of excuses.
We don’t even notice when they go.
But you, you died empty: The way
The great do.

And may your soul rest in peace.
(For Steve Jobs, because he truly lived).

Ada Lovelace Day: Inspirational Women in Action

Ada Lovelace Day aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was an English female writer and mathematician, widely held to have been the first computer programmer.

Our tribute for Ada Lovelace Day goes to women who are constantly working to make our world a more transparent and fair place; brave social leaders denouncing corruption while providing tools and directing campaigns who are increasing our awareness and uniting us to act for change.

'One Laptop Per Child' project. Image by Flickr user venkylinux (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

'One Laptop Per Child' project. Image by Flickr user venkylinux (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

As we have done in the past, this year we are including smart women in the intersection between technology and social change who are a central presence in projects promoting a more accountable and transparent society.

Our tributes

Fernanda Viegas (@viegasf) is on the list of the top 100 more influential Brazilians. She is a computational designer whose work focuses on the social, collaborative, and artistic aspects of information visualization.

Viegas is a co-leader, with Martin Wattenberg, of Google's ‘Big Picture' data visualization group in Cambridge, MA. She is also one of the great minds behind public visualization platform Many Eyes, an experiment in open, public data visualization and analysis. In this video you can see her talk in TedX Sao Paulo:

Hok Kakada from Cambodia is creating a software program that will help Cambodian hospitals store data more accurately, allowing for better treatment. All her work is based on Open Source software. She challenged the difficulties girls face in her country and obtained a master degree in Japan.

Linda Kamau (@lkamau) is one of the coders behind the well known Ushahidi initiative. She is a software developer based in Kenya with a degree in Business Information Technology. Kamau develops both web and mobile applications and is contributing to change across continents, from election monitoring to corruption mapping.

Brenda Burell is the technical mind behind the Freedom Fone Project, a voice database where users can access news and public-interest information via land, mobile or Internet phones. Previously she directed the Kubatana initiative in Zimbabwe.

Camila Bustamante (@cabude), from Peru, is working on the design front, on design strategies for participatory processes mainly related to urban mobility, public space and new media. In 2010 Camila iniciated Todos somos dateros (”We are all data providers”), a participatory mechanism for sustainable urban mobility in Lima.

Working from the UK-based Open Knowledge Foundation, Kat Braybrooke @kat_braybrooke is a front-end web developer and Lucy Chambers (@lucyfedia) is in the process of learning how to code. They are involved in the organization of the world's biggest open government event, the Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw.

Kristin Antin (@kjantin) from the United States is participating in the design and organization of New Tactics in Human Rights, a technical on-line platform providing resources to human rights advocates that offer innovative tactical solutions for confronting specific local challenges, using technology.

Stephanie Hankey is the co-founder of Tactical Technology Collective, a small non-governmental organization dedicated to advance the skills, tools and techniques of rights advocates, empowering them to use information and communications as a critical asset in helping marginalised communities understand and effect progressive social, environmental and political change.

Daniela Silva (@danielabsilva) from Brazil is the founder of Sfera Brazil and Transparencia Hacker a community of over 800 designers, developers, coders and even government officers developing huge projects together to promote transparency and accountability.

These are some examples of brilliant women who are not afraid of the mouse, the screen, or the complexities of coding. They are inspiring others by doing amazing projects, all of them contributing to social change.

If you have an example in mind today, we invite you to write about them, to describe the amazing women working in technology you know; women who are an example and inspiration for girls in the generations to come as Ada Lovelace, more than hundred years ago, was for many others. Share your stories and inspire others!

Slovakia: New Draft Law Threatens Internet Freedom

The Slovak Ministry of Finance has published a draft law [sk] that would allow blocking web servers that provide online gambling without a Slovak license. Internet providers would have to block web sites from a list updated twice a month - not by the court, but by the Tax Office.

Against this idea are, among others, the non-governmental Society for Open Information Technologies (SOIT) [sk] and the Slovak IT Association [sk]. SOIT warns that this way Facebook should also be blocked completely, because it allows users to play online roulette and poker.

According to SOIT consumer protection, crime prevention or reduction of tax burden are not sufficient arguments for establishing of Internet censorship: “We believe that the promotion of purely economic interests at the expense of personal freedoms of citizens is particularly dangerous and unconstitutional.”

Their online petition [sk] has been signed by thousands of citizens. Later, the Ministry of Finance asked [sk] the European Commission for their opinion.

Below are some comments from a discussion at SME.sk.

mrf:

this should be … immediately taken to the Constitutional Court … because if it starts, […] we will end up with just the [web] pages of the Ministry of Finance :-(

Blur(rr)e(d) vision:

This whole idea is sick. What if I earn money and go to Las Vegas and spend it all there? Will the Minister prevent me from doing this?

yep, me again:

when we start blocking some selected entrepreneurs and companies … that are based in the EU, then we say that we want to be in the free-trade club only if it is useful to us … and that is already not free trade.

Marty:

Just as I can order goods from a German e-shop, or let a licensed German architect design my house, I can freely bet through a British online casino.

Peter Šoltés:

If the Minister was serious in that he wants to increase the intake into the state budget, he would first eliminate Tipos [a 100% state-owned company] monopoly on online poker and online casino.

kohutisko:

And next they will block Amazon, because a local company has higher prices, and we will search using Zoznam.sk only because Google will be blocked too. Not to mention the fact that Wikipedia will be blocked in all language versions because of our cobweb-filled libraries!

Vilsa:

we will start with gambling and end up like in China … because the state will not release its claws when it can extend its scope and power.

risiak:

And speaking of morality, does he think that the same services, just provided by Slovak companies, will be moral?

refuge:

What's interesting is that they never propose to proceed in the opposite direction - somewhere else they have better conditions, so let's change the conditions in our country.

corr:

A typical political solution - hardly feasible, its effectiveness is problematic and it probably also violates international treaties … So it seems the problem will stay unsolved … but it will trigger other, more serious problems. This approach - “we do not know how to tax it, so we will disable it” - is incredible and shows that the author of this solution has a problem with elementary understanding of how the world behaves in the 21st century.

salam00n:

I would like to hear/read the Minister's opinion on how a person threatens public morality when he is playing PC online gambling game at home?

Pomaranc77:

disable something on the Internet? lol :-)))

MaRmAR:

Mr. Minister, please concern yourself with the real problems and needs of Slovakia and its people. Leave such nonsense to others who understand that blocking or censoring the internet is virtually impossible (if you do not want to be a second China) and incorrect, if not unconstitutional.

nieze:

We all are stupid, incapable of thinking for ourselves, making decisions and acting independently. Therefore, we need clever, omnipotent, the most beautiful, the best, infallible politicians who will tell us that when we put our hand into the fire it will burn, because we stupid idiots can't figure it out by ourselves.

pavuk29:

What nonsense. Do they want to draw boundaries on the net?

Thumbnail image of Slovakian flag by Flickr user HatM (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

October 06 2011

Myanmar: Interactive Map of Ethnic Groups

Stimson has set-up an interactive map of Myanmar's ethnic groups and key economic and power utilities.

October 04 2011

Arab Bloggers Meet in Tunis

On Monday in Tunis, the 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting kicked off with a day-long public conference. The meeting is co-hosted by Global Voices, Nawaat and Heinrich Böll Foundation and is attended by around 100 bloggers from nearly all Arab countries. Naturally, the conference was well-blogged, not only on the official Arab Bloggers blog, but also by many participants.

Links to media and blog coverage are being collected here (please post in the comments section to let us know what we may have missed).

An Al Jazeera story about the meeting proclaimed: “Arab bloggers say Arab Spring has gone global“. English-language blog coverage included Jillian York's posts on Day 1, Part 1 and a special panel featuring Tunisian bloggers who are now involved with Tunisian politics in various ways. The biggest news came from a ground-breaking talk by the new president of the Tunisian Internet Agency, in which he revealed that Tunisia secretly tested censorship software for Western companies.

Mohamed ElGohary, co-editor of Lingua Arabic. Photo by Mohamed Alâa Guedich (used with permission)

The meeting continues in a smaller, invitation-only workshop setting for the next three days. Participants continue to tweet about the discussions in multiple languages using the #AB11 hashtag, and the conference blog will continue to post updates. So stay tuned.

The 2nd Arab Bloggers Meeting, held in Beirut in 2009, is believed by many bloggers to have played an important role in building personal ties and trust among bloggers throughout the region - ties which enabled them to coordinate more easily during the Arab Spring.

North Korea: Kim Jong-il's Grandson and His Footprint in Social Media

Kim Han-sol, a teenager believed to be the grandson of Kim Jong-il has blocked access to his social media accounts after media made numerous reports on his admission into a Bosnian school. Many have succeeded in capturing his comments and pictures before access has been denied. North Korea Tech blog posted some examples.

October 03 2011

Philippines: Fake Government Photo Spawns Meme

Online furor over a Philippine government agency's posting of a fabricated photo of its officials inspecting a typhoon-struck avenue on its official Facebook page has spawned a meme wherein netizens make their own versions of the officials superimposed on different other locations.

Last September 28, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) uploaded an edited photo showing DPWH officials inspecting the damages brought by Typhoon Nesat. The photo caption reads:

DPWH INSPECTS COLLAPSED SEAWALL AT ROXAS BOULEVARD. DPWH Undersecretary Romeo S. Momo with NCR Director Reynaldo G. Tagudando and South Manila District Engineer Mikunug D. Macud inspect the extent of damaged seawall in Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard caused by Typhoon Pedring.

The DPWH quickly pulled out the controversial photo and issued an apology after irate bloggers criticized the fabrication of the field inspection's documentation to project a good image to the public.

We profusely apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused them and the general public. Rest assured that we shall exert more diligence and prudence in the execution of our mandate to inform the public of our plans, programs, projects and official activities.

Said enhanced photo was not the official photo release of the Department.

But we would like to inform the public that the three officials were actually on site as part of the Department’s Post Disaster Assessment activities.

But the damage has been done with Pierre Albert San Diego of the blog Controlled Chaos exposing the trick:

I re-checked the image and concluded that DPWH fabricated this picture. Why they had to edit it and not just simply compose a photo with all three guys, I do not know. Although my evil mind tells me that the DPWH wants a pogi photo showing their bosses in deep thought while assessing the disaster site, and they didn’t have the opportunity to pose because those guys were probably there for 15 minutes max – so they just lasso tooled the hell out of that pic.

Here are my findings on how lame this photo was ‘shopped.

He adds that the matter only shows the persistence of “utak wangwang” or a culture of impunity and corruption that the Aquino government has repeatedly promised to stamp out from its ranks:

Some say this is a very minor issue, but I see this as a nice sample of DPWH’s lack of integrity. If they can fabricate simple things like this, just imagine what these guys can do to progress billings and acceptance of projects. Also, while relatively mild, isn’t this a classic example of “Utak Wangwang?” While unethical and unnecessary, they thought they could get away with fabricating photos so they tried to.

Netizens have created the Facebook page DPWHERE collecting photoshopped images of the DPWH officials superimposed on different images. The Ayson Chronicles selects a sampling of what he considers an “editor's choice” of the DPWHERE postings:

*Plop* Culture also posts some more funny DPWH photos:

The Indolent Indio has also uploaded what he calls “a fund exploitable” .PNG photo of the three officials and encouraged his readers to join the “DPWH meme.”

Where will our Public Works officials turn up next? Send us your shopped pics at indolentry at indolentindio dot com or onetamad at indolentindio dot com!

Cuba: Suppressing an “Arab Spring”

“General Raúl Castro will not permit an Arab Spring in Cuba,” explains Iván García, adding: “Those who publicly oppose the Castros, whether through a blog, web, opposition party or shouting in the streets…are not enemies. The enemies are the corrupt procreated by the regime itself and the clans that emerged during 52 years in totalitarian power.”

October 02 2011

Colombia: #Corzotón Protest Against the President of the Congress

Using Storify, journalist Lina Ceballos looks [es] at “why Colombians got excited on Twitter about the #Corzotón“, a protest against Juan Manuel Corzo –president of the Congress whose remarks caused outrage some days ago– since the protest's ‘offline' version last September 27 was not as successful as expected. Ceballos claims that “[offline] presentiality demands much more involvement” and concludes that “if you want something to be massive it must be entertaining.”

October 01 2011

Global Voices Podcast 4: Together We Rise

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Hello world!

In this edition you’ll hear from blind Greek bloggers of our Rising Voices community, how Guatemalan citizen journalists are honing their skills for elections, and a preview of what's planned for the Arab Bloggers Summit co-hosted by Global Voices on October 3-6, 2011 in Tunisia.

Citizen Journalists in Guatemala

Vozz is a citizen journalism training project in which young people in Guatemala aged 16 to 24 learn how to be journalists. Kara Andrade of Vozz spoke to our Latin America regional editor Silvia Viñas about covering the Guatemalan elections and turning a training scheme into a wider network for citizen engagement.

Blind Blogging in Greece

Following the closure of a school for the blind in Thessaloniki, Greece, the surrounding community decided to create a group blog and web radio show called Blind Dates. The project is a grantee of our Rising Voices initiative co-founded by Alexia Kalaitzi. We chatted to Alexia about tools for blind blogging and how the economic crisis in Europe is affecting life for the blind and partially sighted. Thanks to the rapper - Kostas also for performing for us in this edition!

Arab Bloggers Summit in Tunisia

Global Voices will be co-hosting the 3rd Arab Bloggers Summit together with Nawaat and the Heinrich Boell Foundation on October 3-6, 2011 in Tunisia. Bloggers from nearly all Arab countries will meet to discuss digital activism and future perspectives. Since the last gathering in Beirut in 2010, many bloggers have played a prominent communication role in uprisings across the Middle East. Our managing editor Solana Larsen spoke to Sami Ben Gharbia, director of Global Voices Advocacy about what is planned for the gathering in Tunisia.

The hashtag for the meeting is #AB11 (recommended!) and the website is Arabloggers.com (temporarily offline due to a technical problem).

Thanks for listening!

That brings us to the end of another edition of the Global Voices podcast. We love hearing from you, so let us know what you liked or if there is anything special you would like to know about the community!

Music credits

In the podcast you can hear lots of lovely Creative Commons music. If you want to find out more about these artists here are the links for you. Thanks to Orb Gettarr for the atmospheric Return of the Atlanteans Lemurian Candidate, to Mark Cotton for his Spiritualized Homage, to Superbus feat. NS for Fujjad! Most of the music was found via OpSound.Org, The Free Music Archive or direct from the artists. Thanks also to all of the wonderful voice over performances and clips that help to glue the podcast together.

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

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