· March, 2005

Stories about Citizen Media from March, 2005

Sokwanele Blog in Zimbabwe

  30 March 2005

Zimbabwe is preparing for parliamentary elections tomorrow. The outcome is hardly in doubt. Most observers expect Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party to win in a landslide, garnering at least 75% of votes. This is not because Zanu-PF is especially popular, but because the election process is believed to be so...

Freedom to Connect

30 March 2005

I'm currently in Washington D.C. at the Freedom to Connect conference. There is a live audio stream and live chat, linked from the top of the conference website. The conference tagline: "The future of telecommunications is in play. Freedom to Connect will shape the debate." I'll be speaking on Global...

Iranian weblogs growing up

Amazing things are happening in Iranian blogs these days. Now I'm seeing what I was expecting in terms of my third metaphor, blogs as cafes, where a unique, interactive space for public political debate has been created. First example is about the behind the scenes of the reformist candidate's campaign...

Flashblogs: Occasionally making a point more impactful. Part One.

  26 March 2005

The Colours of a Little Part of Asia – A South East Asian blogging story by Mack Zulkifli The Tsunami Crisis in this region brought bloggers to the forefront of the news, although under less than preferrable circumstances. It was also the first time that the Malaysian mainstream media gave...

Malaysian Blogs: Live IRC intervew & chat, Friday 15:00GMT (10:00am EST)

  24 March 2005

Malaysian bloggers Jeff Ooi and Mack Zulkifli will help me kick off our first LIVE Globalvoices online IRC interview and chat. Join us Friday (tomorrow) at 15:00GMT (10:00am Friday EST, 23:00 Friday China time, etc.) IRC location: #globalvoices on Freenode. (irc://irc.freenode.net/#globalvoices). Unfamiliar with IRC chat? For instructions on how to...

Local Voices, Global Visions

  24 March 2005

I'm riding on an Amtrak Acela train through snowbound Connecticut right now on my way to the National Model United Nations conference, where I'll be addressing a group of 500 youth delegates who are conducting a mock World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). To psych myself up for the talk, I brought along a DVD of TakingITGlobal's new documentary, Local Voices, Global Visions. I got the DVD in the mail just before I left for India a few weeks ago, so this was my first chance to see it. If I could snap my fingers and burn 100,000 DVDs in a flash, I would send a copy of this documentary to every K-12 school in the United States, then snap my fingers some more until they turned raw so schools and youth groups around the world could have a copy as well. This 45-minute documentary, produced entirely by young people, does an astounding job at capturing what's at stake with WSIS, which will have its second summit this November in Tunisia. And it demonstrates the vital role that youth can play in policymaking, whether related to the digital divide or other important policy goals. The video profiles groups of young people from around the world -- Sierra Leone, Nigeria, India, the Philippines, Canada and Tunisia -- as they organize national youth campaigns to mobilize young people into the WSIS policymaking process. The documentary is broken down into segments, each one profiling youth activists and their work in their home country. We get to know Andrew Benson Greene and his colleagues in IEARN Sierra Leone as they teach their peers to use digital technology and create music as part of their country's post-civil war healing process. In Nigeria, 'Gbenga Sesan leads a national campaign to educate youth about the importance of participating in digital divide policymaking. In India, we meet a young woman who has opened up her home to a local orphanage so she can teach children computer skills. And in Tunisia, we learn about Marouen Mrahi, Rim Nour and their fellow engineering students as they galvanize Tunisian youth to participate in the next WSIS summit, which will take place in their home town of Tunis. The documentary reaches its climax in Geneva during the first WSIS summit in December 2003. The young people profiled in the video, along with hundreds of other youth activists, organize seminars, participate in summit plenaries, and demonstrate ICT projects to government ministers. The summit is the culmination of more than a year of activities around the world, but it's quite clear that these young people have no plans of wrapping up their activities once they go home. For one thing, they've got another WSIS summit ahead of them in November 2005, but beyond that, you get to see how these young people are laying the groundwork for long-term initiatives to bridge the digital divide in their home countries. I've met many of the young people profiled in this documentary in person, so it's great getting to see them in the spotlight, but it's not just because I know them personally. (Full disclosure -- TakingITGlobal is a strategic partner of the Digital Divide Network, and I donated some photos from the Geneva summit for the documentary.) Watching them speak, organize local campaigns and take action, I couldn't help but think these young people are truly the leaders of tomorrow. In all seriousness, I wouldn't be at all shocked if one of them - or even more - end up becoming heads of state in their home countries. They have charisma, leadership skills, articulateness and a profound grasp of policy issues. Not only does this video document the role of youth in WSIS, it documents national leaders in the making. Beyond the amazing people profiled in the video, there's the high production quality as well. TakingITGlobal produced it on a Mac laptop running Final Cut Pro editing software (I note with some pride, as these tools are my own documentary weapons of choice), with all the work done by young people. Twenty-one-year-old Jarra McGrath traveled the world shooting the film, with TakingITGlobal's Nick Moraitis collaborating as co-editor and as narrator. Even the music is produced by youth, most notably the songs recorded by IEARN Sierra Leone. The documentary is a perfect example of how young people can be producers of high-quality content, from video editing to interstitial animations to the Hollywood-quality DVD jewel box packaging. I do have one complaint, though; the documentary is not available online. If you go to the video's website, there's a short clip, but otherwise only contact information for purchasing copies. That's a real shame -- it would be an enormous public service to make the documentary, or at least more clips, available for noncommercial and educational use. Otherwise, I can't say enough about this documentary. I am so inspired. It's reinforcing the creative buzz I felt during my recent trip to India, where I produced two documentary shorts on my laptop. My mind is racing with ideas, locations, editing tricks: I'm just dying to get out in the field and make more documentaries now. But my short-term goal may have backfired. I intended to watch this video to get psyched for my speech later today, yet I may have to scrap my entire presentation for the conference. I'm almost - almost - tempted to shut up and let this documentary do the talking. With Local Voices, Global Visions, the youth of TakingITGlobal articulate the importance of WSIS better than I ever could with just an old-fashioned speech.... -andy

Blog libel suit in India

  16 March 2005

Mediaah! is no more. The controversial media criticism weblog, run by Pradyuman Maheshwari, editor of the Maharashtra Herald in Pune, promoted itself as a “brutally unbiased” critic of Indian media, especially the massive Times of India. With the tagline, “The Media's Media. No-holds-barred news and commentary on the Indian media”,...

Madrid audio posted

16 March 2005

Thanks to Gohsuke Tanaka for posting the audio from our Internet track at the International Summit on Democracy, Security and Terrorism. The audio for the Day 1 workshop leading to our Infrastructure of Democracy document is here. The document makes recommendations to governments about how to avoid destroying free speech...

NewsILike and Aggregator Artistry

  15 March 2005

I'm experimenting with NewsILike.com, a new aggregator site put together by a team that includes Jim Moore, Berkman colleague, Darfur activist, and Global Voies ally. Jim introduces the concept of “aggregator artistry”, the idea that aggregators can be a creative expression in the same way that blogging is. NewsILike has...

Video Blog: Baramati Bus Stop

  14 March 2005

This weekend I completed a short Web documentary on my visit to a mobile computing lab in Baramati, India last week. The video, called Baramati Bus Stop, is about six and a half minutes long. It explores the mobile computing lab, which features two dozen thin-client computers installed on a bus. I also show my visit to a rural primary school classroom, and meeting some of the local village children who aren't enrolled in school -- and thus have no access to the technology. I've made two versions of the video, one without captioning and one with captioning. Both versions of the movie are quite large - more than 45 megs. So you may want to let the video download for a brief time before trying to stream it. Better yet, download the whole thing first so you won't have to worry about it pausing due to bandwidth bottlenecks. The movie is released on a Creative Commons noncommercial/attribution/share-alike license, which means it may be viewed, disseminated and even edited for educational and noncommercial purposes. For those of you who are interested in how I made the video, here are some quick tech specs. I shot the video on a Canon A60 digital camera, capturing about 15 minutes of footage, on location in Baramti, India. I uploaded this footage to my Mac G4 laptop and edited it using Final Cut Pro. Music was licensed from ProductionTrax.com; licenses for four songs cost approximately USD $30. For voiceover (narration) I used Final Cut Pro's voiceover tool, spoken through a LogiTech USB headset mic. Captioning was also done using Final Cut Pro. The total editing process, from uploading footage to exporting the movie as a Quicktime file, took approximately eight hours over the course of several days. Anyway, please check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. -andy

Newsweek piece on blogosphere diversity and the Halley/Levy challenge

  13 March 2005

Steven Levy's column in the upcoming issue of Newsweek starts with a quote from Keith Jenkins, commenting on Rebecca's blog, which expressed his concern that people of color are less well represented in the blogopshere than in mainstream media: “It has taken ‘mainstream media’ a very long time to get...

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