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The future is YOU. The 21st century will be the century of the common people.
We are many (99%) – they are few (1%)!
In order for this to become a reality we need two key elements: people need to feel motivated to co-create their societies and we need to evolve from the republic to the public being in charge, also known as direct democracy.
We also need to guard our rights online for privacy and for the free flow of information, expression and speech.
Birgitta will speak about the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, crowd-sourcing the new constitution and experimentation in direct democracy in Iceland in the above context.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir is a member of parliament of Althing, the Icelandic parliament, formerly representing the Citizens’ Movement, but now representing The Movement.
She was elected to the Icelandic parliament in April 2009 on behalf of a movement aiming for democratic reform beyond party politics of left and right. Birgitta has been an activist and a spokesperson for various groups, such as Wikileaks, Saving Iceland and Friends of Tibet in Iceland. She acts as a spokeswoman for the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative.
She is also a poet, writer, artist, editor, publisher, and internet pioneer.
by Sanaz Raji
What does the death of Iranian Neda Agha Soltan, Israeli DJ, Noy Alooshe’s auto tuned satirical remix of Muammar Gaddafi’s “Zenga Zenga” speech, Gay Girl in Damascus blog hoax, and Egyptian blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy’s #nudephotorevolutionary have in common? They all are some of the many social media events that happened in the Middle East, either during Iran’s “Green Movement” protests against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, or during the recent Arab revolutions.
Mainstream Western media looked rather surprised by the explosion of Middle Eastern net-savvy ‘Twitter’ or ‘Facebook’ revolutionaries, often relying upon those citizen-journalists for breaking news stories. However, a faulty conception has emerged that equates net-savvy Middle Easterners as part of a liberal, more progressive generation. What isn’t often discussed is how increasingly more conservative factions are utilizing social media to spread their message, to recruit, and connect with new supporters. For example, the Brotherhood in Egypt has taken to Twitter to spread their political messages. While in Iran, clerics were some of the first to participate in Iran’s active blogging community, otherwise known as ‘blogistan’. Additionally, social networking is gradually used by repressive regimes for nefarious purposes against their own citizenry. Iran, Syria, Bahrain and Tunisia have invested in Western surveillance technology to monitor activists and oppositional political factions. In many cases, the information obtained by surveillance technology is used to justify imprisonment, torture, and the execution of protesters and dissidents.
This talk explores the multiple social and political messages constructed through the above-mentioned social media events that have occurred during the Green Movement and Arab Spring and includes a deeper examination of how social media has helped dissenting voices to emerge and grow, while at the same time, becoming a site for governmental repression.
Sanaz Raji is a PhD Scholar at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds. She is examining the use of subversive humor online created by second generation diasporic Iranians as part of a larger discourse on the dynamic of being Iranian diasporic in a post-September 11th context. She has presented her work at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Sussex University, University of Manchester, University College London, and Wolfson College, Oxford University. Sanaz was the Project Assistant for the EU funded Media & Citizenship project at the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science. She wrote a chapter entitled, “The Iranian diaspora in the West” for a book edited by Kim Knott and Sean McLoughlin, Diasporas: Concepts, Identities, Intersections, Zed Press (2010). Additionally, Sanaz has written for the Comments is Free section of the Guardian Online, and Pakistan’s DAWN blog.
by CaTalyST Workshop and Juliana Rotich
Juliana Rotich is the Executive Director of Ushahidi and editor at Global Voices. Juliana has been invited to FutureEverything by Catalyst: Citizens Transforming Society, Tools for Change.
Juliana is originally from Kenya where she spent her early life and schooling. She later moved to the US where she majored in IT and has worked in the industry for over ten years. She was named in the Guardian’s Top 100 Women in Technology in 2011.
She collaborated with the online community and co-founded Ushahidi, the Swahili word for testimony. Ushahidi is a web-based reporting system that utilises crowd-sourced data to formulate visual map information of a crisis on a real-time basis. In Kenya it was used to map out incidents of violence.
Ushahidi then grew to be an open source platform that has been used in various situations such as the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, the Palestine conflict crisis, and the heavy snow crisis in Washington. As a Program Director she manages projects and aids in the development and testing of the Ushahidi platform.
She also blogs at ‘Afromusing‘ blog, typically with a focus on African tech and renewable energy. She is a budding African Futurist and a TED Senior Fellow. She often speaks at international conferences about tech and Africa.
Juliana is joined by Jon Whittle, Professor in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University. He is interested in how digital technologies can promote social change and leads projects on this theme. Projects include Voice Your View (voiceyourview.com) that uses inclusive social media, data visualization and motion tracking to promote democracy; and Serena (serena.ac.uk) that looks to recreate serendipity in the digital world. He also leads Catalyst (catalyst.org.uk), a project that focuses on community-driven research on the topic of tools for change.
Catalyst is a £1.9M project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC), which brings together academics and communities to jointly imagine and build the next generation of tools for social change, and to explore innovative, bottom-up technology-mediated solutions to major problems in society.
This three-year project explores how different communities use technology to make the world a better place. And, in a series of sub-projects, communities and academics from a range of disciplines including social science, computing, design, environmental and management science, will envision and build next-generation tools more suited to the job.
Catalyst’s involvement in FutureEverything includes a one-day intensive workshop, Catapult, on Tuesday 15th May with the findings of the workshop presented at a short talk by Catalyst at the FutureEverything Conference.
Bilal Randeree is Social Media and Online Producer for Al Jazeera English (AJE) based in Doha, Qatar. He works in the newsroom, using online tools and platforms for news-gathering stories from around the world.
He will be talking extensively about the Arab Spring and the role Al Jazeera played in documenting those events. He will also be looking forward into 2012, predicting what he hopes to see and what he envisages will actually happen both socially and politically in the Arab world.
Bilal was one of the first journalists to get in touch online with Tunisian protesters and activists during December 2010 events, and since then the use of social media and online platforms has become even more vital to his work, and to Al Jazeera’s coverage. He is also responsible for improving and developing new platforms and strategies for AJE’s coverage, most notably the popular live blogs. He spends his free time maintaining Al Jazeera’s CC Repository.
Farida Vis is a lecturer at the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication. Her research is centrally concerned with the challenges of different research methods: collecting (social media) data, critically reflecting on data, ethics and tool sharing with a specific focus on the reporting of global crises, visual culture, knowledge practices and civic engagement within different (social) media environments. She is currently completing a textbook for Sage, with computer scientist, Mike Thelwall, called Researching Social Media, which will be published in 2012.
Farida has recently developed an interest in open data and data driven journalism and some of this work (on the future of allotments in the UK) has been published on The Guardian Data Blog and elsewhere in the mainstream media. She is the co-author of the Data Journalism Handbook. As part of the Guardian’s groundbreaking Reading the Riots project, Farida is part of the team that examined 2.5 million riot tweets. Expanding her earlier work on crisis communication, a further new project examines the public understandings of flu pandemics with a particular focus on the role of Amazon.com as an online knowledge broke.
Cities and technologies, both made for the people and by the people, yet oddly neither can pertain to be universally democratic. Despite our best intentions, big business, greed and ambition have intervened to create curious idioms around what we know we want and what we don’t always realise we have; ‘smart cities’ are just one such example.
Now hackneyed, the original ambitions of Smart City technology have become muddied. Is the notion of a democratic Smart City still the aspiration, or is there now more truth in privacy making the city more public?
17th–18th May 2012