Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2012 about revolution and Politics

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Saturday 10th March 2012

  • The Wars of Tech

    by Steven Levy

    It's easy to get caught up with the horse races of Facebook versus Google or Microsoft versus Apple or record labels versus the Internet. But in nearly 30 years of covering technology I find that the major conflicts are those of philosophy, politics and power. You could almost view the past few decades as a spectacular cycle of fantasy novels with the Hacker Spirit as the protagonist and amazing supporting characters including Steve Jobs, Richard Stallman, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Stephen Wolfram, Whitfield Diffie, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg (all of whom I've spent considerable time interviewing.) And as our lives are more intertwined with the giant digital shift, these conflicts are ever more vital. Here's an attempt to deconstruct a revolution--and point to what's ahead.

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday 10th March

    In Ballroom D, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage sketch note

Sunday 11th March 2012

Monday 12th March 2012

  • An Unusual Arsenal: Tech Tools to Topple a Tyrant

    by Neal Ungerleider, Sonja Gittens-Ottley, Aasil Ahmad, David Gorodyansky and Jamal Dajani

    Instead of guns and knives, the revolutionaries who descended upon Tahrir Square on Feb. 1 packed a potent arsenal of technological tools that ended the corrupt, 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak. Their weapons of choice: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube – everyday tools that can be used to plan a party or plot a revolution.

    “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world,” wrote one protester in a particularly succinct tweet.

    But with one third of the world living under Internet censorship, the tools we take for granted in America are precious commodities elsewhere. When Mubarak’s government hit the kill switch, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – and those using these tools to rally – were rendered powerless. When the Internet goes black, as it did Jan. 27, how do revolutionaries access these invaluable social channels to communicate, mobilize and ultimately overthrow an unjust government? How do citizens in radio silence tune into the rest of the world – without incurring the wrath of their government? What are the tools behind the tools that every revolutionary should include in his tool kit? And why should you care?

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Monday 12th March

    In Room 9ABC, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage audio clip