BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 28 2012
On the troubled northern border of Georgia, next to the disputed territory of South Ossetia, where two wars have been fought in the last two decades, an NGO has been quietly pioneering a new kind of distributed reporting system, one that uses SMS text messaging and the web to combine the data-rich mapping of Ushahidi with the meticulous requirements of human-rights researchers. In a region where few people have internet access, they've come up with an ingenious solution for data gathering via text. Read More
BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, August 27 2012
In two detailed and important blog posts, Patrick Meier explains how grassroots activists are using social media platforms and mobile phones to coordinate disaster relief, often when the government's response is inadequate. In many cases, Meier points out, the grassroots networks existed already, having been created as a means of coordinating political protest. Read More
BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 23 2012
Vietnamese authorities have charged three prominent bloggers with "creating propaganda against the state" for having published videos and photos showing violent clashes between farmers and the police who had come to enforce the appropriation of their land for the construction of a luxury hotel. Read More
BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, August 22 2012
BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, August 20 2012
In an attempt to stop a panicked mass migration due to rumors spread via text messages and social media, the Indian government blocked websites and ordered mobile service providers to cap subscribers' emails at five per day. But Internet savvy phone users easily circumvented the cap on text messages and Indians jeered on Twitter, using the hashtag #5SMS to criticize the government's ham fisted attempts at censorship Read More
BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012
Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More
BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, July 30 2012
Ethan Zuckerman, the director of MIT's Center for Civic Media, traveled recently to the Nairobi slum of Baba Dogo to see if there was demand for some simple hardware that could enable people with their own generators to supply energy to multiple customers for low fees paid via mobile payments. He thought Kenya would be an ideal market because it had a very successful mobile payments system,Safaricom, that was used by more than 70 percent of Kenyan adults. Given the poor infrastructure in the slums, he thought it was fair to assume that few people had access to electricity. It turned out he was wrong about that — and about a few other things, as well. Read More
BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, July 18 2012
Today YouTube is rolling out a new feature that allows users to obscure faces that appear within videos before posting them.
"Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube," YouTube policy associate Amanda Conway wrote in a blog post.
One expert in video in activism calls this "a step in the right direction," but warns that the most important tool for videographers is an understanding of when and why to use this kind of feature.Read More
BY Jack Harris | Monday, March 26 2012
The past two years offer several fresh, new examples of how causes and campaigns willing to experiment with mobile technology reported back that they were rewarded with a network of more engaged, more empowered volunteers. Last year, for example, activists fought tooth-and-nail in several states around ballot initiatives and recall efforts. In those fights, often for the first time, grassroots organizers began to ask volunteers to work on their phones and tablets. At the same time, candidates in 2011 local and congressional races took advantage of mobile tools and tactics that had been developed in higher-profile races in prior years, but had now become cost-effective for the small campaign. This special report updates that tranche of examples with case studies from across the country. Each one explores how mobile technology has become part of the organizing, messaging and fund-raising strategy of some tech-savvy causes and campaigns. Read More
BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 12 2012
Tea Party activist group FreedomWorks for America is rolling out mobile voter canvassing and get-out-the-vote tools for supporters, it announced in a recent email.
Using the tool from the conservative-minded firm Political Gravity, FreedomWorks supporters are supposed to be able generate maps of doors knock on to find likely Republican voters and identifies folks who have cast ballots in three out of the past four Republican primary elections. Users of FreedomWorks' social network for Tea Party activists, Freedom Connector, will be able to access the app for selected campaigns where the organization has made an endorsement. Through the app, users who give their location get lists of nearby voters to contact and maps that trace a canvassing route through a neighborhood.Read More