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WeGov

[Op-Ed] Tech, Democracy and USAID

BY Katrin Verclas | Thursday, April 10 2014

Among a myriad of controversies surrounding ZunZuneo is the illicit collection of millions of cell phone numbers (teleyradio)

There has been much debate about the ill-fated "Cuban Twitter" program funded by USAID, the US development agency, and administered by Beltway contractors Creative Associates and MobileAccord. While "Cuban Twitter" was indeed completely mismanaged, USAID is involved in a myriad of other projects that are supporting democracy efforts, citizen oversight over institutions, political party development, and fair elections. Many of these purport to have a technology component as well. So how do they fare? Read More

WeGov

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: The Problem with ZunZuneo and "Cuban Twitter"

BY Anne Nelson | Monday, April 7 2014

Rock painting of the "Cuban Five" (Photo copyright: Anne Nelson, 2013)

On April 3, the AP broke the story of ZunZuneo, a USAID-funded text messaging service in Cuba designed to circumvent government censorship and build a platform for dissent. Latin America expert and new media scholar Anne Nelson explains why the covert project was such a bad idea. Read More

WeGov

The View From Inside Cuba's Not-So-Worldwide Web

BY Anne Nelson | Friday, April 5 2013

"Palacio" Joven Club de Computacion in Havana (credit: Anne Nelson)

The “Palacio Central de Computacion” lies in the heart of central Havana, amid battered monuments and the crumbling shells of grand hotels. Despite its “palace” billing, the design of the squat blue two-story building recalls its origins as a pre-revolution Sears box store. At the entrance, a government employee sits at a desk, with two uniformed guards standing by. No, she states firmly, foreigners may not enter the facility, and no, photographs are not permitted. What are those intent young Cubans doing at the desktops behind her? “Computing,” she answers, that is, writing school essays and emails to their Cuban friends on the Cuban “Intranet.” Read More