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Within the past few years ago the US State Department’s eDiplomacy office has launched initiatives to increase citizen involvement in the government and develop civil society. Since 2010, thirty-five events called TechCamps – one to two day conferences – have been convened with about 2,850 participants across the globe, in which civil society organizations have worked on challenges and real world problems alongside international and local technologists to develop solutions, and the events connected these organizations to global networks of volunteer technologists. I will speak about my work with TechCamps and the usefulness of the model for developing ground-up solutions in partnership with local civil society and technologists. The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) program has given over 1,200 US college students the opportunity to to work with USG agencies without leaving home. The program has expanded since 2009 to 323 projects across 11 agencies in 2014-15, with 3,385 students applying. Following this success, State is launching the Virtual Fellows Program to recruit seasoned U.S. citizen professionals as virtual consultants on issues faced by State. See more here.
Five-day course to a select group of approved members of the Humanitarian Communication and Media Roster, currently managed by Internews for the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network. I presented a case study on the use of citizen journalism platforms and community organizing during Honduras’ 2009 political crisis. As an approved member of this rapid deployment roster I was able to address specific technology interests and skills-building in crisis response.
What kinds of experiences shape young people to be changemakers, people with the skills and commitment to “dare themselves to act” for positive social change? Ashoka seeks to spark a global movement where Everyone is a Changemaker. To achieve this vision, the organization partners with the most cutting-edge leaders with high-level global impact potential. The Fulbright program produces high caliber leaders by fostering cross-cultural understanding and action. To succeed in today’s world as a changemaker, everyone needs to learn these essential skills. I helped to design and organize this presentation in which three Fulbright Alumni, also a part of Ashoka’s network of innovators, shared their stories of social change and shed light on how their Fulbright grants directly contributed to their dedication to creating experiences that unleash the power of young people to make a difference and succeed in our changing world. View the presentation
Afghanistan has held 3 presidential elections since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The country’s media and technology environment developed significantly throughout this period. The 2014 election for a new president and 458 provincial council members took place amidst more media and social media coverage than any previous election. To explore the evolving role of media, technology and data use in Afghanistan’s elections and its impact on the democratic process, USIP hosted a public event that featured Afghan experts in media, technology, and data to discuss these topics. Key findings of a research report from town hall discussions held during last year’s campaign season will enhance the conversation. My presentation focused on citizen reporting and strategies for engagement both online and offline during electoral processes.
Presented in Spanish on the creation and use of narrative for social impact. I was also part of a roundtable entitled: “Education and Social Networks: Interacting and learning how to change the world.” The roundtable offered guidelines and practical suggestions for using social media for social impact, to generate knowledge and use of governance tools. Campus Party Mexico was a seven day event where more than 12,000 participants or “campuseros” lived on-site, surrounded by a unique environment where lectures, workshops, competitions and hackathons took place simultaneously and were livestreamed online. It is the largest global technology festival encompassing innovation, creativity science and digital entertainment. View the presentation.
The summit brought together corporate and government officials, engineers, technologists and NGO leaders to look at how tech is used in conflict zones and ask, “Why aren’t we doing more in conflict prevention?” The event also launched the PeaceTech Lab, a new organization dedicated to developing and deploying technologies, media and data for conflict management and peacebuilding. My presentation focused on my work in Central America designing and implementing citizen journalism projects and ground-up media movements. View the presentation
Hans Rosling, professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, recently stated that despite the wide availability of data in the world, there is a significant gap in local access to this knowledge. In this panel, experts in media development and mobile technology discussed how information is shared in low-bandwidth environments. The panel included case studies, interactive discussion about the sharing of news and information in areas of limited web connectivity, and tips on how to deal with issues of security, trust and safety. Examples include creative, interactive radio broadcasts; training and engagement of citizen journalists via SMS; and the challenges of maintaining data integrity in regions of high risk reporting. The session ended with a discussion of trending issues related to connectivity, such as offline participation in social media and the emergence of sensor networks. View the presentation
In all the discourse around Care, there is silence about its form, function and nature. While attention is given to infrastructure, labor, politics, production and the intelligibility of care practices, we haven’t yet tried to fathom the conditions and generation of care, relegating it to the realm of the private and the subjective. Combining practice and theory, in different parts of the Global South, and inspired by gender and sexuality studies, this panel looks at Care as a Habit. We focus on the ‘care of technologies’, showing how the forced separation of care and technology needs to be revisited to look at conditions of being human, being social and being political. Working through diverse geographical and political contexts, the panel illustrates the tensions in understanding and engaging with Care and why there is a need to find new vocabularies and relationships to deal with this area.
View the presentation.
We have begun to take control of own narratives, telling our stories using whatever tool and digital means is available to us. We have not only begun to tell our stories, but we’ve connected them to others’ stories being told simultaneously around the world. That act of storytelling interconnects us – creating an imaginary and real social fabric. The storyteller becomes a diplomat, a trickster, an opportunity creator, an entrepreneur, a node for change. How do we tell our stories? How do we help others tell their stories? How do we create opportunities by telling these stories both for ourselves and others? When does our personal story shift from “me” to “us”? How do we inspire action and empower others to tell their story? What are the emerging trends in storytelling that can help us become changemakers both online and offline.
View the presentation.
UNESCO estimates that of the 6,000 current languages spoken today, more than half will be extinct by the start of the next century. These languages require urgent intervention. There is also a growing movement where communities are recognizing the value of maintaining their native language despite internal and external pressures. Online media and web 2.0 tools hold immense possibilities for the inclusion of indigenous people in the online conversation and in democratic processes that start with the simple exercise of a person’s right to express themselves using the tools available to them. These tools have have a significant potential for cultural preservation and identity formation of young indigenous people.
View the presentation
May 14, 2013
Virtual training on storytelling for social change offered hands-on instruction to individuals and organizations alike seeking to use the ever-expanding toolkit of media for social change and peace-building.
View the presentation.
The event was a 24-hour invitational conference for faculty and other stakeholders of the Harrington School’s disciplines. The goals was to (a) understand how convergence is affecting the sharing of knowledge and information in local, regional, and global communities; (b) invent and explore ideas for curriculum renewal and public outreach with (c) a group of at multidisciplinary strategic thinkers from Providence to Seattle. The purpose of the event was to expose and consider the cross-disciplinary wisdom and knowledge of the URI community, seeding the thinking and advice of our visiting experts about preparing future workers for the converging “knowledge network” of libraries, newsrooms, studios and agencies. I served as a distinguished guest.
I spoke about how mobile technology is transforming and democratizing access to opportunities and information in Guatemala. Technology in the shape of cellphones that are cheap, accessible and ubiquitous is becoming transformative for Guatemala. While cellphones are not the only tool in Guatemala’s development, their role is vital in the country’s gradual process of democratization because they provide individuals with the ability to engineer a quantum leap out of situations that involve extreme disadvantage, to participate in governance, to gain an economic advantage, to transmit culture, to create literacy and to make the unattainable, attainable.
The use of technology by women in the Global South is growing fast! From Africa to South America to Southeast Asia, women in the Global South are using technology tools in new and creative ways with astounding results. Teen girls and senior citizens alike are finding the freedom to use technology to let their voices be heard, to foster an independent living, and to bring about revolution. I was one of the panelists.
ICFJ organized a one week set of meetings at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. A diverse group of journalists, technologists and media entrepreneurs from around the world were brought together to look for the best models for using voice technology to engage citizens in news – and to identify needed improvements to the technology. The idea came from Knight International Journalism Fellow Shubhranshu Choudhary’s project, CGNet Swara, in India. I was one of a select group of presenters and advisors on this project.
Organized and founded TechCamp Guatemala, acted as a TechTrainer at seven TechCamps (Donetsk, Kiev, Mexico City, New York, Ramallah, Tegucigalpa, Tel Aviv), and assisted in organizing TechCamp Honduras and the Techcamp II Ramallah. TechCamp is a program under the U.S. State Department’s Civil Society (CS) 2.0 initiative – an effort to galvanize the technology community to assist civil society organizations (CSOs) across the globe by providing capabilities, resources and assistance to harness the latest information and communications technology (ICT) advances to build their digital capacity. Project website: http://techcampglobal.org/
The Guatemala Scholars Network is an organization of over 300 academics and professionals whose major research field is Guatemala. This homepage is presented as part of the GSN mission to foster communication among scholars; to share information and stay informed about the situation in Guatemala; to provide a forum for Guatemalan voices to be heard in North America; and to support the renaissance of Mayan intellectual and academic activity taking place in Guatemala. was formed in 1982, as an outgrowth of the 1981 National Teach-In on Guatemala. I presented on “Rethinking the Guatemalan State” and the use of technology to democratize access to information and create opportunities.
The third and final workshop in the Digital Natives with a Cause? research project took place in Santiago, Chile, from the 8 to 10 February. The Centre for Internet and Society and Hivos in collaboration with Rising Voices convened young users of technology to join a global conversation. The 3-day workshop titled “From Face to Interface” focused on how youth utilize new platforms, media and spaces of communication and expression in the digital age. I helped to facilitate the conversations, trained and also published a chapter.
Participated in the Kravis Leadership Institute’s September 29, 2010 Leadership Day. The mission of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College is to be the premier academic center for the promotion and understanding of responsible, innovative leadership and to provide unique opportunities for CMC students to develop as outstanding real world leaders in the public, private and social sectors.
The Integrated Media Association brings public media professionals together to innovate, increase effectiveness and work more efficiently to raise the bar in working with communities. I co-presented a workshop that focused on: (1) training participants in the use of cellphones to submit audio, video and text content to different Web 2.0 applications such as WordPress, Twitter, Facebotok, Flickr; (2) training in journalistic practices for gathering and distributing content, (3) generating revenue from content and (4) posting anonymously and the use of common platforms and practices for posting multimedia content.
Newspapers are dying and everything is changing in the world of journalism. But don’t mistake the decline of newspapers with the decline of journalism. The power is shifting and consumers’ appetites for news have become insatiable. Will blogs, micro-financed articles and citizen journalism be enough? Who’s going to be making money and how? I was part of this panel of industry experts discussing what to expect next in the changing world of journalism.
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