Mariamz

Posts Tagged ‘politics

We live in an era of deep technological and economic change that has not been matched by a similar development of public institutions responsible for its regulation… We need to move forward to new, more extensive and deeper forms of democracy…

The existing national-state organisations have to be part of a wider and much better coordinated structure, which involves democratic regional institutions on all the continents, the reform of the International Court of Justice, a fairer and more balanced International Criminal Court and a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly as the embryo of a future World Parliament.

Yet, this institutional change will not be successful if it only accrues from the actions of a self-appointed elite. On the contrary, it must come from a socio-political process open to all human beings, with the goal of creating a participative global democracy.

David Hayes, sharing the Manifesto for Global Democracy, signed by Daniele Archibugi, Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, David Held, Fernando Iglesias, Lucio Levi, Giacomo Marramao, George Monbiot, Heikki Patomäki, Mary Kaldor, Saskia Sassen, Richard Sennett, Vandana Shiva, Andy Strauss

Disclosure:  David Hayes is a former openDemocracy colleague

The toughest thing for the probabilistic magazine brand is to find some kind of coherence. In the traditional sense, coherence as a package of interrelated content is gone. The story is the unit that matters, after all. But a big part of the value we add *is* structuring the world in a consistent way. So, the question becomes: what can form the basis for a new coherence for magazines?

One answer that is specific to The Atlantic but extensible is very old: moral purpose. This magazine was founded as an abolitionist publication and that helped structure the varied voices that ran in its pages through the early days.

Alexis Madrigal  

People spend a lot of time watching frivolous, ridiculous video online – so Ogilvy Cape Town developed an innovative ‘YouTube interventions’ campaign for Forever Wild based on this insight.

Forever Wild is aiming to gather support from the public and various stakeholders to help fight against rhino poaching in South Africa and save the rhino from extinction.

For the ‘YouTube interventions’ campaign over 60 frivolous trending videos (and some classics) were adapted to include messaging encouraging people to join the fight against rhino poaching and sign a petition.

Targeting people who actively searched for silly viral videos, these ‘Trojan Horses videos’ forced viewers to confront the reality of how they spent their time online and do something positive for a cause.

With PR horror stories in mind of where brands have attempted to subvert trending terms for their own gain… this was a somewhat risky strategy. The video mentions some people were indeed annoyed by the manipulation. But for such an important cause, Ogilvy could get away with it… this once at least.

I’m not sure YouTube would be amused if this tactic is widely repeated, but this campaign shows how understanding people, their viewing habits and specific platform capabilities can be utilised for innovative campaigns that drive awareness and social action.

The results: Ogilvy claim they gained over 300,000 YouTube views, over 11,000 Facebook likes, and petition signatures increased by almost 400%, enough to present a strong case to Congress later in 2012. And all this with $0 spent.

A few weeks ago I saw Wael Ghonim at LSE speak about his new book Revolution 2.0. I found the talk most enjoyable – his authenticity and passion were a pleasure to listen to. The discussion afterwards was mainly on the political situation in Egypt – understandably given the session was run by the LSE’s Middle East centre (not the Media and Communications school where I recently studied).

But when I fortunate enough to have the chance to ask a question I dived in with a social media one… asking him about anonymity in relation to his administration of the Facebook page credited with being a catalyst for the Egyptian revolution… given the success he described with bringing people together would have been impossible if real names were used throughout the process (he had mentioned earlier that working with others on the “We are all Khaled Saeed” Facebook page .. they did not reveal their true identities to one another during several months of organising). I also cheekily asked that he comment on the Google+ policy on real names in relation to this vital civic question..

Wael did not answer at great length – he said he was not on Google+ (nothing if not apparently honest to a fault!?) and that anonymity on the Facebook platform did not matter so much to his activities, since whilst running a Facebook page no one can publicly see who the admin is. He also said he trusted that Facebook would not have done anything dangerous with his data… that they could have traced him via IP anyway (I will cover this in a later post).. and he trusted the platform would not have misused what it knew about him.

I was grateful for this answer – but to pick back up on it… I would argue our brief exchange leaves wide open a rich and urgent territory for consideration in relation to online participation, democracy and identity:

  • In a short-term ‘revolutionary’ situation – using a social platform hosted in one country to discuss issues, organise and challenge the state of another may well be highly possible (for now)
  • But anonymity / pseudonymity which enables citizens to develop understanding and contribute to political commentary (particularly over extended periods of time) without fear of judgement or consequence from peers, colleagues, employers and state powers is not being built into the major social platforms in popular use by the mainstream in western democracies (for example, when you comment on the wall of a Facebook page – your real name is publicly visible)
  • As Sanna Trygg, myself and many others have argued, online comments can contribute to healthy public debate in general and open our media up to a more diverse and democratic discourse
  • However any social platform which stores real identities with political commentary may be used as a ‘technology of power’ which enables users’ opinion and interest data to be used against them for state or commercial purposes
  • Furthermore, contrary to the attitude of much ‘big media’ towards lowly unidentifiable commenters, on average, it has been found that online participation using pseudonyms often results in higher quality participation than that conducted using ‘real names’

This indicates the need for urgent attention to ways in which identity can be handled differently, more sensitively, by all using, designing, hosting and regulating participation online. If anonymity / pseudonymity as an option is more valuable and indeed safer for individual safety and liberty in any online forum where critical civic dialogue takes place… the case must be made and won, the software adapted and norms altered… while they still can be.

Legislative bodies at both the national and EU level need to ensure… that press freedom is ‘mainstreamed’ across all initiatives so that advances in one field are not undermined by developments in another. A particular area of concern is the potential impact of anti-terrorism legislation at both the domestic and EU levels, which, if inappropriately applied, could give security services extensive access to journalists’ materials or contact details, thereby restricting their ability to obtain information or even putting reporters’ lives at risk.

Rachael Craufurd Smith and Yolande Stolte (PDF)

The majority of Internet users are interested in, and capable of, finding information from their local government and council. Political participation online is, however, not very popular, with 74% of [UK] adult Internet users not interested in contacting MPs or MSPs online, and 64% not interested in signing online petitions (Ofcom, 2011b: 42)

Rachael Craufurd Smith and Yolande Stolte (PDF)

Since September journalists have been arrested at Occupy events in 10 cities around the U.S. Due in large part to these arrests, the United States plunged 27 spots in Reporters Without Borders’ 2011 press freedom index. The United States is now ranked 47th in the world for press freedom

Josh Stearns


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