Posts filed under “Disruptive Technology”

#IranElections & Acts of Corporate Good

It is evident that the role of social media and digital communications play a critical role in sharing information during environmental disasters or times of political unrest. These tools help spread information, share news and level the playing field in a way that (at least for now) traditional governments can’t seem to stop, and not for lack of trying.

Using social media sites to organize and mobilize groups of people is nothing new. What I am finding particularly intriguing as I watch the Iranian Election crisis unfold, is how some of these social networks are making decisions as corporate entities that are evolving their roles from neutral platforms to powerful players within a new digital narrative. It’s no longer about USERS leveraging a site’s features, but organizational decisions which are adding a new variable to social media’s role in impacting global change.

For the first time, tech companies like Twitter, Facebook & Google are taking direct action in response to an unfolding crisis and are having a big impact. I’m trying to puzzle out the corporate agendas behind these acts as well as thinking of the implications that these decisions will have on driving the development of governmental IT policies and the creation of emerging digital rights legislation.

1) Twitter Reschedules Maintenance after US Government Appeal

The US State Department asked Twitter to reschedule its maintenance in order to keep the service available to Iranians so they could continue to share up to the second reports of the unfolding situation. A CNN blog post reported that US Government officials are pushing to ensure that they (and the rest of the world) continue to receive as much information as possible from social networking and content sharing sites. With this request coming from the US Government, it is clear that social media channels are being monitored by the Obama administration which has no diplomatic relationship with Iran. The content they are receiving through Twitter, Facebook and Youtube is an invaluable source of information.

Twitter made the corporate decision to change their maintenance date to provide the Iranian people the opportunity to share information at a critical juncture.

On to Facebook & Google

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War in the Middle East Pt.3: Understanding Both Sides

http://www.thewip.net/contributors/peace-sign.jpg

This is the third part of a blog mini-series that is tracking the unfolding events in Gaza through the use of New Media tools. In this installment I’m going to list some helpful resources for people who are looking to educate themselves through sources beyond those of traditional media.This is especially important since members of the media have been granted only limited access to the war torn region. We need to hear these people’s stories.

As to how I picked the sources below, some I came across accidentally, others I found because I was looking for perspectives that support non-violent resolutions. Frankly, I don’t care who started what, launching rockets at civilians is as intolerable as mass bombing civilian populations. I have nothing but compassion and sympathy  ALL the people involved in this conflict, and but I don’t  believe that a military response (from either side) is going to ever bring peace to the region.

Twitter:

Gaza:

@gazanews

@tweetsfromgaza

@AJgaza

Israel:

@israelconsulate

@Quassamcount

@DavidSaranga

Some Interesting Articles:

Haaretz, one of Israel’s Newspapers has some great articles including these:

If you (or I) were Palestinian by Yossi Sarid

The IAF, Bullies of the clear blue sky, Gideon Levy

Here are some other sources I’ve come across during my readings this past week:

Israel Targets Hamas Orphenages , an in-depth look at how Hamas garners civilian support through a massive network of social institutions such as schools, mosques and medical clinics. Sheds insight onto why they have so much local support.

Operation Cast Lead- A Familiar Story in Gaza by Hugo Foster from the Daily Banter, shows the futility of a military operation against an aggressive insurgency.

Blogs:

Leila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist and mother blogs about her daily struggle to survive with her family in Gaza

Body On The Line A blog by Dr. Marcy Newman a professor in Palestine.

Palestinian Blog Aggregator

Non Profits:

The Electronic Intifada

Palestinian Red Crescent Society

J-Street a Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Non Profit.

A good video:

This was a powerful video because it brought together Palestinians and Israelis in a talk to try and understand each other’s perspective. If only the two parties involved could talk to each other like this they would find that they have a lot more in common with each other. This video made me hopeful that little steps like these will one day lead to peaceful negotiations.

Good News Sites:

BBC Middle East Page

Huffington Post World Page

From the Web

Mashable had a great post recently about tracking Gaza crisis with social media tools. Highlights involve using:

  • Crisiswire – An aggregator that creates a single page around issues combining photos, rss feeds, news and more. The Gaza page can be found here.
  • WhosTalkin, a social search site covering 63 social media sites that were handpicked to deliver a well rounded result for users.

That should be enough to keep you busy for a while! Here are the previous installments in this series for those of you that missed it:  Part 1: Conflict in A Connected Age, Part 2: Moving at Twitter Speed.

War in the Middle East Pt 2: Moving at Twitter Speed

This is the second part of a series I’m working on that is tracking the unfolding Gaza/Israel military conflict from a New Media perspective.  You can see Part 1: Conflict in a Connected Age here.

Twitter was really a major driver for me during this event for several reasons:

  1. It helped me stay completely up-to-date on breaking news and follow developing situations
  2. It gave me access to people who were actually THERE in both sides, before the press could report.
  3. It captured real moments and gave an indication to just what was going on
  4. It allowed me to engage in conversation with people from both sides of the conflict from all over the world.

I’m going to talk about these points in detail below, but before we get started just what the heck is Twitter?

1. Staying Updated on Breaking News – Hashtags

Hashtags are words that people can attach to their messages, called tweets, that help aggregate and organize content so that users can quickly search and find messages about a particular topic. During the past four days several hashtags have been used to help the discussion for example:

#gaza

#askisrael

#israel

2. People who where there:

I met people like @gazanews who was updating on Israeli target strikes, while @Qassamcount shared where rockets were landing in Israel. (Part three will have a more comprehensive list of people to follow)

3. Moments captured from all over:

Users were sending in mobile pics from everywhere including this one from a hospital:

http://www.aqsatv.ps/arabic/pic/1_793670_1_34.jpg

4. Conversations Back at Home

Thanks to the Hashtags, I met a lot of people who had wide and varied opinions on what was going on. Some of us started on completely opposite sides of the issue:

And then all of a sudden, we became two people having a conversation, and wouldn’t you know it a friendship was born:

Even MORE interesting, was that the Israel Consulate, in a Twitter First, held a “citizen” press conference where it answered people’s questions between 1 and 3pm EST. I for one, was full of them, and I did get one answer about their definition of terrorism:

Users were asked to tag their questions with #askisrael and the conversation can be seen below:

They were a little overwhelmed with questions and so wisely decided to answer all questions on a blog post that will be released in a few days. I thought this made a lot more sense because the overflow made the thread hard to follow, and people were getting a bit frustrated that their questions weren’t being answered or that the consulate was picking and choosing questions. I think the blog post will alleviate those feelings since everyone’s question (the reasonable ones) will hopefully get answered. We can also see the foundation of social media in official roles within government. Eventually, there will probably have to be a dedicated person whose job it is to engage and answer questions. Awesome.

This conversation is great to see on Twitter, it shows the potential of what can happen when government engages with people, ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability. All in all, great first steps were made today.

UPDATE: First round of the Q&A are up and can be found here.

War in the Middle East Pt 1: Conflict In A Connected Age

I was struck at the technology involved in unfolding crisis in Gaza, particularly at how Twitter and Secondlife, and other sites played a role in really setting an unprecedented context where differing views could be expressed.

Secondlife:

Back in March 2008, Dancing Ink Productions blogged about a Gaza Holocaust Memorial Museum created by Breathe Swindlehurst and Frozenfire Fride on Second Life, as a gesture to pay respect to the lives lost without choosing sides or sending a political message:

This is a statement for all the children who died in Palestine. Regardless of our political opinions, I’m sure we all agree that we don’t want those children dying. There is no place here for arguments on which country is helping or which country is harming. Lets just agree that we want to send out a unified message to the whole world through SL that we are against what is happening here, and lets show them the pics of everything happening so the world knows the disaster from our side.

Yesterday, BoingBoing reported some of the demonstrations that have been happening in the virtual world to protest the latest military operation:

I think it is so interesting to see how a discussion about politics and culture can transcend geographical borders and use an online space as a platform to express an opinions, which may be polarizing, but that are expressed in a non-violent manner. I was also intrigued to note that the protesters were mainly from Egypt, a country where expressing dissent can be harshly  punished, and where SecondLife can offer a “below the radar” way to share with the world how they really feel.

Videos:

Videos like these quickly made the rounds, at a speed that surpassed even the most agile news organizations. They were able to communicate the chaos of the region, the fear, shock and utter panic in a way that a traditional news organization (in my opinion) wouldn’t have been able to do in the same way. Eventually though, News Organizations did catch up and used the same digital content distribution platforms to get their pieces out on the web:

More Video Coverage

Blogs:

There has been a big reaction on the blogosphere as well. Global Voices has captured a sampling of reactions from all involved parties:

30 Dec – Palestine: “In Gaza it’s 9/11 every hour, every minute, everywhere”
30 Dec – Lebanon: Solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza
30 Dec – Syria: More on the Israeli Massacre in Palestine
30 Dec – Syria: Myths about Israeli Attacks in Palestine
30 Dec – Israel: Consulate Holds Twitter “Press Conference”
30 Dec – Israel: Perspectives on Gaza Operation Cast Lead
29 Dec – Palestine: Bloggers in Gaza describe the fear
29 Dec – Syria: Bloggers Infuriated by Israeli Massacre in Gaza
29 Dec – Palestine: French Blogger Weighs In On Gaza
29 Dec – Israel: Israeli Bloggers React to Gaza
29 Dec – Israel: Preparing for War
28 Dec – Palestine: On the ground in Gaza
28 Dec – The Global Twittersphere Discusses Gaza
28 Dec – Syria: Outrage at the Massacre in Gaza
28 Dec – Palestine: The Bloodiest Day Since 1967
27 Dec – Arab World Reacts to Gaza Massacre
27 Dec – Palestine: Israeli Airstrikes Spur Actions from Bloggers
26 Dec – Iran: Islamist bloggers support Gaza

Google Blog Search Results

Flickr Image Search Results

In Part 2, I will be talking about Twitter specifically since there was too much going on to fit into one post, and Part 3 will deal with resources that I’ve come across on the web that shed some light on what’s been happening.