Social Media And Civil Society

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presentation at ASEFUAN 8th AGM Heslini August 2009

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  • Good morning, hello from GR , hopefully you can see and hear me properly. hope you are all enjoying AGM, I regret that I cannot be with you today physically… but in a way glad that thanks to the conferencing technology and surely the time and efforts of the organizing team it is still possible to deliver this presentation. I ll try to make this online presentations brief and move as much as I can in order for this not to look too static. So, I am going to talk about the impact of sm on today’s world with focus on some real life examples. First of all, my disclaimer, I am not an expert sociologist , or political analyst or something, rather working for Google my main area is in fact on line advertising. And this is how I originally became involved in to the topic of social media - basically in order to see how brands can harness the power of social media in order to better understand, communicate and interact effectively with the consumers.
  • However on the way I started to realize that there is much more to social media besides marketing and branding applications. So, From media to gov’t, from education to business those are just some of the aspects of modern society that SM have started transforming. The challenge is to understand not just the nature of the change/transformation but also how civil society can embrace and benefit from it. SM are now used as news filters, collaboration platforms The great thing about it is that social media enable direct involvement: people can come together discuss and take action to solve shared problems.
  • An acknowledgement of this is TIME magazine's cover and that’s already dating back to Dec 2006 Time magazine selected as person of the year the users who were participating in content creation on social networks, blogs wikis, video and image sharing sites. “ “ It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before, It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes” those are the words Lev Grossman (TIME magazine cover story author)
  • Now, I think a good way to show how social media are impacting our world is by providing relevant and specific examples The one that I will cover today it’s quite a recent one, it is actually still ongoing and it comes from the Islamic Republic of Iran and it is about the impact that social media have had into the development of the “Green” revolution as it was called. SM were critical in driving the world’s attention to the crisis both on individual level as well as for the int media (which , most of them, initially had largely ignored the story). I believe several of you are familiar with the facts, but let me just give a brief background of the story:
  • On June 12, 2009 following a heated campaign between reformist candidate Musavi and president Ahmadinejad, Iranians turned out in record numbers to vote in the presidential election. Shortly after the polls closed the interior minister announced that president A had been reelected by a 62% margin. The announcement was followed by allegations of vote rigging and election fraud and it caused supporters of leading reformist candidate Musavi to hold public demonstrations in several major cities. The size and intensity of those demonstrations was unprecedented. The reaction of the regime to those protests was rather violent – many civilians killed, injured or captured- and this reaction obviously has raised concerns about Iranian gov’t disregard for human rights and basic civil liberties.
  • just to give you the idea: mobile phone networks were blocked, limited or no access to the internet, confiscation of satellite dishes. Iranian gov has restricted all domestic and foreign journalists from reporting on the streets Front pages of Iranian news papers were full of blank space from the news stories that censors had removed. Besides all those things, it s important to note however that (Iran is a computer literate societ + young) and there was not much that the Iranian gov’t could do about this. Despite the obstacles the communications and messaging activity moved right away on the web.
  • Twitter was probably the most used and most influential medium (revelation). In fact to such an extent that some people even have called this a twitter revolution. The bottom line is that Twitter is a powerful medium to connect people in Iran + delivering info from street level and + on real time The great thing with T is that it is mobile, its easy and quick to use + hard for any central gov’t to control There have been mutiple millions of tweets about iran election, hundreds of thousands twitting about it around hash tages such as “iranelection” “ musavi” teheran” It’s interesting that even US gov’t reached out to Twitter and asked them to delay scheduled network updates to avoid interruptions to the service.
  • Blogosphere played an active role too, it was the quickest to pick up the news from Iran. The web community relied on citizens like these to get news and constant updates from the ground. Bloggs such as huffington post and revolutionary road were the first ones to collect, organize and interpret the free flow of information coming out of Iran. Interesting that some bloggers were event invited to the white house press conference to transfer to US president obama questions coming straight from the Iranian citizens.
  • Time for Flickr: Social media photo site is full with dramatic images from the ground. Amateur photographers continuously upload more pictures, leave comments on the existing ones and share them many many times through friends and family networks.
  • Facebook needs no introductions here…Facebook added Persian translation services to their site to help people trying to communicate about this issue in multiple languages One of the most talked about videos from the protests was first posted on facebook, depicting clearly and tragically the death of a young woman, Neda and her face became an inspiring symbol for the protests. A Facebook group devoted to opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had attracted more than hundreds of thousands of supporters There is a page specifically set up to inform the world daily " Tehran Bureau ," an independent news source posts regular updates and commentary, and allows others to post thoughts and commentary
  • It as been a central distribution medium for the Iran riots. Iranians were posting videos non stop of what was happening on the ground. It’s a good way to see what was happening without filters. That would normally be against the editorial principles of YT however as those scenes were regarded as a documentation of history a decision was made by YT not to remove any of those videos Before to conclude, let’s watch this YT video, which is basically a photo collage, in order to get a better visual idea of what was going on + it can show the power of social media to pass a message across, to inspire and connect people
  • Here you can see just some comments about this video..this is what adds to the social nature of video sharing
  • Throughout the development of this story we witnessed Social media have emerged to be a democratizing force in many ways + are by design very hard to control by authoritarian regimes.. Of course it is also important to understand that SM is not a magic bullet against all dictators (Twitter info can be chaotic, overwhelming and even unverifiable & subjective BUT: I think that Iran riots is a very good example where the absence of traditional media in covering the story makes us think that if SM didn’t exist the world could still be in the dark or at the best seriously mis-informed about the situation. Now this whole thing For many people this represents the notion that several people considers to be citizen journalism, that’s how I am going to close…its not a statement it is rather a question.. It’s about groups of citizens, armed with mobile phones, portable cameras, and blogs are playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intention of this participation being to provide the independent, accurate, and relevant information . And This I believe is something our democracies both in Europe and Asia could benefit from .
  • With this let me thank you for your attention and your patience during this on line presentation.
  • He says the first time he realized the power of social media was during last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, when Twitter played host to a huge outpouring of firsthand information from a city under siege. In April, protesters of disputed elections in the former Soviet republic of Moldova organized demonstrations of up to 15,000 people in part via Twitter and Facebook. NYU professor Clay Shirky gave a fantastic talk on new media during our TED@State event earlier this month. He revealed how cellphones, the web, Facebook and Twitter had changed the rules of the game, allowing ordinary citizens extraordinary new powers to impact real-world events. As protests in Iran exploded over the weekend, we decided to rush out his talk, because it could hardly be more relevant. I caught up with Clay this afternoon to get his take on the significance of what is happening. HIs excitement was palpable. What do you make of what's going on in Iran right now. I'm always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that ... this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I've been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted "the whole world is watching." Really, that wasn't true then. But this time it's true ... and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They're engaging with individual participants, they're passing on their messages to their friends, and they're even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can't immediately censor. That kind of participation is reallly extraordinary. Which services have caused the greatest impact? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter? It's Twitter. One thing that Evan (Williams) and Biz (Stone) did absolutely right is that they made Twitter so simple and so open that it's easier to integrate and harder to control than any other tool. At the time, I'm sure it wasn't conceived as anything other than a smart engineering choice. But it's had global consequences. Twitter is shareable and open and participatory in a way that Facebook's model prevents. So far, despite a massive effort, the authorities have found no way to shut it down, and now there are literally thousands of people aorund the world who've made it their business to help keep it open. Do you get a sense that it's almost as if the world is figuring out live how to use Twitter in these circumstances? Some dissidents were using named accounts for a while, and there's been a raging debate in the community about how best to help them. Yes, there's an enormous reckoning to be had about what works and what doesn't. There have been disagreements over whether it was dangerous to use hashtags like #Iranelection , and there was a period in which people were openly tweeting the IP addresses of web proxies for people to switch to, not realizing that the authorities would soon shut these down. It's incredibly messy, and the definitive rules of the game have yet to be written. So yes, we're seeing the medium invent itself in real time. Talk some more about the sense of participation on Twitter. It seems to me that that has spurred an entirely deeper level of emotional connection with these events. Absolutely. I've been saying this for a while -- as a medium gets faster, it gets more emotional. We feel faster than we think. But Twitter is also just a much more personal medium. Reading personal messages from individuals on the ground prompts a whole other sense of involvement. We're seeing everyone desperate to do something to show solidarity like wear green -- and suddenly the community figures out that it can actually offer secure web proxies, or persuade Twitter to delay an engineering upgrade -- we can help keep the medium open. When I see John Perry Barlow setting himself up as a router, he's not performing these services as a journalist. He's engaged. Traditional media operates as source of inofrmation not as a means of coordination. It can't do more than make us sympathize. Twitter makes us empathize. It makes us part of it. Even if it's just retweeting, you're aiding the goal that dissidents have always sought: the awareness that the ouside world is paying attention is really valuable. Of course the downside of this emotional engagement is that while this is happening, I feel like I can't in good consicence tweet about anything else! There was fury on Twitter against CNN for not adequately covering the situation. Was that justified? In a way it wasn't. I'm sure that for the majority of the country, events in Iran are not of grave interest, even if those desperate for CNN's Iran info couldn't get access to it. That push model of one message for all is an incredibly crappy way of linking supply and demand. CNN has the same problem this decade that Time magazine had last decade. They simultaneously want to appeal to middle America and leading influencers. Reaching multiple audiences is increasingly difficult. The people who are hungry for info on events of global significance are used to instinctively switching on CNN. But they are realizng that that reflex doesn't serve them very well anymore, and that can't be good for CNN. Do you get the sense that these new media tools are helping build a global community, forged more by technology and a desire for connection, than by traditional political or religious divides? You can see it clearly in what's happening right now. And it cuts both ways. The guy we're rallying around, Mousavi, is no liberal reformer. But the principle of freedom of speech and fair elections and the desire for reform trump that. So how does this play out? It's complex. The Ahmadinejad supporters are going to use the fact of English-speaking and American participation to try to damn the dissidents. But whatever happens from here, the dissidents have seen that large numbers of American people, supposedly part of "the great Satan," are actually supporters. Someone tweeted from Tehran today that "the American media may not care, but the American people do." That's a sea-change
  • One of the most talked about videos to emerge from the protests, depicting clearly and tragically the death of a young woman started on Facebook (and then quickly spread to YT and numerous other video hosting sites) Facebook added Persian translation services to their site to help people trying to communicate about this issue in multiple languages There is a page specifically set up to inform the world daily A Facebook group devoted to opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had attracted more than 56,000 supporters by late Tuesday, and a few hundred more were joining every hour. Facebook, too, provides information, though not with the simultaneity and easy accessibility of Twitter.  The fan page for " Tehran Bureau ," an independent news source , posts regular updates and commentary, and allows others to post thoughts and commentary.  Hailing itself as the "The Leaders of Iran’s Election Coup," it currently has 22,108 Facebook "fans" and appears to be the major hub on the social networking site for protest information.
  • Social Media And Civil Society

    1. 1. Social Media & Society: An example taken from “Civil Society 2.0” Alexandros Papageorgiou, AU 7 On line media consultant @ Google August 20 th 2009
    2. 3. Time Magazine, December 2006
    3. 4. The Green Revolution June 12 2009 - …
    4. 6. <ul><li>IRANIAN PRESS… </li></ul><ul><li>& ON THE WEB… </li></ul>
    5. 13. citizens 2.0 = the new journalists, new opinion makers ?
    6. 14.
    7. 16. <ul><li>Over the past few years, we've seen politicians and campaigns from around the globe use YouTube to broadcast their platforms , debate their opponents , and engage with their supporters . Following this trend, </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube has recently become home to the German elections, as German citizens prepare to vote for a new government in September. In a partnership with ZDF , the second-largest public TV broadcaster in Germany (13.1% market share), we created a special channel and concept for the occasion: Open Reichstag . As the name implies, the goal of this channel is to open the doors of the Reichstag, the parliament building in Berlin, to dialog and discussion, encouraging direct interaction between the YouTube community and members of the different political parties in Germany. For a start, we've decided to turn things around and have well-known politicians of the six key parties pose a &quot; Sunday question &quot; to the YouTube community. Here are a couple of interesting and creative responses: </li></ul>
    8. 17. <ul><li>The first citizen-powered interview series YouTube and Google partnered with the Politico and WJLA to give Virginian voters the opportunity to submit text or video questions for the state's three Democratic gubernatorial candidates: Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds, and Brian Moran. Submissions took place on a new tool called Google Moderator, which allows you not only to submit questions or ideas, but also to vote on the submissions of others, moving them up or down in importance. Thousands of Virginians took part in the interactive interview, and last night WJLA and the Politico aired the results, in which all three candidates answered the top questions on television. </li></ul><ul><li>As our CNN/YouTube Debates demonstrated during the 2007 presidential primary season, the web allows citizen engagement to play a prominent role in the country's most important public forums. Now with Moderator, the people's voice can be an even more powerful force in surfacing the issues that matter most to the public at large. We've used Moderator in our &quot;Senator of the Week&quot; series on YouTube, and President Obama employed Moderator in his &quot;Open for Questions&quot; initiative back in April. We look forward to taking this model to other local, national, and international elections. </li></ul>
    9. 18. <ul><li>Spotlight on a cool YouTube channel doing innovative things with video in the developing world: Video Volunteers . This non-profit group is creating a self-described &quot;CNN or BBC for the one billion people living on less than two dollars a day.&quot; Their idea is pretty simple, albeit not easy to pull off. Basically, they're trying to empower people living in slums and villages around the world by giving them the tools to produce video content. By enabling local communities to create videos telling their story with affordable video and editing equipment, Video Volunteers hopes to set up a &quot;global community media network.&quot; They're doing amazing work already in India. Take a look at this video, in which young kids take action on the lack of a playground in their neighborhood: </li></ul>
    10. 19. <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/charitywater </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4hqWfp3374 </li></ul>
    11. 20. <ul><li>http://www.youtube.com/youthmovements </li></ul><ul><li>Howcast created the videos in conjunction with the first-ever Alliance of Youth Movements Summit where social media experts and delegates from 17 international youth organizations met in New York City to discuss how young people can leverage social media and technology to end violence, oppression and human rights abuses around the world. </li></ul>
    12. 21. <ul><li>Facebook’s causes aplication </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter based charity events: Twitter users use a message that puts a dollar sign before the name of their charity or cause of choice. Then they receive a direct message linking them to where they can make donations </li></ul><ul><li>Non profit organizations lead the way in social media adoption (society new communications research) </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook Causes application: </li></ul><ul><li>To collect donations raise awareness and gather petition signatures </li></ul><ul><li>Project for awsome: </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities & benefits of social networking </li></ul><ul><li>Outreach to those who would never come into an agency </li></ul><ul><li>Education on relevant topics </li></ul><ul><li>Demographic survey </li></ul><ul><li>Potential increased donor base </li></ul><ul><li>Potential increase in funding opportunities and donors </li></ul><ul><li>Ability for partnership opportunities with other service providers </li></ul>

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