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Crowdsourcing and rumour: The double-edged sword of ICTs in conflict situations

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Crowdsourcing and rumour: The double-edged sword of ICTs in conflict situations

  1. 1. Guy Collender, Senior Communications Officer, London International Development Centre Crowdsourcing and rumour: The double-edged sword of ICTs in conflict situations ICT: Africa’s Revolutionary Tools for the 21st Century? Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, 5 May 2010
  2. 2. Overview <ul><ul><li>ICT experiment: audience participation required! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changing ICT landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Birth and spread of crowdsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment of crowdsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile phones: Positive and negative implications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusion: Complexity and convergence </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. ICT experiment 2. Online news 4. Text message 3. Facebook/Twitter 1. Radio/TV
  4. 4. Changing ICT landscape <ul><ul><li>Traditional media (TV/radio): One-to-many </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social networking (Twitter, Ushahidi.com): Many-to-many </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Crowdsourcing: Birth of Ushahidi.com <ul><ul><li>Context: Violent aftermath of disputed Kenyan election 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1,000 killed and 600,000 displaced in six weeks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kenyan Pundit blog posting and response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-time, map-based view of incidents: riots, deaths, rapes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Submission via email/texts, verification with NGOs </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 15 houses have been burnt in Molo/ Kuresoi area Ushahidi
  7. 7. Assessement of Ushahidi in Kenya <ul><ul><li>Ushahidi's strengths compared with mainstream media and cititzen journalism (Meier 2008).  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Democratising information (Hersman 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Truth is not guaranteed - but the idea behind crowdsourcing is that with enough volume, a 'truth' emerges that diminishes any false reports.&quot; Ory Okolloh, Ushahidi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of local awareness: &quot;We were not able to reach a critical mass of people in the country.&quot; Juliana Rotich, Ushahidi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pioneering platform: Replicated internationally </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Beyond Kenya: Growth of Ushahidi platform 2008: Xenophobic attacks in South Africa; Violence in DRC 2009: War on Gaza; Indian election; Swine flu 2010: Sudanese elections
  9. 9. Pros and cons of crowdsourcing <ul><ul><li>+ Aggregates information to create comprehensive picture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Real-time on-the-ground coverage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Circumvents censorship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Global reach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Unfiltered information: Misleading/propaganda </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Inequalities of access (rich/poor, local/global) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+/- Speed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+/- Anonymity  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of context </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Future of crowdsourcing <ul><ul><li>Gathering data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Validating and filtering crowdsourced information (open source software platform SwiftRiver) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Variations: Open crowdsourcing, ‘bounded’ crowdsourcing (War on Gaza) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disseminating data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Subscription to specific location alerts (‘crowdfeeding') </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reaction by the authorities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Screening of content increasingly likely </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Mobile phones: Spreading rumours <ul><ul><li>Text messages fanned the flames in post-election Kenya (Osborn 2008), &quot;weapon of war&quot; (Bangre 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rumours included: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Alert! Mungiki r hitting back n slaughtering our pple ... Mungiki terror gang plan massacre by night raids </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rumours were frequently perceived as truths in Kibera </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government or media accounts were dismissed as propaganda </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Mobile phones: Lifelines <ul><ul><li>Irish charity Concern used M-PESA to transfer nearly three million Kenyan shillings to affected communities after Kenyan election </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile phones enhance personal security in conflict/post-conflict settings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Télécoms Sans Frontières: Communication hubs serve NGOs/affected communities during crises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction with other ICTs: Integral to Ushahidi.com etc </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Complexity and convergence <ul><ul><li>Crowdsourcing/mobiles supplement existing media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing convergence/ interaction between ICTs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of emotional/social responses (ICT experiment) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revolutionary tools =  catalyst for revolutionary impact (yet to be realised) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perpetual innovation: mobile internet, MXIT </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Resources and feedback Presentation: www.slideshare.net/LIDC Email: guycollender@gmail.com   Twitter: @lidc_uk Website: www.lidc.org.uk Thank you
  15. 15. Guy Collender, Senior Communications Officer, London International Development Centre Crowdsourcing and rumour: The double-edged sword of ICTs in conflict situations ICT: Africa’s Revolutionary Tools for the 21st Century? Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, 5 May 2010
  16. 16. Overview <ul><ul><li>ICT experiment: audience participation required! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changing ICT landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Birth and spread of crowdsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment of crowdsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile phones: Positive and negative implications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusion: Complexity and convergence </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. ICT experiment 2. Online news 4. Text message 3. Facebook/Twitter 1. Radio/TV
  18. 18. Changing ICT landscape <ul><ul><li>Traditional media (TV/radio): One-to-many </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social networking (Twitter, Ushahidi.com): Many-to-many </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Crowdsourcing: Birth of Ushahidi.com <ul><ul><li>Context: Violent aftermath of disputed Kenyan election 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1,000 killed and 600,000 displaced in six weeks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kenyan Pundit blog posting and response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real-time, map-based view of incidents: riots, deaths, rapes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Submission via email/texts, verification with NGOs </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. 15 houses have been burnt in Molo/ Kuresoi area Ushahidi
  21. 21. Assessement of Ushahidi in Kenya <ul><ul><li>Ushahidi's strengths compared with mainstream media and cititzen journalism (Meier 2008).  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Democratising information (Hersman 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Truth is not guaranteed - but the idea behind crowdsourcing is that with enough volume, a 'truth' emerges that diminishes any false reports.&quot; Ory Okolloh, Ushahidi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of local awareness: &quot;We were not able to reach a critical mass of people in the country.&quot; Juliana Rotich, Ushahidi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pioneering platform: Replicated internationally </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Beyond Kenya: Growth of Ushahidi platform 2008: Xenophobic attacks in South Africa; Violence in DRC 2009: War on Gaza; Indian election; Swine flu 2010: Sudanese elections
  23. 23. Pros and cons of crowdsourcing <ul><ul><li>+ Aggregates information to create comprehensive picture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Real-time on-the-ground coverage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Circumvents censorship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Global reach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Unfiltered information: Misleading/propaganda </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Inequalities of access (rich/poor, local/global) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+/- Speed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>+/- Anonymity  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of context </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Future of crowdsourcing <ul><ul><li>Gathering data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Validating and filtering crowdsourced information (open source software platform SwiftRiver) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Variations: Open crowdsourcing, ‘bounded’ crowdsourcing (War on Gaza) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disseminating data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Subscription to specific location alerts (‘crowdfeeding') </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reaction by the authorities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Screening of content increasingly likely </li></ul></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Mobile phones: Spreading rumours <ul><ul><li>Text messages fanned the flames in post-election Kenya (Osborn 2008), &quot;weapon of war&quot; (Bangre 2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rumours included: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Alert! Mungiki r hitting back n slaughtering our pple ... Mungiki terror gang plan massacre by night raids </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rumours were frequently perceived as truths in Kibera </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government or media accounts were dismissed as propaganda </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Mobile phones: Lifelines <ul><ul><li>Irish charity Concern used M-PESA to transfer nearly three million Kenyan shillings to affected communities after Kenyan election </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile phones enhance personal security in conflict/post-conflict settings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Télécoms Sans Frontières: Communication hubs serve NGOs/affected communities during crises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction with other ICTs: Integral to Ushahidi.com etc </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Complexity and convergence <ul><ul><li>Crowdsourcing/mobiles supplement existing media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing convergence/ interaction between ICTs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of emotional/social responses (ICT experiment) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revolutionary tools =  catalyst for revolutionary impact (yet to be realised) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perpetual innovation: mobile internet, MXIT </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Resources and feedback Presentation: www.slideshare.net/LIDC Email: guycollender@gmail.com   Twitter: @lidc_uk Website: www.lidc.org.uk Thank you

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