Maria Grabowski - Ushahidi Research Seminar 11.11.11


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  • Hi I am Maria Grabowski, I am doing my Master in Social Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. I am currently conducting fieldwork and collecting data that will later be the point of departure for my Master Thesis.
  • My overall question is “...”. I see Ushahidi as an example of a global development in technology that really has gained momentum in recent years. Because of this I believe that the premises for social activism have changed radically. Crossing physical borders due to technology we are capable of sharing information in new ways. To make that idea more tangible I formed this Problem Statement...
  • This all look pretty good on paper, but in real life I found out that is was not realistic to investigate. I knew beforehand that it would be a challenge, bacause Ushahidid software is open-source and the users mostly report anonymousluy = pretty hard to track down. I realized that it would take to much time just to find somebody to talk to, so I quickly decided to focus on the deployers -meaning people that either have founded a deployment or people that are part of a core group. So right now my Problem statement is more fluffy but it will be soon be tightened up...
  • So now I am exploring ”....” I still hang on to my original research questions though, that relates to - How are they using it, Why are they using it, What do they feel they get out of it, Does it change anything for them? Now change is difficult to measure in the short research time that I have, so I am more dealing with the feelings of change that people experience. My fieldwork is mainly online (I’ll explain later), but I have also visited two offline locations, which is in Cairo and here in Nairobi. I chose these locations simply because there seems to be a bunch of interesting cases here.
  • I’m now gonna read some qoutes from my interviews, that will show both critical and pragmatic views on Ushahidi. ” ...” 1 +2 Too short sighted - people share information and then what? Some deplyments never go further than that 3 + 4 + 5 This person is not saying that it changes anything, but at least they found some dignity, in it and the feeling of doing something was satisfying. 2 levels: microlevel: the personal satisfaction of contributing to something - and the macro: where is the actual social change? Let’s take some more quotes from my Nairobi interviews
  • 1 + 2 + 3 Similar to the critical Cairo quotes - Express needs for more participation and more critical participation to take it further. 4 + 5 - again this epowering feeling of doing something seems to mean a lot. I will look further into the dynamics between the personal level and the social/society level. And I will also intensify my online fieldwork in the coming months...
  • get a sense of the enviroment and the culture - just as in traditional anthropology - I will follow the deployments online, where a lot of things are going on. I wish to get an understanding of the huge networks of people and sites that work around each deployment.
  • So there’s a lot of work ahead of me, but I look forward to share results with you when I reach that point.
  • Thank you so much for listening, feel free to contact me for any questions and on my blog Maraison you’ll find more about my fieldwork reflections - coming up is Patrick Meier.
  • Maria Grabowski - Ushahidi Research Seminar 11.11.11

    1. 1. Fieldwork on Ushahidi Deployments Background Experiences Challenges Next Steps 11.11.11
    2. 2. The Gist <ul><li>- How an online platform like Ushahidi creates new ways and premises for people to communicate, organize and mobilize in situations of crisis and political conflicts? </li></ul>
    3. 3. From a Problem Statement... <ul><li>“ (...) how the users of Ushahidi communicate, organize and mobilize as a network online; and how this type of Cyberactivism propagates to people on the ground?” </li></ul>
    4. 4. the Ground <ul><li>How do ‘deployers’ use Ushahidi in a situation of crisis or conflict? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the motivations and hopes behind and which feelings of agency and change arise? </li></ul><ul><li>agency · empowerment · social change </li></ul>
    5. 5. Cairo / July-August 2011 <ul><li>“ Ushahidi is for action in crisis, but difficult to use for long term strategies” </li></ul><ul><li>“ You throw some dots on a map, some are taken further, some are not (...) It's not like it is vibrating in social interaction” </li></ul><ul><li>“ people found the project interesting because it gave them a little dignity” </li></ul><ul><li>“ by a click people are changing something” </li></ul><ul><li>“ doing something instead of complaining” </li></ul>
    6. 6. Nairobi / October-November 2011 <ul><li>“ local understanding is crucial” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Need a more critical mass” </li></ul><ul><li>“ the challenge is to end the circle, so that the information is actually used for something” </li></ul><ul><li>“ we’ve had positive responses, because people can act” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’ve seen it everyday, but without being able to do anything about it (...) it’s very satisfying” </li></ul>
    7. 7. Online Fieldwork ?#€%&! <ul><li>Monitor deployment websites </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor Twitter and Facebook interaction related to the website. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow key ‘deployers’ in their online activities </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze statistics on patterns and traffic </li></ul><ul><li>More? </li></ul>
    8. 8. Timeline <ul><li>July-November 2011 / Fieldwork in Cairo & Nairobi </li></ul><ul><li>January 2012 / Field Report incl. a Best Practice for Ushahidi </li></ul><ul><li>February-June 2012 / Analyzing data + Online monitoring + Monthly blogs on Findings + Case Studies </li></ul><ul><li>August 2012-March 2013 / Turning the whole thing into an beautiful audio montage! (=Master Thesis) </li></ul>
    9. 9. [email_address]