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Citizen Journalism, Citizen
Activism, and Technology
Positioning Technology as a
‘’Second Superpower’ in Times of
Disaster and Terrorism
by Sharon Meraz
Context
• How can the new power of the Internet be
leveraged in times of
– Disasters
– Terrorism
• How has technology been shaped and
utilized by citizens to frame
– Disaster response management
– Citizen journalism
– Global Web initiatives
– Self help, self organizing, emergent networks
– Collective wisdom
Social Computing
• Not a new phenomenon
• Way back in 1940s to Memex (Allen, 2005)
• BBSs, Usenets, IRC (Rheingold, 1993)
• Current enthusiasm due to
– Web 2.0 as collaboration/sharing
– Architected for participation (SOA)
– Toolkit for lightweight apps (AJAX, APIs, RSS)
– Rapid application development (Web services)
• Mounting interest in social computing
– Blogs, wikis, social software, mobile technologies
Social Computing
• Allows users to participate more (BYOC)
• Visible spirit of collaboration/generosity
– Gift economy, p2p development, bazaar design,
hacker ethic
• Technologies of Cooperation (Saveri et al)
• Trigger network effects in vulnerable times
– Emergent
– Spontaneous
– Citizen-led
– Citizen-shaped
Meraz
Theoretical Model
• Interdisciplinary approach
– Science Studies Theories
• Science, technology, capitalism, control, power
• Technological determinism vs social shaping
• Emergence in Networks (Spontaneous)
– Distributed, decentralized, bottom-up
– The Wisdom of crowds (James Suroweicki)
– The Power of many (Christian Crumlish)
– Small pieces loosely joined (David Weinberger)
– Linked: The science of networks (Albert-Laszlo
Barabasi)
Events
• 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake
– Tsunamis affecting Southeast Asia and
Africa, over 175,000 deaths
• July 2005 London Bombings
– Dubbed 7/7
• August 2005 US Hurricane Katrina
– New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, over
1,400 deaths
Methodology
• How was social software/technology
used/shaped for disaster management?
• 3 pronged with snowball sample.
– Used technorati for tag-based searching
• Multiple user-generated tags for each event
– Monitored ‘A-list’ blogs for information on media/c-
journalism happenings
– Searched Lexis Nexus for Big Media reports
• In addition for Hurricane Katrina (live):
– Monitored c-journalism/A-list blogs in RSS reader
Results
• MSM reports on Citizen Journalism
– Indian Ocean Earthquake
• Unanticipated event
• Vivid, immediate reporting from blogs
• Accidental, unintentional, incidental c-journalists
– London Bombings
• Gap between amateur/professional shrinking
• Democratization of news
• Sea change in journalism practice (genie out of bottle)
– Hurricane Katrina
• MSM and C-Journalism as different/shared perspectives
• Complementary vs oppositional relationship
Results
• Mobile Technologies
– SMS used to post to
• Blog, send text messages for relief/aid/fundraising
coordination, find missing (Morquendi)
– Phone cameras/video
• 7/7 incident, 20,000 emails, 1000 photos to BBC, 20
videos, used on Sky News, BBC, Guardian, AP
– Less in Hurricane Katrina
• Possibly less of a mobile phone culture
• More of the poor left stranded in region
• Infrastructure wiped out
Meraz
Results
• Blogs as inside eyes/ears of disaster
– Rise of video blogging in 2004
– Global connections (SEA-EAT blog)
• 21,000 visitors in 24 hrs, 10th most visited humanitarian
site on Internet
– Photo blogging growth, Flickr pools
– First hand reporting (Brian Oberkirch,
Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog, Michael Barnett,
The Interdictor)
– Relief coordination
• 1,347,493 (right), 200,000 (left)
Results
• Wiki journalism--can this work?
– Exchange of resources, safety bulletin boards,
missing person’s reports/registry
– Wikipedia entry on 7/7 incident edited 5,000 times
– Global, transparent connections
• Group collaboration
• Skype phone banks
• Shelters/Databases for the missing
• Virtual lightposts
• Recovery 2.0 wiki after Katina
– Clearinghouse for disaster recovery efforts
Results
• Tech Development
– Global in Scope: Taran Rampersad and
Dan Lane on Alert Retrieval Cache (ARC)
built in one night
– Responsiveness of citizen-initiatives
– Jonathan Mendez/Greg Stoll using Google
Maps API for housing damage mapping
• Katrina, Rita, Wilma
Results
• KatrinaPeopleFinder Project
– Correct problems of distributed redundancy
– Create a central database
– David Geilhufe, Ethan Zuckerman, Zack Rosen,
Jon Lebowsky
– Volunteer programmers, project leaders, data
entry volunteers
– Data entry chunks of 25 records with over 3,000
volunteers, 620,000 records
– PeopleFinder Interchange Format (PFIF)
• Need tactics to swarm better (Jeff Jarvis)
Conclusion
• Social software significant to
– Emergent alternative journalism
– Citizen disaster management response
– Self organization, smart, networked mob
• Citizen Paparazzi (Sousveillance)
– Many little brothers and sisters
– See, snap, send impulse (Spy, Scoopt, Cell J)
– Private/public space boundaries
• Accessibility of the technology
– Needs a smart network with focal nodes

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Meraz

  • 1. Citizen Journalism, Citizen Activism, and Technology Positioning Technology as a ‘’Second Superpower’ in Times of Disaster and Terrorism by Sharon Meraz
  • 2. Context • How can the new power of the Internet be leveraged in times of – Disasters – Terrorism • How has technology been shaped and utilized by citizens to frame – Disaster response management – Citizen journalism – Global Web initiatives – Self help, self organizing, emergent networks – Collective wisdom
  • 3. Social Computing • Not a new phenomenon • Way back in 1940s to Memex (Allen, 2005) • BBSs, Usenets, IRC (Rheingold, 1993) • Current enthusiasm due to – Web 2.0 as collaboration/sharing – Architected for participation (SOA) – Toolkit for lightweight apps (AJAX, APIs, RSS) – Rapid application development (Web services) • Mounting interest in social computing – Blogs, wikis, social software, mobile technologies
  • 4. Social Computing • Allows users to participate more (BYOC) • Visible spirit of collaboration/generosity – Gift economy, p2p development, bazaar design, hacker ethic • Technologies of Cooperation (Saveri et al) • Trigger network effects in vulnerable times – Emergent – Spontaneous – Citizen-led – Citizen-shaped
  • 6. Theoretical Model • Interdisciplinary approach – Science Studies Theories • Science, technology, capitalism, control, power • Technological determinism vs social shaping • Emergence in Networks (Spontaneous) – Distributed, decentralized, bottom-up – The Wisdom of crowds (James Suroweicki) – The Power of many (Christian Crumlish) – Small pieces loosely joined (David Weinberger) – Linked: The science of networks (Albert-Laszlo Barabasi)
  • 7. Events • 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake – Tsunamis affecting Southeast Asia and Africa, over 175,000 deaths • July 2005 London Bombings – Dubbed 7/7 • August 2005 US Hurricane Katrina – New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, over 1,400 deaths
  • 8. Methodology • How was social software/technology used/shaped for disaster management? • 3 pronged with snowball sample. – Used technorati for tag-based searching • Multiple user-generated tags for each event – Monitored ‘A-list’ blogs for information on media/c- journalism happenings – Searched Lexis Nexus for Big Media reports • In addition for Hurricane Katrina (live): – Monitored c-journalism/A-list blogs in RSS reader
  • 9. Results • MSM reports on Citizen Journalism – Indian Ocean Earthquake • Unanticipated event • Vivid, immediate reporting from blogs • Accidental, unintentional, incidental c-journalists – London Bombings • Gap between amateur/professional shrinking • Democratization of news • Sea change in journalism practice (genie out of bottle) – Hurricane Katrina • MSM and C-Journalism as different/shared perspectives • Complementary vs oppositional relationship
  • 10. Results • Mobile Technologies – SMS used to post to • Blog, send text messages for relief/aid/fundraising coordination, find missing (Morquendi) – Phone cameras/video • 7/7 incident, 20,000 emails, 1000 photos to BBC, 20 videos, used on Sky News, BBC, Guardian, AP – Less in Hurricane Katrina • Possibly less of a mobile phone culture • More of the poor left stranded in region • Infrastructure wiped out
  • 12. Results • Blogs as inside eyes/ears of disaster – Rise of video blogging in 2004 – Global connections (SEA-EAT blog) • 21,000 visitors in 24 hrs, 10th most visited humanitarian site on Internet – Photo blogging growth, Flickr pools – First hand reporting (Brian Oberkirch, Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog, Michael Barnett, The Interdictor) – Relief coordination • 1,347,493 (right), 200,000 (left)
  • 13. Results • Wiki journalism--can this work? – Exchange of resources, safety bulletin boards, missing person’s reports/registry – Wikipedia entry on 7/7 incident edited 5,000 times – Global, transparent connections • Group collaboration • Skype phone banks • Shelters/Databases for the missing • Virtual lightposts • Recovery 2.0 wiki after Katina – Clearinghouse for disaster recovery efforts
  • 14. Results • Tech Development – Global in Scope: Taran Rampersad and Dan Lane on Alert Retrieval Cache (ARC) built in one night – Responsiveness of citizen-initiatives – Jonathan Mendez/Greg Stoll using Google Maps API for housing damage mapping • Katrina, Rita, Wilma
  • 15. Results • KatrinaPeopleFinder Project – Correct problems of distributed redundancy – Create a central database – David Geilhufe, Ethan Zuckerman, Zack Rosen, Jon Lebowsky – Volunteer programmers, project leaders, data entry volunteers – Data entry chunks of 25 records with over 3,000 volunteers, 620,000 records – PeopleFinder Interchange Format (PFIF) • Need tactics to swarm better (Jeff Jarvis)
  • 16. Conclusion • Social software significant to – Emergent alternative journalism – Citizen disaster management response – Self organization, smart, networked mob • Citizen Paparazzi (Sousveillance) – Many little brothers and sisters – See, snap, send impulse (Spy, Scoopt, Cell J) – Private/public space boundaries • Accessibility of the technology – Needs a smart network with focal nodes