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Uses of mobile phones for political activism, from Seattle to Manila and Kigali


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Week 8

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Uses of mobile phones for political activism, from Seattle to Manila and Kigali

  1. 1. Global Internet Activism Week 8 Uses of mobile phones for political activism, from Seattle to Manila and Kigali last update: April 8, 2009 Trebor Scholz | LCST 4014 A | Spring 2009
  2. 2. Political Activism, Advocacy, and Art Activism week 2 week 1 Access, Censorship, Social Media, and the week 3 Alleged Democratization Citizen Media: from of Society Seattle to South Korea War and Social Media: Serbia week 5 week 4 War and Social Media: Iraq, Gaza week 6 Spring Break week 7 War and Social Media: Counter-publics Iran, Afghanistan in Iran week 8 week 9 Cell phone-enabled Citizen Media in China week 12 activism: Philippines Burma week 11 week 10 Japan, Singapore A Better World in Second Life? week 14 One Laptop Per Child week 13 Cyber Publics in India week 15 Mobilization Trebor Scholz | The New School University | LCST 4014 A | Spring 2009
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  4. 4. Cell phone-enabled activism: Philippines week 8 March 24, 26 Required Readings: Rabble. quot;Cellphones, Rural Social Movements and the Bolivian Gas War.quot; Anarchogeek:. 18 Nov. 2003. 14 Jan. 2009 <>. Trebor Scholz | LCST 4014 A | Spring 2009
  5. 5. Cellular Subscribers 1990
  6. 6. Cellular Subscribers 2002
  7. 7. Uses of Cell Phones human rights, activism, and more decentralized, ad hoc political mobilization economic development (jobs and education)/ self-sufficiency distribution of subversive messages public health/data bases monitoring democratic processes convergence radio and cell phones Trebor Scholz | LCST 4014 A | Spring 2009
  8. 8. TxtMob TXTmob is a free service that lets you quickly and easily broadcast txt messages to friends, comrades, and total strangers. The format is similar to an email b-board system. You can sign up to send and receive up-to-the-minute messages from groups of people organized around a range of different topics. TXTmob was first used by activists protesting the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions. It was also deployed during the Ukranian Orange Revolution and by demonstrators at the 2005 inauguration of George W. Bush. Patrick Di Justo “Protests Powered by Cellphone.” The New York Times. 9 Sept 2004 <>
  9. 9. 2004: Responses to Madrid Train Bombings O n 12 M a r c h 2 0 0 4 , Spaniards took to the streets protesting against the bombings in a government- organized demonstration to condemn ETA, who at the time was being blamed for the attacks. The demonstrations were invoked via spontaneous cell phone messages ending in the phrase quot;pásaloquot; (pass it on). The candidate of the governing conservative party, Mariano Rajoy, complained on television about the demonstrations and demanded that the opposition parties condemn them. The Socialist party sent a message saying that quot;the Spanish people do not deserve a government that lies to them.quot; •3 day before election •government spreads disinformation •popular response coordinated via sms messages
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  11. 11. Seattle 1999 WTO Protests in Seattle Feb 15, 2003: Worldwide protests against the war in Iraq March 2006: LA Students organize 15000 people for immigration protest through MySpace and SMS
  12. 12. Territory size shows the proportion of all people who demonstrated against a war in Iraq, on the 14th, 15th and 16th of February 2003, who demonstrated there. Feb 15, 2003
  13. 13. 14 million Internet users (April 2007) 16% of the population
  14. 14. An archipelago Southeast Asia more than seven thousand islands east of Vietnam History shows Asian, European, and American influences Archipelago nation in the Southeastern Asia between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, east of Vietnam The United States ruled over the Philippines from 1898 to 1946.
  15. 15. Communications in the Philippines 41 million cellphone users nationwide Philippines has been dubbed quot;Texting Capital of the World” 5.5 million use their phone for bank transactions Filipinos sent an average of 1 billion SMS messages per day in 2007. Radio: 381 AM and 628 FM stations “Radio is the most accessible type of media due to the remoteness of certain rural locations, and most Philippine languages are broadcasted in this format.”
  16. 16. SOS
SMS: Text
help The SOS SMS system is a literal lifeline for thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (8 million total, 13% of GDP) founded in context of Iraq war, worried about OFW in Saudi Arabia The helpline receives about five messages asking for assistance each day, about 60% of which come from Saudi Arabia (800,000 OFW). quot;If you're a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia, you can't go out by yourself,quot; said Vic. quot;Most of the time you are confined in the house of your employer. There are some cases of abuses.quot; racial discrimination, murder, kidnapping, sex slavery. network on the ground responds: all cases are logged, non-profit organizations follow up hotline in the Philippines, activating a network of nonprofits and government agencies to come to the workers' rescue. underfunded
  17. 17. http://www.( organization of protests and the ousting of a corrupt president Trebor Scholz | LCST 4014 A | Spring 2009
  18. 18. most popular ringtone led to pro-democracy protests
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  20. 20. Reuters Africa takes an interesting approach. Its design resembles the rest of the Reuters site, but the content is presented by country. You can select countries from an image map of the continent, or from a drop-down menu. Basic problems: AIDS pandemic-- Who will be left to use IT in Africa? Draught in Africa What is the value added by a piece of equipment? Africa has become the fastest growing mobile market in the world with mobile penetration in the region ranging from 100% to 30% Pre-paid subscriptions account for nearly 95 percent of total mobile subscriptions in the region
  21. 21. Wind turbine powers mobile telecom in Africa
  22. 22. Money Transfer via Mobile Phone NAIROBI (Reuters) - Safaricom, Kenya's biggest cell phone firm, on Tuesday launched a money transfer service that will use short message services, which it said was the first of its kind in the world. The product allows its 5.8 million subscribers to use their cell phones to send money in the east African country where it is commonplace for one family member working in the city to support a whole family living in rural areas. In Africa each cell phone represents several users set up one project in Nairobi, for example that was a kind of SMS job bank that allowed workers to connect with employment quickly and successfully.
  23. 23. Ghana Radio is by far the most dominant mass medium in Africa, and the recent proliferation of independent radio stations and cellular infrastructure in Ghana is already affecting politics. Running up to the December 2000 election, Radio phone-in shows pilloried the hand-picked successor of the outgoing president. During the election itself, voters used cellphones and talk radio to report voting fraud: “Whenever someone at a polling place reported fraud, the called the radio station, which broadcast it; the police had to check it out, not having the excuse that they did not receive a report.”
  24. 24. Uganda, Africa, 4 mins
  25. 25. Increased connectivity in Africa through mobile phones 97% of all Tanzanians say they can access a mobile phone fishermen carry mobile phones while they are at sea allowing them call for assistance in case of any trouble. They also use their mobiles to check market prices. ... one can easily find signals in the remotest places like the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the smallest of villages. Call centers have sprung up all over Tanzania that are connected via GSM rather than landlines. African mobile penetration to reach 42% by 2011 mobile operators are mostly from the region At the end of 2007 there were 280.7 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa, representing a penetration rate of 30.4%
  26. 26. “FrontlineSMS is free software that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub. Once installed, the program enables users to send and receive text messages with large groups of people through mobile phones. What you communicate is up to you, making FrontlineSMS useful in many different ways.”
  27. 27. Ghana: Country to Use SMS to Fight Fake Drugs Jun.19.08: Where the level of risk demands it, pharmaceuticals will be mass- serialised at the unit level to ensure end-user participation in the anti-counterfeiting scheme. In other areas where submarket- diversion is deemed to pose the most sustained risk, supply chain consolidation methods will be employed to link manufacturers, distributors and retailers along regulated drug supply routes.
  28. 28. Amnesty International: SMS to Stop Torture 02 March 2001 As part of its 2001 campaign on torture, Amnesty International USA launched its FAST network “ As soon as Amnesty International hears about an imminent threat of torture, FAST instantly sends out an alarm to its network of activists around the globe. Cell phones ring, pagers buzz and computers chime, instructing activists by the thousands to sign electronic letters of protest. Within hours, the threat of torture is exposed. Once exposed, it is nearly impossible to carry out.” quot;Torture is an affront to human dignity that can never be justified and must be stopped in every corner of the world,quot; said William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). quot;Those who try to justify torture are as guilty as those who inflict the beatings, electric shocks, rapes, or mock executions.quot;
  29. 29. 2004: Fahamu and a coalition of women’s rights organizations launched the first continent-wide campaign using SMS text messages in Africa. The electronic petition campaign urged African governments to ratify the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Users could sign via their Web site or can via SMS from their mobile phones. The petition was successful.
  30. 30. OhmyNews reported how women in South Africa fight for their human rights with cell phones. “In a culture where people travel long distances to find work, the mobile has become the most useful and ubiquitous piece of technology since the bicycle. Just as bicycles are used in rural Africa to transport bananas or paying passengers, the mobile is changing lives in ways unimagined in the developed world. It links distant families and allows the poor to communicate.”
  31. 31. produces videos that tell women's stories
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  33. 33. Senegal: mobiles for public health One of the innovators in this field pushing the use of mobiles in data collection, public health, childrens' health, and open source mobile innovation is Erica Kochi, the co-director of the Innovation Team at UNICEF. Rapid SMS and Rapid Android are two mobile applications that are already changing the way aid organizations are thinking about using mobiles in delivery, logistics, and distribution of food and health aid. mHealth Alliance to support increasing the scale of the many small m-health projects by working with mobile operators and public health ministries. Mobile Senegal - a series of mobile application boot camps for students
  34. 34. FeedeliX Wireless Inc. is a California based company specializing in providing mobile text and instant messaging solutions for users of Latin as well as major Non-Latin scripts such as Hindi and Ethiopic based on a proprietary technology.
  35. 35. Brazil Russia India China BRIC countries India population 100 million most people get access through Internet cafes many people access the net first on a cell phone, not a PC most investment goes into telecom development even small villages have cell phone signal
  36. 36. Mobile Giving Mobile fundraising shortcodes are available to all nonprofits, not just during the disasters. Donations solicited via mobile minus fees are collected and forwarded to the nonprofit within 90 days. In 2008, the first full year of mobile fundraising in the United States, mobile giving crossed only half a million dollars The Salvation Army in several cities, solicited mobile donations in its kettle ringing campaigns during the holidays. A new blog, Mobile Giving Insider is keeping track of developments in this space Though not strictly mobile giving, Twitter and other social networks such as Facebook are yet another channel for nonprofits to build networks reachable via mobile to turn people into supporters and donors of an organization.
  37. 37. Cell phones, Rural Social Movements and the Bolivian Gas War 2003 Bolivia In Bolivia, the revolution of 1952 was lead by the miners unions. A network of rural community radio stations coordinated it. In 2003 cell phones facilitated the biggest indigenous siege of La Paz in almost 300 years. Protests were coordinated via cell phone. The government could not figure out how to shut off the cell phones of known organizers, or cell phone towers that served indigenous communities.
  38. 38. Jonathan Donner TheUseofMobilePhones by Microentrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda: ChangestoSocial and BusinessNetworks orders supplies calling in orders for small business (wedding cakes from clients all over country) 80% of world population live within range of a mobile network (p3) James, profession: baker Kigali, Rwanda.
  39. 39. Jonathan Donner mobile users in South Africa and Tanzania in this way, TheUseofMobilePhones by observing that mobiles are being used more frequently Microentrepreneurs in Kigali, to manage strong ties, particularly family, than for Rwanda: ChangestoSocial and maintaining or adding weak ties. BusinessNetworks By isolating these factors, the study will be able to assess impacts of mobile ownership on microentre- fixed lines (thousands of lines) preneursʼ communication networks, with an eye to- 1998: 10.8 2005: 23 ward differentiating between the change and mobile lines 1998: 5 2005: 290 (p5) Recent work on rural users in Africa and India showed an even more pronounced skew toward Migration to Personal Uses personal and emergency calls versus calls for busi- Cellphones are increasingly used for personal ness purposes (Souter et al. 2005). communication, and less and less so for business. some ways and not in others and, in turn, alter both (p 10) their environment and the conventions of use of technologies themselves (Orlikowski 2000; Poole) (p5) “All across the developing world, people like James the baker are finally able to own a tele- phone line of their own. This is not to say that “For those users with easy access to landlines, the mobiles do not provide complementary benefits most important benefits of the mobile may be a to those who own landlines. Landline and nonland- mixture of mobility, constant availability, and display/ line owners alike share in the ease of constant status. Those whose first and only phone is the mo- reachability, safety, and convenience that mobiles bile may experience all these same benefits, but provide. However, the more sudden changes to they will also experience a dramatic increase in the the network—the introduction of new weak ease and affordability of basic mediated communi- ties (Granovetter 1973) and the expansion of a cation. Even if the bulk of calls ends up being with network—are being experienced by those who are friends and family, it is difficult to underestimate the purchasing phones for the ªrst time in their lives. importance to an entrepreneur of simply having a Those phones are overwhelmingly mobile handsets, reliable and affordable telephone connection, which not landlines.” (p12) is what the mobile finally brings.” (p14)
  40. 40. Trebor Scholz Twitter: trebors Blog: Delicious: Flickr: LibraryThing: