GVO Summit: Quick note on tools

The Global Voices Citizen Media Summit in Budapest two weeks ago was a whirlwind of new ideas and information. Among them: a list of handy Web 2.0 tools for liveblogging/covering conferences.

Throughout the summit I used ScribeFire to blog within Firefox. It is my new favorite blogging tool, hands down: a quick window that opens in the bottom half of your browser window and lets you save drafts, publish directly to multiple blogs, edit old posts, tag and categorize, all without leaving the precious set of relevant sites you’ve carefully opened and arranged in tabs.

During the summit, I also posted quick updates to my Twitter account. You can follow me and everyone else who tagged their posts with gvsummit08 using Summize or Hashtags. Summize picks up more from Twitter than Hashtags, but Hashtags aggregates photos, video and blog posts as well as tweets.

The summit liveblog used CoverItLive, which allows readers to comment in a chat-room-esque atmosphere. Livebloggers can also post relevant polls, and the liveblog window can be inserted into any web page. I liveblogged the last session on the GV Summit blog and posted it on Jackfruity as well.

Other tools
The presence of so many skilled photographers intimidated me (the few touristy Budapest photos I did take are on Picasa), and I didn’t get any shots from the summit itself, but you can check out the wealth of photos from other attendees on Flickr. SlideShare was used as a hub for many of the Powerpoint/Keynote presentations. Summit videos are on YouTube, and recordings of each presentation can be viewed on Ustream.

The lovely and invaluable Leonard has reminded me that video clips of the conference are also available on Blip TV, thanks to GV Advocacy director Sami ben Gharbia.

GVO Summit, Day 2, Session 3

Session 3: When Biases Meet Biases

The March 10 protests in Lhasa on the 49th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule immediately won the sympathy and support of Western media outlets, bloggers, and human rights organizations. From the point of view of many Chinese bloggers, however, the international coverage of the protests boiled down to misinformed anti-Chinese sentiment. What can be done to encourage dialogue in times of such heated disagreement? How is the hegemony of truth constructed in the current global media ecology? What is the role of editorialized websites like Global Voices in presenting multiple perspectives on a single issue, while also adding context for an international, multilingual readership?

Moderator: Xiao Qiang

Rebecca MacKinnon, University of Hong Kong and Global Voices

tibetan protests/riots

protests around torch — many people saw this as opportunity to protest widely — many ppl around the world thought chinese citizens would support these protests b/c it’s action against repressive govt., but chinese citizens were angry and called western media biased

anti-CNN web site created by chinese citizens

CNN cropped a photo from tibet that cut out a mob of tibetans throwing rocks (tibetans being violent back) — just showed other part of photo

hoping that Internet will help prevent this sort of disconnect, but in this situation it was chinese talking to chinese and west talking to west — no real understanding/compassion for others’ views, it’s “silos” — alternative, isolated perceptions of reality

the concern is that the “West and China are creating parallel and separate spaces”

instruction video on YouTube for how to log in to Chinese version of Twitter and join conversation

have to do more than criticize & accuse

“if only they could get our information, have access to our info, they’d agree w/us” — this is dangerous idea

lack of conversation is exacerbated by censorship: harder to post info about China from w/in China b/c it’s blocked or censored

key: compassion & understanding

Xiao Qiang

Tibetan protests in March 2008 turned into riots, govt. blocked media

Chinese students abroad accused media of bias

govt. then released info about Tibetans attacking Chinese (which was true), blamed it on Dalai Lama (not necessarily true)

Internet played a dividing role, pushing ppl to extremes

John Kennedy, Chinese Language Editor, Global Voices

Tibetan police called “Chinese police” on CNN

antiCNN documented all of this, their site is in english & chinese

Olympics are an opportunity to push an agenda, but what agenda should bloggers be pushing?

questions to ask:

— how different, really, are the different Chinese views on Tibet?

— is there just one? multiple?

— chinese view of “Free Tibet” protester who knows nothing about Tibet?

— what & who do you disagree with?

— which China do you disagree with?

— what’s the HK perspective on what happened in Tibet? some might consider their views more valid than those of mainland Chinese

— are ppl in China overly sensitive?

— how many ppl are willing to talk about human rights issues w/foreigners who have western view of human rights?

— are all Chinese bloggers anti-CNN?

Isaac Mao, Entrepreneur and Researcher, China

we always think we’re right

barriers come from lack of info, heightened by censorship

Rebecca MacKinnon

similar to Danish cartoon controversy — how to bridge conversation?

Ethan Zuckerman

speech intended for one audience is becoming public — challenge is to adapt your speech for a global audience


audience comment: “Change is not Viagra. We should not expect instant change.”
John Kennedy: “Twitter is my Viagra.”
Solana Larsen: “Viagra is cheaper on the Internet.”

GVO Summit, Day 2, Session 2

Session 2: The Wired Electorate in Emerging Democracies

The rise of blogging, social networking and micro-blogging services like Facebook and Twitter, video- and photo-sharing sites like YouTube and Flickr, and the spread of mobile technology have given ordinary citizens the means, at least potentially, to participate more fully in the democratic process. This session looks at the impact these tools have had on recent elections in Kenya, Venezuela, Armenia and Iran and poses the question: is citizen media having an actual impact on democracies in transition?

Moderator: Solana Larsen

GV as a hub for global info — MSM comes to them and asks who they can talk to when crises happen

what makes bloggers feel responsible for citizen journalism? what makes them get up at 3 a.m.?

how was Twitter used? (Luis Carlos: I need Twitter b/c I speak a lot, I need a character limit, forces you to be creative & react immediately)

no one really seems comfortable with term “citizen journalism” — do bloggers think of selves as journalists? (Onnik: it was journalists blogging, things were polarized and threats were made)

who are Iranians learning from (in terms of using social media)? — Hamid: 60,000 Iranian bloggers, learn from multiple sources & from each other

Daudi Were, Kenya
Note: for more on blogging the 2007 Kenya elections, check out Ory Okolloh’s talk from Day 1, Session 2

Kenyan elections: Kibaki (incumbent) vs. Odinga

around 800 bloggers (note to blogren: why do you think Kenya has so many more bloggers than Uganda? is it pure economics/technology, or are there a social/cultural reasons as well?)

SMS & Facebook used in elections — esp. SMS, which was used for getting ppl to polls as well as for threatening messages

bloggers were constant presence during elections


mainstream media was under attack, which bloggers seemed to care more about than its own members did

challenges: bandwidth

bloggers in diaspora trying to raise $$ to buy machetes to send back to kenya

blog aggregator has been useful tool

citizen media faster than MSM, more frequently updated, can react more quickly and reach further (can be difficult b/c it can be used, intentionally or not, to spread rumors)

“bloggers are not aliens”

“Obama effect” — copying from America

Onnik Krikorian, Armenia

Armenia is typical former Soviet republic of 3 million ppl

falsified elections since independence; haven’t met international standards for democracy

president suspended constitutional term limits; former president returned to challenge — he’s popular among educated young ppl who were already blogging

blogging became political tool for first time in country

media is repressed/govt. owned

opposition protested election via blogs

20-day state of emergency declared on March 1, 2008, all information govt. controlled except for blogs

YouTube blocked, but bloggers moved to other services — one video showed police shooting at protesters instead of up in the air, as they had claimed

president had his ppl set up a blog/web site

Internet penetration low, avg. salary $200/month and Internet connection $50/month — but it’s getting cheaper, and mobile phone tech. is getting better — great potential

new president of Armenia just asked his press spokesman to meet w/bloggers to find out what they’re all about

Hamid Tehrani, Iran

pro-reformist association of Iranian bloggers: Yarane Barad (“the friends of rain”)

express ideas that aren’t found in other media, critical of govt.

reform candidates banned from participating in elections

also non-reformist bloggers: reformist and non-reformist “mutually ignore each other” online

Luis Carlos Díaz, Venezuela

too much petroleum: good and bad, allows govt. to be independent b/c they have source of wealth

polarization: pro- or anti-Chavez, rich or poor

ppl. don’t talk about politics

somewhere between 3000 and 60,000 Venezuelan blogs, 5.7 million Internet users, 27 million ppl

Elections3D: posts, photos & videos about the presidential elections: 2000 posts in 3 days

(this guy is great — everyone in the room is laughing)

tagging is important for search engine optimization


Korea: many ppl supporting politicians through Internet, “elected through Internet,” since election more than 1000 NGOs have been founded & a ton of new online activists, ppl. expressing opinions through internet….basically, is there a worry that the govt. may try to suppress citizen media surrounding elections, that ppl may become apathetic/stop trying, that excitement may wear off?

Onnik: in Armenia, penetration still low — but it’s growing and may play a huge role in next election. concern: when blogs were only medium during emergency, large NGOs started focusing on BLOGS w/o necessarily understanding them — may change blogging landscape

Neha: not every blogger aspires to be a citizen journalist/write about politics, don’t need to deride ppl who write for personal pleasure, it’s okay to appreciate people for what they’re passionate about, everything is important, shouldn’t shun part of the blogosphere as being to banal

when sites are blocked: circumvent or use others (proxy sites or using DailyMotion instead of YouTube, for example)

someone commented on Ahmadinejad’s blog: “you’re stupid, i bet most of these comments are fake/propaganda”

Luis: Chavez doesn’t have a blog

bloggers don’t have problems w/govt. in Venezuela, not under surveillance — challenge is bandwidth

David Sasaki: what are limits of media? (i.e. rwandan genocide, media contributed — radio) — what if you’re streaming video of violence, and all of the sudden you’re attracting ppl who want to participate in violence instead of condemn it?

Samir: will things be different/better the next time around, in terms of ethics?

— Daudi: negative side of blogging in Kenya, post-election violence triggered by SMS in many cases

Alaa: SMS is so easy, you don’t need to get online — can just forward messages, don’t need to subscribe

where does sense of responsibility come from? why do bloggers rise to the challenge in these situations?

Onnik: Armenian MSM is of terrible quality, “Armenian journalists would make great bloggers” (if you think blogs are based on opinion, not fact) — was hoping blogosphere would fill this gap, but it was just as (or more) polarized, prob. contributed to clashes that eventually occurred

Daudi: ppl need to know that blogs aren’t perfect, just as opinionated as people are