Participatory video: Inspiring transformation

Unlike the film industry, participatory video is a project created by the community to the community. It allows people tell stories in their own ways and also to know what it is like to be a producer, camera man, journalist or actor. Just like community radio, this project has emancipatory intentions, which aim for social change. It also reinforces social relations within the communities and promotes collective action. The video below shows different projects in different countries (Nigeria, Peru, Malawi, India, Rwanda, UK, Uganda, China, South Africa and Ghana). Each of them make a video calling for change.

Online Activism in Egypt

Online activism multiplied the impact of social protest in Egypt: it made political action easier, faster and more universal. In the tightly controlled Egyptian political space, social media enabled activists to circumnavigate the regime’s repressive structures to convince Egyptians in the online world into taking action in the offline one. This was its main success, for a revolution will always be won and lost on the streets. The political uses of online platforms and technologies are extremely transferrable, and are just as clearly seen in the London riots as they were in Tahrir. The first use is as a tool for mobilising citizens by producing material designed to inspire them into action, and to organise their action once recruited. The second is to use online platforms as a medium for citizen journalism to report on the situation.
It was not Facebook, Twitter or YouTube that brought down Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian people did that. But this does not mean that social media and internet-based technologies played no role, or that their role was insignificant, as some have alleged. Rather, events in Egypt and countries across the Middle East and North Africa have shown in the ‘Arab Spring’ that internet platforms and technologies should be seen for what they are: effective tools for the conduct of political campaigns in authoritarian contexts.

Community radio: For Social Change

There is much discussion about the effect on local cultures of the increasingly globalized commercial media output with its well-tried and standard – if not banal – entertainment formats. But one thing is clear: they can never respond to the socio-economic and development needs of the countries they reach, let alone those of marginalized communities within those countries. Hence, globalized media and community media do not compete. The former provides irrelevant entertainment, while the latter deals with local issues in the local languages and cultural context, relating to local problems and concerns, and aiming to help the community develop socially, culturally and economically. The principal functions of community radio are:
To reflect and promote local identity, character and culture by focusing principally on local content. Culture is how the people of a community talk about their past and their cuture. It is what they care about. Like life itself, culture is infinitely variable and constantly evolving. Community culture is also artistic expression through local music, dance, poetry, theatre and story telling. Local performers are encouraged to go on air uninhibited by considerations of the ‘professional standards’ they may have acquired from mainstream media. Culture is also language, so programming includes the languages of any minority groups in the community.
• To create a diversity of voices and opinions on the air through its openness to participation from all sectors. Some discord is present in all communities, but the acknowledgement of con-flict is necessary for democracy and for democratic communities. Community radio tries to air objectively all sides of a discussion without itself taking sides.
To encourage open dialogue and democratic process by providing an independent platform for interactive discussion about matters and decisions of importance to the community. In essence, the core of democratic process is the ability of people to hear and make themselves heard.
To promote social change and development. In marginalized communities people all have their individual perceptions about their situation, but what is required for change and development is a collective perception of the local reality and of the options for improving it. This collective perception can only be achieved through internal discussions to analyse specific problems, identify possible solutions, and mobilize the appropriate people or groups for action. Community radio provides the perfect platform for this internal discussion.
• To promote good governance and civil society by playing a community watchdog role that makes local authorities and politicians more conscious of their public responsibilities. The marginalized and the oppressed normally have no way to complain when authorities take advantage of them, but community radio gives them a voice to air their grievances and obtain their due rights.
Some other functions of community radio include: sharing of information and innovation; giving a voice to the voiceless, especially to women and young people in some societies; and providing a social service as a replacement for the telephone.

Wikipedia: Open Space of Information

Wikipedia is an internet-based encyclopedia that allowed people to create something, share their knowledge and more importantly participate in information sharing. The encyclopedia has become so large that you run across it all the time in Google. In Addition, Wikis in general are growing because they are as simple as can be. That simplicity means that people find them easy to use, just like emails and blogs. Like emails and blogs, Wikis also perform a very useful service in a simple way. A wiki allows a group of people to enter and communally edit bits of texts. These bits of text can be viewed and edited by anyone who visits the wiki. A great number of people around the world use this engine to make research and learn about new things. Its ease of access and reliability have made it more interesting for internet users to get information, and in only one click !
However, one question that may pop in people’s minds is; how accurate are the wikis?

Culture Jam: Hijacking commercial culture

Culture Jamming is a resistance to a dominant hegemonic force. The act of “jamming” can be done in many different ways, whether it is putting up posters with counter-ideologies like Fairey does, or acts of resistance or protest.
The concept of culture jamming really blossomed in most recent years thanks to the increasing technological advancements, especially the internet. For Fairey in particular, plastering posters of scenes of pro-love, anti-war and anti-bush really allows others to question whether or not the messages that we are being told are really the truth, and whether we should really take them at face value or not. The most well known type of culture jamming is subvertising. Subvertisements are creative anti-ads targeted at conspicuous consumption considered endemic of capitalistic societies. These images variously target consumers themselves or large corporations, often with a specific message to get people thinking about what and/or why they buy.
The pictures below are examples of culture jamming/resistance

Digital Storytelling

Storytelling has always been a significant part of history, but the means through which the stories have been told has evolved with each civilization. From the oral histories presented by bards in ancient courts, to the works of scribes during the Renaissance, to newspapers, CNN, and now the Internet, personal narrative has been used to communicate the events of the past. Digital media now combines tradition with technology and allows people to tell stories through voice, text, images, audio, and video. This practice is now mostly used in schools.
Digital storytelling uses multimodal literacy concepts to create knowledge and enhance learning. The process of writing a story, molding it to a specific audience, fitting it within technical and assigned constraints, researching and collecting supporting assets, and crafting it all together requires considering the topic from a number of angles, and promotes a deeper understanding of it.
The link below is a video that tells the story of World War II in 7 minutes:

Hacking: a trend

Hacking is a computer practice that enables the hacker to penetrate a network, a website, a computer, a phone or else, for various purposes. Hacking may also be referred to as computer crime or cybercrime. Examples can be: Fraud, drugt rafficking, cyber terrorism, harrassment, threats…
Chinese hackers are upping the ante in terms of the number of attacks targeted at mobile users; there’s been a worrying increase in malware that is successfully penetrating online banking apps used on Android phones and researchers have developed a virus that infects Wi-Fi points and spreads like the common cold.

Hackers based in China have always been a prolific bunch and in the past have been accused of penetrating a wide range of commercial and military networks lifting everything from blueprints for helicopter designs to industrial control system architecture. But this is part of the hidden cyber war that many countries continuously engage in and we only become aware of when the lid blows of some particular attack such as Stuxnet.

However, the latest revelations merely confirm our suspicions, based on hard evidence, anecdotes and predictable trends, that mobile computing is becoming a big fat target. Malware kits for hacking mobile devices, that is smart phones, are available on the deep web for just short of £10. And its Android phones that are the primary target.

Participatory journalism

Participatory journalism is considered as alternative journalism. In the production of information, journalists use blogs to provide news that are misrepresented or because they do not have access or right to participate. They provide commentary opinion from an oppositional perspective and promote a diversified media space, where the most neglected topics can find a place there. Therefore, “citizens become informed not by consuming information, but by interacting with others around information. It is the process of mutually influencing one another – interaction – that creates the condition of being informed”.(Ryfe & Mensing) This means that the main idea here is to enhance interaction in generating information, which puts the consumers in the position of producers.
Blogs can be a good example, however, they have a few flaws. For instance, they can provide subjective or biased reflections of news, reflections which lack truthfulness, professionalism, accuracy and fairness.

Press to Impress (week 4)

In the late 60s, Underground Press was constituted for a whole young generation dreaming of another world, a great breath of fresh air, and a colorful and noisy broth culture stirring incredibly new and utopia stimulating ideas. Generally represented though magazines and fanzines, the 60s and 70s underground press focused more on issues like sexual liberation, beatniks, pop art, psychedelism, joints and music. This creative period seemed to be very successful in terms of distribution and readership and expressed undergound revolution that changed or would have changed society. This freedom and variety of expression make us dream though. Examples of famous international underground magazines are: Oz in the UK, Combat and Libération in France, Village Voice in the US, Hungry Generation in India. All these magazines represented the unheard voices of the people, in a time where oppression was dominating, which could not stop the people from resisting. Now the question is, why did underground press massively slowed down its circulation since then? And is the current underground press as free and open as in the previous generation?

Media’s New Born: Call it Alternative ! (Week 3)

I have read an article on alternative media entitled; The “Alternative Media” Challenges Officialdom’s Views, which you can find at: What caught my eye is that the author claims that mainstream media is under threat and challenge, and that threat is “alternative media”. Very welcoming for a new born!

The reason they have been called alternative, is because they are seen as a second option or a substitute. And the definition of substitute lies in replacing, giving place or changing something by something else, usually if the former is not satisfying and convenient. People, readers and media consumers think that media is failing to tell people the truth and is more or less working to deceive them. Let’s take the social networks for instance; Twitter or Facebook display or create news stories and try as much as possible to share them with the populace, which can sometimes, or most of the time create a direct passive understanding of these news stories. That is to say, social networks are another type of alternative media that challenge the system.

 Critiquing “mainstream” vs. “alternative” media is pursuing a dead-end paradigm, and analyzing media in general is a complex endeavor. Media has many forms and structural dynamics and quite often they overlap. There is print vs. radio vs. TV vs. internet, all of which use different mechanisms to tell a story. And within each there are also various dynamics. There is news vs. commentary vs. entertainment. While it is true that the general public has been somewhat dumbed down, they are also quite aware. Those who love the tabloids don’t pretend they are something they are not. People know the tabloids are sensationalized trash, they just happen to enjoy them. 

A mainstream media institution (public or private) most often aims to maximize profit or sells an elite audience to advertisers for its main source of revenue. It is virtually always structured in accord with and to help reinforce society’s defining hierarchical social relationships, and is generally controlled by and controlling of other major social institutions, particularly corporations.

In contrast, an alternative media institution (to the extent possible given its circumstances) doesn’t try to maximize profits, doesn’t primarily sell audience to advertisers for revenues (and so seeks broad and non-elite audience), is structured to subvert society’s defining hierarchical social relationships, and is structurally profoundly different from and as independent of other major social institutions, particularly corporations, as it can be. An alternative media institution sees itself as part of a project to establish new ways of organizing media and social activity and it is committed to furthering these as a whole, and not just its own preservation.