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Blog Posted in avatar   Hessie Jones's Blog

Revolution and the Power of New Media

By Hessie Jones
Posted Feb 21, 2011 in Technology
The recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Bahrain and Libya are evidence of how new media is giving rise to a new confidence in suppressed nations.
The ability to collaborate at will, and send messages to the world at large has provided a strong outlet to an otherwise disenfranchised population. The world is watching and the power of new tools makes it increasingly difficult for dictatorships to contain local events and sustain any kind of propaganda it has created.
I’ve kept an eye on the events in each of these nations. Most recently, Libya linking to the most recent news via Google has been the my source for the breaking news from the man-on-the-street. The constant stream from those caught in the situation is staggering: Some noted tweets:
Sadly, the situation in Libya has seriously deteriorated. Gaddafi has turned off the Internet and massacres across the country have begun.
The massacre in #Libya is disgusting & shocking. Can only hope it's the last days of this regim… (cont) [url=]
u r growing & yr voice is being heard #gadafi is out of his comfort zone keep the pressure.Millions of the arab american r behind u
youtube is accessible in Tripoli, please upload videos now #Libya
Muammar Gaddafi's son: "We will fight until the last bullet" #libya
This past Sunday, Feb 20th, the US Department of State (Bureaucracy of Democracy, Human Rights and labor) created a page on Facebook denouncing the situation .
It’s clear in Egypt, Tunisia and even Libya, that despite the government’s ability to disable major communication channels, demonstrators are finding ways to congregate and collaborate with resounding voice, defiant conviction and a fervor that will not be denied.
Curation allows individuals to aggregate relevant information wherever it occurs into one application in an organized framework. I set up an account on Storify and tested this on Friday, re some rumours about Steve Jobs’ ailing health. I pulled RSS feed using specific key words and applied the same for Twitter and Facebook. By allowing me to properly sequence the events, this app allowed me to (within a short amount of time) be an investigative journalist and validate whether the stated rumour about the 6 weeks left that Jobs purportedly to had left to live was indeed true. It also allowed me to share my findings with my networks and provide everyone I knew access to the same information. This information was critical in the Middle East events and it has allowed individuals to pull in feeds from Youtube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to create a chronologic narrative of all these events and syndicate them.
Google’s “Speak to Tweet” was one of the most innovative apps (specifically developed when the Egyptian government shut down the internet) and allowed Egyptian protesters to communicate with the outside world. People could call a designated international phone number and leave a message. Each message was then was published through @speak2tweet account on Twitter with a hashtag #Egypt and a link to listen to the original playback of the message. The technology is SayNow, one of Google’s acquisitions that uses speech recognition software to convert to text. The service quickly gained a strong following, just under 11,000 followers in a short amount of time.
Another important innovation is Tor. This app can be used online and is downloadable on Android phones and claims, ‘Anonymity Online: Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic analysis.” Used by journalists to protect sources of information, and “activists to report abuses from danger zones”, this application has proven critical for Android users to access email, messenger without being tracked or even blocked.
Tom Hayes of the Huffington Post remarks about a number of other applications in his post a few days ago. His article gave a practical view of technology and means the common people were using to make their voice be heard. Even the government’s insane attempt to go to lengths to mute the voice of the people by disabling the internet has not weakened individuals. Their voices and the images they’ve created are loud and clear and it’s there for the world to see.
As I write this article, Gadaffi is on his way out of Libya. I shed a tear as I read, “There's something extraordinarily helpless about sitting here on Twitter while people are likely being killed right now in Tripoli. #libya"
And yet I am encouraged by the fact that I need not rely on tomorrow’s paper to tell me what is happening now... That we have evolved with journalists and commoners in a single voice... A voice made that much more powerful because of the technology that has enabled, and continues to enable its amplification. It is so clear that new media is increasingly putting the power in the hands of the individual, perhaps the much needed innovation that will radically transforms the way people are governed.
The point here is this and it’s quoted from a must-read article so well-stated from “The revolution is being blogged, tweeted, shot and streamed by those in the act of making it.”

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