The Documentalist

Good Resources on Digital Activism at Global Voices Online

Posted in Resources, technology by Sarah on March 9, 2010

In the article “The Technology for Transparency Review, Part 1” posted on Global Voices Online on March 2, 2010,  David Sasaki reviews a number of recent efforts to highlight how various groups are making use of on-line activism, social media, and other digital resources to document human rights issues and generate a wider sphere of activism.  The article is dense with links to resources and reviews of their efficacy and is part of a larger initiative by  Global Voices Online called the “Technology for Transparency Network” (tag line: “tracking civic engagement technology worldwide).  As stated on their webpage:

The Technology for Transparency Network is a  participatory research mapping [initiative] intended to gain a better understanding of the current state of online technology projects that increase transparency, government accountability, and civic engagement in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, and Central & Eastern Europe. The project is co-funded by Open Society Institute’s Information Program and Omidyar Network’s Media, Markets & Transparency initiative, and aims to inform both programs’ future investments toward transparency, accountability, and civic engagement technology projects.

The project, which is a collaboration with Global Voices’ outreach program Rising Voices, serves as a reaction to economic and political changes in mainstream media that have compromised the ability of reporters to engage in deeply investigative reporting that serves as a check on corrupt officials, business people, and politicians.  Quoting David Simon’s observations about the current vacuum in investigative journalism, “it is going to be one of the great times to be a corrupt politician.”  Thus the need to understand and capitalize on the tools that are gaining power and influence within the investigative world.  In order to accomplish this work, the Technology for Transparency Network has assembled a team of veteran Global Voices Online reporters and leading transparency activists from around the world who work together to “We will document in-depth as many technology for transparency projects as possible to gain a better understanding of their current impact, obstacles, and future potential.”

The results of this work will be a series of case studies, podcasts, and a traditional .pdf report that will be released in May.  This report will highlight:

…the most innovative and effective tools and tactics related to technology for transparency projects. The report will make recommendations to funders, activists, NGOs, and government officials regarding the current obstacles to effectively applying technology to improve transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. It will also aggregate and evaluate the best ideas and strategies to overcome those obstacles.

Case studies are plotted on a map and to date, have been conducted in Kenya, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, India, Jordan, Mexico, Malaysia and Zimbabwe.  The page also offers updates on on-going projects and links to other mapping and monitoring projects.  For a more detailed discussion of all of these efforts see David Sasaki’s article published January 19, 2010.

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