Saturday, April 30, 2011

Guardian Activate 2011 in NYC

Guardian Activate 2011 in NYC
Guardian News and Media has taken its annual summit on media and technology to New York City this year, and thanks to a tweet from Nieman Journalism Lab, I found these very interesting conversations, facts, stats, opinions from a live blog of the summit.

The summit had several panel discussion on diverse subjects. There was a lot of material there, I have picked up snatches that I found interesting…Readers more interested in this could go straight to the live blog...Read on...


The keynote panel on how technology can empower women and aid international development.

Joined on the panel by the compere Adele Waugaman, senior director of technology partnership at the United Nations Foundation, are: Rose Shuman, founder of Question Box; Katie Stanton, vice president of international strategy at Twitter; Sennen Hounton, monitoring and evaluation specialist at the United Nations populations fund; Jeanne Bourgault, president at Internews Network.

Jeanne Bourgault, president at Internews Network, says that in 2010 only 13% of all news stories focused on women, only 20% of the women you read about are women, around 80% of experts you read about are men.
It's important that women get engaged in professional and citizen journalism because:
• Women report on issues that are unreported by men
• There's a visible difference in way that women report on stereotypes than men
• Through media, women are able to express opinions in the way that they can't anywhere else in their lives
• Media has unique ability to uncover root causes of discrimination. If it can introduce this discrimination to the conversation that could have a powerful impact


Katie Stanton, vice president of international strategy at Twitter, has been at the social messaging site for just over a year. There are now more than 200 million Twitter accounts worldwide, she says, and more than 70% of Twitter traffic comes from outside the US (roughly 25% of all tweets come from Japan).
Stanton: one of most important points about Twitter is that the founders care about reaching parts of the world with the weakest signals, making it as accessible as SMS.
"Twitter isn't so much a triumph of technology, it's a triumph of humanity – connecting those stories and connecting those voices."
40% of tweets come from mobile devices. There's roughly 300 million women with less access to mobile phones than men, according to Stanton. Women with a phone are 90% more likely to feel safer, and 40% more likely to have a higher income as a result of that.

Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation at the WWF, is first up in the afternoon panel on creating a sustainable future through technology.
"The average American consumes in their lifetime the same amount as 43 Africans. So which is it, consumption or population? We need to get this right."
In next 40 years we have to produce as much food as we have in last 8,000 years to keep everyone fed, Clay says.

Titled "The future of information and the status quo," Jarvis moderates a discussion featuring Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of Guardian News & Media; Bruce Schneier, founder of BT Counterpane; Krishna Bharat, founder of Google News; Graham Hann, head of technology at Taylor Wessig; Danah Boyd, social media researcher at Microsoft Research.
Danah Boyd, the social media researcher at Microsoft Research, wants to eschew the idea that young people don't care about privacy because they are so used to socialising in public spaces online.
Privacy as a practice is dictated by, among other things, the architecture of the environment. Young people are developing really intricate strategies to try to achieve privacy in online environments, just like we've done online for a long time.
Jayant Sinha, the managing director of the Omidyar Network India Advisors, chairs the next panel: How do we mobilise democracy and activism, streamline governments, improve access and empower citizens through the web?
On the panel: Robert Kirkpatrick, director of Global Pulse at the United Nations; Farah Pandith, social representative to Muslim Communities at the US Department of State; Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, and Evgeny Morozov, author of the Net Delusion.

Evgeny Morozov, author of the Net Delusion, up now.
Governments are increasingly reliant on technology "as a strategy of control". The reason why we as citizens have to be critical about areas that put internet into centre of political change, is not because contraryism sells, it's because governments then won't spend as much money on facilitating democracy in other areas.
Morozov: "Internet has enabled many things, but have to evaluate it's contribution in relative terms."
Assumption that once we empower people with digital tools they will become more engaged is naive, says Morozov, rebutting many of this morning's speakers.

Impact of internet is two-fold – it is undermining certain regimes, but there are more and more ways that these governments are reacting to that. In the Middle East, many of these governments weren't particularly savvy before the Arab springs uprising, now it is.

Chinese deadline to respond to any dissident storm brewing online is two hours, says Morozov.
We have to go beyond building tools that will allow us to hide what we do online. There should be more conversation between bloggers and governments about why this is happening at all.

Morozov: "Have to make sure online activism doesn't just happen in online world and stays there. Have to make sure it's connected to real world struggles." There's a danger that young people will think that the only way they can affect change is online, Photoshopping a picture of the president's face.

Emily Bell, formerly of this parish, introduces the summit's first panel: How do we create a better world though the networked world?
On stage we have: Nicholas Negroponte, the founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child; Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist; Robert Fabricant, the vice president of creative at Frog Design, and Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

Negroponte: Kids in Cambodia, from villages with no TV, have laptops and are still in school today as a result of that. They drop out of school because it's boring.

People ask for the proof of this project: that is when there's a school with 35% truancy and it goes to zero. "We ship 100 books in a laptop, when we send 100 into a village that means a village has 10,000 books – who had that in their childhood?" Says "paperbooks are toast", purely because you can't get them to kids around the world.

He adds: "Children do a lot more than we give them credit for, just assumption that they can't learn on their own is why education in some countries is so far behind. In Afghan, US is spending $2bn a week on the war, while spending $2m on education. For three and a half days of war, we could have every child in Afghanistan equipped with a laptop in less than a year."

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