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Citizen Journalism, Citizen Activism, and Technology. Positioning Technology as a ‘’Second Superpower’ in Times of Disaster and Terrorism by Sharon Meraz. Context. How can the new power of the Internet be leveraged in times of Disasters Terrorism

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Citizen Journalism, Citizen Activism, and Technology


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    1. Citizen Journalism, Citizen Activism, and Technology Positioning Technology as a ‘’Second Superpower’ in Times of Disaster and Terrorismby Sharon Meraz

    2. Context • How can the new power of the Internet be leveraged in times of • Disasters • Terrorism • How has technology been shaped and utilized by citizens to frame • Disaster response management • Citizen journalism • Global Web initiatives • Self help, self organizing, emergent networks • Collective wisdom

    3. Social Computing • Not a new phenomenon • Way back in 1940s to Memex (Allen, 2005) • BBSs, Usenets, IRC (Rheingold, 1993) • Current enthusiasm due to • Web 2.0 as collaboration/sharing • Architected for participation (SOA) • Toolkit for lightweight apps (AJAX, APIs, RSS) • Rapid application development (Web services) • Mounting interest in social computing • Blogs, wikis, social software, mobile technologies

    4. Social Computing • Allows users to participate more (BYOC) • Visible spirit of collaboration/generosity • Gift economy, p2p development, bazaar design, hacker ethic • Technologies of Cooperation (Saveri et al) • Trigger network effects in vulnerable times • Emergent • Spontaneous • Citizen-led • Citizen-shaped

    5. Theoretical Model • Interdisciplinary approach • Science Studies Theories • Science, technology, capitalism, control, power • Technological determinism vs social shaping • Emergence in Networks (Spontaneous) • Distributed, decentralized, bottom-up • The Wisdom of crowds (James Suroweicki) • The Power of many (Christian Crumlish) • Small pieces loosely joined (David Weinberger) • Linked: The science of networks (Albert-Laszlo Barabasi)

    6. Events • 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake • Tsunamis affecting Southeast Asia and Africa, over 175,000 deaths • July 2005 London Bombings • Dubbed 7/7 • August 2005 US Hurricane Katrina • New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama, over 1,400 deaths

    7. Methodology • How was social software/technology used/shaped for disaster management? • 3 pronged with snowball sample. • Used technorati for tag-based searching • Multiple user-generated tags for each event • Monitored ‘A-list’ blogs for information on media/c-journalism happenings • Searched Lexis Nexus for Big Media reports • In addition for Hurricane Katrina (live): • Monitored c-journalism/A-list blogs in RSS reader

    8. Results • MSM reports on Citizen Journalism • Indian Ocean Earthquake • Unanticipated event • Vivid, immediate reporting from blogs • Accidental, unintentional, incidental c-journalists • London Bombings • Gap between amateur/professional shrinking • Democratization of news • Sea change in journalism practice (genie out of bottle) • Hurricane Katrina • MSM and C-Journalism as different/shared perspectives • Complementary vs oppositional relationship

    9. Results • Mobile Technologies • SMS used to post to • Blog, send text messages for relief/aid/fundraising coordination, find missing (Morquendi) • Phone cameras/video • 7/7 incident, 20,000 emails, 1000 photos to BBC, 20 videos, used on Sky News, BBC, Guardian, AP • Less in Hurricane Katrina • Possibly less of a mobile phone culture • More of the poor left stranded in region • Infrastructure wiped out

    10. Results • Blogs as inside eyes/ears of disaster • Rise of video blogging in 2004 • Global connections (SEA-EAT blog) • 21,000 visitors in 24 hrs, 10th most visited humanitarian site on Internet • Photo blogging growth, Flickr pools • First hand reporting (Brian Oberkirch, Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog, Michael Barnett, The Interdictor) • Relief coordination • 1,347,493 (right), 200,000 (left)

    11. Results • Wiki journalism--can this work? • Exchange of resources, safety bulletin boards, missing person’s reports/registry • Wikipedia entry on 7/7 incident edited 5,000 times • Global, transparent connections • Group collaboration • Skype phone banks • Shelters/Databases for the missing • Virtual lightposts • Recovery 2.0 wiki after Katina • Clearinghouse for disaster recovery efforts

    12. Results • Tech Development • Global in Scope: Taran Rampersad and Dan Lane on Alert Retrieval Cache (ARC) built in one night • Responsiveness of citizen-initiatives • Jonathan Mendez/Greg Stoll using Google Maps API for housing damage mapping • Katrina, Rita, Wilma

    13. Results • KatrinaPeopleFinder Project • Correct problems of distributed redundancy • Create a central database • David Geilhufe, Ethan Zuckerman, Zack Rosen, Jon Lebowsky • Volunteer programmers, project leaders, data entry volunteers • Data entry chunks of 25 records with over 3,000 volunteers, 620,000 records • PeopleFinder Interchange Format (PFIF) • Need tactics to swarm better (Jeff Jarvis)

    14. Conclusion • Social software significant to • Emergent alternative journalism • Citizen disaster management response • Self organization, smart, networked mob • Citizen Paparazzi (Sousveillance) • Many little brothers and sisters • See, snap, send impulse (Spy, Scoopt, Cell J) • Private/public space boundaries • Accessibility of the technology • Needs a smart network with focal nodes