Eric Klopfer is a professor at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and teaches in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies department. His presentation at Sun… Read More »Civic Media at Sun Yat Sen U: Mobiles, ads and games
I’m on this road this week, in Guangzhou, China, and in Tokyo, Japan, giving a set of talks at academic conferences and to journalistic organizations.… Read More »Civic Media at Sun Yat Sen University – Hal Abelson
I spent last week in Senegal at a board meeting for Open Society Foundation, meeting organizations the foundation supports around the continent. Two projects in particular stuck in my mind. One is Y’en a Marre (“Fed Up”), a Senegalese activist organization led by hiphop artists and journalists, who worked to register voters and oust long-time president Abdoulaye Wade. (I wrote about them last week here, and on Wikipedia.)
Documentary on OSIWA’s Situation Room project in Senegal, featuring Y’en a Marre
The other is a project run by Open Society Foundation West Africa – OSIWA – with support from partners in Senegal, Liberia, Nigeria and the UK. It’s an election “situation room”, a civil society election monitoring effort that focuses less on declaring elections “free and fair” than on reacting quickly to possible violence, mobilizing community leaders as peacemakers. OSIWA’s method has been used in Nigeria and Liberia, as well as in the Senegalese election where Y’en A Marre was such a powerful actor, as portrayed in the documentary above.
Elections are a moment where civil society often shines. Holding elections has become a major priority for governments, bilateral aid organizations and civil society organizations, and there’s been a good deal of creativity around monitoring elections using parallel vote tabulation and social media monitoring.
But elections don’t always equal development, or even a democratic process. Economist Paul Collier notes that elections in very poor nations often spark violence, and sees evidence that 41% of elections are marred by significant fraud. Elections work, Collier tells us, when governments are evaluated on their performance, not on their propensity for patronage. Citizens need to watch whether governments keep their promises, and oust those that don’t measure up. (See MorsiMeter, developed to monitor the first 100 days of Morsi’s presidency of Egypt.)
Read More »What comes after election monitoring? Citizen monitoring of infrastructure.
Jose Gomez-Marquez teaches at MIT’s D-Lab, a remarkable lab focused on the problems of the developing world. He’s a recognized and awarded innovator in the… Read More »Jose Gomez-Marquez, bringing maker culture to medicine
(Nathan Matias, Matt Stempeck and others at Center for Civic Media have put together an excellent blog post on this event as well – I… Read More »Steven Johnson’s Peer to Peer Politics at MIT Media Lab
Ten people each contribute $100 a month into a pool. They meet once a month and discuss possible projects to support. Each month, they give… Read More »How do we make civic crowdfunding awesome?