Sustainability (and such)

Komen, Twitter, and Public Awakenings

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on February 3, 2012

Never underestimate the power of the public.  Because of a phenomenal public outcry, the broken Susan G. Komen brand is flunking basic crisis communication and alienating global audiences.  One thing we know:  Even the most popular do-gooders can’t quiet our quick messages that shine light into buried messes.  Yes, necessity is still the mother of invention, and we (as media producers AND consumers,) will scorn those who scorn us; for instance, Twitter’s new policy of censorship may kick it to the curb very soon.

I want to share a few points gleaned from “Arab Tech Emerging:  Enabling the Next Generation of Innovators”, a lecture sponsored last night by MercyCorps to spotlight the Arab Developer Network Initiative in Gaza and the West Bank.   Technology is especially brilliant in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, which is reforming IT sectors powered by citizen creativity. For example, while most reports measure a 13% Internet connectivity rate in Gaza, it’s probably closer to 60% because so many people cobble together connections.  Staying connected is a community effort including  power outages; if we lift up floorboards, we may see car batteries that are strung together and hidden as backup home generators.

Such scenarios of citizen journalism are critical to human rights and information sharing.  According to those on the ground, more citizens trust the news from Twitter and Facebook than CNN reports. And these young, unemployed, and well-educated Palestinians are revitalizing economic and communication opportunities. It will be fascinating to watch the fruits of their labors unfold over the next few years.

It’s also inspiring to learn how NGOs such as MercyCorps and others are not colonizing these countries, but simply assisting with the tools for their voices to be heard and hidden when necessary; for instance, the Guardian Project protects the location and other identifying factors of Android users.

It’s a brave, new, PUBLIC world.

Click here to read about the first Gaza Startup Weekend  that brought a group of Google and other experts to incubate tech efforts.  And imagine how such new organizations are preparing to replace the Komen, Twitter, and other powers that forget, at times, that we don’t ignore controversy anymore.

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