Tag Archive | Middle East

The Information Revolution Gets Political

by Joseph S. Nye, Project Syndicate, Jan 9, 2013

“… it would be a mistake to “over-learn” the lessons that the Arab revolutions have taught about information, technology, and power. While the information revolution could, in principle, reduce large states’ power and increase that of small states and non-state actors, politics and power are more complex than such technological determinism implies.

In the middle of the twentieth century, people feared that computers and new means of communications would create the kind of central governmental control dramatized in George Orwell’s 1984. And, indeed, authoritarian governments in China, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere have used the new technologies to try to control information. Ironically for cyber-utopians, the electronic trails created by social networks like Twitter and Facebook sometimes make the job of the secret police easier.”

For full text of this thought provoking article, please visit The Information Revolution Gets Political by Joseph S. Nye – Project Syndicate.

 

Global Social Media Research Symposium

The Global Social Media Research Symposium on March 23, 2012, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at American University, Washington, DC, will explore current research on the worldwide use of social media for societal reform and cultural-political transformation. The symposium will feature representatives from major technology companies, policy experts, journalists, researchers, and research groups. Panel sessions will be devoted to social media technologies and innovation along with their application across national borders, the role of government in promoting access to these technologies, and recent research findings on social media reform movements worldwide.

The Global Social Media Research Symposium will take place in the new School of International Service building Abramson Family Founders Room on the main campus of American University. Refreshments during session breaks and reception at the conclusion of the Symposium at 5 p.m. are provided. For information, contact Prof. Shalini Venturelli, School of International Service: sventur@american.edu and Jason Smith, Symposium Director: js1232a@american.edu.

For more information, visit Global Social Media Research Symposium | International Communication Program | School of International Service | American University, Washington, D.C..

Political Repression 2.0 – NYTimes.com

by Evgeny Morozov, NYT, September 1, 2011

AGENTS of the East German Stasi could only have dreamed of the sophisticated electronic equipment that powered Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s extensive spying apparatus, which the Libyan transitional government uncovered earlier this week. The monitoring of text messages, e-mails and online chats — no communications seemed beyond the reach of the eccentric colonel. What is even more surprising is where Colonel Qaddafi got his spying gear: software and technology companies from France, South Africa and other countries. … Amid the cheerleading over recent events in the Middle East, it’s easy to forget the more repressive uses of technology. …

For full text of the op-ed, visit Political Repression 2.0 – NYTimes.com.

Crowdsourcing Democracy in Egypt

John F Moore, Government in the Lab, July 23, 2011

Throwing out President Hosni Mubarak was the easy part. Building a democracy is the hard one. Egypt will have its first post-revolution parliamentary election in September, and political activists are finding new methods to engage voters. These include social media and crowdsourcing tools utilized to raise discussions about the new constitution. Egyptians hope that technology will help them build a better nation.

For full text of the article, via Government In The Lab | Blog | Crowdsourcing Democracy in Egypt.

Projects Use Phone Data to Track Public Services – NYTimes.com

By Joshua Brunstein, NYT, June 5, 2011

…The city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been trying to provide a better sense of predictability in recent years by adding displays in stations that state when the next train is expected. Now, a Web development firm called Densebrain says that it can do the same thing at practically no cost, by analyzing how people lose phone service when they head underground. Urban planners, technology companies and officials from local governments see potential in projects like these that mine data collected from phones to provide better public services. …

Full text of the article via Projects Use Phone Data to Track Public Services – NYTimes.com.

Digital Mappers Plot the Future of Maptivism

by Nancy Scola, Tech President, June 3, 2011 – 4:35pm

Every time something happens in the world these days, somebody makes a map about it.We saw it with last January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, the rollout of the U.S.’s long-awaited National Broadband Map in February, the personalized maps that accompanied April’s iPhone tracking story. We see it every election. And with the increasing availability of free and open-source or simply cheap mapping tools, and the growing footprint of the open data movement, democratized mapping is likely only getting started. …

via Digital Mappers Plot the Future of Maptivism | techPresident.

PBS Video: Crisis mappers: Mobile technology helps disaster victims worldwide

PBS, May 13, 2011

There are now 6.8 billion people on the planet. And about 5 billion cell phones. This extraordinary ability to connect has turned a modern convenience into a lifeline through a system called crisis mapping. It first gained prominence after the earthquake in Haiti, when people used their cell phones to send text messages to a centralized response team. Since then, crisis mapping has been used to help victims in emergency zones following the tornadoes in the Midwest, the earthquake in Japan and the unrest in the Middle East. Today, there are hundreds of volunteers in more than 50 countries creating maps of crises around the world, using a system that incorporates the lessons learned in Haiti. Alison Stewart reports on this worldwide network of volunteers – regular people — using a breakthrough technology to help others.

For link to video, visit Video: Crisis mappers: Mobile technology helps disaster victims worldwide | Need to Know.

Mobile Security Risks: A Primer for Activists, Journalists and Rights Defenders

Posted by SaferMobile onMobileActive,  May 10, 2011

Activists, rights defenders, and journalists use mobile devices and communications for reporting, organizing, mobilizing, and documenting.  Mobiles provide countless benefits — relatively low cost, increased efficiencies, vast reach — but they also present specific risks to rights defenders and activists. Additionally, information about other mobile uses, such as your photos or video, your data, the Internet sites you visit from your phone, and your physical location, are stored on your device and often logged by your mobile network. How much is this putting you at risk?  This Overview will help you evaluate your level of risk in regard to your mobile communications

For full text of the article, visit Mobile Security Risks: A Primer for Activists, Journalists and Rights Defenders | MobileActive.org.

Google Earth and the Middle East | Ogle Earth

Google Earth and the Middle East

Posted on 2011/03/03 by Stefan Geens, Ogle Earth

The Middle East is where Google Earth has perhaps had the deepest geopolitical impact since its introduction in June 2005. In these 5+ years, the wide availability of high resolution imagery of the region to anyone with an internet connection has caused a slew of governments to fret, and not just the Arab dictatorships — Israel and the UK have also worried, as we’ll see. In his New York Times op-ed column on Wednesday, Thomas Friedman calls Google Earth one of the “not-so-obvious forces” behind the revolutionary fervor currently gripping the Middle East. The reason cited by Friedman: in 2006, Google made visible the opulent palaces of Bahrain’s ruling family to a populace in the grip of a housing shortage. Outrage ensued, albeit online. The inequalities were simply too striking. …

For full text of the article, you really must visit Google Earth and the Middle East | Ogle Earth.

Impact of Commercial Satellite Imagery on Global Security

SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 109
November 10, 2008

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

Support Secrecy News
http://www.fas.org/sgp/donate.html

COMMERCIAL SATELLITE IMAGERY SHEDS LIGHT HERE AND THERE

As the quality and availability of commercial satellite imagery continue to improve, the technology is adding a new dimension to public understanding of world events, while both enhancing and challenging national and global security.

“Last month, the most powerful commercial satellite in history sent its first pictures back to Earth, and another with similar capabilities is set for launch in mid-2009,” wrote Peter Eisler in USA Today last week.  “The imagery provided by those and other commercial satellites has transformed global security in fundamental ways, forcing even the most powerful nations to hide facilities and activities that are visible not only to rival nations, but even to their own citizens.”  See “Google Earth helps yet worries government,” November 7.

Iraqi insurgents, among other non-state actors, have also taken advantage of the new capabilities offered by satellite imagery.  A 2006 dispatch prepared by the DNI Open Source Center (first reported by USA Today) documented “the use of Google Earth for tactical planning of rocket attacks against U.S. military targets in Iraq.”  See “Iraqi Insurgency Group Utilizes Google Earth for Attack Planning,” July 19, 2006.

A newly disclosed GeoEye commercial satellite image of the site of a suspected Syrian nuclear facility at Al Kibar that was taken on November 23, 2007, some two months after it was bombed by Israel on September 6, 2007, shows rather rapid reconstruction of the destroyed facility.

“I’d say it confirms that the Syrians were in a really big hurry to get the site covered up,” said Allen Thomson, a former CIA analyst who has studied the case.  “The previously available DigitalGlobe picture of 24 October 2007 showed only a mound of dirt.  By a month later (the GeoEye pic), what appears to be a thick slab (you can see that it casts a shadow) was in place.  And January 11 imagery shows the new building up and the roof in place.”

The new image was released last week courtesy of GeoEye / Space Imaging Middle East.  It appears on page 1170 of an extensive open source compilation (large pdf) on the Israeli Strike in Syria prepared by Mr. Thomson.

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