This is discussion about CrowdVoice.org - Tracking Voices of Protest.
I went through your site, and am impressed by the work you are doing. I recently had the opportunity at the Global Media Forum 2011 in Germany to meet a few bloggers/citizen journalists who were active at the onset of the Arab Spring. In my conversations with them, there was a common theme of how effective the citizen media can be when living with oppressive regimes, and to find a way around censorship. I am sure your solution carries impact in such an environment.
My question is regarding your plan for mobile apps. We at Gawaahi have been thinking of creating such an app, but wonder about access. Having said that, we thought it may be possible for those who can afford the app to record testimonies (as we do) of those who cannot get their voices across to the power-bearers.
Is access something you have been thinking about, and if yes, what is your solution?
Look forward to your reply.
Hey Naveen! Sorry, I must've missed this comment. Hope you excuse the delay in getting back to you!
Access to mobile apps is always an issue, but over time it becomes less of an issue as these devices become more and more widespread. I think the challenge is primarily compatibility with the types of devices that the majority of people would have access to vs. the fact that they would have any access at all to such tools. I also think the Arab world in particular proved itself as "connected" considering the number of people who were actively publishing videos and photos from their mobile phones as more and more phones provided such swift access to these features. 10 years ago the protests here wouldn't have been as documented as they are today - completely bypassing state censorship and being televised to millions of people worldwide. I am sure we would have completely different footage of the Gulf Wars if people had the kind of access that they have today.
Access to mobile apps is always an issue, but over time it becomes less of a problem as these devices become more and more widespread (which is the case.) I think the other half is figuring out what to do when that ideal access level is reached, and that's just as significant. So to answer your question, yes we do think about access very often! But we think more about the level of access that already exists, and the kinds of powerful tools we can build for these users.
Hello Esra & Naveen,
If you are looking for access, we are the solution for you. On our globally innovative, technology-enabled, citizen media platform the local becomes global!
Kindly, take few moments to see our entry in this competition. 'Bolo'-The Human Voice Initiative (where local becomes global).
The site is looking great! I love the integration with Facebook/Twitter. I was curious if you could give more details on how the site was used by newspapers and journalists? Also - what do you project your volunteer and funding needs will be for this project to expand in the next year?
Hi Ravi, thanks for checking out the site and for your interest!
Sure, I will use Bahrain as an example for now. When the protests took place here, there was a media blackout. Journalists were not allowed into the countries and the ones that were here, had limited access to protest areas. For this reason, protesters relied on getting the information out via YouTube, tweets, images, blog posts, and the like. Some would include these in a CrowdVoice page that contains all of these sources in one place. This link would then be sent to journalists, tweeted out, blogged about, people would have the page widgets on their sidebar, etc. A reporter on The Guardian who was doing the live updates on the Bahrain protests said this about the site:
"Crowdvoice.org has pictures of teargas being used in Bahrain today and of injured protesters. It is a good resource for photos and videos of protests as well as links to news stories and reports."
Here it is being used on the UN Dispatch site and what the writer said:
"Crowdvoice’s Human Rights Crackdown in Bahrain is a must visit site for images and videos of the bravery of protesters set against brutality and depravity of Bahrain’s security forces."
The writer was crediting CrowdVoice for finding the protest videos and images, which were hidden between thousands of tweets or were otherwise not yet picked up by the mainstream media. It shows the power of amplifying this material, to serve as evidence of a human rights abuse, etc.
Al Jazeera also featured CrowdVoice.org as an important tool in crowdsourcing protest videos from Syria, and on its shows it featured a few videos from CrowdVoice on it. They also noted on one of their programs at Al Jazeera English that CrowdVoice was collecting important videos of women protesters in Yemen.
The LA Times also credited CrowdVoice in finding some of the videos from the Bahrain protests which they featured in their own reporting.
There were also links of CrowdVoice material from Russian and Italian papers online.
And on a blog called Cartography, which contains blog posts about the Arab Spring, etc, a writer said this:
"CrowdVoice is one of the best sites currently available for keeping track of recent developments in human rights movements around the world"
It shows how bloggers also make use of it, along with journalists, activists and anyone else looking for valuable information that would otherwise be difficult to find.
As for our volunteer needs, the site has been gradually growing with more content, thanks to our users. With more content comes the challenge of finding more moderators to help us maintain the relevance and accuracy of that content. As for funding, our budget is flexible because our platform is open source which allows other developers to adopt it, build upon it or repurpose it for their own needs or causes. However, the more funding we have, the more options we have in terms of new functionality (toolbars, faster engine, ability to feature more than just existing content on the web) as well as people we can bring on board to commit to ongoing development - which means we will have a much more solid product on our hands as a result, as well as a mobile optimized version. Wwe are currently working on a CrowdVoice version specifically for the iPad as it was a simpler challenge to tackle, but we're really eager for mobile compatibility.
We're also making various improvements to the site in the coming weeks to make the frontpage less overwhelming and easier to find content based on location or specific causes, and all of this could get done significantly better and faster if we had sufficient funding on our hands.
I hope that answers your question!
I'm a social activist and working for human rights, global peace, harmony,and education to all for a period of twenty years. I'm campaigning against death penalty. I'm very glad to join with you. Please visit www.facebook.com/saeedfalahi, www.facebook.com/haiyaalalfalahmovement, www.twitter.com/saeedfalahi
with well wishes,
saeed khan falahi, India.
Hello Saeed! We'd love to be of service to your cause. Feel free to sign up at CrowdVoice.org and creating a new 'voice' for the struggle against the death penalty in India. This will help gather information for your movement to increase further awareness.
Thanks a lot for yours quick response. I am going to do the same as you have stated.
Thanks once again,
Saeed Khan Falahi, India.
Thanks Saeed for your interest!
you are welcome. Yours support and cooperation is highly needed.
Crowd Voice is every activist's dream!
This is such important work that you do, not just for Bahrain and the Middle East, but for humans everywhere. It would be a shame for people to think that the silence of injustice in another part of the world does not affect them.
Thank you for your service.
I've watched Esra'a's work develop, evolve, deepen, broaden, and expand at a dizzying pace over the last few years. Not sure when she and her colleagues find time to sleep. EVERYONE should vote for this project.
Thanks Robert and Diseree for your comments! Highly appreciated!
Here come my vote for you Esra! Keep up the good work!
Very interesting initiative.
Good luck with the project, a big hug.