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Iran, censorship, social networks — and hundreds of thousands of people risking their lives

new photos from today in Tehran from @mousavi1388

“I think the filters and the restrictions have been going on for so long in Iran that the experienced people are already prepared for this,” said Jon Pincus, a former Microsoft project manager and digital activist who works on projects promoting online freedom.

Iranians dodging internet censorship , Doug Gross, CNN

The OpenNet Initiative’s Cracking down on digital communication and political organizing in Iran is a good summary of the situation there, and their research report has a lot more details.  Thus far, at least, the internet is largely routing around censorship: despite severe filtering by the government, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube have played huge roles in the protests.

The Mir Hossein Mousavi میر حسین موسوی Facebook page is one important example, updated regularly with instructions and requests for help and information.  Tuesday, when the sites hosting the “guide to cyber-warfare in Iran” were going down under DDoS attacks, they sent a link to a text version of this to all the supporters.  This is a very efficient way to get credible information distributed broadly internationally, in easy-to-forward form — and even when Facebook is blocked in Iran, information can flow back into the country through whatever other channels are open.

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Twittering in the Trenches: a workshop on social networks at #cfp09

Along with Deborah Pierce, Shireen Mitchell, and Ari Melber, I’m presenting n the Twittering in the trenches workshop today at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference.

If all goes well, it’ll be streamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cfp09 … and the Twitter hashtag is #cfp09.

Deborah’s post on the CFP blog has some background.  Check it out!

I’ll be at CFP all week … stay tuned for more.  For now, here’s the program.

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Users: #fixreplies. Twitter: “No. Thanks for the great feedback!”

twitter logoRetweet this. If you disagree with Twitter’s decision to hide replies to ppl you don’t follow, start your replies with #fixreplies.

– @nazgul (aka Kee Hinckley), on Twitter

56000 tweets later, in We learned a lot, Twitter founder @biz admitted that the “user feedback” they had cited as part of their original decision didn’t include Twitter users who liked discovering new people or participating in various conversations.   [This isn't not particularly surprising, since the company's founders don't use the service the way most users do, and these days appear primarily focused on celebrities rather than real people.]

Biz also admitted that user feedback wasn’t actually what drives their decisions:
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#p2 and prioritizing diversity: background reading for Thursday’s tweeting

#p2 tweeting* Thursday April 30

7-8PM Pacific/10-11PM Eastern
Draft agenda and discussion here
Please join us!

#p2 logoTwitter is an opportunity to engage with communities currently marginalized by the “progressive blogosphere”

– Tracy Viselli and Jon Pincus, The #p2 Hashtag and Strategies for Progressives on Twitter on The Exception

#p2 is a resource for progressives who prioritize diversity and empowerment

– #p2′s wiki and Twitter profile

Because #p2 (aka “progressives 2.0″) is the closest thing to a broad communication mechanism for progressives on Twitter so far, I’m not sure how many people realize that the primary focus is on diversity. So here’s some background reading about #p2 for Thursday’s tweeting  on how progressives can organize more effectively on Twitter.

Let’s start with a question that I think doesn’t get asked enough.

Do progressives care about diversity?

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Equal Pay Day: #fairpay and Women don’t ask

Blog for fair payAccording to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007 the ratio of women’s and men’s median annual earnings reached almost 78 cents on the dollar for full-time year-round workers, up from just under 77 cents in 2006. This is the narrowest the wage gap has ever been, but it’s only an additional one cent on the dollar. One cent is chump change. It isn’t real change.

– from AAUW’s Equal Pay Day, April 28

African-American women earn 62¢ and Latinas earn 53¢ for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. #fairpay #fem2 #p2

– @NWLC on Twitter

One of President Obama’s first actions in late January was signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.  That’s only a first step, though; the next battle in the fight against wage discrimination is the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The PFA updates the 45-year-old Equal Pay Act in many important ways, and passed the House with strong bipartisan support, and is currently before the Senate as S.182.

The AAUW’s site has a bunch of ways you can help: call your Senators, wear red,* blog about it, share on Facebook and join their group and cause, and tweet about it using the #fairpay hashtag.  It’s all important; do as much as you can.  There are a couple of things I’d specifically like to highlight.

Let’s start with Twitter, where this is another great opportunity for hashtag-based diversity activism.  Activity via #fairpay accomplishes several things.  Most obviously, it raises awareness: whenever you tweet, all your followers are reminded of the wage gap.  If some of the Twitterati start retweeting, or there’s enough activity that #fairpay winds up in the top 10 “trending” hashtags, a lot more people will see it.  So tweet away!  If you’re not sure what to say, the National Women’s Law Center has some tweeting points you can use as inspiration.

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Twitter *is* a strategy (UPDATED draft)

DRAFT!  Work in progress.  Feedback welcome!

UPDATE, April 27: This thread sparked and tied in with substantial discussion elsewhere — see the bottom of the main post for additional links.  I developed my thoughts in Cognitive evolution and revolution, which I presented at Politics Online; the blog post and comments also document a couple of successful examples of Twitter as a strategy for diversity in male-, white- and elitist-dominated environments. I wonder why it’s so hard for some people to accept that (1) I know what strategy is, (2) I’ve been treating Twitter as a strategy, and (3) it’s working?  Meanwhile, Charlotte-Anne Lucas’ The Twitters tells the story from #isoj is another proof point which illustrates language and geography diversity.   So I’ll try to kick off the conversation again.  More here.


Too often, Twitter is the enemy of complex thought, not its friend — if you’re on Twitter yourself, look at your last few weeks’ posts and see what fraction of your potential mental capability they actually express. Probably not much: that’s not what the tool is good for.

– Colin Delany in Twitter is not a strategy on e.Politics and techPresident

Yeap – Twitter is NOT a Strategy | http://ow.ly/1vIN

– @IsCool, on Twitter

Help me make #CA10 the next skittles. We can do this. #gov20 #opengov #p2
Adriel Hampton on Twitter

Somebody’s missing what’s going on here and I don’t think it’s Adriel.

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Cognitive evolution and revolution, part 1: #polc09 and a #diversityfail

Intersectionality and you

Opening slide from early draft of Hashtags at #polc09

Politics Online (1, 2) was a great conference, at least from my perspective.  Starting with the opening session by Secretaries of State Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner, every session I went to had great content.   It was a wonderful opportunity to meet friends and colleagues in-person, many for the first time,* and to be on a panel with people like Judith Donath and Clive Thompson.   And of course was also a good chance to continue the Twitter *is* a strategy debate and explore progressives’ bizarre resistance to embrace social network activism; more on that soon.

First, though, I’d like to follow up on the experiment in cognitive evolution and revolution I kicked off in the opening panel.
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#amazonfail and we’re not done yet: links and perspectives (UPDATED with new links)

amazon.fail ... and you're done

Update, April 21: added some additional links here

Amazon’s stock has recovered, bouyed by Friday’s report that Kindle sales have exceeded expectations. Traffic on the #amazonfail hashtag is much lighter.  The auction for AmazonFail.com is over, at least for the time being.

But I don’t think this issue’s going away quite that quickly.

Right now it feels like everybody’s taking a step back and reflecting.  There’s general agreement on the narrative described in the National Coalition Against Censorship’s #amazonfail explained in a flowchart and there’s a theme starting to emerge in the tweets on #amazonfail and blog posts:

It’s not over.

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Tweet the silence! #dayofsilence Twitter chat today at 3:30 PM Eastern/12:30 Pacific

Tweet the silence!

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior.

dayofsilence.org

11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover took his own life last week after constant bullying, including daily taunts of being gay.  yet another reminder of how important this issue is to kids and anybody who cares about them.  This year, the National Day of Silence is Friday, April 17.  Tweet the silence is a way for everybody to support the students standing up against anti-LGBT bullying … and to help create more awareness of the issue.

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Guest-blogging mania! New posts on Twitter activism and innovation

I’ve got a couple of new guest-blog posts up elsewhere:

  • Skittles and infowar: #pman, disinformation, and trolls on The Seminal continues the “Lessons from Skittles for poets and activists” series, focusing on the Moldovan protests.  This week’s lesson: Expect interference — and have a plan to deal with it.  I posted an earlier draft here; there’s also some background information in the comments of Twitter *is* a strategy.
  • A collaborative journey … on The Ideators’ Journey kicks off a new series exploring product and business opportunities for web-based collaboration tools. Along the way, if all goes well, we’ll design and perhaps even prototype a free tool, and recruit some early users. If that sounds interesting, please join us!  There’s an earlier draft of this and the second post in the series here.

Thanks to Jason Rosenbaum of The Seminal and Eve Enslow and Michael Foster of The Ideators’ Journey for the opportunities!

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My reply to Clay Shirky on #amazonfail

amazon.fail ... and you're done

Clay’s post The failure of #amazonfail admits that over the weekend, he jumped to conclusions,  “believed things that weren’t true” about Amazon and was “intoxicated” by the hashtag.  He now thinks he was wrong.  Most of the post is written in the first person plural, assuming everybody else reacted as he did.  He concludes that “we” should apologize to Amazon.  Here’s my reply, originally posted as a comment.

Update: aemeliaclare says it far better than me on Barely and Widely, as does Mike Edwards. Many of the commenters in Clay’s thread have good things to say as well.  On Twitter, by contrast, the backlash is out in force, with many positive responses to “the great Shirky”.

Update on April 16: Janet D. Stemwedel’s Morality, outrage, and #amazonfail: a reply to Clay Shirky on Adventures in Ethics and Science, and Andrew Sempere’s Why Shirky Missed the Point on A repository of ten thousand indignities and the harbinger of God knew what are two more examples of “saying it better than me”.  Nadia Cooke’s On the resolution of #amazonfail on The Ink Spectrum and Landon Bryce’s It’s Still On: The real failure of Amazonfail, Dubai, and Internet Outrage on Bookkake aren’t phrased as replies to Shirky, but make some very complementary points.

By contrast, Meg Pickard’s Spreading like wildfire: Twitter, Amazon and the social media mob focuses on what she sees as “ugly, prejudiced, underinformed, sneery, rude, kneejerk activity” on Twitter and sees it as “Destructive. Damaging. Virulent. Unapologetic. Unrelenting.”  Sigh.

My replies to Clay and Meg below the fold.

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#pxfridays, TweetLeft and #followfriday: connecting progressives on Twitter

twitter logoIn Strategies for progressives on Twitter, Tracy Viselli and I talked about the importance of tools and techniques for flash actions on Twitter.  Conservatives have been organizing longer and have the early lead, but I think progressives and bipartisans are starting to catch up.

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