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Mobilizing for Web Policy Activism June 2, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in News.
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Major international decisions are being made about the Internet in the coming weeks – decisions that could affect the Web as we know it forever. Last week, tens of thousands of Web users successfully petitioned the G8 summit in Deauville, France to keep its hands off the Internet.

The show stoppers were activists of Access Now. This global movement is premised on the belief that political participation in the 21st century is increasingly dependent on access to the Web and other forms of technology. Determined to represent the interests of the non-invited, Access Now, staged an ad-hoc counter-forum civil society press conference where a petition, signed by citizen-users from over 100 countries, was presented.

Although it was the first time the Web and its determinant role in the global economy was explicitly discussed, the invitee list highlighted the flawed approach to the forum. Sure, industry and innovation digerati, from Schmidt to Murdoch to Zuckerberg, were at the Tuileries gardens to discuss Internet governance. But the real future of the Web – civil society bloggers and citizen-users – was not invited.

In fact, as Lawrence Lessig noted, this group does not even know how to be invited. Lessig, one of the few civil voices officially invited to this landmark occasion, called on participants to preserve its open architecture, explaining that the most groundbreaking innovations – Google, icq, skype, kazaa, youtube, and so on – were borne by kids, drop-outs and non-Americans.

Giving primacy to corporate interests, forcing intermediaries to police their customers, filter speech, fight terrorism, protect children online and punish copyright infringers is not the ‘future of the internet’. In fact, this approach risks destroying its innovating, democratizing and participatory characteristics.
Access Now

The final G8 communiqué committed to broadening quality access to ICT, recognizing that Internet access is vital to the flourishing of human rights in the 21st century and ensuring the protection of individual privacy online. But almost completely absent from the document was any commitment to uphold principles of net neutrality or the dangers of censorship by ISPs and governments.

This week Access Now steps up again! The United Nations Human Rights Council will receive its first ever official report on freedom of expression online – and this is one report to support. How UN members respond will determine how, and if, countries commit to protecting the rights of their citizens on the Web. And it is one step further toward access to the internet being properly recognised as a fundamental right.

Related read: World Rallies to Save the Internet from G8


Online News: Information Feast or Famine? April 27, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in News.
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Does the abundance of information on the Web make it possible to have a healthy media diet? Or are we just snacking on the news equivalent of junk food, and starved of the kind of information needed to be informed citizens?

How important is the element of mass in mass media, when the Web makes it possible for many more people to set the political agenda? In a world where Wikileaks can set the whole world talking, niche news sites collectively have clout, and may help fill a vacuum in public affairs reporting and agenda setting.

Research into changes in the nature of news supply and demand shows that people consider public affairs news anxiety-provoking, requiring a lot of cognitive effort, and pay attention to serious topics primarily during momentous times, after which they return to their normal news diet, rarely clicking on or tuning into stories journalists consider headlines.

As a result, news publishers in all media, in an increasingly competitive environment, feel pressure to cater to consumer demand. The growing tension in newsrooms between the logic of the profession and the market threatens to reduce public affairs coverage in many broad-based, traditional publications, leaving serious news to “niche sites.” This may lead to a “deepening of information inequality.”

Two panelists, Pablo Boczkowski and Joshua Benton debate the issue at a recent lecture at MIT, and differ on the basic questions.

Pablo Boczkowski and Joshua Benton at MIT Communications Forum from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

Presenting at MIT7 in Cambridge April 5, 2011

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by Joanne KY Teoh

I’m headed to Boston to speak at the Media in Transition 7 Conference, to be held May 13-15, 2011 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA. Here’s the abstract for a paper I’ll be presenting.

Spectacles of the Screen:
Video Sites as Alternative Forms of Citizenship

The arrival of the all-video culture has been so quick and quiet that the implications of what a screen culture may mean are just becoming part of the business, political and intellectual conversation. The need to easily and quickly create and publish all kinds of video to all of today’s online touch points for a 360-degree view of urgent social issues has spawned new forms of journalism and community engagement in Asia.

Video is now everywhere – a Web experience, a mobile experience, as well as an IPTV, cable and satellite experience. As audiences move online, the very nature of online channels is changing. Gone are the days of the static one-way Web site. Today’s Web is interactive, participatory and video rich. It is about community, and building a two-way conversation that requires new types of video content that is both professionally produced and also citizen-generated.

As we enter the age of “all video all the time,” what do these new technologies and cultural advances mean? How are participants, spectators and sense-makers empowered by spectacles of the screen to build capacity and spur collective problem solving? This presentation showcases news coverage at ground zero of the Asian tsunami (2004), cyclone Nargis (2008) Sichuan earthquake (2009) and post independent Timor Leste (2009) to reveal how oral cultures in under-represented Asian communities in crisis are being transformed by grassroots video advocacy.

Web Responds to Japan Quake March 11, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video.
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by Joanne KY Teoh
The unfolding disaster in Japan – with elements of Hiroshima, Kobe and the Asian Tsunami – is riveting the Web. Within minutes of a 9.0 magnitude quake which unleashed a deadly tsunami, millions of people around the world Twittered the news, shared footage captured in home-made videos and donated to help victims.

In the immediate aftermath, Japan’s mobile phones were largely silenced because of a spike in demand. For many, Facebook and Twitter became the best link to worried family members.

Google launched a Person Finder App for people looking for quake victims, or for those trying to let their loved ones know they’re okay. Google used this tool to help people locate loved ones and aggregate information during the Christchurch earthquake and the Egypt protests.

The Google Online Crisis Center provides information on missing persons and aggregates important resources, maps, news and lists link to warning centers, disaster bulletin boards, and train and blackout information. The Center shows up on top of searches for “Japan earthquake” and similar phrases.

Tokyo Reporter is covering events from there on Twitter.

Thousands of videos are being shared on YouTube
as people used their cameras to capture and share the scenes around them with the world. Early videos show the horrifying scale of the disaster, with unstoppable waves destroying everything in their path:

The main areas affected are the prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi and Ibaraki.

Aid organizations have rushed to leverage social media to collect funds for victims. The International Red Cross has set up a Website. People in Japan and abroad looking for family members can register on the site or consult the list, while those in Japan can inform family and friends that they are safe and provide their contact details.

Resources to follow the quake on the Web:

BBC Liveblog
CNN Video
Associated Press summary
Wikipedia page for Sendai quake
Live streaming translation of Japanese news reports
Google Crisis Response
Google’s Japan People Finder
RTDNA’s “Newsroom Planning for Crisis Coverage” Page
50 Questions to Ask During Crisis Coverage PDF

U.S. Geological Survey quake updates
Humanitarian Early Warning Service
Japanese Fire and Disaster Management Agency
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

YouTube CitizenTube videos
CNN’s iReport videos
Buzzfeed collection
BoingBoing collection
Montage of TV news clips

Poynter social-media resources
Avoo social profile live tweets, news, links, wall, images, videos


Selected Video Reports

Reinventing Education for 21st Century March 11, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, News, Reviews, Social Media, Trends, Web Video, YouTube.
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Digital anthropologist Michael Wesch has produced thought provoking videos using Creative Common licensed materials about the web, education and online communities. In ‘Rethinking Education’ he compiles sound bites of thought leaders (Tim O’Reilly, Yochai Benkler, Brewster Kahle, Ray Kurzweil, etc.) in describing how technology is altering mainstream education. Michael Wesch is professor at Kansas State University and was keynote speaker at Open Video Conference in New York in Oct 2010.

Egypt: Web Videos Spur Facebook Revolt February 12, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video, YouTube.
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Amid euphoric scenes on the streets of Egypt, it is clear that the Web is a potent catalyst of political change. As befits a revolution galvanized by social networking, the feeling on the streets is one of individual and collective empowerment as citizen videos show the historic moment, when Mubarak’s resignation as President of Egypt was announced at the hour of evening prayer.

This video shared by YouTube’s Citizen Tube through Twitter shows people at prayer in Tahrir Square holding off the celebration until it is finished before breaking into cheers.

Even though Mubarak has stepped down, the story of Egypt is not over, and neither is the work of cyber-activists. With the military now running the country, it is uncertain what level of digital freedom or online surveillance lies ahead.

Asmaa Mahfouz, a 26-year old Egyptian woman who began online political activism in 2008, is now credited for launching the video call that sparked the revolution. Mahfouz recorded the video below on January 18th, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared it on her Facebook. Within days, the video went viral:

Young people forwarded it on mobile phones – a communications tool that some 65 million Egyptians use. Soon after, the government blocked all mobile phone networks. This was not the first time a young activist used the Internet to mobilize, but it departed from the convenient anonymity of online activism.

Mahfouz is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group of young, Internet-savvy activists. Time will judge whether it is accurate to credit this one video and young woman with catalyzing the Egypt revolt. At the very least, her video advocacy captures the zeigeist of an important moment in history:

If Asmaa Mahfouz’s Web video captures the spirit of the political times, Egypt’s anti-Mubarak street movement found a hero to rally around in Wael Ghonim. The 30-year old Google marketing executive created an anonymous Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said” named in honor of a blogger beaten to death by police last summer.

The page, launched over six months ago, became a rallying point for demonstrations. What started as a campaign against police brutality grew into an online hub for young Egyptians to share their frustrations over the abuses of the Mubarak regime. Ghonim was detained for 10 days after starting the Facebook page.

The online organizing through Facebook, e-mail list serves and Google Docs that sprung out of it catalyzed cyber activists to collaborate on a kind of movement wiki that is being continually re-edited and improved upon by an expanding Web of contributors.

This is the revolution of the youth of the internet, which became the revolution of the youth of Egypt, then the revolution of Egypt itself.

Wael Ghonim

The Facebook page that Ghonim ran sounded the call for the initial protest on Jan. 25. As the page’s following approached 400,000 people, and word of the event spread, it hosted a constant stream of news, photos, and videos, downloadable fliers, and emotional entreaties for all Egyptians to join the push.

The active early participants in the “We Are All Khaled Said” community were young activists and dissident bloggers, many of whom knew one another and had been organizing against Mubarak’s policies for years. Emboldened by their cyber-purpose, activists took their collective confidence to the streets, giving each other the sense that they just might bend history on the ground.

Web Users Counter Egypt Net Blackout January 30, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Journalism, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.
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In an action unprecedented in Web history, the Egyptian government on 27 Jan ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet after blocking access to Facebook and Twitter earlier in the week. Some countries routinely block access to specific Websites, but this is the first time a country has voluntarily cut its own Web connection.

Internet intelligence authority Renesys confirmed the blackout soon after the outages occurred. The Egyptian authorities’ efforts to limit communications within the country has triggered a wave of activism from a group of free speech activists on the Web called Telecomix.

Organizing using chat rooms, wikis, and collaborative writing tools, this largely anonymous group is working to inform Egyptians about their communications options while receiving incoming messages from them. Egypt has been identified as a “top priority” for Telecomix on one of its network sites, We Re-Build. It has a wiki set up as a one-stop shop with the latest chat rooms and resources.

Telecomix has worked on free speech efforts in Tunisia, Iran, China and other countries which have tried to censor or block parts of the Web. Chat administrator Christopher Kullenberg from Sweden, likens Telecomix to “an ever growing bunch of friends that do things together.”

Graph visualizing sudden halt of Web traffic in Egypt, based on data from 80 global carriers:

Timeline of recent events for Telecomix:

When Web and mobile services were cut off in Egypt on 27 Jan, though landlines were operational, members immediately got to work to send information to Egyptian fax numbers. Searching for a common string of characters found in Egyptian fax machines numbers on Google, they discovered a large amount of numbers.

At first, they sent out Wikileaks cables to these numbers, but then they determined the Egyptians didn’t need additional motivation. Instead, they were interested in information on how to communicate with each other and the outside world. The activists thus began providing instructions for using dial-up modems and amateur radios, known as Ham radios, which the Egyptian people could use to communicate.

The group says it’s also worked on receiving and decoding amateur radio messages, sent on frequencies recommended by the group of activists. While these groups have only been able to receive a small amount of messages of a short length with an unknown source, the Egyptian people’s use of amateur radio to transmit messages represents an interesting utilization of old-fashioned technology to circumvent government restrictions.

Source: Huffington Post

Besides Telecomix, other Web groups have assisted, including “Anonymous,” which has helped by sending out large amounts of faxes into Egypt. “Anonymous” was also involved in denial of service operations against organizations who took actions against Wikileaks.

Egyptian ISP Noor stayed online largely because it connects the country’s Stock Exchange and many Western companies to the outside world. Many people and businesses who are signed up to Noor have removed the passwords from their wi-fi routers so others can piggy-back on their connection.

Some users could get at websites such as Google, Twitter and Facebook by using the numeric addresses for the sites rather than the English language name. A crowd-sourced document, 20 Ways to Circumvent the Egyptians Governments’ Internet Block has compiled the best ways for Egyptians to keep communicating.

Related reads
Egypt Internet Blackout Teaches Important Lesson
WikiLeaks: A Case Study in Web Survivability
Support for the Disconnected of Egypt

Anonymous in Tactical Protest Shift January 15, 2011

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Online protest group “Anonymous” have called for a global day of action on 15 January in defence of freedom of expression and attempts to close down Wikileaks, an amorphous organization based in Sweden that publishes anonymous leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of their sources.

The self-styled Web freedom fighters have in recent months staged some of the most stunning and audacious cyber-attacks yet seen on key corporate Web infrastructure, gaining notoriety for targeting Websites of companies it deems anti-Wikileaks.

A new video published to their central communications blog Anonops Communications calls for a series of offline protests:

The internet needs champions and we will rise…We are Anonymous and so are you. Stand up and fight. Every city, everywhere.


Details of the actual protests are hard to find because of the anonymous and loose-knit nature of the group, but the call for a real world protest signals a tactical change from the group’s distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDOS.)

In the DDOS carried out in support of Wikileaks, Anonymous members bombarded target websites with huge amounts of data in a bid to knock them offline. The targets were companies that had cut ties with whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

DDoS attacks are more akin to sit-in protests than cyberterrorism. While a real-world protest is a change in tactics for “Anonymous,” it’s not unfounded for the group, which has no real individual leadership save but for the prevalence of ideas that gain popularity online.

The US Department of Homeland Security has mentioned “Anonymous” among a list of groups they believed could fuel a “resurgence in radicalization.” However, an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report dismisses the risk of cyber war as over-hyped.

The OECD study says a vast majority of hi-tech attacks described as acts of cyber war do not deserve the name. Unlike pandemics and financial instability, trouble caused by cyber attacks is likely to be localised and short-lived.

Attempts to quantify potential damage that hi-tech attacks could cause and develop appropriate responses are hampered by the hyperbolic language used to describe these incidents. Under the heading of cyber weapons the report included viruses, worms, trojans, distributed-denial-of-service using botnets and unauthorised access to computers ie hacking.

Related read
Anonymous names Saturday a global day of protest to defend free speech
Anonymous urges global protests

Webs@Work 2010 in Review January 1, 2011

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 4 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 28 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 261 posts. There were 26 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 6mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 8th with 218 views. The most popular post that day was Wikileaks: Web Censorship Won’t Work.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were search.conduit.com, singaporedaily.net, en.search.wordpress.com, bshistorian.wordpress.com, and bigextracash.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for reykjavik, wikileaks, map of the internet, tigers girls, and singapore political blogs.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Wikileaks: Web Censorship Won’t Work February 2008


Top 10 YouTube Tips and Tricks October 2007


Top 20 Singapore Political Blogs July 2007
1 comment


Tiger Woods as Web Fodder December 2009


An Offshore Journalism Haven? February 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

Wikileaks Iraq War Logs October 24, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Web Video.
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Whistle blowing Website WikiLeaks has released nearly 400,000 pages of classified military logs chronicling the Iraq War, despite attempts by the Pentagon to stop the document dump. In the largest leak of its kind in US military history, the logs offer an incomplete, yet graphic portrait of one of the most contentious issues in the Iraq war — how many Iraqi civilians have been killed and by whom.

The documents themselves are known at the Pentagon as ‘SIGACTs,’ raw field reports chronicling “Significant Action” in the conflict as seen by U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq. The archive is the second cache obtained by Wikileaks and made available to news organizations.

Shedding new light on the war, the secret logs allegedly show the US ignored systemic abuse, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers, according to news reports. Der Spiegel, Al-Jazeera News, The Guardian and Le Monde have been collaborating with WikiLeaks on the latest leak.

To search the Iraq documents, click here.
To view documents in an interactive map click here.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is ‘a hacker fighting for the freedom of information.’ At 39, the former journalist has built his life around an uncompromising quest for information. He has no home and travels the world with one bag containing his clothes, and another holding his computer. The Iraq papers is the latest stage in a life of action against vested interest.

Wikileaks’ operators and volunteers – five full-timers, and another 1,000 on call – are almost all anonymous. The intentions are laudable – to “allow whistleblowers and journalists who have been censored to get material out to the public.” Who will watch the watchdogs? The Web has its own wisdom, and the crowds will provide the needed context, analysis and background.

Wikileaks’ most high-profile previous success came with the release of a helicopter cockpit video that showed civilians shot in Baghdad. The publicity from video added US$1m to the group’s coffers and prompted more people to come forward with leaks of their own. Read more.

Related reads:
Iraq war logs: WikiLeaks v Washington
Wanted by the CIA: Julian Assange – Wikileaks founder
Wikileaks: How website shines light on world’s darkest secrets
Wikileaks: Web Censorship Won’t Work

Hockney iPad Doodles Debut in Paris October 23, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, News, Trends.
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One of the most influential artists of the 20th century is helping to herald a new movement: digital art. British artist David Hockney opened an exhibition at the Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris – harnessing mobile technology to draw the most traditional of artist’s subjects, the still life.

The computer-generated botanicals in Fleurs Fraiches (Fresh Flowers) feature iPhones, iPads and iPod touches bearing images of flowers created by Hockney using the Brushes app in his home in East Yorkshire in the UK.

David Hockney with iPhone on an easel in his London studio

Three of Hockney’s iPad drawings

The flowers are indeed fresh – Hockney will email new images of the blooms for the duration of the exhibition to help ensure the exhibit is always fresh with new images. Dozens of the apparatuses are bolted onto the walls, their flat screens aglow with art. So if you fancy braving strikers in Paris, the exhibition runs until 30 Jan 2011.

Hockney gained renown in the 1960s as a member of the Pop Art movement. He discovered Brushes 18 months ago after getting an iPhone and then iPad, and started doodling with his thumb to build images of flowers on the screen. He would email the images to his friends.

Among friends who got the emails was curator and cultural historian Charlie Scheips, who immediately saw the potential for an exhibit. An innovative exhibit are six animations showing Hockney’s creative process in fast motion. Days before his show, Hockney was filmed painting the Eiffel Tower on his iPad at the Hotel Lutetia. That mini-documentary has been added to the show’s lineup

Fleurs Fraiches opening cocktail at the Tokyo Art Club in Paris

With the iPad, I use my fingers to zoom in for details, then zoom back out. There’s magic in an iPad. It’s the same magic that’s in pencil or pen or brushes. With this show, one of the great difficulties was, how will people see the paintings? When I sent them personally, on an iPhone, I knew people would be holding the iPhone in their hand, and that my hand made the paintings in that size.

When you put an iPhone on a wall, it’s a bit too small. Twenty iPads look good together on a wall, but 100 together are a little too bright. We tried that in England. The way it’s done here, on a mixture of screens, some measuring up to four-and-a-half meters, they really glow marvelously. You don’t see any pixels.

David Hockney, Artist

Brushes has become something of a Web phenomenon with its own blog, Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as a dedicated Flickr group where Brushes artists can share their work. Portuguese illustrator, photographer and graphic designer Jorge Colombo has even used the app to paint a number of covers for The New Yorker magazine.

Related reads
I Pad, I write, I paint, I am
David Hockney’s iPad art

Open Video Under Threat October 23, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Journalism, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.
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Ex-Obama advisor Susan Crawford points to the threats to the Web from increasing monopolization of broadband supply in the US.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hYhSgoDRMgI%2Em4v%5D

Building Solutions for Human Rights Video October 8, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video, YouTube.
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Webs@Work participated in a “ hack day ” at the 2010 Open Video Conference in New York City. We gathered t at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) on Sunday Oct 3 for an all-day open space gathering of innovators, HTML5 developers and transmedia storytelling experts. Some of the stuff we did:

– Make interactive HTML5 video with WebMadeMovies tech like popcorn.js
– Map a transmedia strategy for content
– Build a custom HTML5 player for Websites
– Create robust video sites with Kaltura CE 2.0 self-hosted software stack.

The hack lab was a follow up from the previous day’s workshop where we came up with three areas to cover: 1) Safety and Security 2) Distribution (including low/no bandwidth) 3) Data Driven Storytelling. Taking the ideas from the brainstorming, we sought to build prototyped mobile video solutions in response.

Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project led the really geeky part, using the built in facial recognition libraries in the Android platform to build a prototype of a mobile video tool for advocacy activists.


Open Video Documentary Movement September 18, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video.
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by Joanne KY Teoh

Check out Open Video Conference in New York City. – a summit/festival of ideas and activism by journalists, filmmakers, lawyers, academics, artists and entrepreneurs to explore the future of video on the web.

I’m leading a workshop Rapid Media Creation in Crisis, showcasing grassroots video advocacy at ground zero of the Asia tsunami, cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the Sichuan earthquake. My presentation draws on reportage, Beyond the Disaster News Template, that began with the Asian tsunami.

Open video is the idea that the moving image should belong to everyone. This vision requires not only free and open video technologies, but also that viewers are empowered to go beyond just watching–creating, sharing, and engaging in the multimedia public sphere they now inhabit.

The first Open Video Conference was host to over 800 guests, including 150 workshop leaders, panelists and speakers. Over 8,000 viewers tuned in from home to watch the live broadcast. The event earned coverage in WIRED, NewTeeVee, BBC News, Filmmaker Magazine, and The New Yorker.

This year, OVC is expanding. In addition to highlighting industry progress toward open video, OVC2010 will feature inspiring talks, hands-on workshops, technology working groups, film screenings, and much more. It is as much about the underlying technologies as the people and projects who use them.

A session to check out – Wendy Levy of Bay Area Video Coalition Director of Creative Programming hosts: The New Story-makers: Open Video Documentary Movement.

More than ever before, international communities are empowered by DIY storytelling and the collective interest of a global public. Long form documentaries and investigative journalism provide a much-needed context for new story-driven technologies that directly support on-the ground movements.

Collaborative editing, crowd-sourced microfinancing, live video channels, robust mobile tools, hyperlocal citizen journalism, interactive data mapping and media-rich data archiving, augmented and virtual reality are all just a small part of an ongoing, realtime conversation that has transformed storytelling into open and collaborative storyMAKING. The process includes filmmakers, technologists, NGO leaders, advocates, journalists, philanthropists, bloggers, social entrepreneurs, and a diverse audience of authors.

In this session, you will hear from independent media makers, activists, and curators working on new projects at the core of this cultural and creative movement. It’s all on the table as we discuss exciting new directions and models for documentary and public media, changing roles for filmmakers, emerging tools for real impact, creative pathways to engage and collaborate with audiences.

Can these innovative projects that are leveraging emerging and participatory digital media technologies actually make a difference in the world? Is the new documentary movement, fueled by the digital revolution, empowering a generation of storytellers who don’t know their past?

New Web-based Creative Economy August 18, 2010

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The romantic ideal of the starving artist-genius has become so engrained in contemporary psyche that we stereotype creatives as sufferers. It is time to challenge that assumption to embrace creativity and its practice in alignment with the vibrancy of modern cities.

From Silicon Valley to Singapore to rural Rwanda, entrepreneurs are contributing to social advancement in profound and unexpected ways with the global reach of their activities in economic, social, and environmental spheres. The Web economy has fostered a new perspective on the power of entrepreneurship to improve society to enable action to unleash its potential benefits.

Success in the creative economy demands new ways of collaborating within and across organizations, new infrastructures, and new organizational forms to support innovation. The Web-based creative economy works in complicated and evolving structures — matrix organizations, networked organizations, alliances and partnerships – where much work occurs across these organizational boundaries, making collaboration challenging.

What are the new organizational dilemmas, models and frameworks for working through them? Modern business creators must establish moves to market quickly through the combined use of social, open and proprietary tools, databases, services and applications while still planting the seeds of longevity & scalability.

One example – the notion of traditional office and workforce is changing. Alternative ways of working and new places to work are springing up. A trend towards nomadism, outsourcing, freelancing, shared workspace and collaborative endeavors is generating greater productivity and increased business opportunity. Web-based tools are enabling workspaces and professional disciplines to merge.

News 2.0 the Facebook Way July 31, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Social Media, Trends.
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Facebook has outlined best practices on how news organizations can connect with its user base as part of their social media strategies. The findings are the result of a study that examined Facebook use at news organizations such as CNN, The New York Times, and Univision.

After implementing various combinations of Facebook tools on their sites, referral traffic at ABC News jumped 190 percent. Referrals at Life were up by 130 percent, Scribd’s user registrations went up by 50 percent, and Dailymotion saw as many as 250,000 users engaged with a single video.

Facebook boasts 500 million active monthly users with average monthly time-on-site of seven hours. So integrating Facebook into your news site could translate into lots more traffic. Tools like Like buttons, Activity Streams and LiveStream can keep users clicking through stories on a site. And the Insights analytics tool provides valuable demographic information.

For a Facebook strategy customised to your news organization, contact the team at Sapphire Studios. Journalists can learn more about the techniques and discuss how to improve upon them at facebook.com/media. Here’s a snapshot of what you can do to merge news with social media:

Optimize the Like button

There’s a lot of power in those little Like buttons, both on the Facebook site and off. When a user clicks Like, that gesture is broadcast to all of his friends — on average, 130 people. Depending on how a site implements the button, clicking the like button may add a link to the user’s profile page and make the liked page discoverable in Facebook’s search system.

Anything on the Web is potentially Likable: a news story, an organization, or even a reporter. Crucially, once a user Likes a Facebook Page, the administrator of that Page gains the ability to push new content to that user’s Activity Stream. In essence, that single click is all that’s needed for users to opt-in to future messages — and if they don’t like your content, to opt back out.

Like buttons are easy to make and come in a variety of features and sizes, from tiny rectangles to full-featured iframes that include profile pictures and comment boxes. Facebook has found that “Like” buttons do best when they’re close to content that is both visually engaging and emotionally resonant, such as video.

In addition, full-featured Like buttons tend to do better than smaller ones. Adding faces of other Likers to the button and including Facebook comments increased the clickthrough rate from as low as zero up to 0.2 percent — comparable to the click-through rate of a banner ad. Because Facebook delivers this content to publishers’ sites through an iframe, only a small amount of code is necessary to implement the “deluxe model” Like buttons.

Tailor content specifically for Facebook users

Content matters on Facebook. Touching, emotional stories earned 2 to 3 times as many Likes as other stories, as did provocative debates. Sports stories tend to perform particularly well, with 1.5 to 2 times more engagement than the average.

With that knowledge, news organizations can identify stories likely to perform well on Facebook and push those stories through social channels such as Facebook Pages and Twitter. Publishers can even strategize around when they push this content. There’s a spike in Likes at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., so having fresh content at those times is crucial.

Deploy activity plugins on every page

Increasingly, news site home pages will be customized to users’ tastes and networks. On CNN’s home page, for example, an Activity Feed plugin shows users what their friends have Liked on the site. Publishers should set aside real estate on every page on their site for the Activity Feed and Recommendations plugins, which suggest relevant content to users.

Sites that placed the Activity Feed on both the front and content pages received 2-10x more clicks per user than sites with the plugins on the front page alone. Sites could use Facebook’s LiveStream plugin, a real-time chat box that gathers users in a conversation about live, breaking news. The plugin could be seen as a competitor to live-tweeting and live-blogging tools like CoverItLive.

Create separate pages for major events

For major stories that break over several days, some organizations increased engagement by creating a dedicated Facebook Page for that event. Stories published from a World Cup-focused Page of one major media company had 5x the engagement rate per user than stories from the company’s main Page.

Of course, that technique isn’t without some degree of risk. Publishers might worry about fragmenting their audience and losing viewers when an event is over. For example, after a flurry of wall posts, ESPN’s World Cup Page abruptly stopped posting on July 15. The 636,000 or so fans have continued to post to the wall, but with no response from ESPN, they are likely to lose interest.

Manage your many pages

Depending on the type of item that a user Likes (a person, a show, an article, and so forth), almost every Like button generates a new Page on Facebook. As more people click “Like,” publishers will need to organize and manage an ever-growing volume of Pages — some of which aren’t even visible to most users.

Facebook uses what are called “Dark Pages” to connect publishers to users. Invisible to everyone but administrators, Dark Pages represent pages on the Web that have been Liked but do not have a publicly visible Page on Facebook — for example, a single news article.

Publishers must place the Open Graph and Facebook tags such as and on each page of their site to identify the content. Then, once a publisher has claimed its page (dark or otherwise), it can publish new content to the Activity Streams of their Likers and examine Insights to learn more about their users’ demographics.

Publishers could wind up with thousands of Pages to monitor. There’s not a perfect method to manage that onslaught of Likable content, Kelly said, but he expected that solutions would emerge from Facebook’s outreach to publishers.

Turn status updates into infographics with the streamlined API

Just as newspapers invested in printing presses, online news divisions must now invest in software development. Facebook recognized that developing social tools can be confusing and resource-intensive, so the company recently streamlined its API – the clean, comprehensible data that developers can access from simple URLs such as http://graph.facebook.com/markzuckerberg.

Facebook’s new API is structured around objects and connections, just like the user experience on the site itself. It can be used to generate innovative visualizations like the New York Times’ visualization of soccer players’ popularity. In addition, Facebook has developed a more robust search tool, which can be used to find content from public status updates, not just people. Journalists could use the tool to gauge community interest in a story or to find new sources.

Facebook has also streamlined its authorization process, implementing OAUTH 2.0, which offers improved scalability and ease-of-use. For users, authorizing applications is now a single-click process, rather than having to click through one dialogue after another. For publishers, that translates into smoother engagement with users.

Social networks — particularly Facebook — are quickly becoming a key way to learn about breaking news, a phenomenon that Facebook is only too happy to embrace. The recently released research is just a foundation for what Osofsky hopes will be a long-term collaboration with media partners.

Anyone involved with news — journalists, editors, software developers – do visit facebook.com/media to learn about Facebook’s engagement with the news industry, to share ideas, and to contribute to the emerging practice of integrating social tools with journalism.

Excerpted from findings by Facebook Developer Network engineers Justin Osofsky and Matt Kelly at a Hacks/Hackers meetup.

iPad, I write, I paint, I am June 11, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, Journalism, News, Reviews, Trends.
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Guest post by Michael Ryan Chan in Paris

Print is dying. Bin the dregs of a medium based on dead trees. Good riddance! Once upon a time, book romanticists like me would have shed tears over this capitulation to pixelation. But Apple has bestowed on us a work of art that will redefine our own artistry. Tempted, I took my bite of Apple’s masterpiece at the Louvre in Paris. Voila!

iPad’s minimalist interface – no keyboard or mouse – just direct interaction with documents, is just the device I’ve been waiting for. Let reading begin anew. At once art and utility, this platform to create and consume rich-content stands among icons of engineering design like the Eiffel Tower:

At last, a life of the mind, entirely on dazzling screens, ergonomic keyboards, and blistering modems. Now I paint anew with my fingers on a tablet, tell stories with a tactility in ways unimagined and doodle with touchscreen brushes. I am artist, writer, sculptor – unmediated – all at once. iPad, I am:

It is not easy not to gush at this storytelling device with the bright beautiful screen. Its “frameless window” has already raised the interactive stories I create to a new level. And it will change how I do journalism with its immersive potential, its platform for rich multimedia, and its ability to deliver information based on where it is in the world. I am in good company with David Hockney, iPriest of art:

Famous for his pool paintings set in Los Angeles, the British pop artist has swapped paintbrush to create artwork on iPad. Hailing the device as a new art tool, Hockney sees a transformative effect:

The iPad is far more subtle, in fact it really is like a drawing pad. They will sell by the million. David Hockney

To understand why the iPad is so exciting, we have to think about how we got here since printed books and painted pictures. Historically we have not read long-form text or viewed images on screens. With iPad, we can define when content should be printed or digitized.

This conversation is just beginning for publishers, Web masters, content creators, authors and designers. For people who love beautifully made things. For storytellers willing to take risks and consider the best shape and media for their yarns:

DVB Video Reveals Burma’s Nuke Ambitions June 10, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video.
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An investigative documentary produced by Norwegian-based news group, The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) offers groundbreaking information that shows Burma’s authorities have started a program to build nuclear weapons. Now posted on the Web, the documentary for the first time provides proof Burma has been pursuing a nuclear program.

Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions from DVBTV English on Vimeo.

The film shows the nature of the junta’s intent through a combination of photographs taken from the military’s top secret files, expert analysis and witness accounts collected by DVB over five years. It reveals the junta is trying to develop long-range missiles and dig a series of military bunkers. Experts doubt Burma is near to achieving its nuclear goals, but caution the intent to acquire nuclear weapons should not be dismissed.

The investigation by DVB is centered around Sai Thein Win, a former defense engineer who worked in factories in Burma where he was tasked to make prototype components for missile and nuclear programs. Sai contacted DVB after learning of its investigation into Burma’s military programmes, and supplied documents and photographs of equipment built inside the factories.

Elections later this year are aimed at convincing the world that Burma is moving towards democracy, but in reality, fearing attack from the United States and an uprising by their own people, Burma is trying to become the next nuclear-armed North Korea.

Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions

Directed by Evan Williams, ‘Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions’ was broadcast on Al-Jazeera in June 2010. After the screening, Burmese authorities announced a reward of USD5000 for anyone who can name DVB journalists who work in Burma.

DVB’s network of video journalists in Burma filmed most of the material in the film ’Burma VJ’, which received an Oscar nomination for best documentary in 2010. They also produced film material for ’Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone’, directed by Williams. Two DVB video journalists received Rory Peck Awards in 2009 for the coverage.

Web 3.0 Make News Worth More June 2, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, Journalism, News, Reviews, Social Media, Trends.
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The Web has evolved from a tangle of text to a database capable of understanding its own content. As Web 3.0 or the semantic Web gets smarter, it’s possible for news publishers to improve the value and shelf life of news with rich metadata.

Web 3.0 can be used as a strategy for enabling communication between independent databases on the Web. For example, the wealth of data in databases at Amazon, the Environmental Protection Agency, Twitter and Wikipedia don’t know anything about one another. So there’s no way to answer questions like, “What is the impact of pollution on population?” or “What do people tweet about on smoggy days?”

News publishers can use the semantic Web to monetize content, engage users and launch new products because news articles lie between fleeting tweets and durable journals, and thus have the most potential to grab and retain readers.

Metadata improves reader engagement by linking together related media. For news users, that means more context on each story and a more personalized experience. For advertisers, it means better demographic data than ever before.

OpenCalais, a Thomson Reuters tool can examine any news article, understand what it’s about, and connect it to related media. This is more than a simple keyword search. OpenCalais extracts “named entities,” analyzing sentence structure to determine the topic of the article. It is able to understand facts and events.

The real magic happens when the databases come together, such as when the BBC wanted to create a comprehensive resource for information about bands. By merging its own information with entries from Wikipedia and MusicBrainz, the BBC created a website that seems to know everything about music.

Related read
How the Semantic Web Can Connect News

Did You Know 4.0 May 18, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Advertising, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video, YouTube.
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