The Web Reacts to a Tsunami – pt. II

Posted March 16th, 2011 at 2:02 pm (UTC-4)

Online Information – Good and Bad – About Japan’s Crises

As Japan responds to multiple and worsening crises, the Internet is proving to be a helpful, but  sometimes confounding, tool.

Thousands of Japanese are dead and many more missing, following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.  Hundreds of thousands more are homeless or in temporary shelters, and millions in Japan and around the world are desperate to make contact with loved ones.

Screen-grab of the Ushahidi map and reports on March 16

Mobile phones and the web are proving their worth, becoming something like a giant bulletin board – helping people share information about where they are, their condition and what’s most needed.  As in the Haiti disaster, such crowd-sourcing tools are proving particularly effective when local Internet access is spotty. Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Japan Online

Posted March 12th, 2011 at 5:10 pm (UTC-4)

Spreading News & Offering Help Via the Internet

As quickly as the news filtering out of Japan has become more grim, millions of concerned people have taken to the Internet to learn about the unfolding tragedy.  And, like Haiti’s earthquake last year, governments, organizations and humanitarian activists are using the web as a tool to help.

Unlike the Haiti quake, there are literally hundreds of videos users have uploaded to sites like Vimeo and YouTube that captured what happened during the 8.9 magnitude temblor, and the dozens of aftershocks.  This video, uploaded from Tokyo, gives viewers a sense as to how long, powerful, and terrifying it was. Read the rest of this entry »

The Web Reacts to a Tsunami

Posted March 11th, 2011 at 2:14 pm (UTC-4)

Reporting and Responding to a Massive Earthquake & Tsunami

Friday morning’s historic 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan, and the resulting tsunami that tore into the Japanese coastline, set the Internet into overdrive across the entire Pacific basin.

Even more than the 2004 Indian Ocean or “Boxing Day” tsunami, the first fierce waves to hit Japan Friday were heavily recorded and broadcast on video, perhaps to be expected for a nation that’s among the most wired and connected as any. Farther south, it was a different situation in Northeastern Indonesia where news was far slower and video unavailable in the early hours. Read the rest of this entry »

Virtually Ousting a Dictator

Posted March 10th, 2011 at 1:35 pm (UTC-4)

Video Games Being Used to Teach Non-Violent Civil Disobedience

Deborah Block    Washington

Popular social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, played a significant role in organizing the non-violent protests that led to the resignation last month of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Some in Egypt and other parts of the world have also been using other media for ideas on how to remove a dictator.  This includes watching TV documentaries on civil disobedience created by a private video company in Washington DC.   Now, that company is producing video games to teach non-violent tactics of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »

Psychological War, Social-Media Style

Posted March 3rd, 2011 at 5:54 pm (UTC-4)
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“Frenemies” and the Uses, or Abuses, of Social Media

We’re currently working on an update of the roiling cyber-theater that is Anonymous vs. HBGary.  Like any great drama the story is complex, has a large cast, and requires time to fully digest.  Sadly we – like many – were a few minutes late to the curtain of this production.  Regardless, our review is coming soon.

In the meantime, there were several stories that caught our eye recently – all relating to what might be termed ‘creative’ uses of social media.   As always, no editorial validation of these stories is implied on our part, other than just being interesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Alone, Together

Posted March 1st, 2011 at 5:58 pm (UTC-4)
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How the Internet Separates As Well As Connects

The survey results should have been stunning.

Last year, the Oxygen Media Group asked women about their relationships online and in the real world.  Well over half – 57 percent – said they communicate more by Internet than face-to-face.  39 percent called themselves “Facebook addicts,” and a whopping 26 percent – one quarter of the respondents – get up in the middle of the night to check their text messages.

But these and similar findings come as no surprise to researcher Sherry Turkle.  “I think in terms of human vulnerabilities that we are very vulnerable to what technology offers.” Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Credit Where It’s Due

Posted February 25th, 2011 at 1:54 pm (UTC-4)

Are Social Networks Inherently Democratizing?

Libya is not Egypt, it is not Tunisia.”  It’s an observation recently made by many – no less in this quote than by Saif  al-Islam, son of Libyan autocrat Moammar Gadhafi.

Unlike Tunisia, there’s less national and more tribal identity in Libya.  Unlike Egypt, there are no strong Libyan institutions – such as the army – other than Gadhafi’s rule to fill the gaps.

And unlike those two nations and others, it appears social networks are  playing little if any role in the pro-democracy uprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Poisoning the Internet

Posted February 23rd, 2011 at 2:12 pm (UTC-4)
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William Ide  –  Washington

A group of computer hackers hijacked websites run by the Voice of America this week, sending its online traffic to an Internet website claimed to be run by the “Iranian Cyber Army”.  The attack comes as the U.S. government is renewing its push to promote freedom in cyber space and as protests spread across the Middle East – some with the help of the Internet.

In a statement Tuesday, the Voice of America says the attack redirected traffic from numerous websites – including the international broadcaster’s main site:  Instead of seeing VOA’s website, visitors saw a page with an anti-U.S. message addressing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and an Iranian flag along with an AK-47 assault weapon. Read the rest of this entry »

Look Who Wants To Be Facebook Friends

Posted February 18th, 2011 at 3:57 pm (UTC-4)
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And Bloggers Pay the Price for Free Speech Online

Periodically we like to share a few of the stories and posts from across the web that caught our eye.  There are no editorial threads implied connecting these items together, other than being interesting.

#1 Terrorists Move to Social Media.  The open-source group Public Intelligence recently reprinted a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report that explores how extremist groups are moving into open social networks.  Taking Facebook as a case study, report authors find that terrorist groups:

“…are increasingly using Facebook, one of the largest, most popular and diverse social networking sites, both in the United States and globally, to propagate operational information, including IED recipes primarily in Arabic, but in English, Indonesian, Urdu and other languages as well.”

What exactly could a jihadi do on such a public platform?  Other than sharing tactical information, the authors say social networks can serve as a gateway to other extremist groups, provide an outlet for propaganda or other “extremist ideological messaging,” and aid in remote reconnaissance. Read the rest of this entry »

Right, or Wrong, On Internet Freedoms?

Posted February 16th, 2011 at 12:00 am (UTC-4)

Sec. Clinton’s Second Speech on Net Freedoms Stirs Debate

Photo: AFP/Mandel Ngan

For the second time in little over a year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered what was billed as a major address on the future of the Internet.

Her first speech, delivered Jan. 21, 2010 at Washington’s “Newseum“, was a watershed moment. In it, she compared government efforts to restrict or block parts of the Internet to “a new digital Iron curtain“, separating free nations from repressive ones.  Unfettered access to an open web, she argued, would be considered by the Obama Administration as comparable to  a basic human right: limit it, and be guilty of limiting inalienable human freedoms. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s Digital Frontiers?

The Internet, mobile phones, tablet computers and other digital devices are transforming our lives in fundamental and often unpredictable ways. “Digital Frontiers” investigates how real world concepts like privacy, identity, security and freedom are evolving in the virtual world.

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