Yesterday I participated in the Media for Social Change unconference organised by Dima Saber and colleagues at Birmingham City University. It was an excellent day and hopefully the first of many such events in the Midlands.
The unconference had these four main themes:
Citizen Reporting & Social Change
How can we begin to re-think the relationship between new information and communication technologies and social change in the MENA region?
How can we enhance the creation of better Arabic content online? What are the main technical barriers facing Arab activists in terms of access to online tools and media literacy skills?
Media in times of conflict
How can new media tools be used by activists to organise humanitarian aid in situations of political unrest?
Video for social change
To what extent does the democratised nature of video production and distribution in the digital age make it a powerful tool for social change?
There were a number of other themes that emerged during the day but these three stood out for me:
1) What mechanisms should we (academics, activists, and journalists) use to verify online sources?
2) How should we correct misinformation and rumour online?
3) How can we understand protests that are mediated online without speaking to those responsible for producing such content?
There were few simple answers to these questions and I was left with many more questions about how social media in could be leveraged for social change in not only the MENA region but also elsewhere.
I hope to explore some of these issues during CascEff and will blog about the results of the study in due course.
Dave Harte has written a very insightful blog on the unconference here: http://daveharte.com/social-media/gazing-at-media-for-social-change/
I have also archived the tweets from the day on Storify here: https://storify.com/PaulJReilly/media-for-social-change-unconference-birmingham-ci