You Say You Want a Revolution?

Published on February 28, 2011
by Michael Hickins

A pair of initiatives at differing ends of the technology spectrum are seeking to support social upheaval of the sort seen recently in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. What both have in common is the use of cell phones and other mobile devices in the hands of ordinary citizens turned citizen-journalists. Where they differ is how information should be disseminated.

At one end of the spectrum, Columbia Law School professor Eben Moglen is touting low-cost devices, called Freedom Boxes, that can act as encrypted, network-independent routers for news and information sent via cell phones to loosely-federated social networks.

At the other end of the technological spectrum, the owner of a Kuwaiti television station and newspaper, Sheikh Fahad Al Salem Al Ali Al Sabah, is trying to create a network of international satellite TV channels “dedicated to building bridges between civilizations so as to permit greater dialogue between worlds, culture and religions.” According to a statement provided to Digits, “The objective is to utilize citizen journalism and new technologies (i.e. mobile phones) to compile content from everyday citizens acting as ‘reporters.’”

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