viernes, 25 de marzo de 2011

To censor or not to censor, that's the question.

It is commonly believed that the E-politics -exercising power through the net- phenomenon made its first appearance on 2007 -that is, during Obama's campaign in the United States.
E-politics works thanks to these three fields: outreach, fundraising and mobilization and engagement. Let's see how some of them (specifically outreach and fundraising) were applied to Obama's successful campaign.

Outreach means going where the audience is. In other words, using social networks and blogs. Obama did well on Facebook and Twitter, having up to 18 million and 7 million followers respectively. This made him look closer to the population. And that is quite important in a world in which the community concept is increasingly relevant.

Well, Spanish, years after -like in everything- did the same, as we can see, for example with La Moncloa's twitter.

Fundraising means getting money to finance something (in this case, the electoral campaign). As Obama declined using taxpayers' money -that's public money-, his campaign relied on donors, specially those ones who donated through the Internet (
(Click here if you want to see some interesting stats about donors).
Donating online has many advantages: it's quick, cheap and far less intimidating for political novices than writing a big check. But, in my opinion, I guess that wouldn't be enough to encourage Spanish voters as Americans were. Just because Spanish people are much more passive than Americans, we feel kind of indifference to what concerns politics. But, who knows, maybe in 10 years it happens, taking into account were are -Spanish- always late for everything...

(If you want to continue reading posts about Obama, just go to FairPlay blog)

It seems that Internet is a tool for democracy, equality, freedom and good things in general. But it isn't.
It's enough to mention “China” to demonstrate things aren't going well in the net. Just because Chinese government is taking advantage of the Internet as a tool for repression. Unfortunately, it isn't the only one: Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Tunisia or Vietnam, among others, are also controlling -and censoring- the net.
This map shows cyber censorship in the world:

As the Internet Enemies report says, “under the pretext of protecting morals, national security, religion and ethnic minorities, even the “spiritual cultural and scientific potential of the country”, many countries resort to filtering the Web in order to block some content”.
It really caught my attention the Cuban case we studied in class last Tuesday. As our teacher spend some years there (read this article if you are interested in her experiences), she could tell us some ways in which the government hides or disguises its censorship, with practices such as:
  1. High price connections to the Internet. Connections they can't afford due to their minimal salaries.
  2. Having slow Internet pages that can even take 36 hours to open! Of course, these slow pages are the ones that they didn't want to be read or seen.
  3. Put obstacles to international companies.
  4. Search result removals.
  5. Harass. This makes Internet users censor themselves, because they are afraid of the consequences their actions could bring. They were continuously threatened.
En Cuba hay programas espía instalados en los ordenadores de los cibercafés. Cuando un internauta tiene la desgracia de teclear palabras prohibidas en un e-mail, como por ejemplo el nombre de un conocido disidente, recibe un mensaje de aviso indicándole que su texto se considera una “amenaza para la seguridad del Estado”. Pocos segundos después, su navegador de Web se cierra automáticamente...” (Reporteros sin fronteras)

What's happening? Is is so difficult to let everybody express freely? I guess they have forgotten something really important: freedom of expression is a HUMAN RIGHT, it isn't something they can play or commerce with!

Just to finish, I let you here a video, in order to make you think and meditate even more.
I'm looking forward to reading your opinions!

P.S: By the way, in CPCR's last class we also studied a little bit of culture jamming -taking a popular icon and modify him/her. Here you have an example, he is Tiger Woods (the golf player). Just to make you laugh a little after this "protest post".

sábado, 19 de marzo de 2011

Misunderstanding the use of hastags.

On 11th March, Japan was shaken by the worst earthquake of its history. The seism, of magnitude 9.0 in the Ritcher's Scale, caused a huge tsunami that devastated the northeast coast of the archipelago. But it wasn't enough with that. It wasn't enough with thousands of deaths and injuries, villages that have completely disappear, and debris everywhere. They are also suffering a nuclear crisis. The shakes lead to great damage in the nuclear power stations, which can involve a radioactive explosion, similar to the one in Chernobil in 1986.
It's impossible to pretend that nothing has happened. Even when we are 10.000 km away from them. I don't know the rest, but I can't.
Watch this videos, impotence is the least you can feel.

That's why people try to do their best, they try to help in what they can, however minimal it is. Se trata de poner nuestro pequeño granito de arena. It was enough with spending 10 minutes on twitter (read it, it's quite interesting: ) or just using hastags.

Hastags are used to highlight key words or topics in a tweet. They were created originally by the users of Twitter as a way to categorize messages.
If you add a hastag to you tweet and you have a public account, anyone doing a search for that hastag will find your tweet.
Of course the disaster in Japan had one hastag: #Pray4Japan. It was used by thousands of people, even famous. Today we are going to talk about one of its users, David Bisbal.

After being riddled with jokes because of his peculiar tweet about the situation in Egypt ( ), the Spanish singer is again the center of attention: he added the hastag of Japan at the end of his tweets about his concerts and his appearance in the recent released Spanish film Torrente 4.

It may have just be an error because of lack of knowledge of using twitter (why not? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt), but many have interpreted it as a way to be publicized, because this hastag -which is a world wide trending topic- gives much more visibility to the publication of Bisbal than the one that wouldn't be given without it, just because it would only be visible for those who follow him or those who would do a search on the singer.
Because of this, a new hastag has been created: #prayforbisbal. There people refer to the lack of ability of the singer to use Twitter.

Well, it's clearly known that Twitter is getting more and more influence on our society nowadays (I recommend you to visit this blog to read further info about Twitter: ) and even famous people -who live in their world of Yupi- should be concerned about that; they should know that through their tweets there are really showing who they are, their personality. And things like Bisbal's comments are really bad promo for them. They shouldn't forget they are famous, they are exposed to all kinds of expectation.
140 characters can ruin your reputation!

"Lo bueno que tienen las redes sociales es que nos ponen a todos al mismo nivel, famosos o no" (Castellanos)

Para mis lectores españoles que tienen problemas con el inglés, este vídeo resume más o menos de lo que he hablado: (Mamá ya puedes enterarte de algo! :D )

sábado, 12 de marzo de 2011

Internet: a global tool?

Hi all. Welcome to my atleast3weeks proyect on Participatory Journalism subject. I'm Alba and I hope you enjoy it.
As you can see, I'm writing a blog. Yeah, that's fashionable nowadays. Actually, everything related to the Internet is in fashion today. I wonder what would be trendy in those places where Internet seems to be very far from civilization.
I guess you know now what I'm going to talk about; I'm going to study the Digital Divide.
The digital divide commonly refers to the gap or imbalance in people's access to digital information and technology, including physical access, economic resources and skills. In other words, it is the gap between those who do and those who do not have access to computers, networks, etc.
By the way, I can't see the point of many scientists of not including in the term other digital equipment such as mobile telephony and digital TV. It doesn't make sense to me. You don't need to investigate deeply to prove they should be added. You know, go to my class and see how at least 75% of my mates are using the Blackberry. I think this kind of devices will get in the near future, the same relevance as computers have today.

But let's go back to the the Digital Divide thing. (Vayamos al grano). It is still a problem considering the unachieved goal of universal access to computers and Internet connections. That's why it appears (or should appear) as a key issue in every country political agenda.

According to Jan van Dijk there are four successive and accumulative types of access that mark the steps to be taken by individual users in the total process of appropriation of digital technology:
  1. Motivation.
  2. Material access, among others physical access.
  3. Skills access, (number of “digital skills”) required to work with digital technology.
  4. Usage.

Acquiring the motivation to use a computer and to achieve an Internet connection is the first step to get access to the digital techonologies. Here is where we can find not only the “have-nots” but also the “want-nots” people. I mean, the ones who don't have access to the Internet -because of economical problems and resources, for example- and the ones who don't want to have it. In this cases technophobia -fear of technology and distrust of its beneficial effects- and computer anxiety -feeling of discomfort, stress, or fear experieced when confronting computers- usually make their appearance as major barriers of access.
The main reasons for refusing to use computers and get connected to the Internet are the following: no need or significant usage opportunities, no time or liking, rejection of the medium, lack of money and lack of skills.
For instance, my grandfather: he is completely satisfied with the TV or the radio. "Using the Internet? Bah, that's not for me..."

The following type of access is related to the extended thought that the problem of the digital divide is solved as soon as everybody has a computer and Internet connection. But that's not true at all. It's needed to make a distinction between physical access and material access. I will use a clear example to clarify this idea. A family can have a computer at home, used by the mother and the children but not by the father. Well, here we can see how he has material access to it but not physical...That has happened in my family for years, fortunately that has changed, and my father is getting more and more into the possibilities the web can bring. He started being interested on further information from Barça ( and now he is even thinking on having a twitter account!

After having acquired the motivation to use computers and some kind of physical access to them, one has to learn to manage the hardware and the software. As stated by van Dijk, the "digital skills" are a succession of three types of skills: operational skills -capacities to work with hardware and software-, the information skills -skills to search, select and process information in computer and network sources- divided into formal information and substantial information skills, and strategic skills -capacities to use computer and network sources as the means for particular goals and for the general goal of improving one's position in society.
Nowadays institutions are offering courses to learn how to use computers, normally for old people. The problem is most of them are too expensive for elderly, as they have a low retirement pay.

Finally, the actual usage of digital media is the final stage and ultimate goal of the total process of  appropriation of technology, what we call access. Having sufficient motivation, physical access and skills to apply digital media are necessary but not sufficient conditions of actual use. Usage can be measured in at least 4 ways: usage time, usage applications, broadband or narrowband use and more or less active or creative use.

Well, now we know the heaviest part (the theory), it's time to make conclusions. 
We already know that Internet access is creating inequalities among countries, societies, and even families. Just as Manuel Castells said "Internet determines society, society determines the Internet". It's the moment to act, as government policies don't seem to be enough. How? Teaching our grandparents, for example. Small things are the ones that change the world. Small changes will lead to big ones.
Well, that's my opinion, I'm looking forward to hearing from your proposals!
Meanwhile, I let you here a video that maybe could give you inspiration... :)