Monday, 28 February 2011

Oman's Random Internet Censorship-will it get worse as the uprising grows?

Oman, where random blocking of the internet seems to be an often occurrence

The web 3.0 lab had discovered that Oman does Random internet blocking. Sometimes you can easily access a site and other times you cannot.

Global voices explains what happened to him on many occasion in his country.

"Unlike some neighbouring countries, the internet in Oman is rarely censored by the government to block websites that criticize the authorities There are blogs and forums that explicitly publish leaked government documents and shame high government officials, yet the government in most cases uses legal methods to prosecute such authors if they are residents in the country by relying on the criminal law legislation and the controversial Omani telecommunication law. Though rarely ever tested, Oman does guarantee the right for freedom of expression after all. Websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter were never blocked in Oman.

In Oman, we have a different problem with censorship. The issue of censorship is taken care of by a public company called Omantel that occasionally, due to human or machine errors - we don't know - blocks out random websites. Though initially it sounds like a silly problem, due to the blackbox nature of the censorship department, once a website is blocked, it is a nightmare to get it unblocked.

Two months ago, I discovered that a blog I keep on IT law in Oman got blocked while I was abroad. It took me a whole month to get it unblocked where I had to make an official complaint to the Telecommunication Regulation Authority to have my website unblocked.

While the blocking of my website might have only caused me to lose a whole month of traffic and have a whole month of hosting fees wasted, having a number of services by Google such as Gmail, Blogger, andScholar blocked for more than a day by mistake has a serious impact on the lives of people.

Currently, it seems that does not seem to be any method to hold Omantel accountable to its various censorship mishaps, other than complaining to the Oman's Telecom Regulation Authority, which will order Oman to unblock a website, but is very unlikely to issue any other sanctions. The future of the situation and control of the censorship department is unknown as the second fixed line internet service provider starts its operations. Hopefully something will change."

Source; Global Voices Online

We are seeing our first views from Libya

Today the Web 3.0 Lab has received its first page views from inside of Libya. This is a further sign of the growing collapse in the regimes power. Today three different people visited our site in the past 6 hours from Libya itself according to Google Analytics.

We are still not seeing any twitter traffic with Libya geotags after seeing some for Benghazi a few days ago. But traffic to our Web 3.0 analysis of protests in Libya would indicate people in Libya are now able to actively search the web for information from the outside world about their country.

So if you tweet or post a message to Libya, someone might actually read it.
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Oman update

Twitter accounts in Oman do not post with geotag data, so we are unable to get any idea of the geographic intensity or distribution of twitter use on the ground as we can in Bahrain.

But from watching the twitter flow on the hashtag Oman we are seeing a constant flow of tweets, but most of them seem to be by curious outsiders. Still we are seeing a number of photos being posted on twitter including protesters taking a Globe Roundabout in the city of Sohar.

Based entirely on chatter on twitter it looks like a rather aggressive and potentially violent protest is forming in Oman. We anticipate that protests will move very quickly in the nation in the coming days.

Using Google maps to track protests

Mappings of popular uprisings are based on a combination of reports from eye-witnesses on the ground in Yemen communicating via twitter and facebook, in addition to the following media outlets: Aljazeera, CNN, Yemen Times, The Washington Post, AFP and The New York Times.

Did we miss a protest? Leave a comment to update us!

View Yemen’s Uprising in a larger m

Pizza Politics, global politics with or without peppers

This story form about how people all over the world are contributing pizzas to demonstrators in Madison, including a pizza from Egypt. This kind of global gift giving and kudos economy which are every day on the web, are playing a major role in this radical transformation of imagination which is happening now.

From Cairo to Madison, some pizza - Meredith Shiner - "O’Connor said Ian’s got its first call Thursday when a mother of a University of Wisconsin student called and offered to donate $200 to help feed the people her daughter told her had flooded the Capitol. Since then, the outpouring of money from all over the world has put the pizza-makers into overdrive.

The blackboard behind the counter lists the “countries donating” as “Korea, Finland, New Zealand, Egypt, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Germany, China, England, Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, Italy” and has the abbreviations for all 50 states listed below, with donating states circled."

Pattern of the Cyber Revolution

It is not just technology that unities the global rise in protests, strikes, and revolutions, but some clear patterns are emerging that united the protests in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and America.

  1. Social Media is used a the main tool of communication, or sharing experience, and forming spaces of dialogue.
  2. Mobile Web 3.0 technology like Twitter keep protests in touch with each other and the world in real time.
  3. A major generation gap, though the youth are leading. Young people grew up with technology are often called digital natives. These young people have been hit hard by the economic problems and are brining their skills in Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 to organize the protest.
  4. A disgust with violence. The movements in Egypt and Libya have certainly not been non-violent at all times. But protester violence has been defensive, especially in Libya. In the Arab world and in the United States protests are consciously distancing themselves from pro-violence movements of the past. Al Qaeda has been utterly marginalized in the Middle East, and recent US protests have been very critical of the presence of guns and calls to military force that was central to the Tea Party movement.
  5. This is very much part of a bigger protests movement coming out of the 2008 collapse of the global economy. Two things to keep in mind about this protest: first it made a lot of people who were not precisely booming before the collapse poor, and that it was fully and entirely the result of the global fiscal system. There is massive anger developing on the lack of transformations to the core privatization and reliance on market mechanism which caused the problem. In fact since 2008 many world governments are embracing even more free market ideology, reducing the size of government radically while not only bailing out banks but sitting back and allowing huge bonuses.
  6. This exhaustion with a power structure based upon mass wealth are leading protest movements in the Middle East but in Wisconsin, Greece, the UK and Italy.

This event is likely to be far far larger than the 1968s events in Europe and America. This is for various reasons:

  1. The new medias used are much more effective and flexible, communication and co-organization is far more than it ever was.
  2. The issues facing the poor and young people are much worse than in the late 1960s. Not only is there a long standing unpopular war but also a massive economic collapse.
  3. The revolt is becoming truly global, with groups in various nations able to organize in real time.
The agile nature of cyber-activism combined with the gravity of the crisis and the entrenched position of powerful people who have amassed what would have been unimaginable wealth thirty years ago. We anticipate that these global protests will continue until a number of goals are accomplished:

  1. Reform or revolution of almost every Islamic nation in the world.
  2. A stop of the recent rise in right wing politics in the US and Europe, specifically austerity measures that are used to break unions or put the burden of the crisis on the young and poor while allowing huge financial players to get even richer.
  3. Re-regulation of much of the banking structure.
Over the Spring and Summer we expect to see major protests on every continent of the world. Specific large protests will be seen in Greece, Italy, the UK, the Arab World, and Iran. There is a strong chance that it will expand to Russia, China, India and other parts of Asia, South America and Africa.

We are already seeing a large number of established protests groups trying to piggyback on this event. Islamic fundamentalists, American Right Wing radicals, and Anarchist street fighters may sense this as an opportunity to engage in significant violence. So in the short run their are elevated chances of terrorism and violence all over the planet.

The Uncut Movement is spreading on Facebook

Perhaps inspired by the "Day of Rage" use of Facebook groups in the Jasmine revolution, many groups in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and even Holland are forming a global protest movement named uncut. We are seeing Facebook pages from most countries in Europe now. We are also seeing different levels of organizations. People joining national groups, forming local groups for direction action, and linking in to global groups.

The movement uncut clearly follows many of the cyberactivism patterns we have seen in the Arab revolt:

  • Use of a matrix of connected sites and communities that organize joint protests, this case over large area of Europe and North America, without central administration.

  • Profound distrust of established media as means to communicate and a growing use of sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites including self hosted sites.

  • A large global adaption of key themes and images, without these being imposed by anyone

  • Leaderlessness, not seen any real big stars behind uncut, this should be compared to the "Tea Party" movement in the US which from the start had big money backers and large numbers of established media and political players.

The uncut movement had provided a structure for groups of various size, some rather small, in various countries for rapidly form a community organizing global action like the February 26 day of action while allowing local groups to carry out their own planning.

We strongly suspect this is another example of a suddenly empowered determination for groups around the world to use the Internet to organize protests and access media capacity recently monopolized in the hands of a few individuals.

The story of TV and capable over the past 20 years had been move from public ownership to private ownership by a few global entities. Both systems have left common people without much in the way of publication or distribution of ideas. Just 20 years ago most Americans would have had no idea how to publish their ideas or distribute them.

Well the advent of computer social networking has opened a new set of communication channels to people, and 2011 will be remembered as the year when activists around the world embraced these media and decided to use them to promote their own causes. This is not to say that these groups will win, but the ability of people to force causes and stories in to the global consciousness regardless of censorship that exists in their country will be significant. These patterns are fairly larger than most people fully relieved.

Twitter feedback we got

France Uncut
@ disgusted !! nothing about ineven if it relates @ and all others !! ;c) anyway...
The Other 98%
@ word up! Join your local chapter as well as the main one!

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Sunday, 27 February 2011

There is a major truly Global Protest event happening right now

A rather radical and foul mouthed yet informative YouTube video on some of the more radical protests going on in the world and being organized online. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the combination of economic problems and new media are fanning a new kind of mass social movement.

We have been looking at the use of Social Networking tools in protests through the Middle East and there is no escaping that spaces like Facebook and YouTube along with Twitter and other web tools are playing a key role spreading a regional mass protest.

Watching this weekends explosion of Social Networking sites in Madison Wisconsin we have seen:
  1. Massive surge in tweeting coming from the location of the protests. Amounts raising vastly above our established baselines for region and location.
  2. We have seen a great deal of activity on twitter.
  3. We have seen a number of video streaming services.
  4. We are hearing many of the same themes as in Egypt and Bahrain: calls for peaceful protests, civil disobedience, and global solidarity.
  5. We are seeing a ramping up of use of Social Networks to rapidly organize in Madison.
We are also seeing an increase in Facebook and Twitter activity in the UK over planned austerity measures created by the Conservative government. Protests are also being organised with Social Network tools at a very rapid pace.

From these we are confident to conclude:

There is a major truly Global Protest event happening right now. That the extent of this social event is rapidly going viral, and resulting in real world protest.

Web 3.0 technology which allows greater communication independent of space is playing a key role where available.

These movements have some major elements:
  1. Opposition to methods of violence.
  2. Heavy use Social Networks to organize and communicate.
  3. A shared sense of a key event taking place and being connected via the Web.
This global event is above all an event in the imaginations of millions of people around the world. This sense of solidarity started in the Arab world with Tunisia but became global in Egypt and is being made more solid in Libya.

The present event is already well evolved in the Arab world. Today the United States have seen massive protests and protests are taking place regularly in the United Kingdom. Clearly no one has any idea how massive this may become. But clearly the governments in China and Russia are taking this all very seriously.

We were wrong: Not anticipating major political unrest in Madison...

Web 3.0 Lab: Not anticipating major political unrest in Madison...:

"UPDATE: Since the time of writing this article we have seen a sudden surge in Tweeting coming from the protest site in Madison. >Monitoring both Madison and St Louis this afternoon we see no sign of expanded Twitter activity coming from the Capitol area of Madison. We therefore conclude that any unrest or acceleration in the weekend demonstration is unlikely."

We are struggling to modify our models after a sudden surge in Tweeting at the end of Saturdays protest was followed by a surge in tweeting today and what looks like is going to be a non-violent protest confronting the Governor directly. We are seeing a great deal of similarity to protests in Egypt and Bahrain, without the same level of police violence or limitations on tweeps, though they have been removed from the building.

We are now seeing a heavy cloud of tweeting hanging over Madison's Capitol as the area becomes the sight of a major protest inside and outside of the building.

UPDATE: Since this initial failure to predict the Madison event, we have considered our model. The main thing we have noticed is that tweeting laged events in Madison. In Bahrain, the other case we saw, involved a pre-protest surge. We have seen the surge also recently in Kuwait. Madison may have had this lag because of the more open nature of American culture. Arab protests have been to a degree forced to social networks. Protests in the West don't have this requirement.

This does not mean that protests in the west don't benefit from social networks. We have found with the Uncut social networks in the UK are using Facebook and Twitter to organize around a full nation.

Recent Surge in Twitter Activity in Madison Accompany Confrontation

Live streaming video by Ustream

We are also seeing an active virtual community at this site AFL-CIO video stream with real time channel.

Watching the tweets with geolocation tags from around Madison Capitol have surged during the day after the 16:00 deadline for protesters to leave the Capitol, we saw a major surge. Tweet levels raised from 16 on our scale to 50, a massive rise. Track in real time. We seeing more first person accounts on the Madison hashtag on twitter.

It seems that the protests in Madison is now making heavy use of twitter and other Web 3.0 tool on mobile devices is increasing. We have been surprised by the sudden rise in activity on both the hashtag and the intensity of tweets.

The Arab Jasmin Revolution is the Arabs 60s

The Arab Jasmin Revolution is the Arabs 60s

A key thing to keep in mind is that what is changing the Arab world is in large part very much like what happened in America and Europe in the 1960s. In the 1960s the children born in the decade after the Second World War entered adulthood. This was called the "Baby Boom." A large number of young people joined major protests against the Vietnam War or in Paris even tried to take over the government.

A established system that grew out of World War Two faced the consequences of the young people it had created. A period of demographic social change was driven by a large population of young people and new media technology.

For the young people in the Arab world Twitter and Facebook play the role that radio, LPs, and Rock and Roll did in the 1960s. In both cases a new generation with its own means of sharing experience and forming collective identity faced an established order born out of military struggle.

People in the west should think about how much more the Arab youth have accomplished than raised from the 60s. The revolts of 1968 in Chicago and Paris were essentially failures. In Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain a massive effort has raised the hopes of much of the population.

Madison: not a Web 3.0 revolt

Update: This prediction had turned out to be extremely wrong.

Tracking twitter activity from the ground here and the Twitter hashtag for Madison here we see no evidence that a confrontation is being planned on any large scale. This may be because one is not going to happen, or it may because the people on the ground are using more traditional means of organization and coordination.

We will shortly have a major data point for the validity of using Web 3.0 metrics to predict social events.

Madison, showing the limits of Internet based analysis

Today we are seeing a elevation in tweeting near the Madison state Capitol. Higher than anywhere else in the city for a weekend but not that hight for Madison. During the week it is not unusual to see scores near 50 in Madison on our scale. Today scores are moving up and down from between 15 and 30. Our analysis of the Madison hashtag in Twitter have also shown minutes between posts.

Given that this is the United States we have been assuming that a significant standoff between protesters and government authority was not likely. But is seems form the news that this might be happening.

The reasons for the minor level of tweeting from Madison, which we anticipate for a large protest, and the news we are getting could be one of the following reasons:

  • The Madison protests may not be as large as the media is reporting. The main media outlets may be pushing the story of unrest and revolt and it might not be appropriate for what is happening in Madison;
  • Union members in Wisconsin may be late technology adopters. This seems very likely, though we would suspect that in a place like Madison with a major very left wing University there would be a large population of students who would be digital natives. We have assumed all along that protests would involve higher than normal twitter levels.
  • The area may be empty except for the protests right now. The protesters could be tweeting at elevated levels, they are just doing it in a part of downtown Madison which empties out on the weekend. American cities very often have centers which become ghost towns on the weekends.
  • We did see the surge before today at the end of yesterday protest. Yesterday we saw a large surge of tweets after the rally finished off. Perhaps these were a sudden burst of commitment and planning for a show down today.
Still based upon Web 3.0 analysis we see no reason to predict a major show down in Madison. But we have reason to doubt the effectiveness of Web 3.0 analysis for this population and have decided it will be best to hold off on predictions on Wisconsin until we have a larger data set about older protests. Our initial review in the Arab world have involved protests with large numbers of young people for whom digital media is media. Unions have already existing forms of organization.

We have been reading the following articles for insight, not surprising they come from the UK

Guardian UK: Wisconsin is making the battle lines clear in America's hidden class war

Guardian UK: Wisconsin and the limits of web power

India crosses 723.28 million Mobile Users – says it will surpass China soon

The web 3.0 lab has found information from India Telecoms news which reports that India will have 100% teledensity by 2013. Teledensity – means that there are more mobile users in India than than the number of people living in India.

They claim that this oputs the number of mobile connections close to 1.1 billion users in this market. With this kind of growth India Telelcoms says that India is going to surpass China in then mobile phone market.

The Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released the latest numbers on Mobile subscribers which puts the Total Subscribers at 723.28 million. India Telecoms has said that they have followed this and this has been the trend for the last 6 years. That mobile phone users increased every year.

They also say that there is a caveat in all this though, it is assumed that Indian Telecom Operators are reporting the correct numbers.

Source:India Telecom News:

10% Chance Your Windows Mobile Update Will Have Problems!

Samsung phone
This is not the news that Windows Mobile needed right now. With a tiny fraction of the smartphone market Windows is competing in a market where excellence is just taken for granted.

BBC News - Microsoft says phone update failed 1 in 10 users: "Microsoft has revealed that 1 in 10 users who tried to install a software update on their Windows mobile experienced problems.

"The company had previously said that only a 'small number' of handsets were affected.

"Owners have reported a range of issues following the download, from phones crashing, to becoming completely unusable."

Microsoft must wake up to the fact it is up against three products that combine excellent in software and UI. Blackberry is a extremely stable and easy to use platform. I am a long term Blackberry user and its continued strong position does not surprise me.

iPhone is an excellent piece of technology. I have found it to be a pleasure to use. But perhaps the most serious threat is Android. Using a Linux fork Google has finally been able to bring the quality and stability of Linux to a wide audience of ordinary users with Android, and Microsoft must fight on quality, price, and ease of use.

I have a very grey view right now of Microsoft Mobile's possibility. I wonder if in the combined push for Cloud and Xbox is Microsoft has the talent base to also put up a major fight back in mobile. In the Xbox and Cloud space Microsoft are fighting from strengths, but in mobile they are weak and not looking any stronger.

Madison Update: Tweeting levels have taken a sudden rise during protest

Tweeting levels from area around Madison protests have risen significantly recently moving from 18 to around 40 in under an hour. Such a sudden rise in tweeting indicates that the group is starting to post information from the protest, and potentially getting in contact with national strikes happening around the country.

Given the news of sympathy demonstrations in other cities this could be a part of a process of national organization starting to take place at the grassroots.

Or it could be after the event and people are posting images and thoughts or just planning for rest of the weekend.

We have been watching our measure of St Louis vs Madison all day to baseline tweeting from Madison rallies. For most of the day Madison was well below levels in St Louis, a roughly comparable sized American city in the same time zone. But in the past hour this has changed dramatically with Madison tweeting surging well above St Louis

We conclude that the rally in Madison was more motivational to participants, that after the protest they began communicating with others. We assume much of that tweeting is different Union protests groups around the country communicating with each other. We will be looking or the potential creation of new Facebook sites in the near future to see if today marks an expansion of nation wide protests.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Not anticipating major political unrest in Madison Or Maybe Not?

UPDATE: Since the time of writing this article we have seen a sudden surge in Tweeting coming from the protest site in Madison. This surge may indicate a process of organization taking place on the ground as the rally progresses.

We come to this conclusion despite the reports of a large demonstration forming. We are reading the reports of thousands of people coming to Madison to protest. But we simply do not see any recent rise in the use of mobile devices to send tweets from the protest. Our experience of large mostly protests in moder 21st Century cities is that they kick up a large amount of Internet buzz from the site of the demonstrations. We do not see any evidence of this buzz.

Following the buzz on Twitter at #Madison we investigate the potential extent of the protests. We have been watching Madison for some time.

We have developed a method of predicting potential political unrest or demonstrations that use twitter to self organize. When we have a location of a demonstration we will baseline it against a location. In the case of Madison Wisconsin sit in we have been tracking Madison against the slightly larger city of St Louis.

Our assumption is that any major confrontation in a place like Madison would be preceded by a prolonged burst of Twitter active, much of it send by mobile devices from people near the scene. We have used this method to anticipate an expansion of the protests in Bahrain after the crack down and to anticipate a large protests in Madison during the week.

Every major protests we have seen where people could access Twitter has seen a surge in tweeting from baselines. We are not seeing that in Madison. We even tested the tool to be sure a mistake was not made, but what is happening in Madison does not have the twitter signature of a major dynamic demonstration that is self organizing for a larger resistance.

Monitoring both Madison and St Louis this afternoon we see no sign of expanded Twitter activity coming from the Capitol area of Madison. We therefore conclude that any unrest or acceleration in the weekend demonstration is unlikely.

UPDATE: New reports have come in to report the crowd is sizable. Which makes our low level of twitter buzz all the more intriguing. There is a possibility that very bad weather kept people from pulling out their hand held devices to tweet some photos. But we have never seen an assembly of 100,000 in a modern place produce so little Twitter activity.

What we conclude is that a large demonstration is mostly a preplanned march with protesters prepared to go home. They are not organizing follow along protests. But we will continue to track, a sudden surge in tweeting could indicate a sudden increase in organizing on the ground.

Then again the motivations of those in Madison may be very different than protests in Bahrain. Bahrain protesters were trying to outfox a regime which had turned violent. Madison protesters may be just trying to make a show. But even that is a bit strange. If they wanted to show the level of their support would they not tweet even more to get the news out.

One thing we are learning about protesters is that some show up on their own, and some are brought in by one group or another. Protesters who self organize and self motivate tweet and use facebook if they have access to it, protesters who are organized by other groups generally tweets at lower levels. We may be seeing a large show of strength by major unions in Madison right now. But it is a very different kind of protest than the Pearl Square one.

UPDATE: We are actually seeing the level of tweeting coming from the ground in Madison fall as the protest extends. We are seeing only a fraction of the normal baseline for the city, and far less than in St Louis. Despite reports that a massive demonstration is taking place, we fail to see the twitter signature we see in other such demonstrations. We anticipate that there will be a few speeches made, and then everyone will go home.

Final Update: We did see a large surge in tweeting after the event in Madison. But the overall levels of tweeting, the volume on the #Madison twitter hashtag and our other measure show nothing like the level of activity during Bahrain protest. Oddly it seems American demonstrators are less engaged in Social Media than many Arabs right now.

Brazil and Web 3.0, a potential super market

Its 9 am on a Saturday morning, and already a steady flow of tweets are coming from the ground level of Brazil's major city of São Paulo. Tweeting on our global scale is already reaching 50. To put this number in perspective at the same moment Chicago had 74 and Milwaukee had only 5.

Brazil is an emerging BRIC economy. And São Paulo tweeting levels is about the same level of Moscow. We regularly see far more tweeting with geoloctions coming from São Paulo than Mumbai or Dehli.

This is one of the key things we are discovering about Web 3.0 adoption. The concept of leap frogging of technology is accelerating, where a third world nations adopts a more advanced technology like mobile phones without passing through an earlier technology like landlines in the West. We don't understand why anyone is surprised that people in China would buy a mobile phone rather than a inferior landline phone simply because one technology came to the market in the west first.

From the on the ground consumer who does not work in an office job the key winning point of web 3.0 mobile technology is it offers the Internet and Social Networking at a lower price than a laptop or PC. So we anticipate to see a next generation of leaping frog to not just be the third world taking up the most recent technology, but actually advancing beyond the established west.

We see this same principle in protests in the London area. The Socialist Workers Party is the professional demonstrators in the United Kingdom. What ever the cause if there is anything even vaguely left wing about it the Socialist Workers Party is there distributing signs and newspapers. The "Party" is a regular 20th Century legacy, with a mass of printing presses consuming trees to produce a mass of paper products with singular messages.

In a recent protest in support of Libya we found the Socialist Workers signs amusing. A large number had been printed in support for Egypt. But a new version had coming out calling for the end of all regimes. Clearly the printing presses could not keep up with events on the ground. Meanwhile a new generation of protesters is responding in real time with their blackberries to a world they know can change in a matter of hours.

Many people in the west have the money to buy nice laptops or have computers provided at work. Their use of the Internet has been long established as a static activity. How often do you see people struggling to get online to google something rather than using their Blackberry?

People in the developing world will be more likely to see the Internet for the first time on a mobile device. Also people who don't work in IT outsourcing are more likely to first use the Internet in a handheld rather than a computer at work or home.

So for an emerging market of people moving to the growing cities the Internet will be a totally mobile media. Web 3.0 in these markets will not only rival more established markets in Asia, America and Europe; but even extend deeper.

The lose of losing touch

"They had been apart for a decade, but in the end all it took to reunite a homeless father and his daughter was a few 140-character messages on the social networking site, Twitter.

"Daniel Morales, 58, was taking part in a New York project in which homeless people are given a prepaid mobile phone to keep a record of their lives.

"He had been updating his 3,000-odd followers with regular Twitter updates.

"Three weeks into the scheme, he decided to use it to track down his daughter."

Its hard to believe that just 20 years ago there was such a thing as losing touch with people. You might met someone while back packing and exchange nail mail or land line phone number ids. Younger readers may never have used either of these technologies. If someone moved both would be lost.

So for college student backpacking through Europe, it was an opportunity to make friends that could be thrown away easily.

Today a visit anywhere in the world is more likely to result in a swarm of new Facebook contacts. So now you have to let people know you are not interested in them anymore.

Cognitive Cities Conference, 26. & 27. February, Berlin

Cognitive Cities Conference, 26. & 27. February, Berlin

Its too late to get tickets but we are following it right now on twitter with the hashtag #cocities.

This conference is one in a set which have been happening around the world working for form a community around thinking about technology, the net, community, sustainability, and urban planning. The aim is to apply lessons learned from the web to try and design smarter cities.

With th population of the worlds major cities booming this is certainly a solid objective. But as Stewart Brand pointed out in BBC documentary How Buildings Learn, too much design and too much thinking can ruin buildings.
Perhaps the biggest question is if in a Web 3.0 world of smart cities and crowd sourced solution to real world real time problems, is their any value in a conference?

Tweep protester at Libya Embassy in London

A tweep with painted face at protests of Libya embassy in London.

Leaders must engage social media, or be washed away by it

David Cameron seeing his support collapse in the UK is turning to a mixture of both AlJazeera and YouTube to try and salvage his government

Leaders in the west have for some time seen they must engage social media or risk being washed away by it. But using social media is more than just throwing together some PR. Leaders also need to use television but as we have seen with Mubarak and Gaddafi the wrong use or lazy use of TV can do as much harm as good.

Certainly an AlJazeera interview on YouTube with real people asking real question sounds like a great use of social media. But that is the problem: "sounds like". The danger of PR stunts like these are they are PR stunts. Cameron has clearly made his mind up that UK public sector spending needs to be cut 20% in 4 years. Nothing anyone says on social networks would change that. For example a 10% cut in 4 years which would both reduce the deficit to levels lower than most nations in Europe and reduce front line services would be supported by the vast majority of British people as a compromise, but it is not on the table.

Certainly Cameron will be asked why the cuts are needed, and he will give his standard answer he gives in Parliament. He will say that because of Labours before him he is stuck with a situation and his policy is total necessity, end of subject. If you try to ask him to why his policy and his policy alone is the only possible course given the current crisis he would simply again say that the Labour government before him left a huge mess and this was all that he could do.

Even before the program has begun we know this is, from the Cameron side, going to be another Mubarak "I'm not leaving speech."

They question becomes, when states use media in such contained ways, will the program convince people that they are being engaged with or will it simply illustrate the distance between leaders and community?

The point is that when used in this way the nature of the media becomes unimportant. Cameron is not going to change his mind because of the output of social networks and crowd sourcing and he is not going to tell very much. Just because this is on YouTube covered by AlJazeera and the questions are being crowded sourced does not make it any less political rhetoric than a Gaddafi phone in to Libya TV.

The point is that it is not the technology, but how the technology is being used.
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South Africa viral commentary

Za News is a puppet show made in South Africa that criticizes key political figures in South Africa political life. Though the show is the product of Zapiro, a legend in South Africa for being a white willing to call the Apartheid regime evil in press. But Zapiro has had some problems with the current regime of President Zuma after he published a political cartoon showing Zuma and other members of the ANC about to rape Justice.

But in today's world of user generated content and social networks not getting a station is almost nothing. Za News has gone to the web, using YouTube to become South Africa's number one YouTube show, and having a facebook page.

If you want to learn more about what is going on in South Africa the facebook page is an excellent start.

Gadaffi says he will fight with weapons, but the opposition says it will fight with the power of technology!!

Photo By Gail Orenstein/web 3.0 Lab all rights reserved. This young woman said she heard about the rally on facebook at The Libyan Youth Movement page where she said it asks you if you will attend or not. so she was texting other members of that group to see if she could meet up with them. The group on facebook had been used to mobilize those to come together at the rally and they could even meet up.

The web 3.0 lab has been capturing citizens oat the protests using all sorts of technology to communicate with each other and as they tell us to tweet and check and post on facebook. Well today it appears to be even more so. Pained faces, nails and sometimes dressed in very traditional clothes, all of these protesters had used technology to unite.

Photo By Gail orenstein/web 3.0 Lab all rights reserved. Many felt proud to show off what they considered their contribution in helping mobilise people.

Libyans were out in full force at the protest in Speakers Corner were they marched to Downing Street. One weapon that was in full force today was the mobile phone. From young to old, they were tweeting, posting to facebook and checking there emails.

You could not help but notice the amount of mobile technology ever present in today's rally.
Photo By Gail Orenstein/web 3.0 all rights reserved. LabThis young man was determined to make sure his videos went straight to YouTube. He said that he was taking 10 minute clips of the rally and immediately uploading them to his YouTube account so he could broadcast these as soon as possible to the world.

Photo By Gail Orenstein/Web 3.0 Lab, all rights reserved. This woman came dressed in a full Chador. Although she said she did not use Twitter, she was using her mobile to text her friends to see where they were at the rally. She also said her daughters are “more up to date tools on the mobile phone than she was". But with that said, she always has her mobile phone on her just in case, she said she does know how to take photos and use the video camera.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Facebook page calling for Sudan Day of Rage

There is now a Facebook page calling for a Day of Rage in Sudan. Similar facebook pages were set up before the Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain revolt. But there do seem to be a lot of such pages developing. Currently we are tracking one on Saudi and this one on Sudan.

These groups are forming a high redundant rhizome of groups who repeat each other social graph and can hold up to a few, if not almost all of the members taken out. With people also able to form links outside and reproduce content around a site.
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LinkedIn says access blocked in parts of China

As we reported in our previous post Yahoo! is confirming again through Yahoo news that LinkedIn is being blocked throughout China.

LinkedIn said Friday its service had been blocked in parts of China, after the launch of an online campaign for Middle East-style rallies that has triggered official unease.

Web Lab Tweeter meter picking up very high density as protesters begin to oragnze in London

We will be there on the ground
United We Stand: Solidarity with the Arab people Demonstrate Friday 25 February

Assemble 3.00pm Bahrain Embassy, 30 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8QB
March via the Libyan Embassy to Downing Street

Using our high density tool twitter meter tool we are able to confirm that the streets around Belgrave Square were, at 11 AM GMT showing elevated levels of tweeting. See our HD tweeting scores here.