ayo tech

Networked Creators

I had the rare privilege of being a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto today for Barry Wellman's Technology and Society class. Above all else, it was exciting (and nerve-wracking!) to be back at my alma mater on the other side of the classroom.

Covering content from one of two chapters I co-authored with Professor Wellman and Pew Internet's Lee Rainie from their upcoming book, Networked: The New Social Operating System, I spent time discussing what we like to call, "networked creators"- --the many non-credentialed amateurs who are now participating in the many arenas that were once limited to recognized and sanctioned experts. 

The internet, mobile, and social network revolution has ushered in a new generation of creators, blurring the lines between producers and consumers. As Douglas Rushkoff says, “The people have crashed the gates of professionalism, penetrating the formerly sacrosanct boundaries protecting elites of all industries from challenges from below”.

View the slides below for more...


Egypt: The First Internet Revolt?

This is a bit of a break from the usual whimiscal and light hearted posts that I seem to have been obsessed with lately, but Peace Magazine recently published an article that my mentor Barry Wellman, my colleague Xiaolin Zhuo, and I wrote about the revolts that rocked Egypt early this year and the role that information and communication technologies played. With no arrogance intended, I think it's an important read that takes a sobering look into the recent debate of social media's organizing capacity.

T-shirts for sale in Cairo commemorating the January 25, 2011 revolution. Photo by Zeynep Tufekci. Used by permission

“What brought Hosni Mubarak down was not Facebook and it was not Twitter. It was a million people in the streets, ready to die for what they believed in,” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently proclaimed.

Friedman appears to have had an either/or dichotomy in mind when assessing the Egyptian revolt that started in January 2011. That’s an oversimplification, ignoring not only the lack of opposition from the elites, military, and US government, but also the role of social media and the organized groups and informal networks that brought people to the streets. It’s clear that social media such as Facebook played important roles in transforming organized groups and informal networks, establishing external linkages, developing a sense of modernity and community, and drawing global attention. Their impact suggests that those concerned with the quest for democracy and peace should pay more attention to the explicit and implicit effects of these social media. Read the full article here.

Love for Social Media Week

Last week was the second annual Social Media Week, gathering people in nine major cities around the world to join a burgeoning conversation about the emerging trends in online and mobile technologies. It's been an entire year since I was first slowly dipping my toes in this exciting and fast paced world! I remember attending a few events last year to broaden my mind on what social media was all about and to connect with the vibrant tech-savvy community in Toronto.

It's been quite the ride since then and this year I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to actually host an event with Journalists for Human Rights. Of course, I stuck to my passion and what I know best and put together a talk about using social media to spread human rights awareness with my friend and education superstar Carissa MacLennan. We tried to keep our session as intimate, interactive, and hands-on as we could to really drive home our point that though social media is an incredibly powerful tool, there is no law that says it will inevitably produce good. When dealing with something as crucial as human rights, we have a responsibility to use social media in a critical, purposeful, and effective way and our Rights Media framework is a conceptual toolkit that is meant to do just that.

Below is a condensed version of our presentation (minus the many media analysis activities our attendees so brilliantly deconstructed!) to give you a sense of how exactly you can achieve this.

On behalf of jhr, a huge thank you to the SMWTO organizing team and the staff at St. Andrew's Club and Conference Centre for making the whole planning process of this event an absolute breeze on my part! You're all rockstars in my books. And of course, thanks to those who came out and engaged in this very important conversation...hope you'll keep the dialogue going!

Until next year ; )

Workshopping it out.Starting our talk. Photo from @amirad