The Internet challenging Iranian regime

Thanks to the many Iranians that are eagerly using Twitter those days to share breaking news, links, pictures and articles with the rest of the world, I came across this very interesting paper published in May 2009 by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, a non profit organisation based in Connecticut, US. “Ctrl +alt+delete:Iran’s response to the Internet” gives an overview on how the Internet has been censored and blocked over the years by the Iranian regime. It contains a documentation on bloggers and citizen journalists that have been tortured and arrested for their Internet activities and it also reports on the technical methods that are used by the regime to block and alter the web.

For those who read Italian, I recommend the paper published few days ago on Limes written by Raffaele Mauriello, an Italian scholar who speaks perfect Farsi and lives in Iran.

neda

(the slogan now used by Iranian activists, after the Iranian girl Neda was shot dead during yesterday’s demonstrations)

Media arabi e nuove tecnologie alla Camera di Commercio di Milano

Mercoledì 24 giugno a Milano, Palazzo Giureconsulti (piazza Mercanti 2), a partire dalle ore 9.30, si tiene l’incontro dedicato a “Media e nuove tecnologie. Opportunità nel Mediterraneo e nel Medio Oriente“, co-organizzato da Creative Commons insieme a Promos, Regione Lombardia, Mgm Digital Communication / Meet the Media Guru.

Dal mondo arabo parleranno di strategie sui media e le nuove tecnologie:

L’incontro prevede poi una tavola rotonda con giornalisti e imprese del settore italiani. Nel pomeriggio la possibilità di organizzare incontri di business one-to-one per discutere di partnership Europa-mondo arabo su media e nuove tecnologie.

Fundings for Arab filmakers at San Sebastian Festival

I got this from my friend Alessandra Speciale -director of African Film Festival in Milan- who is currently helping San Sebastian Festival on this programme which is particularly tailored on the Arab world filmakers. Have a look!

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR CINEMA IN MOTION 5

Cinema in Motion 5 will take place at the 57th International Film
Festival in San Sebastian on Monday, 21 September 2009.

The deadline for registering and receiving material in San Sebastian
is 30 June 2009.

This programme, organised by the International Film Festival with the
Amiens and Fribourg international festivals, will exclusively comprise
feature films at the end of their filming or at the post-production
stage.

This rendezvous is open to filmmakers from the Maghreb, Portuguese-
speaking African countries and developing Arab countries
: Algeria,
Angola, Cape Verde, Egypt, Guinea, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya,
Morocco, Mozambique, Palestine, Sao Tome y Principe, Syria and
Tunisia.

The directors and/or producers of the selected films will have the
chance to defend their projects before professionals from all sectors
accredited at the International Film Festival Sales Office.

Different kinds of aid will be granted within the framework of Cinema
in Motion 5, among which:

§       Mactari mixing auditorium – €15,000 in services.

§       Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) – €10,000 to cover
the cost of post-production in France.

§       Amiens Festival – a 35 mm copy.

§       Fribourg Festival – a 35 mm copy.

§       Titra Film – French or English subtitling up to €2,500.

§

The Cinema in Motion 5 registration form can be found at:

www.sansebastianfestival.com

Iran elections and, again, the winner is Twitter

With the ongoing post-election turmoil in Iran, the shutting down of mobiles phones and blogs and many websites in the country, Twitter seems to be “the medium” over there. There have been a number of articles and blog posts on this which I would like to mention here – like the Time article, mentioning the unprecedent intervention of US State Department on Twitter maintainance to move the upgrade in order not to prevent Iranians from twittering in such a delicate moment- .

There is a (controversial) op-ed by Thomas Friedman on the New York Times -over debated inside Twitter itself- who asks: “Is Twitter to Iranian moderates what muezzins were to Iranian mullahs?. The answer is still in the hands of the net.

While Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have been prevented from reporting in Iran, thousands of 140 characters messages flow through Twitter. The opposition candidate Mousavi has set his own account @mousavi1388 , most used hastags are  #Iranelection and #Green4Iran. The latest today was inviting everybody on Twitter to turn green and so there were green avatars everywhere on Twitter.

The dialogue platform Meedan has set an interesting event channel to monitor the elections with all their available Farsi translators.

ABC quotes Shahrzad, a blogger supporting Ahmadinejad: “What I am witnessing is something incredible in the history of Islamic Republic”. “We’ve never felt this much freedom to talk.”

I think this is a good point to start the discussion with, whether you are on one side or on the other.

I social media e le elezioni libanesi

Ripubblico qui sotto l’articolo apparso giovedi scorso su Nova, il bel supplemento de Il Sole 24 ore dedicato all’innovazione e alla tecnologia.

di Donatella Della Ratta

Per chi segue i cinguettii della rete, @sharik961 è il Twitter da tenere d’occhio alle elezioni libanesi del 7 giugno. Sharik -“colui che partecipa”- insieme al prefisso del Libano -il 961- è l’invito lanciato da “un gruppo di persone che amano il Libano e la tecnologia”.

Appartenenze politiche diverse, ma desiderio comune di “supportare la trasparenza nella politica libanese”, una delle più complesse al mondo, retta da un sistema elettorale che rende conto delle confessioni religiose. Wissam Badine della EastlineMarketing, che si è occupata di social marketing per molti partiti libanesi, osserva che il Libano online è “lo specchio della geografia offline del territorio, diversificata e frammentata. Incasinata, ma ricca”.

Lo stesso vale per la geografia politica, con i due schieramenti sfidanti – “14 marzo” e “l’8 marzo” – che raggruppano trasversalmente l’uno i musulmani sunniti di Saad Hariri e la destra cristiana delle Forze libanesi; l’altro Hezbollah, i comunisti, e il resto dei cristiani. Internet –Facebook per primo- è il campo di battaglia di queste diversità. Gli spot più cliccati sono quelli delle fazioni avversarie: “I libanesi sono curiosi, vogliono informarsi.. senza il web sarebbe impensabile far arrivare un messaggio politico sulla pagina del “nemico””, sottolinea Badine.

Internet fa anche da collante: Twitter impazza fra i libanesi che, a colpi dei 140 caratteri via web, cominciano a incontrarsi davvero. Sana Tawileh dell’incubator KuvCapital racconta che il “cinguettio” della rete produce scambi di idee e iniziative per un Libano “di tutti”, oltre le appartenenze politico-religiose. Sharik961 va in questa direzione, chiamando a raccolta i cittadini reporter per contribuire al monitoraggio elettorale.

La mappa raccoglie e gestisce le segnalazioni degli utenti grazie alla piattaforma Ushahidi, creata nel 2008 da attivisti africani per monitorare le violenze postelettorali in Kenya. Un progetto open source che aggrega i feed provenienti da cellulari, email, web, posizionandoli sulla mappa in tempo reale. Al Jazeera l’ha adottato per la guerra di Gaza, Sharik961 si prepara ad usarlo per l’election day. E per formare nuovi giovani cittadini reporter Rootspace -ong membro di Sharik961- ha lanciato Sawt as Shabbab (“la voce dei giovani”), come usare il web 2.0 per fare attivismo. Mentre SMEX, altra ong che partecipa a Sharik961, promuove un training sul web 2.0 rivolto alle aree rurali, e in lingua araba.

Nonostante la diffusione di inglese e francese, è infatti l’arabo a impazzare nella campagna elettorale. Ma quello “da chat”, traslitterato in lettere latine affiancate dai numeri che rendono i diversi suoni. Quello “à la libanaise” di Yamli.com, motore di ricerca di Habib Haddad, la nuova generazione libanese appena incoronata dal World Economic Forum.

Al Jazeera and the Lebanese elections: a missed opportunity

I’m still wondering why at 10,30 pm Lebanon time, when the entire world (OK, maybe not the entire world but the entire Arab world) was following the only true competitive elections in the entire Region, Al Jazeera was broadcasting Sheikh Qaradawi’s programme Sharia wal hayat, an episode focused on cinema and Islamic religion, i.e. what’s “haram” and “halal” in art. The topic sounded more than surrealistic, while all the Lebanese parties (including the Islamic one, Hezbollah, which is one of the best in the Region in terms of media strategy, they produce everything, from TV to radio to films to videogames) were pretty much involved in showing the first projections on the results, hosting talk shows, debating on the Internet. Sharia wal hayat is one of the flagship programmes in Al Jazeera schedule and Qaradawi is more than a Sheikh, he is an institution, probably untouchable, but I am sure this is not the only reason for having this weak coverage of Lebanese elections. Even during the day -the election day, yesterday sunday 7th of June- while Al Arabiya was hosting talk shows featuring Lebanese and non-Lebanese writers, journalists, political analysts, Al Jazeera was giving very few airtime to the elections, being much more focused on issues like Iran’s upcoming elections and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Al Jazeera almost ignored the fact that Lebanon was about to vote in what was considered an historical elections, despite the fact that the channel bureau in Beirut is one of the best the network has, being his manager Ghassan Bin Jeddu one of the most prominent journalist of the station.  Moreover, during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon Al Jazeera provided an excellent and extensive choice.  It’s clear that not to cover the Lebanon 2009 elections has been a choice, not a mistake for the most famous Arabic all news channel. So why Al Jazeera has not covered the elections properly? Wasn’t this election “breaking news” as it should have been? Were there yesterday other more relevant breaking news to be followed?

I don’t have the answer to these questions, unfortunately. But of course Lebanon was a breaking news, in journalistic terms, and particularly for an Arab media it should have been so. Al Jazeera’s competitor, Al Arabiya, has devoted much more airtime to the electoral marathon, during all the election day and even today.

Too easy to say that Al Jazeera -closer to Hezbollah’s position- and Al Arabiya -closer to the Hariri family’s position, an historical ally of Saudi Arabia (which controls Al Arabiya and all the MBC group) were playing their Lebanese  allies’  interest. In this case, Al Jazeera should have known before the results of the elections and devoted less airspace to the story, just cause it knew before that  Hezbollah was going not to win? I don’t trust conspiracy theories. I just think that, as my colleague and Arab media analyst Augusto Valeriani suggested yesterday, “Al Jazeera has some difficulties in finding a new role in the post-Bush world”.  It was much more easier to have an enemy to blame being able to mobilise the people around this common enemy.

Obama is not Bush and Al Jazeera knows it. We will be all waiting to see this new, post-Bush Al Jazeera and its upcoming editorial choice.

Al Jazeera in the past few years has given its best by reporting conflicts and wars like the Lebanese one in 2006 and the Gaza attack of 2008, not to go too far in time. The Lebanon war coverage, for example, was great and very professional and yesterday I wish I could have seen the same professional journalists Al Jazeera has got in Lebanon reporting not a war, but a peaceful election, at least once.

Being used to watch Sayyed Nasrallah‘s speeches in a great Arabic language on Al Jazeera I was indeed surprised to have seen that both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, despite broadcasting Sayyed’s speech tonight, were interrupting it and not broadacasting it entirely. I understand why Al Arabiya has done so but, again, it’s very hard for me to understand why Al Jazeera,  which has always supported Sayyed, has now changed its view. Even worst, if we consider that Nasrallah‘s speech tonight was an exercise of diplomacy, not a call out to war. @mikewhillis wrote the best Twitter on this: “Nasrallah’s speech sounds like it could’ve been written by Obama‘s staff. It puts M14 in a tough position”. True. Nasrallah said: we acknowledge their victory with democratic spirit. Mabrouk, ya Sayyed, very clever.

It”s easier when you have a common enemy or a war to mobilise your audience at…what will be the future of Al Jazeera in the post-Bush, new Obama era? I hope to see a new Al Jazeera soon, at the forefront of news reporting as we’ve always seen.

Social media in Lebanese elections 2009

OnOffBeirut has kindly forwarded me this great and very documented report on how social media was used during 2009 elections in Lebanon.

Thanks so much to OnOffBeirut for this great insight and for having put the document under Creative Commons BY license!

sanalebanon

(this is picture is courtesy of @SanaTawileh who looks gorgeous here).