September 29, 2011 - 14:30 PM
The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during the Sixth Meeting of the IGF, in Nairobi, Kenya. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> Good afternoon. Is everybody here for the Digital Technologies for Civic Engagement, Workshop 184? Okay.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. We are ready to start. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Katim Touray. I am from Gambia. I'm from the ICANN, internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. It helps address the system and the IP name system, also the Free and Open Software Foundation for Africa, FOSSFA, an organisation, a nonprofit organisation that advocates for free and open source software in Africa. And I'm glad to be here today to moderate this panel discussion on the use of digital technologies for civic engagements and political change.
I think there is nobody on earth who needs to be reminded about the recent events that have transpired in 2001. Almost right from the beginning of the year, just almost as if it was waiting for 2011 to kick off, we had a series of mass uprisings and demonstrations, particularly in North Africa, in the Middle East, that was foiled and really facilitated by social media in a manner that very few people from just a few months ago. So we are here in which a lot of governments have been changed, there has been a lot of activism that has gone on and I think has been going on at the cost of relations in power that have been facilitated by digital and information technologies.
And so we thought it would be a great opportunity at the IGF in Nairobi to have a meeting of minds for people to come in and share their ideas and experiences about the use of digital technologies for civic engagement and for effecting political change.
Of course, the reality is that the headlines have been captured by events in Tunisia, in Egypt, in Libya of recent; but the fact of the matter is that also other parts of the world have also been experiencing profound changes in civic engagement occasioned by the use and leveraging of information and communication technologies.
So with me on the panel here are a number of people who are from various parts of the world who have been incredibly engaged in the entire activities in the community of activists that are working on using digital technologies for civic engagement and political change. What I want to do first is to have them introduce themselves. And then after which we will go through the session with a number of questions which I'd like them to respond to at their own pleasure and discretion. And then after they have responded to the questions, I will call on the participants, that is yourselves in the room and also remote participants we have, to join us with comments and perspectives that you have and you would like to share.
And then we also want to use this as an opportunity to ‑‑ use this as an opportunity to launch a book, publication or research work, Digital Natives, that's been done by the Center for Internet ‑‑ in India as well as the ‑‑ Foundation.
So without further ado, we'll begin with my right and then turn to my left. I'll begin with ‑‑ from Pakistan and he will give us a synopsis of our discussions at the end. Fort, do you want to say a lit bit about yourself? Thank you.
>> Hello, everyone. Thank you, Katim. I'm from Pakistan. And I've been more or less a free and open source software advocate for the past decade, helping Pakistan actually adopt the concept of open Information Society, Internet‑related activism, and campaigns for open source software in the country.
And apart from that, I feel engaged for the Information Society with related to Internet Governance and then ICT policy, Internet policy in Pakistan.
I'm a magnet. I joined the Internet Governance Forum Security Advisory Group in 2009. And this is my third IGF. Thank you so much.
>> KATIM TOURAY: I am meeting for the first time since we first met in 2002 in Bangalore. We have all gained weight since then.
>> Thanks, Katim. My name is Sumil Abraham, and I work at research center based in Bangalore in south India. We call ourselves the Centre for Internet and Society. And we're the main knowledge partner for Hivos on this programme, which is digital natives with a cause. Thank you.
>> Good evening. My name is ‑‑ I'm an IT professional and activist. I come from Egypt. That's it.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: I will say my name last. I will be speaking on this panel on a personal responsibility level. So whatever I say here will not engage or has never engaged any of my official affiliations.
I'm affiliated with the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, where I'm the counsel to ‑‑ this organisation is the convener of the West Africa Internet Governance Forum.
I'm the CEO of an IT policy consultancy platform called Nnenn.org.
I am part of the Nigerian,‑‑ the Ghanaian and the Ivory Coast bloggers forums.
And I am part of those who have been very outspoken in the crises that erupt Côte d'Ivoire. I carried out research that started sometime last year that is now published, available online on social networks ‑‑ social media and networks, the potentials and citizen policy engagement in West Africa.
I'm a blogger, a tweeter, LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace and gPlus. I understand I've been listed as one of the 2,000 persons ‑‑ 2,000 most influential persons on social media globally. I don't know if that is good news or bad news.
But in the country where I live, I'm the most influential social media person, which may be good news or bad news depending on who you're speaking to.
I basically live online. And so I always introduce myself as an African who comes from the Internet.
My name is Nnenna Nwakanma. My company is Nnennna. My website is Nnennna. My website is Nnenna.org. Thank you.
>> My name is Simeon Oriko. And I do quite a bit of things. The one thing I absolutely consume most of my time is being a digital native. And that has led into a number of my own startups and organizations, one being the IQua project which is a literacy project where we go and teach high school students how to use digital technologies to achieve whatever objectives they want to achieve.
That later spinned off what is now called Story Spaces. Story Spaces is a social network that seeks to capitalize on the African storytelling experience and translates those experiences into practical actions offline because I realized a lot of people talk online and do nothing offline.
And, thirdly, my day job is I'm a technology evangelist at EnlabAfrica is an incubation center in Nairobi. And what we do is we take people with mobile applications, provide them with access to capital access to markets so they can scale their startups to full businesses in mainstream markets.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you. We are also expecting to have Nishant Shah from India. Unfortunately, he had some unforeseen circumstances crop up and so he was not able to make it. But fortunately he is, I see, on the screen there joined us by remote participation. So I don't know whether we can have him on right now to just introduce himself. Nishant, are you there? We'll come back to him as we get the details of hooking him up to the session. He's definitely online. But we'll get him to be able to be remote from Bangalore.
At any rate, I guess we can dive straight into the discussion now. And as I said, we have ‑‑ we are going to split the session into four questions, which we're able to treat sequentially. I'd like them to be addressed by the panelists; and following the comments by the panelists, I will ask for comments from the floor as well as remote participants.
The first question is how can these digital technologies help increase civic engagement and influence political change, and do digital natives become agents of change?
I suppose the fact of the matter is that we have the one Internet. We all have fairly standard digital technologies that we employ, social networking, emailing, mailings lists, things like that. But the circumstances that they apply actually vary from place to place, indeed from time to time. And I think it would be interesting to hear what the experience has been in the use of detailing technologies for civic engagement. And I'd like to hear from the panelists from their own perspectives what the experience has been and how this has actually been affected in their own areas.
If I could start with Sumil?
>> There are possibly two lenses in which we can look at this question: How do digital natives instrumentally use technology in a different manner compared to the rest of us? And perhaps more importantly, what is the unique contribution that digital natives bring to us in the discussion around digital technologies?
And I think it is the way in which they see the world, the way in which they frame issues that we talk about quite differently.
To get my point across, I'll tell you the story of a young boy called Gihong. He's the son of a friend of mine. And when Gihong was walking with his father through the night markets in Bangkok, he saw police cars move into the night market. And all the vendors that were selling movie DVDs were quickly gathering all their wares and putting it into a bag and beginning to run away to avoid being arrested by the policeman. So Gihong asked his dad why is it that these vendors are running away? And his dad said well, it's because they're criminals. And then Gihong said, "then why do we buy DVDs from these criminals"? And then his dad said, well I work for a nonprofit organisation and I cannot afford to pay the full price, so we have to buy DVDs from criminals. So Gihong's observation was: We should stop supporting these criminals. We should just go home and download it from the Internet.
So in Gihong's mind, intellectual property and the use peer to‑peer technology is an actual act on the Internet and it is that insight which I think will greatly influence discussions for us such WIPO, thank you.
>> It's very difficult to talk about digital natives and imagine that being more techie, that allows us any privilege or any special contribution. I don't think we have I don't think that being more fluent with the technology gives us any advantages in influencing events more than someone who is more active on the ground. I think the question can be looked at differently, which is using the tool. The tools are as catalysts.
I was on the Internet. I am a bit old. I was on the Internet through my workplace back January 1, 1994. This was very experimental in production. Internet in Egypt by then. And I saw the first communique of the Batista Army of national liberation. And it's historically the first political statement that went directly on the Internet. And I felt this is a great development. As an activist, I can think, wow, we can distributed to millions of people. And this was just plain innate.
And I think that the tools have evolved since then. I remember, I don't know who the writer was, someone was talking about the evolution in the 20th Century and the telecommunication and the use of wire, the service that can let people know what's happening across the country.
So I think we should look at the tools as just tools. And that people on the ground use whichever tool available at the moment.
Of course there are value in the tools that we are having now. There's difference between email that was in 1994 and Twitter and realtime and smart phones and getting news early and near time from participants on the ground.
But in my opinion, there are great tools, but they are just tools. And we have to always keep thinking that change and we cover that with other, through the coming questions, is about people on the ground influencing change, not about people on Twitter tweeting. Thank you.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: I think we're in trouble because you need to move this gentleman. First he says he's old and I don't agree with him. First he says it's not about technology and I don't agree with him.
Right, having said that, I think I must define my thought on who a digital native is. First, a digital native is someone like me who thinks with his fingers. So thoughts come to the fingers. There is a direct connection between the finger and the brain. So as he's thinking, he's typing.
The digital native is not the person that does a lot of analysis. He just says things the way they are.
Now, one other very important thing about digital natives is they're going to pay for Internet connection before they pay for food. And if there is a choice to be made between Internet connection and food, the choice will be for Internet connection. And then you go online and give a shout about being hungry and someone is going to fetch you the food. But you can't compromise your Internet connection at any point in time.
I'm going to tell you a quick story. It's not a story. It's my experience of being in Côte d'Ivoire. The country became independent in the 60s and was ruled by one president for over 30 years. And was handed over and handed over. So the country had never really had a democratic election. And this time around last year when it rolled around, the citizens said "we will not miss this. We are going to put all our mind, all our energy, all our technology into it." So we started hyping up citizen with civic participation already.
Now, on the day that we were having the face‑to‑face debates, the last two presidential candidates two things happened. First, over Twitter, we knew ourselves in Abijan, but over Twitter we had mounted an army of people, of people who tweet, and we had given out tasks. Our aim was very simple: We are going to live tweet, live comment the three hours of debate between the two presidential candidates.
So someone was going to be analyzing the body movements and the communication signals that each candidate was giving.
My job was to tweet from the French that comes out of their mouth and was translated into English and tweeted at the same time.
Some other person was taking the analysis of the words they were using.
Some other person was keeping time.
We didn't need to know ourselves. But we just wanted the whole country to know that this debate, we are going to manage it our way.
When this thing started, nation ‑‑ usually the national TV streams online for free. Three hours before the debate, someone sits in front and puts a payment options to the national TV. So it wasn't going to stream steam for free. And for that day, you had to subscribe to the TV for 80 Euros. And then we find out because we wanted to make sure everything was working, we pick our phones, we call the national TV. I knew a way that this is no longer free online, that someone is making us pay. They said no, it's not true. We call someone in Australia. Go and pay. He pays and they charge him. Then he comes the receipt and sends it back to us and we print it in Abijan. And we don't just call the television, we go straight to the Board Director of the television authority and we call the Prime Minister and tell him that someone is trying to defraud us on this very important day. And in two hours, that subscription was removed. We traced the person, got where he was in France, reported him to the police, and got him arrested in four hours. And then we live tweeted the debate, of course.
>> Well, spoken about tools themselves having value. Nnenna has focused on thinking with fingers, all right, linking the brain. And I want to bring in a third element, which I believe is what makes digital natives cause the change that they do, and that is the context they're in.
I'll explain it through a story. When I was in college, I grouped a couple of my peers in the computer science department, and I told them "guys, let's go to high school. Let's teach them how to Google and Facebook and tweet and blog and things like that."
So everyone was really excited and thought this was a really noble cause. Everybody picked up their laptops and we went off. And at this camp, we call them digital camps, we met a girl, a young girl called Milicent. All she cared about was she wanted to be a pilot. And what happened is she didn't know how to. And she came to us and says, hey, it's really cool that you're teaching me all this stuff, right? But how can I make it relevant to me? How can Google, Facebook, Twitter, make me or help me become a pilot? And at that point we were completely lost. And then almost instantaneously, hey, can I see your phone? And I gave her my phone. It had an Internet connection. And she went to Google and she googled, piloting schools in Elderat. That's where she is based. It is a town in western Kenya. And surprisingly she found a school right there near her home. She went ahead and did her research. She went on Twitter, found people who went to that school. Found pilots who tweet a lot. And she built this really large network of like‑minded people which was about to share their experiences, which was able to connect with, which was able to find some meanings, some value that she could use in her own context in achieving her objective as well as add value to the rest of the people, to what she defines as her community.
Digital natives, in my definition, is somebody who does not just see the tools; I mean, I had my first laptop when I was in the fourth grade, I think I beat all of you to that. That was a really long time ago. It's not just the tools. But it's people who understand the value of these tools and they're able to translate that value into some sort of tangible action, whatever that action may be. That's what I believe translates just somebody hangs out online on Twitter and somebody who actually makes a difference using digital technology.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. Thank you very much. I think yes, we have the technologies, yes, we have the tools, but at the end of the day, we're talking about people and how they interact with these technologies to effect change. And I think we've had some very interesting and inspiring stories from Côte d'Ivoire. I find it fascinating as Nnenna was speaking especially given the fact that Nigerian based in Ivory Coast and I would expect that they would be even more sensitive to her. But I guess to her getting immediateled into their political ‑‑ meddled into their political affairs than one of their citizens, for that matter. But it shows us the power of the tools we have these days and can only expect that they will have even more profound and powerful impact moving forward.
It was good that we had directly from the horse's mouth a digital forefront from, not that we're young. So that was very inspiring.
I would like to ask the ‑‑ we have a remote participant. Who is there? Nishant, can you go ahead, please? Good to talk to you. Is he on? Nishant. Maybe I'd like to put him on. They're still typing away doing the finger work. Oh, please. Well, let me just clarify here. We've had a slight change of plans here on the fly. I asked him to help do the moderation, the rap touring. But I didn't want to deny him the opportunity since he's in the room, anyway. So take it away.
>> Pakistan has been a really interesting case in terms of how social media adoption has been happening in the past few years. I would say that blogging is sort of a lifeline for us in Pakistan because the outlets to express yourself, they're not many. And, number two, everything in our country is very deeply related. I don't know if you've ever read the freedom house report that gives you very good insight in the state of person and the state of expression in Pakistan.
Digital natives for our region, I would say that there is an enormous growing community which has been mapped across the down triby various research institutions and they have actually come down to map the blogosphere. And they found out that even in Pakistan there were like 6500 blogs continuously reporting objective activities.
And over the course of the last few years, I would say less than half a decade, there have been some interesting gatherings of bloggers all across the country. And they've actually been very helpful in responding to the crisis that our country has been facing, whether it's political or democratic changes in crisis, whether it was the earthquake, whether it's been the floods last year and this year. And their action has actually enabled the country or the institutions and so forth to respond to the people in distress on the ground.
Just to give you a small idea of how I think, I'm a pure technology guy. I wouldn't describe myself as a techie, but I should certainly say that I live most of my life online. And with regards to that, to address issues, like, for example, just to address poor people policy making with regard to ICT and Internet, we have gathered online in the past, and we've actually gone up to the point to get the government and our stakeholders down in front much us sitting at an equal level and discussing such issues like a policy last year.
Secondly, just to give you another small example, we've had a common problem in Pakistan. I don't know if it's a reportation problem or whatever, but after China and India, Pakistan tends to be one of those few countries that service the whole world, which enables services, all kinds of technology services to the other part, rest of the world.
Now, at one point we felt that we were being underrecognized because we don't have services like PayPal or eBay in our country. And just to see, there was a lot of discussion around this online that there should be PayPal. We should have the facility to exchange money ‑‑ interchange money, do services, get paid for that.
And I just wanted to study how much interest or how much activity happens.
So turn to Facebook, start a cause, send it out. And in less than a year, we had more than like 10,000 people gather. It's called PayPal authorize Pakistan campaign. It's online Facebook you can search it. And the discussion that happened around that enabled us to identify that there was a certain age group in the country of digital natives and what kind of work they were doing and how important was it for them to actually even access this small aspect.
And I sometimes say this in Pakistan, that if you give them a reason or a hope, you will stop hearing the bad news that comes out of Pakistan. And that is very important for our country.
So you can see the depression, the frustration, the reaction to the traumatic terrorism activities that have been happening in the country where nearly 100 lives are lost almost every week since 2007. So that pressure you can see being exchanged, being released online. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. We have Nishant online? Nishant? Hello? Hello Nishant? Is he coming on? Nishant?
>> NISHANT SHAH: Hi, everyone can you hear me? Hi, Katim, can you hear me? Hello? Can you hear me?
>> KATIM TOURAY: Yes, we can.
>> NISHANT SHAH: Okay. Hi, everyone. It's very nice to be here remotely.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Yeah, go ahead.
>> NISHANT SHAH: I just wanted to take up the question very quickly about civic action, digital natives and change. I think one of the problems with framing that question about whether the digital natives make any change in civic action is that we presume that civic action is exactly the same. That there is a certain way by which digital natives look at the whole arena of civic engagement, which is mediated and facilitated by digital technologies. The digital alternatives which cause books which we are very happy to distribute at this time about a mother of a six‑year‑old who was walking down the street and the six‑year‑old sees something that the mother kind of misses out when she's walking. The mother from her particular perspective can look at a whole range of things, including houses, what people are doing, other kind of shops there are, the cars there are, but the young six‑year‑old who watches from a different perspective sees a small amount of grass at the bottom of a fence and she turns to her mother and then she says that there is grass here. And maybe we need to change it. And the mother says but what can we do? And the child who is six years old, maybe we should go online and do something about it. Now, of course the six‑year‑old is not going to be able to go online, mobilized communities and go ahead and just, you know, bring about change. But the fact that the way in which the six‑year‑old identified her peers, the people that she can engage with, the different kinds of people that she thinks she has the power to mobilize is something that needs kind of concentrating upon. Because is embedded the idea that the way in which we understood the reactions so far is going to change drastically in terms of who do we identify as our peers and stakeholders that will decide along with us. And sometimes some of the participants in our workshops, a 20‑year‑old who sits in Tehran found more commonality than with somebody else who is sitting in Santiago or an organisation down the road. And it also is about power changing. Because this person is not going to look only at the stat as the addressee of the grievance but is able to mobilize a different kind of peer to peer connection which is something that she learns from digital interaction. And maybe that's how we need to deconceptualize the civic action.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thanks a lot, Nishant, for your contribution. I think what we'll do now is open the floor to participation from the members of the ‑‑ that are in the room here. If there's anybody that would like to comment or provide your own personal perspectives on how digital technologies have been used for civic engagement and affecting political change, I would love to hear from you. You and who else? We'll just take maybe a few. Sebastian and then who else? And you. I think we're running out of time. We'll leave it at those three. And then the others if we have something to say, we'll come in the next round and then open it up for you. And we'll start with the lady there behind Sebastian.
>> My name is ‑‑ and I work for a Dutch media systems NGO free press limited. I got so much but I question Nnenna, you mentioned that digital natives think with their fingers and they do not spend too much time with analysis. I find that a very striking observation because that is exactly what my organisation has been experiencing in recent months when working in North Africa and Middle East. Despite the many great reporters, digital activists that we are able to support, we are increasingly confronted with a multitude of contrasting voices, without fact checking, slander and gossip going viral. And it's our experience that this is posing a huge and grave threat to civil reporting and, well, digital activism as a whole. And it make me wonder if there is a responsibility for digital natives to ensure that there's some sort of quality in what is produced, in the outputs. In other words, what can we do to counter this development?
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you. ‑‑ research self.
>> What is political change? For what? For better or for worse? We should not assume that all political change is for the better. Some political change can be for the worse. That may be the mind of the conservative ‑‑ the fear of the conservative today but becomes the future reality of the proponent and agent of change sometimes.
Two, I think as we look at the potential for the digital technologies to transform society, in developing country context, the digital divide issue. A huge divide leaves the engagement in a few elites and youngsters whose literacy first and foremost may be significant when it comes to real balloting and for a politician possibly ‑‑ for authoritarian politician who realises that, yes, you are relying on your digital technologies to turn me around. Once he develops an effective counter measure and ‑‑ over the electorate, he may be able to sustain his presence literally in office because he knows that the effectiveness of the mobilization tools is only possible in open spaces and those who access this technology can do serious engagement.
So once there's digital divide, of course the digital media and its relevance for political change becomes limited.
The third one is that we may as well think about the role of the state itself mobilizing its civic society for positive, constitutional, institutional and social culture change. Imagining states starting to this technology to engineer change from above, to have data political culture to help people understand certain conditions. I have been following the Kenyan interviews of the current select committee which is constituting the electoral commission, and I have been seeing the way these people grilled. And I was like "I wish every Kenyan high school student can attend to these interviews."
And I imagined the digital divide is keeping out millions of Kenyans who would be benefiting from attending to these interviews online and learning both how to present themselves in public and how to handle interviews in future. But also looking at the importance of dignity, respect, corruption‑free life in the pursuit of someone's career. And they would be now learning that, look, this mandate 20 years ago, it's now. This one has a criminal record. He deserves it. The panelists will say we will tweet in our opinions and he would possibly realise that these considerable majority supporting a certain candidate from these anonymous submissions.
But the point is that once starts projecting the things on same group, improving our group and processes and systems, we are broadcasting our parliamentary debates live, electiontor at should be able to see these members of parliament and say wow, you were always sleeping and we cannot vote you again. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thanks for that. The gentleman there in the back there. Ashaf Mahil institute for Human Rights.
>> I just want to say that I agree with Halil, his points that tools in itself does not make change. It's still a tool. If I want the build a house and I have a tool, it will not be built by itself. It has to be used by ‑‑ we need some skills and understanding of the environment and we need to have some purposes.
And then I would like to ask you if you have some advice on ‑‑ there are some initiatives around to collect ‑‑ to make these tools available for activists and make it usable. And there are different organizations working on this. But can we, in the RGF and these Forums, say that we have a centralized collection much these tools and categorize it in a way that it's easier for activisting to be used? So I have a set of tools. It would be used for specific purposes in different environments.
Also inspired by all these skills in IT industries, which many of you have, we have this culture of not really inventing the wheel in the IT industry. So why this is difficult in the devolvement and political context we have to always start for. So the question is there is any initiative could be to collect all this expertise and tools in a way that it's easier for activists. They don't have to be very advanced skill to use it.
And then I would like to share with you experience that I have with my colleagues in Yemen that we are right now trying to use a tool for the human violations that are taking place in extensive number in Yemen at the moment. And we have difficulty because the tools is there but we need to have people trained and we need to collect it, which is ‑‑ the Internet is not ‑‑ it's working only a couple of hours a day. And it needs a lot of effort. But these data is really needed to be feeding in to other political process. It needs to be through reliable and to be validated and to be communicated within the UN mechanism, for example, to put some pressure, to make some political change. And it is quite difficult, but we are working on it with our colleague. And if you have any advice on this, please let me know now or later. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay, thank you very much. I think maybe what we need is a Facebook of activist are for them to share ideas and tips and tools and techniques. Thank you very much for your contributions. Just to remind you here, we're just about halfway through 3:00 and we are still on question 1. Clearly we are going to have to do some reorganization here. What I'd like to suggest is we briefly take the responses from the panelists of the questions that have been raised from the floor, one. And, two, that we combine questions two and three into one session and have it at that very brief session and then go finally on the last question, which is going to be looking at the way forward. Hopefully then we should have a little bit more time then left to do the summary of the discussions and also give opportunity to the CIS India and ‑‑ foundation to launch the digital natives book.
So on that note, I would open the floor to the panelists to respond very, very briefly, please, to the questions that have been addressed to you. And I believe Nnenna, one was addressed to you, a question.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: It's about the responsibility of digital natives, especially when we say things that are not clearly confirmed and they may go viral.
One thing about social media, which is the case you're talking about, is that in social media, it is the community that validates and authenticates you. That is very important.
In Côte d'Ivoire, at a point someone said a certain popular artist, a singer, was shot and killed. That man was in acra, Ghana. He had lunch with someone who took a picture with a digital camera dated and just put it online. No comments. This is the man they said was killed. Simple. I had lunch with him today. So it is the same community who will read you, that will tell you you're a liar.
Recently on Twitter, a big vendor was promoting a product and he's using the name of another product to promote his product. In one hour he removed it because people are telling him what are you doing? You are conning yourself here. The whole world is looking at you.
So basically in social media, by the time you tell two or three things that are not true, people will start debunking you. If you say a building has been burned, someone will go there and take the picture.
Now, there is aa tiny bit of technology that people don't talk about, Mr. Moderator, that is taking a screen shot. Screen shots are the great tools in civic participation. I give you two examples.
In Nigeria, the last elections they held, someone announced ‑‑ put it on his Twitter that he had one of the six before even the election results were cleared. Someone took a screen shot of that and started sending it. How come you have declared the results? He took it off. It was when he took it off that that screen shot now started circulating. Who are you kidding? Because someone has recorded it. That's why.
In Côte d'Ivoire, a minister had said something on his Facebook page that is really an insult. Someone took a screen shot. Of course he deleted it. But you can't delete a discrepancy shot that someone else has taken.
So in areas of social media and activity, use of digital technology, you must remember that the technology's available to everybody. And so the best way for your organisation to fight recalcitrant individuals is to raise up more civic participants. If you come here and tell me Katim is not in Nairobi, I take a picture and put it online. Simple.
>> Thank you very much. Anybody want to respond?
>> What I don't want to, as I think you were really somebody depending on technology is to dismiss the use of tool. What I want to emphasize is that Facebook has been there for years and only when developments on the ground in Egypt came to the point we have set up many events on Facebook calling for demonstrations and protests. And we gather the usual hundreds and 200s or 500 at best. And I think it's very important. I am offended when people say a Twitter revolution or a Facebook revolution, because that dismisses the actual number of offline people, people who have never accessed the Internet, who came and really risked their lives participating in the revolution.
So I think what I'm trying to say, because this is about lessons learned, there is a question coming to it, but tools are very important. We are actually ‑‑ I mean I can have examples like Nnenna said till the morning about how we use Twitter to direct people with supplies, to entrances that were clear in realtime. How we used that to really report on arrests. This is amazing tools. And these are amazing tools. And getting feedback, immediate feedback. People who think with their fingers and really shoot down an idea coming from the government or coming from the police before it even starts. I mean we can go through that at length. But it's really important to keep focusing that it is development on the ground. It is protest by people who are offline, strikes by workers who are offline who are not on Twitter who admire Facebook for what it does. But that doesn't make them ‑‑ that doesn't change the realways on the ground. ‑‑ realways. That's what's really important to ‑‑ realities. That's what's really important to comprehend.
>> Really quickly to answer the question about compilation of tools, there are three efforts that I know of, one is tactical technology collectives in the box project, so there's security in the box, et cetera.
Aspiration tech has a website called social source commons. And that's a good place to look for other tools. And also this Facebook for activists idea is partially implemented on that platform.
And mobile active is also useful repository of mobile technologies for activists.
But I will warn against using such systems because if in Burma all activists use the very same encryption technology, then it becomes, in a sense, proof that you are an activist.
So in my mind, keeping someone on plurality, different people using different tools, some proprietary, some free software, might be useful thing. Thank you.
>> Thank you very much. And we'll jump right away to the next two questions. And we want to really this time around make things as brief as is possible without compromising of course on the quality of discussions we are going to have.
And the questions very briefly are first: What are the challenges to using digital technologies to affect change and increase civic engagement.
And also how can the influence, how can we advance the influence and use of digital technologies in effecting political change and civic enhancement? So two very brief discussions of what the challenges are and the second part is what can we do to enhance their efficacy and effectiveness? And I will start with ‑‑ do you want to start over there? Sumil, do you want to start now?
>> I'll take it back to the question raised previously about positive change and negative change. And also the common phenomena these days where large, powerful players use digital natives as pawns in policy processes.
So the Indian government very recently came up with a directive, the telecom director came with a directive that say you can only send 100 SMSs per day if you are a regular mobile phone user. And the telecom companies and also the telemarketing companies have gotten the newspapers on their side. And they go around college campuses and say to young people "don't you think this is a restriction on freedom of expression"? And young people say yes, absolutely, it is. And so constantly in the newspapers we have these stories of young people protesting using social media against this cap on SMS's, which was really meant to stamp out SMS spam.
So I think while digital natives might act without thinking, maybe it is time for a little more thinking and critical reflexion on what the larger picture is and how possibly they could end up being just pawns in the larger game. Thank you.
>> I think there are few serious challenges in using these technologies to affect change. One of them I think I touched about which is the relationship between the offline world and the online world. A challenge or a risk is actually miss taking reality with what's happening online. So imagining that this idea, because it's very popular on Twitter, is going to have the same popularity on the street or it's creating the same rage or interest or whatever. And really we're talking about two separate worlds here.
The other challenge is actually taking whatever happening online and effecting it offline. And this is we run the risk, it's easier to et up a page on Facebook and write it properly rather than take to the street and start talking to people about the significance of what you're saying, especially if what you're saying is challenging to the conventional wisdom or challenging the particular regime or police state like we had in Egypt, whether it's arguing for freedom of expression or freedom of religion in sensitive places and taking an unpopular cause, so to speak, when it comes to individuals.
Another challenge is dependence on technology. Luckily for us in Egypt when the government shut down the Internet, things have been rolling and there was no way to turn it back. But had they been able to shut it down earlier, maybe that would have affected us a bit more. And overreliance on technology is a danger for government interventions and for corporates. When Facebook deassisted to shut down a page against torture in Egypt and we are relying on this page or a page for one of our day of rage or the Palestinian day of rage that Facebook took down, we are relying on corporations with their agendas and their priorities. This is only question 2? Should I jump to question 3? How to enhance that is try to mitigate the issues I've been talking about.
Of course, there is the digital divide. And bridging the digital divide and improving accessibility and affordability of telecom is an important tool that we need to not only have this great new space available only for those, for the haves or the enlightened or the rich or the educated and how we bridge those gaps, efforts in localisation, in making those tools available in local languages and local dialects is an important tool to bring down the elite nature of a digital citizen as we think of it, someone who is really fluent with all the tools and bring that to a wider masses. And of course through the know‑how like Ashaf was taking earlier.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Rather than go through the whole list if you don't mind, Nnenna and let's take some comments and comments. Khaled Fattal has been waiting a long time. Let's have him on and get some comments and feedback from participants here. And then you can, in response, chime 234 in with your opinions and questions. Khaled , are you there? (echo).
Hello? Okay. Let's try your mic, yeah.
>> I have to thank all of you, especially I have to thank the panelists for this. Because one thing I want us to discuss how to look at challenge, one of the vital things is in the third world, first thing I want us to look at the policies of government of where you are operating. There have got to be some restrictions from the government in which you have to fight. And then what are the coverage? The other thing, the coverage. It can be within ‑‑ other people who are staying in rural area, they have no access to hear. And they are also young guys, young people in those local area who like to receive but there is no network though who have to look at that particular point and one we're looking for it. And then awareness. There is some, let's say, where sometimes people are timid on how to go, don't want to say anything. And the politicians also or the people who are going against them also they will try to intimidate other people to make sure that other people don't understand, follow other things. So I want us to also look at that and take everything inclusive. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you, from Nigeria. Any other person. Yes, sir?
>> Thank you, panelists and Chair. Hello. I'm from Kenya. I wish to thank you for this important debate.
What I want to say is sincerely speaking, the Internet is a tool that can change, do a lot for the developing countries and political dispensation. An example is a previous problem that we had in Kenya. Maybe if I could just put a few points forward is that most people who are affected were the disadvantaged group who didn't have access to information, who didn't have mobile phones, who didn't know what was happening. So in that scenario, I think if we could have ways of empowering people on the ground, like providing affordable mobile phones, providing the Internet at a low cost, for example, and providing ‑‑ improving the literacy and removing some myths and giving awareness, we could have a certain level, you can build the digital divide between the elite and people on the ground. And since some of the things that have happened could easily be avoided.
One thing that I have realized is that our government currently is trying to move towards that end, trying to improve the connectivity. And I like the way things are going now. Like there's a ruling right now that all the mobile phones that don't have IMA will be switched off. This is a good direction. Not only propagate or suggest to you that we could have ways of maybe availing applications, use Twitter, the social media in basic telephones. And these people would be able to access them. You could have a very big improvement in their relevant work. Thank you so much.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you so much. Anybody else on the floor there? Okay. We'll take one last call and try once again to connect Khaled and then we'll get back to your last question. Thank you very much.
>> Thank you very much for the opportunity. My name is Joseph from Zimbabwe. I sent Nnenne, my submission. The social media is a tool, sure, which can bring change to any political dimension.
In Africa with personally as an individual, I feel there is no regulation that can stop anything on Internet. Why, technology value, there is never enough equipment, knowledge to configure these systems, to prevent whatever would want. But to Nnenna now, yes you are social media activist, but what is happening like when you lead this social media, if I can point in Côte d'Ivoire, the people whom you were really faulting, they are still alive. But you lost a lot of lives. People, woman, also wanted change. Can't you find a soft way to use social media to make the changes? To lose infrastructure, to lose lives.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you very much, sir. Can we see if we can get Khaled on the line? Is he on? Khaled? Okay. Do you want to take it, say something, go ahead.
>> Thank you. Okay. If when we talk about social networks, we shouldn't forget that social networks are human networks. Whether they be online or offline. Change happens. And as also mentioned as a human element tool that makes us understand, makes us get together online.
If you look intelligent relationships, start from personal, going to friends and then acquaintances getting together, then you start discussing issues and they become similar issues. An then like mindedness starts to collect you at a different level. And then there's actions, there's reaction, there's results. And then the final implication that we've been discussing, did change really happen?
Once again the issue about environment was discussed. There's a very famous saying in Urdu language and also Hindi, I'll just say it ‑‑ which means youngsters are nonpolitical. Which means that most of the things or most of the digital natives, what they're saying it straight‑away. And then what are the repercussions? Or is that information valid that Nnenna has already clarified? So what are we locking at? Did political change really help because of social networks? Many you bump into who are related to the Arab Spring, know something was happening on the ground. There may be a circumvention was already happening, if censorship was already happening, Internet wouldn't even have been used, the situation on the ground would have been really even more different. Revolution, Internet revolution 2.0, did it happen or did it not happen? Did political change happen or not happen? Cannot be 100 percent attributed to technology. One thing. Number two. How do you get the message out? If I was going to do something in Yukon. during the protests of the riots, how would I analyze that which device has been used? Did you know that blackberries were being used the most in UK? Not IPhones. Not any other device. The messages to go out of blackberries. Later on you can contact me. I can shore you where you can get those statistics in live states of what devices have been used. And if you look at the majority who were writing, even affording a blackberry for them would have been the question.
So what really happens on the ground is a human interaction, the human element.
And then the post results of that change that already happened, I almost really ‑‑ for an agency at one point in time, they came after me. And all I was uncovering was a very small incident that I found out that 1 billion rupees had been embezzled in which the UN was in that project. But the implications came after me and then we had to kind of read to it or repost a clarification that the UN was not involved in this activity.
So, yes, there are progressions of it. See, issues happen. The you about technology and tools ‑‑ issue. Trust me they're already there. Within the open source community let's create new tools. We say what good can we do through open source software? Or free open source software? So we're looking at it the other way around. Total dependence on tools is not what it is. It is the social networks which are human networks which are enabling those things to happen.
If I would have SMS'd something or I would have twitted something to wire, wire would have on the word of mouth actually shared that across his social network, which would be offline. And those people on the ground would have been that group which would have been heading down to 30 D square. Thank you.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you very much. We're still having problems getting Khaled to join us. Hopefully we'll get.
Be getting help to sort things around. I want to remind us that we're just about 13 minutes to the hour. What I'd like us to do is to have Nnenna, you had a question directed specifically to you. Please be very brief so we can go to the next point. Thank you.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: Is there software that will allow us to be active without being killed? No. We are we were being killed even before the digital age. So that is the price of activism.
‑‑ include the need for resources. If you really want to be a digital native, you need human strength. You need the connectivity. And you need intellectual power. You must read a lot to be able to inform others.
There is also the media obsession. Once you become someone that the community has authenticated, as someone who gives information, all of a sudden the media wants to make you their own. I have been getting calls because people want me to say something on radio, on TV. And I try to play a low key. But basically there is that challenge of media and even industry trying to highjack you as a publicity icon. And there is the constant checking for your own credibility. But I don't just tweet anything. Because young people are following. Old people are following.
Yesterday, I woke up in the middle of the night. I can't remember if it was yesterday or today. And then I'm like, hey, Kolongo Masioko has just added me on Google plus. Isn't that the Vice President? Where did they hear about me? Now I must put something on Google plus, I know that, okay, Kagame may read this. My Vice President, my Prime Minister in Côte d'Ivoire may be reading this. The Vice President of Kenya is following me.
And so, it puts a lot of intellectual strain on you. So your militantism, your activist becomes somehow a burden because you have a credibility, you must safeguard.
But on enhancing the influence, yeah, on enhancing the influence, I think that we need to expertize on some issues. I don't tweet much sports anymore because some other person can do that. So I must get the area where I'm expert on and I can defend whatever it is I say.
And then there is more positive use of digital tools, like we are doing in Côte d'Ivoire, which encourages our policy leaders to open up. Like now we have our Prime Minister and some other ministers coming on Twitter because it's positive to the government and to the citizens.
I think that should be my most important point for the day, that we should look at the use of digital technology for positive development change. It's not always that Facebook is against government; otherwise many of them wouldn't be there.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Thank you, Nnenna, we are really fast running out of time. Let's see, have you gotten Khaled online, please? We're not able to? No? Okay. Well I guess what we'll do is we'll move on to the next question and I will start that by giving the opportunity to talk about what are the options for the way forward? What are the prospects for the future of engaging civic engagement and digital technologies and the digital natives?
>> Thank you. Let me start by saying first of all there's a myth that I'm hearing in this room that I wish to debunk right now. Digital natives is not a single person. It's not a single role. The different people in different contexts in different spaces all bound together by one thing, and that's technology. Digital technology has provided us with an equal platform.
I mean, if I'm a techie in Kenya, there is no difference between me and somebody in the western world. We all access the same tools in the same way, the same tutorials. And implementing them is worldly different.
So the only way forward that I see is that we need to study the different contextual, the different contexts, the digital natives and their actions are put in.
For example, we need to look at ‑‑ to be honest with you, it is very highly unlikely that well ever have a revolution the size of what happened in Egypt using the same tools locally here. The context is completely different. They preferred Facebook and Twitter. There's some countries who probably the most they have on Twitter is, I don't know, say less than a million. Out of a huge population. Then again out of that million, how many can you count as credible? How many can you count as verified? How many can you, good friend likes, how can you categorize as trusted intermediaries?
So I believe the way forward is look at the legal aspects. Look at the infrastructure. Look at the social aspects. Look at all the other things that tie in on the digital platforms that digital natives are participating on. That way ‑‑ and in the respective context. That way you'll be able to identify what works her and what works there. What doesn't work here and what doesn't work there.
And I believe that should be the way forward.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Okay. I believe we have a question from the ‑‑ go ahead?
>> There's a question from Fasil from Bangladesh base. He asked what should the governments do? The question is what should the governments do?
>> KATIM TOURAY: Keep that on hold. In the meantime, do we have Khaled to join us? Okay, in the meantime, do you want to take that? What should governments do, if anything?
>> Yeah, I mean, should we like give them the rule book? No, I don't think government should do anything. I don't think government should have anything to do with what we're talking about here, which is actually leads to the point what are the lessons learned?
I think it's very important to keep governments out and to keep corporations out. During the years and after the fall of Mubarak, many of the governments, western and otherwise, are saying how can we help this? And we ask them please stay out. We don't want you. Seriously.
And all sorts of things, whether they're good intentions or not, I actually write it, keep governments out. Unanimous.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: I agree.
>> Because the interests of governments are never ‑‑ we influence governments. We pressure governments. We ‑‑ we stand off, we bring down governments. In my opinion we can collaborate and negotiate with them. But it's very important to keep clear that we are talking about civic participation. We are talking about getting the voice of people out. There is always the risk of being ‑‑ for it being opted in by the government for their interest. It doesn't have to be bad interest. But it is the government interest. And there is usually we have to accept, there is a conflict of interest between governments and people. And it's the responsibility of activists and of people and of technology is to keep people much stronger than governments.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Sumil, do you have anything to say? Okay.
>> Yes, I'm going to tell governments shut up and listen. Simply because the way the Internet is structured, the values, the principles, how it's governed is completely different to what government is used to.
Now in the Kenyan context, the government, I believe, has learned that. We have our permanent secretaries or minister, President, come and sit down with techies and ask them: Hey, what is this thing called open data? Why do you guys need it? Help us understand this. And once they have that listening ear, then you can have a platform for negotiation. And say you can only come up to this point. And beyond that, that's the restriction. In that way, we do not aggravate the government and the government does not feel pressures to try to grab ahold of us and control us. I think Nnenna yesterday tweeted it's better if governments are open. It does more good than if they were closed. But there are so many examples much closed governments and Egypt is probably a classic example. I should advocate that governments should shut up, listen and be open. That's the only way we will work with them.
>> You disagree. Please, Nnenna, please keep it very brief.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: I think we are talking about ‑‑ we're talking here about digital natives. A government, a democratic government is a government of the people by the people for the people. So if the people have become digital natives, it's most certainly follows that we need a digital government. So the government should digitalize itself. That's my thoughts. So learn to be like your citizens.
As they say in Nigeria, the people deserve the government they get and the government would deserve the people they get. So if you have digital natives as citizens, the best you can do as a government is to go digital. Meet them there. Yeah.
>> KATIM TOURAY: Did you have something to say?
>> My immediate concern would always be because being a person who's been developing open source software is I'm always scared of what can happen to the digital natives with the kind of tools they're using at the moment from corporations.
On this small network of delegates being in this conference center, it would take us five minutes to open all your Facebooks which you've been accessing on your computers and post a status which would cause chaos out of here. This is how simple it is. This is how it can be done and we've done this. We've shown this to people in live demonstrations. This is how unsafe it is. How your identities can be used will always remain a challenge. Privacy is a main concern. Security is a main concern. So this challenge will always be there. And this is something which has to be kept in your mind as a take‑away. That the protection or the safety of these digital natives will always be a challenge for all three levels of ‑‑
Second thing. Trust me, the government doesn't ‑‑ there is no where we can dialogue or we can have this conversation with the governments because it starts the other way around. It starts bottom up. The discussion doesn't start top down.
In regards to that, that is not now hour traditional government systems are built. That is not how they accept. That's not how they listen. This will always remain a political challenge.
Third thing, governments across the world are seeing the Internet to be coming into spaces where think don't like people to tread on. And that's why the debate about control is continuously getting severe and severe and the global Internet dialogue space.
And as far as corporations are concerned, the open software movement, it's people out of ‑‑ it can be corporations, but mostly people outside that domain, that space, re‑engineering software and hacking it and testing it and continuously distributing it online, trying to keep secured, people secure. But remember one thing about code: Once it's been originated, once if's been written, it can still be unsafe.
Because there's one person in the ecosystem who can break that, who can change that, who can have ‑‑ so these challenges will always be there. So total reliance, never going to happen. Real life governance system, alliances never going to happen. This is a very thin red line. We'll keep walking it. As Nnenna said, we'll keep getting killed. But the revolutions will keep on happening. People will keep on expressing themselves online. The implications will always be there. Thank you.
>> Okay. Thank you very much. I'd like to hear if anybody from the floor has any contributions or comments to make on the issue? Okay. I see three people who have already spoken before. Anybody who hasn't spoken before that would like to speak? Anybody? Okay. Did I see your hand up? No. Okay. Can you briefly just be very brief because we'd like to wrap up and then do the lunch and then enable people to go on their tea break.
>> I agree with Nnenna on the fact that governments must not need to but must digitalize because they won't avoid it.
But, two, they should bridge the digital divide, especially in developing country contexts, so that as they digitalize, they can engage the greatest majority of their populations. Thank you.
>> Thank you. Sir.
>> Very short. You can do it with the relation to the government. I think I a bit disagree. And I agree with the speaker No. 2. You can pressure the government, but you can also have a dialogue with the government. And actually we have a lot of examples where dialogue can actually achieve a lot of result. So this was very short.
>> Thank you.
>> I also believe that we are all ‑‑ government is we. It's the people. So if the people from the government, you are looking for a better government, how my mother would get a good thing or how it is, so we should not depart from government. And that's why we're all inclusive in the Internet government. It's a cycle. And if you say keep away, then what is that gap? We are the one. We have to look for the way to tell the government this is what it is. Thank you.
>> Okay. Thank you very much. From Nigeria. And I think what I'd like to do ask the panelists to briefly provide us 30‑second interventions and we'll on that basis wrap it up and then give CIS an opportunity to lunch with Diplo, their publication Digital Natives. Do you want to give us some closing remarks?
>> The same government that went highly digital, the British government, on Twitter everywhere, their MPs, member of parliament, even the royalty going online and tweeting was the same government that said "we're going the think about shutting down Facebook, Twitter and all these services."
It can't really happen. Thank you.
>> I didn't get an opportunity to offer my definition of a digital native. If we were to ask people in this room what is Wikipedia? Then most of you in the room will say it's an only encyclopedia. If you were to ask a digital native what is an encyclopedia. They would usually say it's an offline Wikipedia. So their expectations from encyclopedia dramatically different from us. Thank you.
>> I'm not saying that we don't negotiate with government. But I think governments do have their interests. And it's very important to use the open tools and to allow civic participation to negotiate with government but from a positional strength, from a position of negotiation rather than simply by participating in a dialogue most of the time dictated and controlled by governments. And even my own elected government will need my checks and balances to keep it close and loyal to the programme that it was elected on, not drift to pressures from corporations or from other governments.
>> Nnenna, 30 seconds.
>> NNENNA NWAKANMA: The way we take care of children when they are born I think is the same way we need to take care of digital citizens when they are born. The difference is that they are not born after nine months of pregnancy. People are migrating every day to the digital world. So I think we must put emphasis on training people, on explaining what it is technology serves for. And when they are well aware of the good uses of technology, then they will use it the right way. Technology is only the platform; it is people who use it. So we must encourage and educate people to I don't them in a way ‑‑ use them in a way that grows our development.
>> Thank you, Nnenna.
>> I will return to what I said earlier. We have the tools. And these tools provide us with value. That's not the end. That's the beginning. The next step for me is use this value to sec out opportunities from implementing these tools in whatever change processes you wish to make a difference in. Be it political, social, whatever it is. The only way we can approach it is if you understand the value and use that to seek out opportunities for implementing it.
>> Thank you very much. And thanks very much to the panelists and all of you for coming. I think we've had a very interesting and very full discussion. The take‑home message here is we've been talking about tools, technologies, but at the end of the day it's all about the transformation of human lives for the better, hopefully. Obviously we have challenges, but I think looking forward, the prospects are exciting. Bless you. The prospects are exciting and we'll just have to keep working hard in collaboration and partnership to ensure that we all get the better lives that we deserve and that we want. Thanks very much to Prentha and the remote crew. Thanks to Khaled and others to join us remotely. Unfortunately we couldn't hear from Khaled.
Just a second. Unfortunately wasn't able to join us but he has worked very much on this issue. He's actually organized a discussion in Singapore at the Asia IGF precisely on this same topic. So we'll have to continue discussion online. Again, thank you very much. Have a pleasant day. And we'll give ‑‑ Sumil from CIS and his foundation an opportunity to present their digital natives book. Thank you very much again and all the best.
>> The partners behind the project, Hivos would start it by presenting a copy to Simeon.
(end of session)