Feminista.org

UK Feminista is a non-profit organisation that campaigns to end equalities between men and women. They were founded in 2010 and rapidly became one of the leading voices nationally of feminism and have prompted social change. Additionally, the organisation provides training and resources to activists and groups to aid their campaign and events and offer passionate voices for feminism. 

There have been many advances between men and women, particularly since the 20th century. Giving women the right to vote,  the introduction of new divorce laws which made it easier for women to have a divorce. However,  the organisation still believes that women are unequal in a political, economic and social equality sense.

 The UK Feminista group decided to take a stand and created a Youtube video to raise awareness about the qualms they have on the inequality between men and women.

The group also have a Twitter page with a good followingof 26.1 K followers showing that the page is popular and that they’re tweets are seen by thousands.

The website is very organised and has many tabs named ‘school and colleges’, toolkit, regional training, local groups and resources. The fact that the campaign applies to schools and colleges suggests that the group want to recruit teenagers/young adults suggesting that they want a  long term future for the campaign.

Why is it important?

I believe that UK Feminista is important as they give women a voice and use many digital communication tools such as Twitter, Facebook and email. Additionally, the group provide resources and training for activists to conduct their own campaigns. I think this is very important as activists need a platform and to voice their opinions. I wish other organisations did this too. They provide a 3 day training course to build the confidence and improve the skills needed to make social change within communities. The course is free and there is a bursary provided.

UK Feminista show  statistics of women across the world:

  • In every society on earth, women and girls have less access to resources, opportunities and political power than men.
  • Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property.
  • Just 16 of the world’s 188 directly elected leaders are women, and less than 19% of the world’s MPs are women.

The fact that women perform 66% of the world’s work and only earn 10% of the income is astonishing. Something needs to change and UK Feminista is trying to do that. The fact that there are only 16 leaders that are women shows how much change is required. Additionally, less than 19% of the world’s MPs are women, the statistics shown shows the importance of UK Feministas campaign as they try and create social change.

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Crisis Communication, Crowdsourcing and open source codes

In one of our lectures last year,  we covered crisis communication and how it links in with the mobilisation of people, for example with the Arab spring and how people have new powers when publishing.

2008

The Earthquake in china was the first time people heard of a major world event through Twitter and Mass Media. The first time networks joined together to give news of the earthquake before the geological society gave news/information on the event.

A good article to read on this would be the Crisis Communication theory, by Sellnow and Matthew (2013).

Crisis Communication and Digital humanitarian

Crisis communication was developed into a call to everyone that can join humanitarian campaigns digitally. An example of this was the Virginia Tech shooting Massacre. No one knew who had died so they checked Facebook updates to see who was alive. The Facebook crisis participants started to seek verification of updates, there was no anonymity to this and by the time the university released the names it was old news as the online communication had given the information already. Prior to, say, 2008 authorities gave crisis information  but now it’s no longer the case with digital platforms such as Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. However, authorities still have the desire to control the flow of information. For example, MMU won’t allow our lecturer to put student blogs on the university website. We have seen this before, where there have been attempts to shut down the internet by authorities in Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Digital Humanitarianism 

An example of https://www.youtube.com/embed/L9_c1j9VRwE“>digital humanitarianism is the Haiti Earthquake, where there was communication in a superconnected world, Haiti is one of the poorest countries but everyone had mobiles and they used SMS as a form of communication.Within one minute of the Chinese earthquake, a report was made, the response to the disaster was the quickest on social media than any other form. It shows how far social media has come and the popularity of social media.

TERA was tried tested in public health campaign helping to raise awareness used to support Haiti and was a 2-way communication system which was able to listen and challenge old analogue systems of communication. Tera was successful 96% if the time, and 74% received data and 83% action while 73% shared information on it. Due to TERA, Kibera in Kenya is on the map now due to real time information on maps, ‘render the invisible made visible’ The SMS  feature of TERA  was useful  in mangaka where 30% of the population are nomadic.

We also learned about ‘open-source’ code and  how source codes are used by computer programmers and you can have the source code of any programme. For example, Google Chrome source codes make programmes work, and the propriety codes, e.g those owned by google are not disseminated/accessible. However, Mozilla Firefox’s code is freely available, Microsoft Word is open  source code. The TERA app is freely available using open code.

In the lecture we also covered Kenya Blood donation websites which used crowdsourcing, this symbolised the transition from analogue to digital (it was the most recent crowdsourcing to date). The website used Micro-mapping which enabled digital humanitarism. We asked ourselves a question in the lecture: What if the world lit us by information rather than light bulbs? That would be amazing and it could actually work as tweets are revolutionary and it could be the new ‘nervous system’ for the planet, social media is used in disasters, how many tweets and statuses are relevant though? In our lecture, we learnt that  1.6 million time-shared tweets during hurricane Sharon (New-York)

Social media was used to crowd-source the locality of the Red Balloon challenge which took 8hours and 44 minutes to find every balloon.  There are a few degrees of separation between us all which is even less in a  crisis. That is absolutely amazing.

To conclude, I think digital humanitarianism  is extremely useful in this day and age if we have the communication tools to save peoples lives and help them survive then we should use them by all means

Spaces of flows

Manuel Castells is a sociologist guru of the internet culture and is one of the most important sociologists today. His main points involve the interplay between social movement and urban space and how individuals come together to create protests for (change).

Castells (2004)’s main part(s) of his sociological theory involved;

Spaces of flows are when there is an increasingly rapid movement of ‘capital investment’. For example, the communication flows at Birley Fields, the Wi-Fi connections, the way in which students are in spaces (University building) to communicate with other individuals.

Spaces of places are  where the individual experience the activities that take place, where they ‘do their thing’ for example, The City of London or Tahrir Square in Egypt where a civic space was chosen on purpose to enable better communication.  The City of London is crossed by flows of capital coming into the space, e,g the investment into the space, but information flows out also.

Castells distinguishes what happens in spaces – What flows in? what flows out of these spaces?

These could be:

  • Information, this involves blogging and e-mails, for example at Birley, lecturers communicate via E-mail, same could also apply to students too.
  • Money/Capital investment
  • People
  • Power
  • Globalisation ( series of flows of information which allows activity to take place in ways it couldn’t before)

Castells touched on spatial information and how it is a fundamental dimension of the overall process of structural change. He quoted ‘space expresses society’. Furthermore, Castells seeks to consider what ‘spaces’ are historically used for in order to determine how the use of space has changed.

Spatial information transformation must be understood in a broader context of social transformation: Space ‘expresses’ society (as opposed to reflecting society).

A good question to ask is ‘how does space relate to urban reorganisation’?

To answer this question, the connection between the local and global space. To make it easier to understand, I will apply this to Univesity; Birley is the connection which is seen as the gateway to the world because university trains world-class professionals. Furthermore, Birley Fields is a bridge between the local and global, as locals are constantly invited in… The Birley building is constructed with Global Flow of information in mind- the fibre optics laid down before building the bricks.

Castells states that both spaces of places of flows are important, as places have been the focus of protest for over 200 years..(Egypt..Los Indignagos, Wall street….)

The introduction of Wi-fi has created information flows that did not exist 20 years ago. You could ask yourself if technology has changed the meaning of being a human being.

When looking at Castell’s (2004) theory, the thing  to consider are:

  • Infrastructure
  • Economic and social factors
  • A social movement perspective
  • Value of communication activism

In relation to my campaign on student loneliness, since the focal point is students the space chosen is Birley fields where the spaces of places can enable communication with other students in the campaign. The wi-fi connections may help as students will be encouraged to use the hashtag #saynottostudentloneliness. Castells believed that everything will be digitalised, so much so that things/information will be filtered to the point where the digital mechanism will relate to just the individual. Furthermore, the collective not individual mind can easily solve problems through connections (internet) thus making it easy as it creates groups easily. I agree with Castell’s in terms of everything becoming digitalized, in relation to my campaign, I have already set up a hashtag which is a digital mechanism and there will be a Youtube video alone with a Facebook Page, showing that campaigns are very much digital now.

Internet optimist or pessimist

As part of our blogging tasks, we are asked to blog about whether I am an optimist of the internet or a pessimist of the internet and if we think the internet is good or bad..Here’s my take on it…

Introduction  of the web

The web was invented by a man named Tim Brenners Lee,  he implemented the first communication between the HTTP client and server through the internet in 1989. The Web has since developed, with web 2.0 increasing the usability for users to collaborate and communicate with one another.  Web 2.0 gives a platform to openly share information. Web 2.0 components  involves tools such as blogs, wikis, and web services.

Optimist or pessimist? 

I am an optimist of the internet  as it brought many positive things to individuals lives, such as internet shopping, reading newspapers online, communicating online with video-calling, blogging, Tweeting, ‘Facebook-ing’. All the tools mentioned give platforms to enable vital communication. For example, telling your relatives that they are going to become an auntie, Uncle, Grandma, Sister or Brother.  I think it’s truly amazing how you can spread information in a matter of minutes to someone half way across the world. If you think about it, it’s crazy…50/60 years ago, individuals would communicate through sending letters in bottles and waiting for a reply. Nowadays, a simple tweet with a trending hashtag enables you to have a conversation with someone from Australia! That’s the beauty of the internet.

The internet is not only  useful for communication purposes, it’s good for entertainment purposes such as music, books and the radio. I love listening to music via Youtube, it helps me with my work and has the ability to calm me down during heated arguments with relatives or friends and can change my mood.  The internet is also becoming useful in terms of books for example,  accessing books is much easier for me especially since I have a disability so it’s more difficult for me to access books from the library sometimes, however, with one click via the University  library system I can read academic books on my computer. In  addition to books, being an online shopper is also one of the reasons why I like the internet, as I can find my shopping list on Amazon! I can find books, movies, mobile phones, laptops and Cookware. I don’t even have to move and I can find everything on my doorstep, next day delivery too which is always a bonus.  The internet is also a useful tool for the latest news and events. Through the use of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook individuals are more in touch with what is happening in other countries as well as their own, before news channels report it. For example  the disheartening  events in Ferguson with protesters and the police.  At first, the media would not report it anywhere even though there were tweets which were re-tweeted multiple times. Eventually, news channels started to report it and an increasing amount of people became aware of what was happening. The internet enabled individuals to have a voice, many of the individuals present in Ferguson felt trapped as media channels were not reporting the news, so they asked for help from other individuals across the world to spread the message. I think that’s amazing and that is one of the reasons why I like the internet as it gives individuals a voice.

Manuel Castells contested that the world is entering a new period of the ‘information age’ where digital information technology provides a material basis for an expansion of ‘the networking form of organisation’ in every form of social structure (1996:468). Castells described the internet’s print on society as that of the alphabet where it creates new forms of indentities , inequality and power in de-centered flows which establishes new forms of social organisation. For example, in the Arab Uprising, particularly in Egypt, individuals would form groups through communicating via the internet  and civic spaces were chosen for the purposes of social organisation.

Cons of the internet

The launch of the internet in the 1990’s was seen as mysterious and exotic, it was treated with suspicion in terms of the credibility of the internet. Who puts things up? Who writes what?  This could also apply to Wikipedia, as it enables individuals to change information.

In the 1990’s Emily Bell believed that the internet was a conduit for those who were up to no good, and called it the single most punishing entity.  The internet was seen as another form of technology which was a threat.

Howard Rheingold countered the argument and believed that the internet allows individuals to talk to people who may be suicidal, it could also be used for political activists, elderly, ill, and relatives. He believed that for the groups (mentioned above) cyberspace offers a lifeline and has the potential to be better than the offline world. I believe this is true to some extent as there are many individuals in the world who need someone to tell them how important they are and tell them that they are worth something. The internet does have the potential to save lives and inspire people. On the other hand, it opens up avenues for trolls and can lead to people committing suicide, or lead to depression.  Which is why sometimes I wish the internet had more mechanisms to completely block out trolls. It is also why I am also pessimistic towards the internet. There are social media sites which has mechanisms to report tweets or statuses, however, I do not believe this is enough as it requires 100000’s thousands of people to report the status/comment first for it to be removed.

The internet also gives opportunities to individuals to scam others. I almost got scammed on the internet this time two years ago, when I was bidding for an item, luckily I went through PayPal which I knew had policies to protect the buyer. I was told by the buyer that the item was coming and I asked for a tracking number just to be safe. However, I was not provided one. After a week, i contacted my bank and luckily I got my money bank and Paypal also approved the report I put through when I did not receive my item. Consequently, for a year I completed avoided Ebay in fear of being scammed again. Recently, I managed to overcome this fear and have started using Ebay on a regular basis. I learnt from this lesson and I always managed to be extra careful when selling/buying items on Ebay. I also encourage others reading this blog to always check if they have buyer protection, as they can exercise this right and always remain protected.

Malicious software and viruses is another con that the internet brings on individuals, as this software can lead to effecting home and business computers. From a student’s perspective, a virus could affect my assignment and ultimately lead to me losing my work. Which is why I always have virus protection software’s on my laptop. I recommend buy Norton or McAfee as they are trustworthy and always check for viruses on a daily basis.

To conclude, there are pros and cons to the internet, but I believe that if the internet is used in a good way then it’s a good tool to have and if it’s used in a bad way then it’s not a good tool as it can have negative impacts on society as well as our lives.

Clicktivism and slacktivism

What is ‘Clicktivism’ and is it having a detrimental effect on advocacy and activist campaigns?

Participation in digital campaigns has grown significantly as six million people have started using  digital petitions on change.org. In addition to change.org 38 Degrees  a web-based activist organisation founded in memory of the late campaigner Anita Roddick, has 3 million members.

Clicktivism is referred to a form of digital activism, it includes promoting  causes through social media, petitions donations, many activists have taken advantage of social media, blogs and videos to promote social change, for example, organising protests in Egypt, circa 2011. However, clicktivism is often referred to slacktivism, in reference to the lack of engagement of those involved. Morozov believed that slacktivism activities only serve for a feel good factor of the participants, and creates the  illusion of having a meaningful impact. For example, joining a Facebook group or passing on a petition to a group of contacts.

However, I believe clicktivism is a very positive feature of activism and is definitely needed in when activists want social change, for example, when a mum fought for transport costs for her special needs son to be reinstated, the campaign received 7,500 signatures and many local TV outlets wanted to interview the parent.

http://www.muirmaxwelltrust.com/news/533_mums_fight_with_city_council_for_learning_disabled_son

Through the use of clicktivism,  5m people in the UK use Change.org to start, join and win campaigns on issues they care about – joining a global user base of almost 70m making real change every day.

The 21st century could be the best period time activist/campaigner  in the 21st Century as tools are everywhere and the best part is that they are free too!

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Culture Jamming

Mediated experiences are not necessarily a bad thing… representations, whether pictures, TV, images, words/stories of others etc..shape the lives of all us today

The social construction of reality could be in relation to the fusion of reality with perceptions and conceptions, i.e shaping reactions/. What we see/the way we understand, so what we see is shaped by the response, is this a better response to the construction of reality?. Personally, I find this very interesting and it’s a fun way to raise awareness about an issue.

Culture Jamming 

All about the media can be used to shape perceptions, people have to be encouraged to change,  I suggest that you ‘google ‘ culture jamming and consider the images on there.

Culture Jamming was inspired by a New York rock band named ‘Negative land’ in 1984. Culture Jamming could be seen as subversive art where images are used to see the subverted. For example, E.g weight gaining (McD) or the ‘Enjoy capitalism’ (Coke)

culture jamming weight gain

Culture jamming could be seen as a parody or a ‘strategy to turn corporate power against itself’ – John Peretti

This could involve 3 factors

Offline movements occurred throughout the 1990’s

  • Culture jamming was used  to send a message against (Racist) Billboards
  • In London,  there were corrections made corrections to billboards

Culture jamming (CJ) extended to the online world, for example, Robbie Conal’s ”Art Attack”

CJ was also used as a subversion of consumerist messages, for example, Adbusters, which is an interesting way of subverting advertisements. Adbusters involved working to subvert media messages by using current representations to change the meaning, e,g ‘Yes Mens’  Campaign/ad

https://www.youtube.com/embed/e9E7C0rEu0A“>Pia Savoie conducted a public dialogue between images produced and image users, she talked about the long history behind CJ.

Is CJ a useful technique?.. If you want to ‘Culture Jam’ I advise you to include three things:

  • Edginess
  • Arresting (grabs attention)
  • Don’t take things for granted

When Culture Jamming, ‘Pranksterism’ is at the heart of media as it makes a mockery of conventional society. Governments have taken messages/meanings of young people and sell/send it back to them. For example, The Johan Soderberg (2002) video ‘Read my lips’ involved a voiceover or Cassetteboy- Cameron’s conference rap

You might use Culture Jamming for campaigns to try and catch people’s attention and play on words might make people think. For example, I made a poster on student debt which can be seen here, and instead of education I put ‘eduflation’  suggesting that education is inflated.

Yik Yak

Yik Yak is an anonymous messaging service that is based on location, other people on YikYak in the within a 1.5 m radius of your location.

In this day and age, it’s hard to believe that a service can remain anonymous, it only needs location. YikYak is banned in schools within the UK, as it can be used as a tool for cyber bullying. The app is banned for Under 17s.

There are many reasons why individuals use YikYak:

Individuals  use YikYak  out of curiosity, something to test and see if they enjoy it. Another reason is to broadcast live events anonymously. For example, what you eat for breakfast, or something that is happening in the area that other individuals may want to know about.

Yik Yak may also be used as it is simply another platform to spread a message. It could be part of one’s identity and persona to post on the internet. Yik Yak is different to twitter as tweets are read by potential employers. Facebook is kind of private as it’s friends and Family only. Instagram is closer to a personal ID, it’s curated more carefully, whereas YikYak is anonymous. All these social platforms can be quite addictive. For example, Silicon Valley and co sit around a table and decide to design a ‘go-to’ app (perhaps) around messaging… how do they make it addictive? Apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  are  not  anonymous, so is there an important place for anonymity in communication? but the surveillance is easier when users are not anonymised, so should anonymity be so readily dismissed? Why shouldn’t people have the option to be anonymous or not?   Being anonymous could provide Options  that may allow for feedback on opinions, ie. posting on the internet, it gives a ‘temperature reading’ of the opinions given.

Apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  are  not  anonymous, so is there an important place for anonymity in communication? but the surveillance is easier when users are not anonymised, so should anonymity be so readily dismissed?  Why shouldn’t people have the option to be anonymous or not?   Being anonymous could provide options  that may allow for feedback on opinions, ie. posting on the internet, it gives a ‘temperature reading’ of the opinions given.

Temperature reading is related to the demographics of the area, language use of the area and the problems/sentiments prevalent in the etc…Temperature reading may allow for problem  solving, as a problem shared is a problem halved?…however, it’s important to consider the impact of the negative side of platforms as a problem shared could lead to a problem being doubled. For example, living off ‘likes’ is a potential danger, maybe it’s technology that is the problem, the problem could be the lack of confidence of the individuals behind the screen.  We need to build confidence up as to who we are and what we’re doing. Some people are perhaps confident online but in reality could be the polar opposite.

Erikson– models around the idea of healthy ID’s, the moratorium at a certain point in the life of teenagers, moratorium refers to the space in which individuals are allowed experiment, Facebook no longer allows individuals to experiment etc, opposed to Snapchat where pictures disappear within 5-10 seconds. Snapchat brings the return of the ‘ethemeral’ (Wispy’s here one minute, gone the next’. Ephemeral also refers to the notion that  individuals are on the edge/exploring sense of self, and snapchat enables them to do that. The concepts also link to Dana Boyd’s digital anthropologist.

I tried YikYak out of curiousity and found it quite surprising that it is popular and many people use it. Some of the comments I found useful and funny, like the free burger at The Union and how someone corrected my Yak to student loans* which I must admit I chuckled at. Before you Yak the user is given rules and I found that quite useful as it was a reminder on how to behave on YikYak. I think other Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook should have a set of rules in addition to having the options to reporting tweets or profiles