The second and final day of 2012's Global Voices Citizen Media Summit began as the first night had ended: with music. As attendees wiped the sleep from their eyes and found their seats, a quartet of musicians, the Sheru ni Sheru group, marched to the stage, drumming and dancing a morning wakeup call.
Thoroughly alert, summiters were introduced to Boukary Konaté of Mali and Victoria Tinta of Bolivia, both winners of GV Rising Voices grants. Together with others, Boukary now runs the Segu Villages Connection Project, which goes school-to-school in rural Mali, creating cultural links between villages and cities, teaching people how to use the web.
Victoria Tinta, on the other hand, grew up in Bolivia speaking the indigenous language Aymara, and in college began using the Internet to mobilize the Aymara community. She now works with a group called Jaqi Aru, which conducts blogging workshops for Aymara speakers looking to bolster the language's online presence.
The summit then broke into three groups for special panels. Jillian York launched the provocatively titled ‘Are They Watching Me?’, where discussion turned to the conflict between potentially justified surveillance and the needs for privacy and political freedom. Robert Faris, research director at the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, explored the tradeoffs between law enforcement and transparency norms, whereas on-the-ground citizen reporters Afef Abrougui of Tunisia and Mohamed El Gohary of Egypt described the practical dangers and obstacles that face dissidents in the face of government and corporate surveillance.
During the same split session, another panel addressed participatory health media and how personal medical stories disseminated online can play roles both emotional and informational in developing countries. In another group, panelists gathered to discuss the special utility of citizen media in organizing mass actions, focusing specifically on Kenya.
After a brief coffee break, the summit resumed with a second round of split sessions. SocialFlow's Gilad Lotan moderated ‘Data Visualization,’ which explored the methods of how analysts and promoters collect, arrange, and project information in contexts both scientific and activist. GV Co-Founder Rebecca MacKinnon chaired a separate panel on citizen participation in the Internet's future, asking speakers to address how ordinary people can act when governments fail to defend popular interests. A third group met to discuss the challenge of ‘creating an African network,’ and what would be necessary to establish the connections and unity between the local citizen media and the outside world to sustain such a project.
After lunch, the summit initiated to two sets of open programs that covered nearly a dozen different subjects, including China-Africa relations, women and technology, and open source. Finally, before the summit concluded with an evening of music and Kenyan barbecue, Global Voices honored its co-founders and organizers. As executive and managing directors Ivan Sigal and Georgia Popplewell formally closed the summit, a group of over 200 GV staff and volunteers, as well as scholars and local visitors, rose to their feet and marked the occasion with applause and smiles.
See you at the next Summit!