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Technology Stewardship and Thinking “out-of-box”

 

Thinking out of  box in using tools and technologies is not necessarily a multi-complex task and does not essentially require high levels of expertise. Most of the really interesting uses of online tools and platforms were not imagined by the designers of that service but by the users. Thinking out of box is simply asking ourselves: what do I need? And also comes out of bridging between applications and tools to get a desired outcome which have never been seen before. The Twitter’s case in Iran’s Green Movement would be a good example.

 

In June 2009, the social movement which started with the fraud presidential election in Iran lead to a technological surprise. The surprise was caused by the “out-of-box” use of web 2.0 technologies. The so called “Green movement” started months before the Iran’s elections with the campaign of a reformist candidate. Students and the middle class supporters of the reformist candidate harnessed social media as the main platform of communication. On the election day, when the government realized that it has lost the election, it decided not to give up the power and claimed its own candidate victory! Consequently, to control the following street protests and demonstrations, the authorities arrested thousands of activists, limited the access to Internet and communication infrastructure (e.g. SMS), deported all the international reporters and journalists from the country, filtered many websites such as Youtube and Facebook and aggressively tried to suppress the peaceful demonstrations. In such condition, the surprise took place and, later, nicknamed as “Twitter revolution”.

 

 

In spite of all the limitations and thanks to anti-filters, thousands of videos were uploaded on Youtube and the news from the “citizen journalists” were massively shared and reached the media. What was the surprise then?  Twitter was a micro-blogging service targeted the needs of business people and those who wanted to use their mobiles to broadcast short messages. Before the Green movement, the platform was not meant to be used by citizen journalists or people organizing demonstrations or broadcasting news from the streets. Why Iranian’s chose Twitter? Simply, the Twitter website was not filtered at that moment and it could satisfy the need of the mass which was sending out the news. It took a bit of time for the government to react and that was enough for Iranians to catch the attention of media!

In the Iran’s case, the availability of information was made possible by the technology but the speed of spread was caused by people’s performance. Therefore, it was not only the technology but the social networks on top of the technological networks who moved the information so fast. Users are the ones who give meaning to the technologies and define new applications for the tools.

So, if you were looking for an online space to brainstorm with five of your friends and you couldn’t find the “right” platform/tool for it, would be no problem to join a free poker table in Yahoo games or Zynga and use the facilities for your own activity!

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This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Project Community Rituals

A joyful moment of understanding

The first week of our being together experience made me think about the “fuzzy front end of learning”. The question that I was asked for several times by many students was: what are we going to learn? So, I questioned my self: what would help us to deal with this fuzziness.

I remembered watching a very inspiring documentary containing some experiments about collective intelligence (will provide the name in comments). In an experiment, a scientist invited a large number of people to play a simple ping-pong computer game. Each individual was given a control panel consisting of a red and a green button which pushing them moved the rocket up and down on the screen. The cheerful crowd, as a team, played against the computer and joyfully experienced their collective performance (I’m not going into more details because may be we play the game ourselves).

What makes this experiment relevant to our Project community course is that we, as a community, deserve to have some purposeful fun. Playing such games helps us to overcome the fuzziness, takes us to a collective level of communication, makes us curious about the conditions that can improve a community’s performance and gives us a feeling of what type of joy wakes Nancy up at 5:30 AM in the morning to join us in area 51.

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This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Project Community Rituals