Posts Tagged ‘whistleblower’

Basic concepts, easy solutions

20 April 2009

I would like to share with you two interesting initiatives that highlight one point I wanted to make for a longer time now.

My point is about easy solutions. And basic concepts.

Sometimes the easy solutions are the best ones. Solutions where not much programming is needed to make it an effective online tool. A clear concept that can be put in practice easily can remove one of the biggest hurdles existing for some practitioners, and especially in NGOs with limited resources: Dealing with the internet and the complexity of not being able to programme and manage a website by yourself.

Blowing the whistle

This is why I like the following case. It’s the concept of simple transparency of information and explaining how things have to work put into practice. On a web page that basically displays a word document, listing the three key points, some PDF documents and the relevant phone numbers. And that explains what whistle blowing is, and how and where to do it.

Have a look at the new page on Blowing the Whistle on Waste & Fraud in Government, put in place by the State of Illinois.: www.whistleblower.illinois.gov

Accessing information

The other example I wanted to include here is a nice project called the Question Box, addressing one of the key concerns for using online tools: illiteracy (also nicely presented here, and discussed here). One box per village. The concept is a call center, to connect to the internet.

How it works

How it works

Maintaining the infrastructure might not be easy, but electricity can come from solar cells and the used technology is basic enough to be repaired easily. Again, easy concept. Easy solution. And many ideas coming into mind when thinking about accountability, access to information and citizen engagement in governance.

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Successful panel at IACC

6 November 2008

About 100 participants attended the workshop on social media at the 13th IACC. Saturday, 5 pm, room MC3, one level below the earth. Darius Cuplinskas, Director of the Information Programme at the Open Society Institute moderated the panel made up by Ellen Miller, Sunlight Foundation, Julian Assange, Advisory Board of Wikileaks, Inés Selvood, Clarin newspaper and University of Buenos Aires, Nicolas Hernández, OCASA and Shaazka Beyerle, Senior Advisor of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.

It was quite a diverse group that looked from very different viewpoints at the issue of using social media in the fight against corruption.

Ellen Miller gave an overview of the great work the Sunlight Foundation has been doing over the years looking at accountability and transparency via the innovative use of technology and internet (see also her post on this blog).

Julian Assange presented the concept of the website wikileaks.org, an anonymous platform for whistleblowers to expose sensitive documents, and a research tool for journalists.

Inés Selvood looked from a journalist’s perspective at the question of how blogs can and are used for the objectives of civil society organisations, challenging the role of traditional journalism and presenting concepts of alternative and citizen journalism.

With a view at using the interactive concepts of social media such as chat and networking functionalities via facebook Nicolas Hernández presented how OCASA uses them for their youth education programme.

Finally, how user-orientated tools of social media can be used to empower citizen and support civic action was illustrated by Shaazka Beyerle on the example of Egypt’s facebook revolution (see here and here)

Let me just highlight one intriguing question that came from the audience. How does social media not only change the way corruption can be tackled, but also, how do civil society organisations need to change to use these tools and concepts adequately? And indeed it seems that traditionally grown organisations will need to adapt their advocacy approaches to make these concepts work and be able to engage more effectively with the citizens who are able and willing to be join the efforts and do their part.

All in all, it was a great expert panel. Only downside was that there was not enough time for questions and feedback from the audience. But you can do that now right here on the blog. So, with the interest in the workshop and the apparent need to analyse today’s opportunities arising with the social web, I am happy to continue this blog and provide a space for discussion and ideas.