Wednesday Links 9.27.07

ludlow, via Meg Rorison's photosteam

In Kampala, El Oso has a conversation with Kampala's premier break dancer for social change, and wonderful friend, Abramz Tekya.

In Brooklyn, Meg Rorison, a talented photographer and writer, starts blogging at Urb.

In Washington, Andy Mack pushes back on Ethan Zuckerman's incremental infrastructure as a economic development strategy in Africa.

In Berlin, Evgeny Morozov writes about making cyber-activism more effective.


Berkman Launches Internet & Democracy Project

What is the relationship between the proliferation of digital/networked technology and democracy? This is the focus of Berkman's new 'Internet & Democracy Project.' From the official press release:

"The Berkman Center proudly announces its latest endeavor, the Internet & Democracy Project, which is an initiative that will examine how the Internet influences democratic norms and modes, including its impact on civil society, citizen media, government transparency, and the rule of law, with a focus on the Middle East."

The project will have two outputs: (i) publishing a series of case studies that document how the Internet was used in specific political encourters; (ii) helping to build a community of civil society practitioners and geeks to identify key issues and make existing online tools more available.

I started working on this project in May. I spent much of the summer reading and writing about digital/networked technology and its effects on the Ukrainian Orange Revolution. As the summer waned, the project got more legs. A wonderful Research Director, Bruce Etling, was hired, and we hosted our first external research meeting. I'll be doing some content managing and blogging for the project as it gains more momentum this Fall.


First Month at Fletcher

This week marks the completion of my first month at the Fletcher School, and I've done remarkably little blogging. In a way, that's a testament to the fact that I am happily consumed by the breadth and depth of whats happening at the school (and at the Berkman Center). The major task of the month was jump starting my right brain after a long dormancy. Taking Development Economics, Stats and International Political Economy means that I've had to do this in a hurry, and its been far more enjoyable than I've expected. However, I'm making sure I'm not running too far from my old haunts. I've got a paper coming on the factors that correlated mobile phone use and pro-poor growth in developing countries, and whether any of those factors can help predict the ability for computer use (a la OLPC) to have the same effect on growth.

During the first week of school, Dan Drezner, political economy expert and Fletcher's most prolific blogger, gave a convocation speech. The speech made light of how the blogosphere challenges the status quo of the professional foreign policy community, and then urged Fletcher students to also not passively accept the wisdom of foreign policy elders. It was a wonderful example of a difficult skill that many in Fletcher are quite good at: leveraging credentials to artfully take stabs at established ways of thinking. This is the type of school where one could, hypothetically, bring an erstwhile and inspired Harvard Law Professor to talk about using poker to better understand strategic thinking in international relations.


What's Next?

The madness of moving into a new place and starting graduate school has subsided just as it becomes turtleneck weather here in New England. After a few weeks off, In An African Minute is back with a fresh look (thanks Rebekah!) to match my fresh new life as a student.

There are many exciting things happening on all fronts this year. I hope I get a little time to spend Off the Grid.