The State of Democracy

Freedom Works
Demorcacy: Where its at and where we’re headed

Democracy is at a turning point. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the tools for participating in decision making have become more widely spread but at the same time power and money has been concentrated further in the hands of the few.

Narratives of fear, security and austerity put individuals and nations against one another. Many feel indifferent and, or, ignored. Governments – local, regional, national and supra-national – have less resources, requiring difficult decisions, often within a short-term context.

Yet there are communities, governments, campaigners, technologists, thinkers, political parties and others working on how things could be different.

The State of Democracy as an extension of some research with the Democratic Society and Jon Worth. It aims to explore what is happening, point to interesting discussions and to see what answers might be found.

Project: Data Sonification

This project catalogues ways that use sound to ‘visualise’ (aka: sonify) data. That may sound really abstract and complicated, but pop over to the site and you might be surprised. What’s fascinating about this area is that it crosses over science, sound/music and art.

One of my favourites, that brings data sonifcation to life, is the Royal Festival Hall’s singing glass lift by Martin Creed, Work 409. It was installed in 2005 and is still taking visitors up and down the six levels of the building. Bringing smiles to everyone who gets in. As Word 409 producer, Neill Quinton, explained: “Aurally, you’re hearing a complete representation of what is going on spatially.”

The project has it’s own Twitter account: @DataSonify.

 

Smartphones and war reporting – a crowdsourced list of research

Last week I was contacted by Emanuele Ballacci a Multimedia Journalism Degree student in Rome. He’d come to a talk I’d given earlier in the year in Perugia discussing the use of mobile phones and social media in reporting. As part of his graduation thesis about war journalism and new technologies he wanted to discuss ‘the usefulness of smartphones and new generation mobile phones on reporting from war contexts’, and wondered if I could suggest any books or reading on the subject. To date, he’d only found books that discuss the subjects separately.

This didn’t surprise me in some ways as using smart mobile devices in journalism is still fairly new and war zones aren’t often known for their 3G signals. You also know you’re onto something possibly interesting when a Google search comes back with results for smartphone wars (think iPhones v Androids). No immediate books came to mind. So I replied that I’d see what I could find out, as I was also interested in the answer.

Thankfully I do know people who at least may know the answer to such things. So I put a shout-out on Twitter and cc’d in the likes of Paul Bradshaw, Kevin Anderson and Ilicco Elia, who then asked those they thought might know and so on. The net widened and others such as Daniel Bennett chipped in. In combination we came up with the following:

Everyone who responded wanted to know more.

I suggested to Emanuele that he could end up being the expert in this area, judging by our findings, and said I’d be writing up what little we’d found, and happy to include anything further that he’s aware of. He got back to me with the following wider reading list as follows:

Other food for thought that I found during my research:
Online newsgathering, Quinn & Lamble
Always On, Chen
Multimedia Journalism: A practical guide, Bull
In the Hot Zone, Sites
– An ironic but interesting suggestion: http://goo.gl/ZdFf9

If anyone knows of any other research, blog posts or books in this area please do suggest them in the comments below.