Technology and the Resurgence of the Australian Peace Movement

In July 2005 I gave a presentation at a workshop organised by SAP-International, Bellanet Asia and SAP-Falcha in Nepal on Knowledge networking for peace: rhetoric or reality?

I loved the topic – ICT is often a graveyard of good intentions and the question always needs to be asked – is what we are doing, planning to do and promoting actually making or going to make a difference?

As the blog entry on the workshop notes:

During the three days the resource persons from home and abroad together with the participants, including peace and development professional, development activists, journalists, experts on ICT, lawyers, and the others, intensively debated on how to apply ICT tools in peace process. It was identified that knowledge sharing through ICT tools could generate innovative ideas for peace. The online networking facilities like online networking could bring people together from various backgrounds and serve as a platform to start peace building efforts. At the same time the experts argued the importance of recognizing the need to make available the open peace sources and contents that are crucial in peace process. They also felt that the major challenge in the wide dissemination of knowledge available via Internet is the language, and there is need to make this content available in language understandable by the common people.

These are the same ideas echoed in a research paper done on an actual scenario in Australia, where on qualitative research [was] undertaken into the way the main peace groups in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia employed technology to build their respective peace movements.

The full paper is an interesting read. One notes clearly the high use of websites and texting, but the low use of blogs or swarming (referred to in the paper as smart mobs).

I think the results would be very different if this same research was conducted in 2006.

This blog has also explored many of the other challenges for ICT4Peace posed in the paper, such as the creation of sustainable social networks for peace through ICT, the need importance of looking at technology as a social construct instead of something that once introduced, results in immediate empowerment and change, and institutional barriers to the greater adoption of technology.

The paper is worth reading for anyone interested in the application of technology to create social movements in support of peace.

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