WCIT: The power of digital media, arts and culture

Social media, and especially Twitter, helped spread global awareness about the Arab Spring last year when protests across the Middle East and North Africa revolutionized democracy in many countries.

From instant Twitter updates to YouTube videos on the uprisings, digital media content became a powerful weapon in creating a social media revolution. And, that's just one way digital media technologies are changing the world.

This week we’re diving into the role digital media technologies play in media, arts and culture. This is the fifth theme of this year’s World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) where up to 3,000 delegates from more than 80 countries will meet in Montreal in October to develop a Global Digital Society Action Plan that will not only shape the future of information technologies (IT) but also the future of humanity.

As a partner of WCIT, we’re holding the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam - school events, online activities, contests and prizes through April and May leading up to a large student Jam at the Science Centre on May 11.  For full details, check out our CareerMash Youth Tech Jam webpage, which also includes links to all our previous blogs on how digital technologies are changing our world.

As part of the CareerMash Youth Tech Jam activities, we’re looking for your ideas on how digital media technologies have changed the way we receive and access information.  Here are just some of the ways we’ve found. What have we missed? Tell us by commenting below!

Kony2012 – Digital Media

Perhaps the most recent example of the power of social media, the American organization Invisible Children launched Kony2012, a video campaign designed to draw awareness to Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. The video went viral and has received almost 80 million views. It resulted in international backlash against both Kony’s war crimes and Invisible Children’s approach, but the video successfully penetrated the news and social media, which was precisely the point. It made the world talk about the issue just like it did the Arab Spring.

How can social media draw awareness and drive support for international issues?

Sourcefabric – Digital Journalism

Sourcefabric is a non-profit organization that gives media organizations free access to the digital software tools they need to launch newspapers, community radio or web magazines. Because the software is available online for free, its tools can be implemented by even the smallest organization to spread its message through media websites, radio broadcasts, news, blogs, videos and social media. Sourcefabric helps media in emerging democracies use the power of digital journalism to get their voices heard by revolutionizing access to information and freedom of speech. Without access to this free technology most of the media outlets that help fight for democracy in their countries couldn’t exist. Read CareerMash’s profile of Sourcefabric’s CFO Paul Baranowski to learn more. 

Can you think of other ways free technology could promote global freedom of speech?

Digital Arts – Free Entertainment

The Internet has given us uninhibited access to entertainment – from discovering new bands to downloading movies – but it has also robbed companies and artists of income when the copyright of their work is ignored. Napster was one of the first file-sharing music websites and the one sometimes blamed for the decrease in the number of major record labels by pioneering the mass sharing of free music. Napster took copyrighted material and allowed users to download it for free, causing the company to go bankrupt in 2002 because of legal issues over copyright infringement.

The fight to protect copyrights has continued all decade and earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department shut down popular movie and television file-sharing site Megaupload. At the same time, companies like iTunes and NetFlix have honoured copyright and enhanced sales by providing access to paid digital downloads.

Do you think it’s important to protect copyrights?

Digital Culture - Internet Censorship

In Canada we take our Internet freedoms for granted, but in countries such as China these freedoms do not exist. Sometimes called “the great firewall” of China, the country’s censorship policies block access to popular sites such as human rights resources and Facebook. Yet, it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of Chinese Internet users use anti-censorship software everyday, according to CNN correspondent Rebecca MacKinnon’s new book Inside China’s Censorship Machine. China argues it is preventing society from accessing harmful and unhealthy information such as porn.

On the flipside of extreme censorship, popular website WikiLeaks revealed censored, confidential U.S. government information to everyone around the world. Releasing confidential and classified information has been part of Wikileaks’ freedom of information mission since it was started in 2006.

What do you think the relationship should be between government and Internet censorship?

Cyberterrorism and online privacy

The FBI recently said hackers are the new terrorists and security experts agree it’s a real threat. “Hacktivist” group Anonymous has made headlines for what the government considers attacks by making threats and shutting down government sites. It’s given a voice to both Canadian and U.S. governments currently trying to pass bills allowing stricter monitoring of online activity, which many argue is an invasion of personal and online privacy. Google also recently wreaked havoc when it announced its new privacy policies will monitor and track what we search for online.

If all your online activities are being tracked, would it change how you use the Internet and what you use it for?

That wraps up our brainstorming blog posts on this year’s WCIT themes, but really we’ve only scratched the surface. Think about how digital technologies have impacted your own life. Where do you see digital technology going and how can it be used to make a real difference in the world?

CareerMash Youth Tech Jam in the Blog

Anthony Williams, lead organizer of WCIT World Tech Jam

Learn about WCIT from an interview with Anthony Williams, the leading organizer for the event


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WCIT: The power of digital media, arts and culture


Calling All Youth - Add your voice on how the Global Digital Society can change the world


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