The knowledge commons: research and innovation in an unequal world

To mark the launch of the St Antony’s International Review, a panel of experts discuss Ushahidi technology, academic journals in Latin America and the geographies of the world’s knowledge.

Ory Okolloh, Kenyan activist, lawyer, and blogger who helped create Ushahidi. a website that collected and recorded eyewitness reports of violence using text messages and Google Maps following a disputed presidential election in 2007 (Photo by moblogdci under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licence).

Following an introduction from the editors of St Antony’s International Review and FSD Director Timothy Garton Ash, Claire Wardle, digital media consultant and researcher at Storyful, talks about the various uses of Ushahidi, a crowdsourcing platform developed by Kenyans to track the electoral violence in 2008 (10mins). The technology has since been used to crowdmap sexual harassment in Egypt as well as forest fires in Italy. After introducing Ushahidi to the BBC, Wardle says she came to the conclusion that the maps tend to be more powerful when created at a community level. However, she adds, “at the same time you need a megaphone and the megaphone is the media”. Scott Hale, co-author of Geographies of the World’s Knowledge, discusses his research into online language bubbles (23mins 12secs). Citing Wikipedia as an example, Hale notes that only half of the articles in German have corresponding articles in English. He says: “Language is filtering, it’s shaping the information that we have access to online.” The final speaker, Cristobal Coco, co-author of Planet Web 2.0, Fast Food Media or Collective Intelligence?, points to open access journals as a way of disseminating scientific knowledge from the developing world that would otherwise be inaccessible (34mins 36secs).

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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