Friday, June 24, 2016

Weekend Reading

A photo posted by Kate Spaulding (@shortandsweets) on

Happy Friday! I hope you all had a good week. I spent a lot of time in what my family calls "house manager" mode this week - phone calls, grocery shopping, bills, etc., along with school and work. So, a pretty tame week I suppose.

Of course, the UK took care of that feeling last night. APW's point has really stuck with me:
now scores of people—including those who graduated college a month ago and thought they were entering into an exciting, open new world—can’t travel or work in 27 countries! When 75 percent of those ages 18-24, 56 percent of those 25-49, 44 percent of those 50-64, and 39 percent of those 65 and older voted to remain, it’s a little hard not to be super pissed that older generations are making decisions that my contemporaries and our children will have to live with for decades

Now, granted, people in the UK will still be able to travel, at least for pleasure, though it will be more complicated than it's been. But I think the point is still a valid one. It's especially upsetting in the face of reporting about how people didn't know what they were voting about

Other things worth clicking on:
An online calculator that determines the cost of being a stay-at-home parent. Whether this applies to your situation or not, Go Look. The dollar amounts are staggering. To me, they add up to a million (more) reasons to institute paid family leave, flexibility, affordable and high-quality childcare, and compassion. 

I haven't gotten through the whole series yet, but a reporter spent four months working as a guard in a private prison and then wrote about it. Journalists aren't welcomed in prisons, so this was his "in." The editor's letter is worth a read as well. 

In lighter news, this week, winners from the kitchen included no-bake energy bites (if you make them, use jarred pb, not the grind-your-own-kind, as it didn't seem to have enough oil to hold together), veggie pad thai (warning: crashy website), and pasta "alfredo."

This made me happy. Still not on Snapchat, but it was the best reason I've seen thus far. 

A school library in rural California asks for Just One Book

This week, I enjoyed reading The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, set in England before and during WWI. I'm about halfway through The Confidence Code, which is interesting. I'm hoping for All the Answers in the second half. 

Some of these links are affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Arab Spring as an Information Community

Tahrir Square, Egypt via:

During the fall semester last year, I took a class exploring the idea of information communities. We had discussions throughout, and our final assignment was a research paper about the information community of our choice. As part of our discussions, we had to write short, directed blurbs and share them with the class. Even though that class is well behind me now, I still find the ideas fascinating, and so I wanted to share some of my ideas here.

So this is the first in a series, and in this post, I present the idea that the protesters who participated in the Arab Spring were an information community.

The Arab Spring was a series of protests, demonstrations, riots, and civil wars that first began in Tunisia in December 2010. From there, dissent spread throughout the region, and, ultimately, events ranging from marches to civil wars took place in twenty-two countries. Syria, Iraq, and Libya remain embroiled in civil war, while many of the other countries involved experience various levels of turbulence to this day.

Conflicts by country. via:

The use by protesters of cell phones and social media to incite and organize their fellow citizens and to document their treatment by government forces was revolutionary in its own right. Facebook, especially, but also Twitter and text messaging were used to share information amongst protesting citizens and with the rest of the world. Social media has an inherent “multiplier effect for stakeholders” (Fisher & Durrance, 2003, p. 659) in that communication between two or more people defaults to public access. This means that any conversation amongst a small group can be seen by the social circles of each participant. The information is easily shared multiple times without corrupting it (no game of telephone here; it’s word-for-word sharing), which ensures that any interested parties have the right information at the right time. Protesters, journalists, and other “diverse groups” (Fisher & Durrance, 2003, p. 659) were able to converge upon city squares with precision, as well as share information, updates, and results.

This social media uprising came about as a way for ordinary citizens to get out from under the thumbs of authoritarian regimes. The governments of these countries had long suppressed free speech through laws, intimidation, force, and censorship. Protesters use of Facebook during the Arab Spring formed “around people’s needs to access and use information” (Fisher & Durrance, 2003, p. 659) out from under the umbrella of state controlled media outlets. This virtual meeting space “removed[ed] barriers to information about acquiring needed services and participating in civic life” (Fisher & Durrance, 2003, p. 660). In other words, the protesters use of Facebook and other social media allowed them to speak freely and share information about participating in demonstrations against their authoritarian governments.
Having an online information community of protesters helped cause the domino effect that spread unrest through the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa because it “foster[ed] social connectedness within the larger community (Fisher & Durrance, 2003, p. 660). That “larger community” also included much of the world, which helped bring international attention to their causes and international outrage over their treatment. 

Fisher, K., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 
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