The Borders of the Global Village

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The Borders of the Global Village
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The world has watched the Arab Spring unfold, watched social networks and the ways in which they are censored in China and Iran. But what about regions that fall under the international media's gaze less often, where the Internet is still in its infancy? What role do technological development, a society's self-image and its level of education play in the spread of the Internet? Author and DW journalist Cyrus Farivar offers food for thought in his book, "The Internet of Elsewhere." He writes, "When the Internet arrives, it bumps up against various preexisting political, economic, social and cultural histories and contexts - and often what comes out are rather surprising results." That's the backdrop for a discussion by the expert and BOBs juror Shahidul Alam, who explores complex intersections between the Internet and society by looking at the example of Bangladesh.
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and what we moved to most churches what would be the case with severe I'd like these lights off please so I I know the
video people will hate me for this but I would much rather you see the pictures of scenery that more pretty anyway but 1st let like thank do-it-yourself inviting me here it's a great opportunity to be here of with with this audience to discuss some of the things that we're talking about so I I will start of turn this thing around because I can't actually see the presenter mode here but there's been a lot of talk about can we have a lot them and that's it effect but there's been a lot of talk about the arab spring about the things that have happened quite frankly Arab Spring is new a a whole lot of things have been happening all over the globe that we don't always recognized or being aware of it and I'd like to go back and visit that uh as such so let's let's look at it I mean if this minute by variations
dated August 28 1838 pretty close to the invention of photography even lower if possible please yeah so so this sense of natives must either be kept down by a sense about power etc. etc. was a dominant thing about time here in Germany standing in front of you I'd like to remind you that the natives have for sometimes become restless and it's worth remembering so this is the Arab Spring others 1971 7 of March people heading towards a rally this is not actually the rally itself people are heading towards the only 1 of the major things we were effectively under occupation we were resisting we've we were trying to find space for ourselves and it is very important at that time of to document the movements that were are happening of course photographers were the people who were doing it but while all this was happening I think what is person and this is the the dominance of external powers originally during British rule that we were trying to resist later on here occupation within our own country where we won an election but not handed over power with things we were resisted because 1 of the people who was talking about
it was at that stage he talked about time about new media 1 of the things I want to assure you is is I'm not a pessimist on not someone is saying technologies but it needs to be bounded I want to recognize both the parts that it has and the threat that it poses particularly for people in countries like mine which I call the majority world countries I think it is important to recognize that there are differences and it's not a holistic space of the information that is also the misinformation age there are a whole lot of things that can be disseminated very effectively there's a whole lot of propaganda that takes the same route and people in power people in control other people to determine what's of sort of information goes down so I think it's pertinent to remember that but there are some things which is worth looking at timing or Nicholas Negroponte when he talks about the difference between atoms and Bates points out some very
pertinent differences but there are other interesting analogies I think 1 of the things that links digital technology with power uh with knowledge with love of well polity that 1 out of it but knowledge and lot of a quite interesting in the sense of these commodities that by sharing do not generally get diminished rule and I find that a very interesting difference which is what gives rise to to the many possibilities that we have so I'm talking about all this while this is happening in validation we were looking to see how we might make a difference how we might create space for ourselves as a practitioner as a photographer was very conscious of the fact that we if we needed to be relevant we need to work in a space where we but closer to the community we dealt with
so obviously being in London Paris and New York which were the centers of photography did make sense to us to be set up shop in Bangladesh but having done so we needed to stay relevant we needed our work to reach out to the public we needed to link up with removing young American but we needed to link up with the photographers obviously but we also needed to be in touch with the marketplace this was a time when we had didn't have international telephone lines we didn't have faxes we did have many of the tools that people take for granted so 1 of the things we started doing was to look at ways in which we could circumvent this technological difference the time was also very interesting I mean we have up till that point uh there was an autocratic general which was running the country and we as activists were industries trying to bring down this powerful general the time in the
1990 beginning of 91 several things happened in 91 of there was a cyclone among the visual so firstly we actually got rid of this general on the 4th of December 1990 he announced he was stepping up and early 1991 we had elections so that was a major victory there was also Operation Desert that's dust storm or whatever it was they call it the war but I call it the invasion occupation of Iraq but that when it was a cyclone in Bangladesh and 91 and later on 2 tall buildings fell that several things happen which were quite significant but let's start with what was happening in our country but once the general fell down we we had elections and that was pretty significant um color this year who later became prime minister and this a beautiful open situation where the people are obviously jubilant there's hope this like this optimism but we discovered that having a fair and free election doesn't in itself lead to democracy there are others issues involved and this is color this year after she got elected now this difference sadly doesn't apply only to 1 region I think the face of leaders before and after the election is something that we've all been of pretty familiar with and this is something that we have to contend with over a period of time so of while this was happening 1 of the 1st test that this government had to face was this major cyclone that took place so at the end of April and the people who came to save us were the people from the angels from Desert Storm having done
what they did in iraq did then came as angels to save buying base form of the pain that they had the interesting thing is while we were vaguely familiar with what was happening in Iraq at that time the fact that a lot has been happening prior to that is something that was not any major circulation the reason I point out that time is because that is the sort of time when e-mail started evolving we weren't really using the internet in that same way things were beginning to happen even in countries like mine we were exploring options and I think it's significant to look at what FIL just says about times the signs that Washington is about to extend its current water rock yet unknown to most of us almost every 3 days aria found an American aircraft already bomb Iraq this is happening this was happening over a long period of time it was never mentioned mainstream media was not interested in didn't fit this complete control of the international media and this did not come into our reckoning this could not have happened to the I think they would not have gotten away with it but there were other things that happen in terms of reporting this image is quite interesting and I say the goodness of paying for a very specific reason I remember Madeleine Albright talking about how the death of half a million children in Iraq was a price worth paying the death of a 100 a half a million American children would definitely not have been considered the price what they said is a question of what is considered human the value of certain lies being different from other lives I think it's significant to recognize said at that time what was the role that the media was playing now this
embedded journalists and was not initially down here it was actually the invasion of Granada where they perfected it but during this invasion of Iraq certainly embedded journalism became something that came into public reckoning photographers could only going through them with the military and pictures would be sent out they have to be sent out through the military pole Kanedera carrier Contact Press Images photographer who took this image sent out these image just through the military pool but it's clear the military pool happened actually sense this they they let it through but there was
another layer of defense the media itself decided that these pictures were not the right pictures it didn't think it didn't go along with this story of the time which is that it was a clean clinical invasion with 0 collateral damage a chart Iraqi soldier rock the boat this story was killed and it was actually in London is when it when it 1st came out the editor was vilified became Latin American photography eventually did leak out but the point was there was no censorship setting up from the military the media itself decided it had to obey certain rules now this is the time when we decided we need to do something else and I'll I'll now out of sight it's what's going the wrong way I'm going to try and show you something all dubious sound which will some of you will be
recognize I think that's right and what's wrong let's
look but working sorry about this let's see if this works for you you do do you I have here quotation from our prime
minister of Canada also because know was actually at recent
time I'm putting it is that because it's still rather while all this is happening in the very small percentage of the access so we talk about any of these things with this has to be remembered grants and long and I at that time the 2 cows probable trajectories has an interesting analogy because at that time had done a little bit of homework and I worked out the 1200 baud modems that we'll be using cost approximately the same as a cow and I was beginning to toy
with this idea what happens when a modem cost more than a gap this mistake in Mongolia where there was a particular show and I could see that the motives were used for different purposes obviously being improvise and things like that the motive losing relevance at this stage is still not good enough to deliver milk but you know the motives do have their limitations but we started using modems we started using offline Fido technology we were using what will now be considered very primitive but at that time this offline fight and that technology allowed us to give as a bridge to the rest of the world which is very powerful very necessary and because of it we were able to do a huge number of things which tried to that would would have been considered unimaginable but let's let's look at the cost implications at that time to transmit 1 kilobyte of data cost us 30 US cents so 1 a 1 megabyte file would cost 300 US dollars transmit even that for us was an opportunity and be grabbed so we set up this email network in the next lectures that quite interesting on the left are mine mom and dad sadly that passed away my dad teaching my mom to use a computer but on the right is that young man go and customs of the 1st bodily Muslim short-story writer we published his 1st photograph at the tender age of 98 when he was 101 he use e-mail for the 1st time of very
interesting guy and we have as archives dating back to to 1980 and things like that but anyway I want digress on that of what we've done was we set up an electronic post what's the e-mails would come into our server it would go into this electronic was what we did have an international telephone lines to Amsterdam would bring us twice a day the electronic post spots would go to Amsterdam
from their go on to the server from their gone to the internet the reverse process would take place it will all come back to all the people in various places evaluation we even had a fax gateway so someone from a village in Bangladesh with an Norbury tell analog telephone lines could transmit a fax through this process it was phenomenal and there are some interesting
things but I won't dwell on that because new friend didn't question time so this level we were using was an old 286 machine we only have 1 telephone lines so my friend of ours called Mohandas from buying Bangalore made us a fax data modem switch so use the 1 telephone line for all 3 functions with that we were providing we were the half of Bangladesh's email network and the people we was serving were the world bank and is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of big NGO like Braque grand and all we had was this 1 2 8 6 machine all of them had very different resources but what what we did with this I find interesting this is thus the ministry in the feminist writer who was being persecuted about time and it was an e-mail network that allowed us to access stay in touch with then article 19 and eventually allowed safe access to the same outside of abundant but the other players were by then very active in alleviating poverty of poverty of course is an issue that has to be addressed there were all these poor people they had to be saved and the way in which many of them did that was by building monuments to poverty so let's look at the monuments to poverty this is the rooftop terrace of 1 of the big and shows the 1 told building in the for that time and from this terrorist looking across you would see another told really far away that is the Grameen Bank Tower another monument to poverty but you have right now of course there are many other tall buildings at that time that was the only 1 there from there further down the road remarkably this is the lobby of Braque uh the new center again 1 of the largest and use in the world providing saving millions across the globe and not to be outdone the UNICEF Office at all of these organizations will prove to be provided e-mail by that 1 2 8 6 0 in our office they were scattered around a place called on Monday where we are and consolidated to move to the sheriff you have to really suffered due to save the port and I my heart goes out to the people who worked so hard to say the while all we were doing was providing connectivity to them so we thought we'd provide connectivity in a different way we went to the people that they have decided they would not going to give technology to and we went to small villages outside of selected to provide connectivity and to place all repression of village and these are conservative areas the girls going to schools in places which was ostensibly considered not to progressive and we we worked out what we have to do to to to make them except the fact that this technology could be useful said we came up with what we thought was a great idea we looked at the environment we looked at poverty alleviation try to marry the 2 and we came up with this idea that if a donor spent 15 dollars to support this to sponsor a tree we would have 10 dollars from that 15 go to this school for psychology the 5 dollars would actually go to planting the tree we would split adopt between the landowner and the work they would grow crops that would generate revenue from it it was a lovely idea where grew trees and the processes of growing trees supported this and the trees would grow up to be big things and we would sell the trees give the money back to the original sponsors of the sponsors that 15 dollars would get back something like to 150 dollars after 20 years and we would even factoring insurance the tree died they would get paid for it so there's a lovely idea never beautifully thought of all things considered it didn't work as many great ideas it was a complete flop because the people aren't interested in tracing all these nature-loving agrarian communities that we looked at wanted computers and we had a flood sort shortly after that and even during the floods we had to deliver computers because that's what they wanted and we we have a lot of learning to do through this process but we also had some practical problems and some practical solutions which I'll share with you this 1 is a tower that we build why did we build a style why then we'd actually gone on to the internet itself we have of these tasks on the rooftop very expensive technology but the in satellite we linked with Intelsat 2 which is directly overhead was very expensive the cheapest satellite lower down
across the horizon Caligula and um
but that there was a tree in the ways to can access is chief satellite so we built a 100 foot tower but of the set on top of it to peer over the tree to get the cheapest satellite so you know we improvised and I think it's it's interesting to see how these things happen but the point I'm making is that there really is while all this is happening we have to recognize that there was a cultural and a technological dominance we needed to deal with and I'm not full once suggesting that I'd be pessimistic that I stayed there are problems with this there are problems but I think we need to take it on board I think we use i ingenuity flexibility our ability to go to slip through the cracks to turn this thing around and I think that remains the important challenge now I'm going to try and show you something here which hopefully will be tested on the media that we do every 2 years and we
do it in a very difficult so that there hello and he has to
recognize that the bases and in which you want and how we make it worse because for us it's very important
that we engage in use all the details about in
both so culture technology is 1 of the things that I think
it is an outdoor mobile exhibition that we do
regularly reduce the high-profile divisions from the but to behind the volume of that was the
only thing also evidence of the existence of things that
we were able to pull off a major international
festivals at a time when most things
motivation and which types OK well known chomsky we
have in much of the time and you know it's not like 3 we've got
the chances of an identity document varying with
the local audience and I have a salt solution nothing some of the activation and a half before we publication the 2 together in the sense that found that really what was once upon a time based its
eventually because of all the way we were raised to and get
it out the of the Mandela Foundation and what about the 1
thing that the the the knowledge and the young and how do you think of the
theologians and harvesting theology and ultimately and that I think provides a very very strong makes it into the development of formal model as the dialog i constantly come across the situation here around a bit bearded Muslim in front of you so the question did not ask you how many wise I have how much of the market because all of other things that there is a different validation that lies lies in the mind you off from right now 1 of the things which are very important for us is that the trial of the walls criminals that we're trying to do and bringing in a combo was also part about the the fact that we wanted to give legitimacy to to what we were doing now we come to something else that I didn't tell you earlier that of what we were talking about in terms of the Act of Government before and after election is not new and even with the new government I can see my friend them Basadur sitting here you might not like this but this is something I also need to tell you about the Sufi work related to fire and other things that were happening it is something that has been happening in Bangladesh for a long long time extrajudicial killings cannot be tolerated will not be tolerated but continuing what we did was we put together a major exhibition docket looking at extrajudicial killings and this was a Google Maps who let which we put out which was backed up by extensive research where every day relates to a particular killing somewhere in Bangladesh and was available online the idea was ordinary people could come on and provide information which would add to it that too didn't work because the old rebounded Bangladeshi doesn't feel confident enough come on line where they can be tracked with their IP addresses can be mapped and then Facebook and you to have already been stopped motivation people have been arrested they find themselves vulnerable what we did was we we with strategic we utilize the fact that there is international media we had a medium embargo staggered across the continent so on the 17th of march of the york times run into the front page of and it's slowly came across but on the days there was government closed down our entire gallery the officers self-interest surrounded by riot police while that was happening I went inside we were meant to do a Skype interview with the Secretary-General of rubble itself year allergy and this is what I'm doing I'm actually doing a Skype gallery walk with replicas of what the inside the gallery being light streamed the whole world is watching interacting 1 is rightly surrounding my gallery stopping people from coming in so I think it's it's interesting how how these mechanisms can be used to work of so have right now the show is in New York at the Queens Museum of Art but while the riot police was around the the 2 things the you can have a little bit of what you that's interesting this man has made in the against the didn't relies on building an understanding to hear him and he is in front of a variety of ways of making threats to the on the police reaffirming what is happening and what on record this gets added onto the body of work to be done and so we've taken hold everything that is happening at once you're at the origin and in this particular case we can see that in the course of the past and you have a total of 1 and a half I don't have a lot of time to well on that understood in a couple of things 1 looking at what we're now attempting to do we set up an entity called majority world and I have that as a history itself we would cold 3rd World Developing World least developed countries and what we be 3rd anything and I see no reason why countries like these should be called 1st world and we should be called the World and we wanted to remind these this 1st world countries that the G 8 countries constitute 13 % of the world's population and when they sit down and then meetings and make decisions about it which affect the farm where my country I want to remind them that the words that they use democracy and freedom doesn't represent us we never chose the to be our representatives and when they make decisions that affect our lives there is a serious issue at stake so we set up a initially we try to address the terminology we instead of calling ourselves 3rd world we called ourselves majority world and that's a term that's become far more familiar and we set up I did something smart I bought the domain majority will look come many years ago but what we also did was to to set up an online portal which represents the work of Latin American African Asian photographers photographers of the majority world so we began to utilize the technology to create a space where our work would be seeing would you be disseminated where we could tell us stories there is a very interesting African phrase goes something like until the lions can tell their own stories stories about hunting will always glorified hunter and I think that is something that we want to remind people of till this point to a large extent it's white Western photographers who come to my country who have told my story who have represented me to the wider world I think we do want to turn it around and this technology officers now finally a chance to do that and I will end with of photographs taken last
week but those of you who might be transmitting it to be analyzed and for this 1 at least is this is a nice picture and it's much prettier to see that and to see me but but this young man and his name is Russell John and he does something very interesting he and his friends used a computer power to link up with computers all across the globe to pool their computing resources together look for foreign agents and I found that fascinating I see no reason why Bangladeshis should not be engaged and things like that and only be relegated to certain types of tasks and I ask this guy why are you doing this and he had a very interesting of the answer says you know if I discover an alien it'll be named after me and I see no problem why sound stars some planets in some galaxy out there should not be named after bond electrical Russell John Wiley about thank you thank you approval it is the
thing that is