Oct 18

Are boots on the ground better than words in cyberspace? 

Activism may be enhanced by using social media platforms for awareness campaigns, virtual petitioning and fund-raising, but when it comes to the environment, it’s ‘boots on the ground’ that count.

It’s no big news to hear about the affordances that social media has offered the world of political and social activism. The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011/12 and more recently, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations the hashtag #metoo campaign, are oft-cited examples of how social media is transforming the socio-political landscape on scales rarely seen before. However, can the same be said for environmental activism? Are the affordances offered by social media making strong headways in the world of environmental protection? Continue reading →

Oct 18

Last Call on avoiding catastrophic Climate Change

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their 15th Special report yesterday, giving a snapshot of what a world globally warmed by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels might look like within the context of strengthening global responses to climate change, promoting sustainable development, and eradicating poverty. It makes sobering reading: Continue reading →

Oct 18

Drones and environmental activism in the developing world.


Last week I wrote about the way drone technology was being adopted by environmental activists in Australia to facilitate the role of ‘environmental watchdog’, particularly in remote mining areas where monitoring environmental regulatory compliance is infrequent and difficult. Commercial availability and falling prices of drones have given activists an accessible way to scrutinise industrial activity from the air, allowing them to witness and record both environmental impacts and instances of environmental regulatory or procedural violations. Social media complements this by providing a mechanism for sharing and raising awareness of activities that might otherwise go unheeded.

Today I will examine how the use of drones for environmental activism is playing out in developing and emerging countries where poverty, technological infrastructure, and laxer regulatory regimes both help and hinder the effective deployment of drones. In a globalized but unequal world, I would like to explore whether ICTs provide the same opportunities for combatting environmental degradation in poorer, developing nations as they do in the West. Do drones help ensure better environmental practices everywhere, or are they merely helping to transfer dirty environmental practices from rich to poor countries as multinationals increasingly offshore their activities? Are drones serving to bridge or widen the digital divide?

Continue reading →

Sep 18

Drones – The New Watchdogs for Environmental Activism


Drones have been around longer than you think. Perhaps not in the compact, commercial, radio-controlled versions you see whizzing around lakes, over coastlines and above marathons that you see today, but as “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs), we can look back to the mid-nineteenth century to find their origins. In 1849, Austrian forces besieging Venice used balloons carrying timed-fuse explosives to bombard the city. The attack was mostly a debacle, as wind changes forced many balloons off-target with some drifting back over their own lines – however at least one fell into the city. We have our first instance of aerial bombardment by drone! In the 21st Century, UAV’s are now directed by ‘pilots’ who, from the comfort of their own headquarters, use consoles to steer drones and attack targets using ‘surgical strikes’ in far-away countries, regardless of the international rules governing sovereignty or ethical implications of automating warfare in this way. Continue reading →

Sep 18

Welcome to the Group 6 Blog

A general theme was agreed to examine how inequalities in access to ICT4D infrastructure and knowledge influences activism in the digital age. Much has been written about how the ‘digital divide’ between and within rich and poor countries impacts on an individual’s ability to engage effectively and competitively in political and economic life. But how does it effect social movements and activism? Does the digital divide work for or against grassroots organisations trying to make an impact on the political landscape? Does it advantage some grassroots organisations whilst disadvantaging others?

A provisional/working title for the blog is “Bridging the Digital Divide”. Perhaps with a subtitle of ‘Activism in an age of Digital Inequality’ . A title page could include something like a bridge image with a connected 1st world city and disconnected 3rd world city either side.

Blog postings will aim to explore this conceptual framework of activism and the digital divide within the context of specific themes for which each blogger will be effectively a ‘correspondent’. The purpose of this is to provide as much free artistic/investigative license to the blogger as possible but within a common framework so as to harness the individual expertise and experience of group members.