Campaigns, links and contents I liked, March 2020

“Fratelli d’Italia”,  the Italian national anthem is topping the list of songs played and sung from windows across the country.  The “Balcony music” campaign has been unifying people in Italy amid the Coronavirus outbreak. Is it the beginning of a new era of social and advocacy movements?

In Italy, during the last few days, tighter restrictions have been imposed on social interactions and new more severe ones are still expected. Apart from the common emergency measures, that I guess you already know about, there are other specific ones related to each region where we live.  Indeed, the country is divided into three areas with three different levels of the spread of the Covid-19 virus and therefore with different measures taken to deal with the ongoing emergency.

In the north which is the worst affected region by Coronavirus,  many towns are in total isolation, non-one can enter or exit. In the South, where thousands of northerners have rushed ahead of the government’s lockdown, mandatory quarantines are the new welcome rituals. In Rome, the heart of Italy’s center and where I live, among other unusual and unexpected measures,  I cannot eat my favorite pizza “La Romania” – with anchovies and capers- as pizza’s menu in restaurants is reduced, according to the regional decree, to only 2 choices: white and red. Moreover, since disinfecting products have disappeared from the sales outlets,  the majority of phone calls received by the civil protection agency through the active toll-free number were about how to make an antibacterial gel at home,  asking “if it is possible to use the alcohol contained in the liqueurs”.

However,  in spite of these differentiated regional measures,  we are still unified.  The majority of citisens have been belting out the national anthem and evergreen patriotic hits from balconies and rooftops showing that community solidarity can go on, even during a pandemic.

As the phenomenon of flash mobs on balconies was becoming increasingly popular, Indie Music Like by MEI, Italy’s longest-running independent music chart, has launched an innovative campaign to offer carefree moments live in this particular moment of emergency, often characterised by continuous updates that inform us about the number of infected, healed and victims in the country. With the help of all its envoys in Italy, Mei has activated Balcony Music, a special ranking of the week with the most popular songs from the balconies of Italy.

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic is forcing people in Italy and around the world to adjust to a new reality of life where social distancing is key to surviving.  However, it does not stop social and advocacy movements which use mass protests and on-the-ground organising as important tools to proceed with their missions. Coronavirus is just testing their activities forcing them to change tactics.

What about the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) then? Have we overestimated ICT capacity in driving social changes?

Which is sure, in this sensitive moment, is that we are definitely in need of a different sort of activism.

Digging for fresh ideas,  I suggest the following selection of links and contents.

Enjoy and keep safe!

‘The Cripples Will Save You’: A Critical Coronavirus Message from a Disability Activist

What is most damaging is not the harm that comes from simply being left out of messaging in a humane manner, it’s the offshoot from that messaging: the weaponization of ableism that comes with it from average well-meaning citizens. If a public message says we should be fine, e.g., “Don’t panic, just wash your hands, and only the sick will die anyway,” that message will be grabbed with both hands by non-disabled, healthy people and used to remind those of us who are sick to not panic, wash our hands, and, oh, we might be the ones to die.

Charis Hill for CreakyJoints on the exclusion of disabled people in messaging about the latest public health threat and in particular in the Wake of the Coronavirus Outbreak.

3 quick starting points & 1 structural reflection on how to make affordable online teaching a reality

Yes, you’ll never walk alone when good online teaching becomes a team effort

One of the most important aspect of keeping online teaching enjoyable is that ComDev has always been a team effort. Whether you discuss technical issues with a colleague who has IT/interaction design knowledge, ask a fellow teacher to moderate the Zoom chat during your lecture or simply distribute teaching and grading across a group of colleagues, team efforts are the key approach to avoid loneliness. The team effort also ensures that online teaching is implemented where you are, with colleagues sitting next to you rather than ‘someone from IT’ in another building. Those colleagues will be swamped with requests and will unlikely be able to help you-especially not tomorrow when you are supposed to have a seminar. 

Tobias Denkus in his blog Aidnography on the challenges of online teaching as a team effort, through ICT and with a participatory approach that includes students.

Coronavirus tests Algeria’s protest movement

Still, several hundred protesters on Friday took to the streets of central Algiers, defying authorities’ calls to desist marching.

“Neither the coronavirus nor the cholera is going to stop us, we’re getting our freedom, come what may,” they chanted. “The coronavirus isn’t going to scare us, we were brought up in misery.”

But not everybody appeared to be singing from the same hymn sheet, with many taking to social media to denounce what they called irresponsible behaviour.

“You won’t be of much help to Algeria if you’re dead,” wrote one Twitter user.

In Oran, Algeria’s second-biggest city where literature laureate Albert Camus’s famous novel The Plague is set, protesters appeared to be heeding authorities’ calls, with far fewer numbers taking to the streets on Friday.

Ramy Allahoum for Aljazeera English observing the immediate impact of the outbreak on the ongoing Algerian uprisings, initially erupted early last year in response to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to seek a fifth term in office, quickly transformed into demands for systemic change.

Second round of Fairwork’s yearly platform ratings in South Africa launched!

The uncertainty that has gripped the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will especially impact the most vulnerable groups in our society. That includes those in casual or insecure employment, who face two possibilities: a (likely untenable) loss in income if they choose or are required to self-isolate, or ongoing exposure to the virus through the front-line nature of their work. Today the Fairwork Project is releasing a set of scores which evaluate gig economy platforms that operate in South Africa, such as Uber, SweepSouth, and OrderIn against a set of fair work standards. In the current circumstances, our findings about the situation of gig workers in South Africa are more relevant than ever.

Richard Heeks in his  ICT4D blog  highlighting the risks faced by front-line gig workers in the South African gig economy in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.


Author: Nabila Zayati

Mediterranean Region is her home, journalism is her passion, and  strategic communications her profession.  Currently working for the leading Italian news agency ANSA, Nabila has been dedicating her professional career to develop and manage media and communication projects in different countries for national and international companies and organisations in the Euro-Arab Region. Her huge passion for professional challenges, in order to meet ever-changing global development goals, is her motivation's engine to study for the master Communication for Development (ComDev) at Malmö University . Nabila holds a bachelor degree in Information and Communication sciences, a Master in International Relations, an MBA degree,  and a training diploma from Al-Jazeera Media Center.  She is also a member of the National Order of journalists in Italy.

2 thoughts on “Campaigns, links and contents I liked, March 2020”

  1. Ma il cielo è sempre più blu.. sang Rino Gaetano, and are signing now people from their balconies. And as we are witnessing these flash mobs, indeed the question you ask – whether or not we overestimated ICT for social movements – is a legit question. At the same time, all of these flash mobs have been organised on ICT, and we have seen an increase in the use of applications such as tiktok.

    But maybe, in these times of corona, people can really look at the sky (from home of course) and check if it is, indeed, sempre più blu.

    p.s. I suppose the pizza is “la romana” not “la romania” you know how picky italians are with food 😛

    1. Ciao Rebecca, happy to receive your feedback!

      I hope that ” Il Cielo in Italia rimane sempre blu” the sky remains always blu, as the next days, will be very cloudy because the impact of Coronavirus on the weak Italian economy will be disastrous…

      P.s. I would have to blame my Italian restaurant about the name of my favorite pizza, because as you know, the best pizza chefs here, in Italy, are not anymore Italian but Egyptian, Napoli excluded of course!

      Keep safe!

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