“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.
Italians in lockdown all over Italy are keeping each other company by singing, dancing and playing music from the balconies. A thread to celebrate the resilience of ordinary people. This is Salerno: pic.twitter.com/3aOchqdEpn
— Leonardo Carella (@leonardocarella) March 13, 2020
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.