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From the mission statement:
Small World News focuses on developing the capacity of citizens to engage with the international community in crisis areas and conflict zones.
Our most recent project, Alive in Libya, showcased the potential of citizen media when combined with affordable digital technologies and professional training. As an organization our primary focus has been to guide local citizens through the entire process, from learning to produce professional media to distributing via social media and leveraging relevant technologies to broaden the impact.
We believe our unique body of expertise with media development in conflict areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya makes us uniquely positioned to provide training to existing media professionals, human rights and civil society organizations, as well as independent citizens. In the past year, in addition to our own projects, Small World News has conducted training in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Rwanda, Bahrain, Libya, and Uganda. Training subjects included: new media tools for civil society, SMS and mobile technology, training for journalists in new media and multimedia, training and advising in online security, training and deployment of Ushahidi.
This is a preprint of a submission to AI Journal. It focuses on the Faust legend and what it means today.
In the medieval legend, Doctor Faustus strikes a dark deal with the devil; he obtains vast powers for a limited time in exchange for a priceless possession, his eternal soul. The cautionary tale, perhaps more than ever, provides a provocative lens for examining humankind's condition, notably its indefatigable faith in knowledge and technology and its predilection towards misusing both. A variety of important questions are raised in this meditation including What is the nature of knowledge today and how does it differ from knowledge in prior times? What is its relation to technology and power?What paths are we heading along and which alternative ones are being avoided? Not insignificantly, we also raise the issue of civic ignorance, including that which is intentionally cultivated and that which is simply a lack of knowledge. We also consider the identity of Doctor Faustus in the 21st Century and in a more material world like ours, what is the soul that he would lose in the bargain, and what damage might be done to Faustus and to innocent bystanders. Finally since people don't always live up to the terms of agreements they make, what, if anything, could Faustus do to wriggle out of the bargain, to avoid the loss of his all-important soul. Our response is not to disavow knowledge (as the implicit "lesson" of the original myth might suggest) but to shift to another approach to knowledge that is more collective and more responsive to actual needs of our era. This approach which we call civic intelligence is considered as a way to avoid the possible catastrophes that the Faustian bargain we've seemingly struck is likely to bring.
As the means of communication have changed over the course of American history, so has the way public discourse has been carried out. National radio was a revolution that could put the voice of the president in every living room across the nation for fireside chats. With the rise of television, the firm jaw of Walter Cronkite could relay the facts as millions of viewers tuned in every night.