Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blogging from the warzone: implications and strategies for the Global Citizens Movement

One of the most effective, non-violent weapons used again the Burmese military junta was the power of blogging. Since most humans are, by nature, sympathetic to other human suffering, the internet provides a powerful medium to communicate this suffering to the larger world.

Without the media (pictures, video, first-hand testimonials) and the medium (the internet) the message is obscured and more easily manipulated or ignored.

Reporters without Borders has published a useful handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents detailing how to blog from a place on Earth which is tightly censored. It includes things like how to circumvent censors, use proxy servers to disguise your true IP address, and other interesting strategies.

But how do you deal with governments who shut down the entire network? Even the Burmese military was able to shut down the whole system once they realized the effect the bloggers were having on world perception of the protest and crackdown. Again, we must have independently powered and inconspicuous methods for reaching the larger Network. The only option I'm aware of is satellite broadband internet connections. Do you know of a better one? Comment it in.

Barring another option, how can we make satellite broadband connections work on a large scale in a rural environment?

The Problems Waiting to be Solved:

1) Electricity. How do you run these satellites in villages with no regular power?
2) The Platform. How do you link cheap mobile phones, cameras or laptops with the satellite?
3) Cost. Who's paying for the satellites and the peripherals like the platform?
4) Vulnerability. How do you avoid retaliation from the authorities for having a satellite dish?
5) Delivery. How do you get these satellites into the country?

The first three problems are shared by rural education programs, while the last two are unique to repressive governments. Any ideas for solutions or criticisms of the satellite method, let's hear them.

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