#NetFreedom: Deception in the air

(to mark the International Human Rights Day)

How you feel if someone says: “Eat as much as you can (before the food is ready)” and when the food is ready, you are told: “That’s enough: you are eating too much.

That’s exactly what is happening with our rights to freedom of expression and opinion!

Citizens around the world living in democratic countries were guaranteed rights to freedom of expression for long. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promulgated long ago in 1948 by UN General Assembly, has explicitly stated it in Article 19.

All democratic nations around the world have copied, rephrased/translated and pasted the text in their constitutions. As citizens we’ll thought well we’ve individually rights to freedom of expression and opinion.

We didn’t have a powerful medium through which we could effectively exercise the rights and we were made to believe media is mediating the rights on behalf of us.

But we are being deceived!

The Internet emerged as a powerful medium that every individual around the world could use to exercise the rights to freedom of expression and opinion. When blogging emerged, it was evident. If blogs were difficult to set up and continued, then social media (on internet) is the easiest tool to use to express ourselves.

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Content Curation: Making Sense of Flooding Information

(This is third installment of reading materials I distributed to journalists during training on social media for journalists. Find the first and second.)

A content curation to define content curation! This is an introduction to the concept of content curation. This post is a content curation itself as all the contents of the site have been taken from various sources of the web which are properly attributed.

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10 Golden Rules of Tweets & Retweets

(Second installment of the reading material I distributed in training for journalists – first is here.)

These rules are collected, summarized and synthesized from everywhere in the Internet (and blended with my experience, knowledge and opinion).

1. Tweet regularly – do not flood the timeline but do not disappear.

2. Tweet meaningful – ensure that each of your tweet is meaningful (at least indication of being meaningful).

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Observations from #SocialMedia trainings

Dhangadhi Training.

In October and November 2012, I travelled five places to train journalists in use of social media. The training was organized by Equal Access Nepal and funded by UNDP in partnership with the Government of Japan and UNESCO.

The five training venues were: Biratnagar (east Nepal), Balthali, Kavre (central), Pokhara (west), Dhangadhi (far-west) and Nepalgunj (mid-west). Altogether more than 150 journalists attended the two-day residential training – at an average of 30 trainees per venue.

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How can journalists use social media?

(In October/November, 2012, I traveled around the country to train journalists on use of social media. The training, held by Equal Access Nepal and funded by UNDP’s project, was held in Biratnagar, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Dhangadhi & now I am in Nepalgunj. Each training lasted two days and included around 30 journalists. Here is one of the reading materials I wrote for the training. I will upload some others soon.)

Journalists can use social media to aid to their work as journalist and to improve their professional skills. Here are six things that journalists and their organizations can do with social media to aid to journalistic processes:

The six things discussed here are 1. Seek idea and information, 2. Cultivate sources, 3. Verify Information, 4. Publish / Distribute News, 5. Promote Write-ups / get feedback / measure popularity.

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How Can Social Media Respond to Crisis?

Free the WiFi of passwords
Tweet / Update Status as much as you can
Use the Same #Hashtag
Offer Help
Be Positive

On Saturday, my wife flew to Mumbai and as soon as I returned home seeing her off, I came to knew that Bal Thackeray has passed away. I knew something will be wrong with Mumbai, where the leader was based, and I was already watching televisions and monitoring social media.

My wife was scheduled to land at 10 pm, and the first bad news came at around 8:30 pm. The news said that the pre-paid taxi counters at the Mumbai airport was closed, 100,000 autorickshaws and taxies disappeared from road and public buses were pulled off the street. I was already trying to communicate with a few friends I have in Mumbai to see if anyone would be able to help if my wife is stranded.

While monitoring social media – especially Twitter – I was amazed that how well they served the news. While the mainstream news sites were telling me that the buses, taxis and autos have disappeared, tweeples were telling me that the city was calm and that there are many taxis and autos.

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#SitaAir #KtmCrash kills 19

The burning aircraft! Photo by Bikash Karki. Used with permission. Please do not reproduce without photographer’s permission.

Sita Air dronier crashed on Friday morning killing 19 onboard. Here is how the story unfolded in Social Media.

Early morning Friday, I received a call from Somesh Verma, Kantipur Television’s journalist, asking to walk up my roof and see what has happened around Tribhuvan International Airport. “Looks like a big fire,” he said and my irritation soon converted into curiosity.

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Journalism & Ethics in Social Media Era

[To Mark International Media Ethics Day]

Media is facing hard times. It’s not only receiving blows from advertisers but also from the Internet. The Internet has emerged as a tough competitor, and without money-generating model, media are forced only to spend on online media to remain competitive.

And, through social media, individuals are expressing their dissatisfaction over media –from questioning priority to lamenting coverage to ridiculing news.

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The SuperKali Controversy, Freedom of Expression & Limitations

[To mark the International Day of Democracy]

Artist Manish Harijan painted a few arts depicting Hindu god and goddess in poses that were disliked by many people. Some, including the former army colonel and head of a Hindu group, decided to register a case against him and issue the death threats. The controversy ended after the artist and the exhibitor Sangeeta Thapa agreed to remove two of the paintings and signed a paper agreeing not to paint and exhibit such images in future. The artists were furious over the compromise made over the Freedom of Expression by Thapa, and the role played by the administration.

Those incidents brought a big discussion on Social Media. I generally said that artists should be able to exercise his freedom of artistic expression and people thinks it’s legally not acceptable they can seek judicial remedy. I also said that issuing death threat is against the law. People can dislike his painting but that shouldn’t translate into threatening him of consequences.

SuperKali: A painting by Manish Harijan depicting Hindu Goddess Kali imposed in Superwoman. Copyrighted painting used under fair use policy.

Many of the people expressed that they didn’t like it. Some of them wrote foul and threatening words to the artist.

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Where’s Knowledge?

Great nations are built on the back of ideas—not force.

This is the concluding line of an article by Indian thinker Sundeep Waslekar. The article is a thought-provoking one and I recommend all for a read. Although it’s more on India, it is applicable to any society.

After completing the article and reading the concluding line, I was attracted to idea of ‘ideas’. Of course, ideas lead to innovation and innovations to prosperity but where does the ideas come from. The sources of ideas are not only great heads but heads with knowledge.

Any idea needs to be backed up by knowledge for it to become an useful innovation as Plato put it: A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.

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The Birthday Muddle

I was born on August 24, 1978 AD. It was Bhadra 9, 2035 BS and the day, according to astrological calculations, was Krishnastami – the birthday of Lord Krishna.

In Nepali, they are known as tarekh (for English calendar day), gate (for Nepali calendar day) and tithi (the astrological day). They all fell on the same day in 1978 but then onwards it’s always a mess.

I only remember one instance when both English and Nepali calendar matched otherwise the tarekh, tithi and gate are all on different days – leaving me with a question: when exactly do I celebrate my birthday?

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#SajhaSawal

“When I see ordinary people speaking on the program, I feel motivated and confident that I also could speak in front of the public.”

This was what a 46-year-old woman from the rural area of Surkhet district told a researcher studying the impact of the radio/television show — Sajha Sawal, literally, Common Questions.

My questions! A woman speaks during Sajha Sawal’s shoot! Photo Courtesy: SajhaSawal
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Lows and Highs of Highway

Finally, I watched Highway!

Let me begin with a disclosure: I’m a longtime friend of Deepak Rauniyar, the director/producer of Highway. I was not invited to the premier show or private show of the movie. I have donated USD 5 at Kickstarter for Highway and promoted it via my blog and twitter during its production. And, a statement: I have tried to be fair with my writing here (with knowledge gained during my cinematography training in 1992 in Kathmandu and 2011 in Koln; a year of film reporting/reviewing in 1995 in Kathmandu; and a little bit of film studies in 2010 in Oslo).

Is the movie good?

The answer depends on with which movies you compare. If it’s to be compared with mainstream Indian or American movies, it lacks many things. If you compare it with mainstream Nepali movies on the aspect of enjoyment, it’s probably not very good.

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