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Sudan Stories: Language, Guns, & Phones – Media Training In Cairo

Recorded in March 2014 as part of a media training by Small World News in Cairo, Egypt. 

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cairo_skylineFrom an ad-hoc classroom through the bustling streets of Cairo to the Pyramids of Giza, this is an audio journal of stories and  thoughts recorded while working with Small World News to train Sudanese media makers in March of 2014.

Our hotel was located down a busy, dusty ally in downtown Cairo. Each day our team scribbled on charts and whiteboards in a top-floor classroom with windows that opened to the noisy clanking of perpetual construction. For two weeks over coffee and sheesha with our Sudanese colleagues we used Android devices to review the techniques of telling stories that deeply resonate with people.

Our group was remarkable, and individually live fascinating lives in different regions of Sudan. Each day was an opportunity to learn more about family, music, language, and culture. With the help of great translators listened to personal stories, asked questions, and recorded audio. As with my prior trip to Sudan, I also occasionally recorded short audio journal entries of our activity. Far from an official report, this is a narrative that tries to capture the essence of the people of Sudan, as well as the sounds of Egypt.

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In this episode you’ll hear a number of captivating stories:

  • The story of a mother awake in a storm anxiously awaiting the return of her son.
  • The impact of the Egyptian revolution on tourism at the Giza Pyramids.
  • The impact of violence and systemic marginalization on language, music, and dance in Kordofan.
  • How mobile phones are empowering disenfranchised groups.
  • The pop music of Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

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Notes: 

The experiences shared in this story are raw, unvettable, and sometimes shocking. Yet these experiences are shared by thousands of Sudanese  refugees and internally displaced persons. To learn more about systemic marginalization and the wars in Sudan, Kordofan, and Darfur please read Richard Cockett’s Sudan, Darfur, Islamism and the World.

The stories shared in this episode were conducted with a local, untrained translator and recorded on the fly with a Marantz PMD620. I speak Arabic poorly and did my best to keep up with the narrative, but surely much nuance and context was lost in translation. Arabic clarification and edits are welcome.

Thanks for listening.

سلام

Learn More:

Sudan Stories:

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Anticipating the Second Anniversary #Occupy Wall Street

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of #Occupy Wall Street. Here is a Pastebin link to a list of anticipated events: http://pastebin.com/H2unk9mT.

  1. 10 AM Occupy Wall Street S-17 PRESS EVENT: RE-CONNECTING WITH THE 99%-Opening Ceremony
  2. Zuccotti Park (Liberty Square)
  3. New York, New York

I’ll begin the day with a few social media reports from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, follow the initial march up town, and later in the day interview attorney and activist George Martinez.

My content will remain non-partisan and observational, and will consist primarily of Twitter postsInstagram snapshots, and Soundcloud audio. After the event I’ll create a summary post of events.

Summaries of my reports from previous years at #Occupy can be found here, as well as on Boing Boing and Storify.

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Politics, The Economy, and Tech Journalism

I have a new tech startup. It’s called Breadlines. It’s a ‘fitness app’ for your mobile home ‘platform.’

Comrades: the United States economy gained a paltry 80 thousand jobs last month. This is down from a sad 125 thousand jobs (give or take) the month prior. To put this in context, in 2008 and 2009 we lost approximately 500 thousand jobs per month. For several months.

And while most Americans struggle to pay the bills, we – the tech press – continue to obsess over which shiny company acquired which trendy startup for for how many billions of dollars. This is shameful.

Tech press leverage the glamour, affluence, and access of tech companies for its own gain. And I get it: “eyeballs” equal ad revenue.  I’m in this business too. I don’t blame media companies for trying to generate traffic and revenue. Highly vertical blogs and podcasts work and make do money. And it’s perceived as dangerous to venture too far outside of a vertical.

Neither do I don’t blame tech companies for raising money or for selling for the highly number possible. This is what industry does, and that’s fine.

The press does have a responsibility to do more than to talk about the next shiny gadget. Yet most tech press seem terrified of discussing the core relationship between the tech business, the economy, and politics. Politics and tech journalism are perceived to be anathema.

But fear does not excuse responsibility. While many tech blogs and news outlets are eager claim the mantle of journalism, most shun responsibilities beyond those to their shareholders or ‘readers’ (read: clickers). And, many most engage in shady traffic-generating tactics.

We live, work, and play in a diverse and connected ecosystem. The economy is a big deal, and we’re throes of a presidential campaign that will utilize technology like no previous cycle. It is now egregiously irresponsible for the tech press to ignore the convergence between policy, technology, and the economy.

Technology is wonderful and empowering. Greater access to information equals a greater society. But the massive scale of tech product adoption and corporate money juxtaposed with job loss and depressed workers is glaringly ironic. And thus far much of the tech press has done a woeful job of covering non-vertical issues.

The press was once viewed as public servants. While never a major profit center, journalism once asked the tough questions of industry leaders and politicians. This is, was, and should remain our responsibility.

There’s nothing at all wrong with ethically making money. But Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest rise as the Eurozone collapses and the US economy sinks. And The Quest for Clicks has justified the media’s focus on the sensational and rewarded other other base and sycophantic behavior.

Much of the tech press performs great commodity reporting, and this is fine. The insideous nature of traffic-driving tactics is reletive, depending on an organization’s culture. Yet the ‘clickbait’ tactics and editorial emphasis on triviality employed by a few of the ethically questionable organizations is starting to creep in to many journalistic institutions.

As the world becomes more reliant on technology we need to foster a culture within tech journalism that encourages inquisitiveness and a willingness to investigate the closeted skeletons of tech leaders. Now – Right now! Today! – we need a responsible tech press that is willing to trade a few clicks for increased social responsibility.

- DHP

KoPoint Studio - Microphones

KoPoint Shows, Season One

A few thoughts on the first few weeks of producing KoPoint programs, via KoPoint Shows, Season One.

KoPoint just accomplished one of our first major content-focused goals. We produce shows in ‘seasons’ of six episodes. Yesterday The KoPoint Comic Book Show reached episode 006, concluding our first successful season. Co-hosted by Jeff NeweltJon Lazar, and myself KoPoint Comics was our first produced and syndicated show and was first to reach it’s season milestone. KoPoint Weekly and The KoPoint Minecraft Project will reach similar goals this week.

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Piracy — and more specifically the threat of foreign sites hosting pirated material — is the primary focus of a piece of United States legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Representative Lamar Smith from Texas introduced SOPA, also known as H.R. 3261, to the United States House of Representatives on Oct. 26, 2011. According to the language in the act, its purpose is to “promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.”

When you dig into the language of the act, you’ll find that the goal is to target sites that exist on computers in countries outside the United States. Because these sites — and the people who run them — are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law, the act aims to hinder or shut down pirate sites in an indirect way. The proposed rules set out by the act are controversial — several companies and Internet experts have objected to the material in the act and some go so far as to say it could break the Internet.

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