I’ve got the pleasure of spending a couple of days in Budapest at the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit. I’m taking notes, but sloth being my favorite deadly sin, I’m only sometimes managing to get my notes online. Today is the first day of the open conference, and the focus of the day is online anti-censorship, online free speech, activism, and circumventions tools. This being a blogger conference, it’s being liveblogged by about half the audience, most of which you can find if you follow the gvsummit08 tag, and there’s also a videostream. So I’m part of the panopticon effect in this rather stuffy room filled with tapping fingers.
the first session of the day is titled “Toward an Anti-censorship network,” with speakers from Belarus, Japan, Egypt, and Pakistan. A group of brave people who have been arrested or in exile for freedom of expression issues. What I’m really noticing, however, is that this conversation is very similar to that which takes place in the journalism and freedom of expression communities, but the point of reference here is for some reason primarily human rights activism. For instance, the Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah showed three films posted online of torture, illegal anti-Mubarak protests, and allegedly illegal dumping by a petrochemical company. Fatah makes the important point that the cause of a free internet in Egypt and freedom of expression is part of a larger struggle for democratic rights. On the other hand, there’s a sort of naivete in the trope of veracity about films such as these – about assumptions of being outside the law, or about the idea that amateur video is definitely genuine. Not to imply that it’s not, but just that it could be challenged in any kind of legal context.