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Investigating the structure and connectivity of online global protest networks

The rise of social networking tools, accompanied by the mass adoption of mobile devices, has strengthened the impact and broadened the reach of today’s political protests. OII researchers Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon and Ning Wang discuss their paper, ‘The Bridges and Brokers of Global Campaigns in the context of Social Media’, which investigates whether the ‘fluidity, horizontality and connectivity’ often claimed for online protest networks stands up to empirical scrutiny.

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The global fight over copyright control: Is David beating Goliath at his own game?

In the past few years, many governments have attempted to curb online “piracy” by enforcing harsher copyright control upon Internet users. Yana Breindl and François Briatte discuss their Policy and Internet paper Digital Protest Skills and Online Activism Against Copyright Reform in France and the European Union, which explores how the introduction of harsher intellectual property regulations has resulted in intense online and offline collective action by skilled activists who have significantly altered the digital copyright policy field.

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Online crowd-sourcing of scientific data could document the worldwide loss of glaciers to climate change

There are about 300,000 glaciers worldwide, representing 69% of the world’s fresh water, and a dependable water supply to more than a billion people. Glaciers also provide a key (and very visible) indicator for climate change. Klaus Thymann, a director at Project Pressure — the world’s first crowdsourced archive of glacier images — discusses how photography can provide a unique and important online data resource for climate scientists studying glacial retreat. Launching in 2014, the project’s partners include NASA and the World Glacier Monitoring Service.

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Crowdsourcing translation during crisis situations: are ‘real voices’ being excluded from the decisions and policies it supports?

International NGOs and government actors have embraced crowdsourcing to manage the flood of information produced during crisis. However, when crowdsourced material crosses the language barrier into English, it often becomes inaccessible to the original contributors. Gwyneth Sutherlin is a doctoral student at the University of Bradford, where she writes about the intersection of foreign policy, language and technology. Her paper “A Voice in the Crowd: Broader Implications for Crowdsourcing Translation during Crisis” which looks at the policy implications of recent crisis mapping efforts, is published in the Journal of Information Science.

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Why do (some) political protest mobilisations succeed?

Social media are helping researchers gain insights into how people self-organize, and how bottom-up dynamics facilitate or hinder the emergence of large political mobilisations. OII Research Fellow Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon discusses how the dynamics of message propagation and recruitment help explain why some mobilisations succeed, but most fail. This post draws on her article “From Chiapas to Tahrir: Networks and the Diffusion of Protest” (World Politics Review, 16 April 2013).

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Online collective action and policy change: shifting contentious politics in policy processes

Internet mediated communication facilitates new forms of involvement in policy making processes for social movements, but also generates contentious politics as such. This is the central issue explored in this article by Andrea Calderaro, Guest Editor (with Anastasia Kavada from the University of Westminster) of the Special issue on “Online Collective action and Policy Change”, and researcher at the European University Institute / Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies.

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Online collective action and policy change: new special issue from Policy and Internet

Digital communication technologies are altering the interface between policy makers and social movements. Anastasia Kavada, Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, and Guest Editor (with Andrea Calderaro from the European University Institute) of the Special issue on “Online Collective action and Policy Change”, provides an introduction to the papers published in this issue, noting that the internet constitutes both a tool and an object of activism and policymaking.

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Did Libyan crisis mapping create usable military intelligence?

Policy and Internet author Steve Stottlemyre discusses how users of online social networks took the initiative in collecting and processing data for use in the rebellion against the Qadhafi regime during the Libyan civil war of February-October 2011. He describes how some of the information crowd-sourced by crisis mappers – whether they knew it or not – met the minimum requirements to be considered tactical military intelligence, in accordance with U.S. joint military intelligence doctrine.

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Experiments are the most exciting thing on the UK public policy horizon

OII Professor Helen Margetts discusses how the massive growth in Internet-mediated interactions creates a need for innovative methods to research online activity. Experimental laboratories — where subjects participate in games or information-seeking tasks on networked computers — have been used by experimental economists for some time, but the great expansion in online social and commercial activity means that they have growing utility in sociology and political science.

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We are pleased to present the combined third and fourth issue of Volume 4 of Policy and Internet. It contains eleven articles, each of which investigates the relationship between Internet-based applications and data and the policy process. The papers have been grouped into the broad themes of policy, government, representation, and activism. POLICY: In December […]

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