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Who represents the Arab world online?

There are obvious gaps in access to the Internet, particularly the participation gap between those who have their say, and those whose voices are pushed to the sidelines. OII Research Fellow Mark Graham, PI of a project examining representation of the Arab world online discusses how despite the rapid increase in Internet access, there are indications that people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region remain largely absent from websites and services that represent the region to the larger world.

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Harnessing ‘generative friction’: can conflict actually improve quality in open systems?

Is conflict always bad? Or can conflict in open systems actually be productive, leading to innovative solutions to the problems encountered? In her paper “The role of conflict in determining consensus on quality in Wikipedia articles”, Kim Osman (QUT) finds that differences of opinion in Wikipedia actually spur the improvement of articles and that conflict, in contrast to earlier findings, can play a positive role in encyclopedic quality. Kim discusses her findings and what they mean for the design and governance of open, online systems.

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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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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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Preserving the digital record of major natural disasters: the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive project

We talk to Paul Millar, project leader of the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive project about the role of digital humanities in preserving the digital record of the impact of the earthquake that struck Canterbury, NZ, in February 2011. Huge amounts of important information are lost in the chaos following a major disaster: Paul is leading efforts to record and preserve it as a unique resource for future scholarship.

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