The promise of world peace at the click of a button is appealing. Considering the attention social media revolutions, Morozov and Project Loon-alikes get in the popular press, there must be something about digital media’s role in peace building and conflict resolution. The same popular press, however, in their enthusiasm often fails to come up with convincing cases that go beyond blanket statements. So, as digital media and technology play their part in connecting people and opening up the shared knowledge of the world for mass enlightenment, what is their role in peace building and conflict resolution?
This question has been on my mind recently as I’ve been asked to look for possible answers. It’s also a question that resonates with me and combines my interests in tech, innovation and constructive social change. To understand what is happening, what’s hot and not and what are the key challenges and opportunities I decided to take a deep dive into the topic, starting with an (excellent) TechChange course on the topic.
As it turns out, there’s a considerable community of ‘peace innovators’, smart people looking at ways to use ICTs for peace. They’re fun to follow on Twitter, go to exciting conferences and ask very good questions. Few of these questions, I found during my deep dive, have answers set in stone. I haven’t discovered the dogmas yet, just great questions asked multiple times. Refreshing.
The digital world as we know it has much of its roots in people who saw computers and networks as tools for peace and community. It’s hard to imagine if you consider the current state of the web with its warmongering and misogyny, but the internet was founded by some to prevent the world from collapsing in nuclear wars, while others even rejected such violent beginnings for the tool. (Isaacson’s The Innovators proves a wonderful portrait of many of these people.)
So, what kind of projects are the contemporary ICT and peace community involved in? (Read more »)