Archives for October 2011

You, online

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Jamillah Knowles | 14:50 UK time, Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Hello Outriders!

This week on the podcast we consider a whole day without email, learn about a new place for your data online and try our best to remember what we were doing this time, last year.

Many of us are present on all sorts of social networks, you might have accounts still active on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and then store photos via Twitpic, YFrog and Instagram as well as audio here and there and well. I can be a big mess when it comes to years of posting your lives online and then trying to reclaim that information. So what to do?



Well, Singly was launched last week at the Web 2.0 conference and it's mission online is to give us some control over our data and keep it all in one place. Jason Cavnar is one of the co-founders of Singly and explained why gaining control of your data can help us be more creative.



So when it comes to posting your activities online, can you remember what you were doing a year ago? If you are curious about your online past life you might want to try 4squareand7yearsago which will send you an email about your 4Square activities a year later. It's a neat way to explore your digital past. Jonathan Wegener who runs the site explains how it came to life.



Now, do you find your email inbox to be an insurmountable horror - or is the horror in the idea that you would not, for any reason be able to check your email? Well, IT professional and social media expert Paul Lancaster is encouraging us to consider our email use - by not using it for a day. He told me all about No Email Day. Would you be able to survive?


That's all for this week, but if you would like to get in touch to share something you have been making or to highlight a theme online that you would like to explore then there are a number of ways that you can reach me. Outriders at bbc dot co dot uk is the email address for longer messages, Twitter of course for short shouts - look for @BBC_Outriders and you can always check our Facebook page
in between by searching for Outriders.



Until next week!

~ Jamillah

Transparently online

Jamillah Knowles | 06:12 UK time, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Hello Outriders!

This week on the podcast we learn more about the state of Burma online, how banking might benefit from a little more transparency, what makes transmedia projects work and one man's journey around the UK to find out where people are having trouble getting online.

Over the weekend we have seen thousands of people gathering world-wide in financial and banking districts around the world. So what can be done to change banking that might make things a bit better?


Any shift in banking may seem radical - but there are some radical ideas that might just make it through to having a great effect. Simon Redfern is the CEO of Tesobe/Music Pictures Ltd, an IT company in Berlin. We chatted about his Open Bank Project.



To Burma next where last week saw the release of around 200 political prisoners, one of which was the popular comedian and outspoken blogger known as Zarganar. So is this a move to change restrictions for bloggers in the country? Well - as you might imagine, it's complicated...



Shawn Crispin is the senior south east asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He monitors press freedom conditions in the ASEAN countries. I spoke to him the day after Zarganat was released about the state of the web in Burma.

You may or may not know that across the UK from October 30th it is Get Online Week. It's encouraging for many people to find new ways to help people access the web and the internet and provide training and help.


But what if it really is tricky to find a way to an internet connection at all?



John Popham is an independent consultant specialising in the use of social media and the internet for social good. He's going on his own tour around the UK in the same week called 'Can't get online week' - highlighting the mostly rural communities that are struggling for access.


"Transmedia" - often applied to the promotion of entertainment like TV shows, movies and video games has been developing over time. But it also sounds a bit like one of those buzz words that are mentioned but not always thought through. Certainly an online presence can enrich any story if done well, but what does it really do and can we recognise it in the wild?


JC Hutchins, one of our friendly Outriders, is an author, screen writer and transmedia story teller based in Denver, Colorado. I asked him if it was all fancy talk or real work.



That's all we have for this week. In the mean time you can email me at Outriders at bbc dot co dot uk, give me a nudge on Twitter at @BBC_Outriders, or search for Outriders on Facebook page to find our page there.




Until next week!



3rd Arab Bloggers Summit 2011 - Tunisia

Jamillah Knowles | 10:32 UK time, Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Hello Outriders,

Something special for your ears on the podcast this week. I have been out to the Tunisian capital to find out more about the Arabic Bloggers' Meeting there. The meeting included talks and presentations that were held at La Cite des Sciences Tunis.

Tunisa was one of the first countries of the so-called Arab Spring movement that has seen change for people who protested in the streets and campaigned online. Blogging and online interaction might not tell the whole story but it has been a large part of the events that are still taking place.

In Tunisia last week people from Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Palestine, the USA and so many other countries gathered to share their experiences and hopes and to talk about their online activities; identifying what did and did not work for them. The meeting was organised by Global Voices, Nawaat and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

Sami Ben Gharbia of Nawaat.

The role of the citizen journalist has, of course, been very important in the processes of change. In some countries foreign journalists were barred at particular times and so it has been important for people inside those countries to explain what has been happening. I spoke to Lilian Wagdy, a blogger from Egypt, about the hard work involved but how the results make that work worthwhile.

Some who were in attendance at the conference were not from the countries associated with the Arab Spring, but they came to find out more about methods and practices online. Hayder Hamzoz is an Iraqi blogger who wanted to learn more for his own blog. (arabic link)

Freedom of expression and information was a strong theme at the summit and they are topics that affect many people online around the world. Jillian C York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF, is on the board and writes for Global Voices too - I asked her why it was important for the EFF to be at the meeting.

Sadly not everyone who wanted to be at the Arabic Bloggers' meeting was able to make it. Some Palestinian bloggers were unable to get a visa, but one blogger, Saed, managed to attend, so I asked him what the Palestinian life online is like. (arabic link)

Georgia Poppelwell, Managing Director of Global Voices

The topic of the Arab Uprisings were, of course, a large part of the talks at the summit. But there were also more conversations about how to push things forward and negotiate a future for countries in post-revolutionary times. Zeynep Tufekci is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and a fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard. We talked about putting a revolution into a wider context, especially when so many of us follow events in a live stream of minute to minute updates.

Of utmost importance to people at the meeting and beyond, is staying safe online. Being outspoken on the web in many countries is still a dangerous activity that can lead to censorship or even violence.

There are practises that bloggers and online content creators can use to disguise their identity but there is also software that can be helpful.

Roger Dingledine works on a tool called Tor - he was helping people at the event to use this software and explain what the capabilities and limitations are. I asked him where Tor came from.

Thanks to everyone who took time out to talk to me at the meeting. If you are up to something online, then let me know. You can email me at outriders at, tweet in our direction or add the Facebook page to your feed.

Until next week!
~ Jamillah

Disclosure: Jamillah is also the podcast editor for Global Voices.

Making the difference

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Jamillah Knowles | 09:32 UK time, Monday, 10 October 2011

Hello Outriders!

Apologies all around for the delay in this post. I know that some of you were hoping to look for the people on our podcast and the links were not here! Hopefully I have sorted out the issues that stopped me from posting last week, so here's a run down of all the lovely guests.

This week on the podcast we have another lovely report from Chris Vallance about our pioneering friend Charles Babbage, a chat with a researcher who is asking pertinent questions about women in free and open source arenas and we find a place to stash our emotional baggage.

Hacking Autism

First we put our technical skills together to work on making life a bit easier or more fun for people with autism as well as their friends and family. The Hacking Autism event is taking place on October 11th where some of the finest minds are getting together to see what they can create, especially when it comes to touch screen and mobile technologies.

Lady hackers

When it comes to hacking of any sort - what do you think the balance of gender might be?
Kat Braybrooke is the community coordinator for the Open Knowledge Foundation a non-profit that builds tools and communities to share open knowledge and date and has just finished a masters in science in Digital Anthropology at the University of London studying the role of gender in open source hacker cultures. Who better to ask then if the gender balance and comfort levels for our female hacking friends is finally coming to any state of equality.

Mechanical computing

Charles Babbage's analytical engine is arguably the greatest computer that never was. Conceived in the 1830's incorporating many of the features of modern machines, Babbage never got round to realising his grand design and only a tiny fraction of this Victorian computer was ever built.

Lucky for us, he left copious notes and diagrams. Now a campaign to build Babbage's pioneering computer has just made an important breakthrough. The Science Museum has agreed to digitise its extensive archive of Babbage's plans. Chris Vallance went to find out more about the very early plans for computing.

Sharing a burden

Last but not least this week we found out how we can give a little and share a little when it comes to our emotional states. Robyn Overstreet has a lovely solution for us to share our woes and shoulder a burden - with added music!
Emotional bag-check is a space where you can set out your problems and get a song back that might help you along.

Sadly that is all we could fit into this week's edition. Fingers crossed we will have something a bit special for you next week though as I'm diving in to the Arabic Blogger's conference in Tunis - so I'll be asking what people are up to online over there.

Until tomorrow!

- Jamillah

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