Monday 27 February 2012

Review- When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution by Nathan Jurgenson

Recently, we have been watching the rise of massive collective action across the world. Many researchers and journals try to explain this phenomenon through diverse reasons, but all these contributions are based on that the development of technology and the spread of internet stimulate the flow of the collective action like the Arab Uprising and Occupy Movement.

Until the Egyptian Revolution, the researchers had focused on how the internet technology impacts on the collective action and how social media organizes public into public spaces. However, during a series of demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and a long occupation of St.Paul in London, people have witnessed the powerful combination of virtual space and real space, and internet communication and public space. And then, the focus has been moving to the interactive relationship between on and off world.  

My supervisor Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith introduced an interesting article to provide an alternative understating of the interactive relationship on his blog Digital Urban. In the article ‘When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution', Future Internet 2012, 4(1), Jurgenson argues the global spread of massive collective actions shows the momentum to overcome ‘digital dualism’ which means virtual world and real world are independent and separate spaces. Instead of ‘digital dualism’, he suggests ‘augmented reality’ that implies on-off line together. Generally, ‘augmented reality’ has been understood as the term to indicate the virtual reality by computer software. But, in this article, the author explains augmented reality as another dimension through the combination of the digital and physical, and insists that the recent massive collective actions should be understood as ‘augmented revolution’ instead of ‘SNS Revolution’ or ‘Internet Revolution’.

Before his article, Manuel Castells suggested the terminology ‘Hybrid space’ which explains strong communicative relationships between the internet space and the physical space in his LSE lecture 'Social Movements in the Age of the Internet' last year. Castells introduced ‘Hybrid space’ as a public sphere (the word of Habermas) process to exchange public opinions and consolidate the identity of the collective actions by exposing its characteristics to public. While Castells regards ‘Hybrid space’ as a formless and multi-layered process, ‘augmented reality’ of Jurgenson could be seen an outcome by the interactions between on and off worlds.

 This article is not long but suggests some notable points to understand current social changes. You can find it and freely download here.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Do the wealthy countries need to have duties of justice to aid the global poor?

Every week, there is a controversial discussion for global political topics in the class of GLOBAL JUSTICE, CITIZENSHIP, AND DEMOCRACY, UCL. Last week, we discuss two different approaches to Global Poor and its meanings. Networking City presented the seminar topic and argued the duties of justice for global poor.  

- Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day
- According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty

Basic Premise
- Duties of justice are correlative to rights and more stringent than duties of charity.
- Duties of justice are to change pattern of enforceable entitlements (structural/institutional)

Argument for having duties of justice to support poor countries
- The deprived condition of the developing countries is not because they are unlucky or incompetent, but because they are forced to be sacrificed for the wealthy of the developed countries.
- Unfair and irrational international structures are needed to replace based on the pattern of entitlements. 
Critiques against Justice based approach for Global Poor
- 1) Level of total population living on less than $1 per day are decreasing during 1950-1992
- 2) The domestic institutions of poor countries play an important part too.
Ex) dictatorship, corruption
- 3) Demands of justice are, fundamentally, a matter of "not harming" others, as opposed to ‘helping them’.

Counter against its critiques of Justice based approach for Global Poor
1-1) Statistics like total population living on less than $1 per day show that overall the world as a whole is showing signs of improvement. However, other data (such as income gap between wealthy countries and developing countries) clearly show that global inequalities have continued widen considerably. It can be argued that the gap between wealthy worlds and poor worlds is the most significant in the history. (Potter, 2008)

1-2) Absolute poverty is decreasing but relative poverty is growing. We need to identify poverty by the measure of ‘quality of life’ rather than ‘income’ (from GNP – to HDI*)

2-1) Bad Samaritans(the developed countries) are using corruption(domestic problem) as a convenient justification for the reduction in their aid commitments, despite the fact that cutting aid will hurt the poor more than it will a country’s dishonest leaders, especially in the poor countries (Chang, 2007)

2-2) Many countries that achieved a significant economic development like Japan, China and Korea suffered wide spread corruptions.

2-3) Sub-Saharan countries which show the highest poverty level had a good economic growth during 1960 and 1970 (annual 1.6% income growth) But, after free market policies which were forced by WorldBank and IMF, their vulnerable manufacturing industries were destroyed and then, they had to back to primary industries like cocoa and coffee. (ex. Senegal) (Chang, 2010)

3-1) The developed countries are still harming to the developing countries by unfair international orders. Modifying its structures and orders is a matter of "not harming" others, as opposed to ‘helping them’.

3-2) Poverty leads lots of other problems which link to human rights such as Gender problem, Child labour, Political pressure and Racial superiority. Therefore, supporting poor countries based on ‘duties of justice’ is a key of ‘not harming’ other people as well as helping other’s human rights.

* Human Development Index (HDI)
- From 2001, United Nations has used HDI to measure the overall achievements in country in three basic dimensions of human development. HDI is measured by life expectancy, educational attainment, plus adjusted income per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) US dollars.