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Technology for freedom of expression: re:publica learns from the Global South

The South2South Manifesto is a guide to using digital technology to foster freedom of expression in the Global South. Three of its authors will talk about the importance of the manifesto at re:publica 2015 in Berlin.

Re:publica is one of the world's biggest conferences about digital culture, which makes it an extremely apt setting to discuss the South2South Manifesto – a set of principles for using digital technology to support freedom of expression and access to information in the Global South.

The re:publica session on Wednesday 6 May brings together three innovators from Guatemala, Cambodia and Kenya. The three – along with eleven other journalists, activists and media development specialists from the Global South – helped craft the South2South manifesto with DW Akademie. The idea behind the manifesto was to learn directly from leading innovators who are using technology in creative, innovative, democratic and collaborative ways to make changes in their communities and countries.

In Berlin, the panel members will talk about their experiences of using digital technology in their own projects and how the principles in the manifesto can be used to guide new initiatives.

Pinkie Chan is the managing editor of Open Development Cambodia (ODC), an open data initiative that aggregates and disseminates publicly available data on development trends in Cambodia. Chan says ODC has already used the South2South manifesto as a guiding framework for their latest project – the development of a new open data site for five countries in the Mekong region.

“We make our road by walking,” says Chan, and this “absolutely requires both learning by doing and learning from each others’ experience.” “While we also draw knowledge from the Global North, we need to depend on local wisdom and sensibilities to navigate our particular socio-cultural and political environment,” she says.

For Kenyan journalist, Dickens Onditi Olewe, the South2South Manifesto is guiding the strategy he is developing for the safe and responsible use of drones in journalism.

Olewe leads AfricaSkyCAM in Nairobi and is currently researching drone journalism at Stanford University during his Knight Foundation Journalism Fellowship. Olewe says he is mostly applying the South2South principles of 'openness and participation' to “engage authorities and interests to help educate and lobby for legislation and special permits to operate drones for storytelling purposes.”

Alejandra Gutiérrez Valdizán, the editor-in-chief of the investigative online site, Plaza Pública in Guatemala /says that digital technology is vital to their initiative.

“It would be impossible to do our work in print or other kind of traditional media – radio stations and TV in Guatemala are a kind of oligopoly so it is impossible to get in and print is too expensive. This means the web gives us a huge advantage, and it also allows us to be innovative with multimedia.”

She says the South2South Manifesto principle of using digital technology to “build partnerships and networks dedicated to freedom of expression” can make a difference - particularly in Guatemala where the safety of journalists investigating crime and corruption is under threat.

DW Akademie is participating in the Media Convention of this year’s re:publica conference. The South2South Manifesto will be discussed during the panel session “Digital South: Principles for Using Digital Technology to Foster Freedom of Expression” on Wednesday, May 6 at 3pm CET.

You can follow the Twitter hashtag #s2smanifesto for updates.

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