www.ICT4Accountability.wordpress.com, one of the blogs started by a former New Media student of the UvA, is officially selected to compete in the internationally renowned blogging competition’ TH!NK3’. This blogging competition, set up by the European Journalism Centre, will bring together some 100 bloggers, journalists, issue experts and students from the 27 EU member states, as well as neighborhood countries and beyond, to exchange ideas and debate sustainable development and global cooperation topics. Winners of the competition will be awarded with opportunities to travel and report from Asia and Africa. The big prize is a trip to the UN headquarters in New York in September 2010, at the time of the Millennium Development Goals summit.
The blog was set up in April 2009 by Wouter Dijkstra during fieldwork research in Uganda which focused on the way new media technologies enable Ugandan citizens to hold their leaders accountable. As corruption is one of the mayor problems in Uganda, the research observes how Ugandan civilians use new media to monitor their central and local government and strengthen the public sphere. Building on renowned theorists like Douglass North, Paul Collier, Richard Heeks, Dambisa Moyo, Michel Foucault and Jurgen Habermas, the blog examines the use of ICTs in facilitating a specific form of activism in which citizens are actively involved in creating statistical data and using this data to engage in informed dialogue with government officials. The research in Uganda revolves around popular radio talk-shows and the way in which the mobile phone is opening up platforms for civil engagement in the public debate. Visits to rural radio stations in Uganda, interviews with government officials and Ugandan journalists, and discourse analysis of some hot topics circulating on Ugandan talk-radio support a theoretical exploration towards a practical tool for development: ICT4Accountability.
Twenty blog posts will be written from March until August in which the concept and background of ICT4Accountability will be presented. Please visit the site and, if you are interested, subscribe to the blog to receive notifications of new posts by email.