What we learned from Build Peace 2014 (by Rodrigo Davies)

[This post was originally published on the MIT Centre for Civic Media blog.]

Last month at the Media Lab, HelenaJenMichaela and I organized Build Peace, a conference to bring together practitioners from the worlds of peacebuilding and technology to talk about how the two fields could work together. It was an incredibly enlightening and generative three days, and before the first conference had even finished, we had already decided that there needed to be a Build Peace 2015. If you missed it, you can catch up by reading Helena’s lookback. We’re excited by the community that is starting to form around the technology for peacebuilding conversation and the many potential spin-off projects that are emerging. We were incredibly lucky to have such a diverse and talented array of participants and collaborators.

Now that we’ve had a few weeks to reflect on Build Peace, I wanted to share some of our thoughts on how we went about putting together the event.

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Looking back on Build Peace 2014 (by Helena Puig Larrauri)

[This post was originally published on the MIT Centre for Civic Media blog.]

Last week in Nairobi, a group of Somalis sat in a room trying to figure out how to make the most convincing infographic. They have been working for the past 15 years to build the trust and dialogue necessary to make democracy in the Somali region a viable alternative to violence. Recently, they’ve been using a combination of new tech-enabled tools to run participatory polls and visualize perceptions data in new ways. My colleague Michaela and I were there, helping them to navigate these new tools – and we were reminded yet again of why, together with Rodrigo and Jen, we decided to put on the Build Peace conference.

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Taking care not to stifle (by Ellada Evangelou)

Reflecting on the Conference, what stood out for me was the difference in dynamic among participants, and as an extension their practices. What each person brought into the conversation, elements such as institutional affiliation, professional practice, philosophy, language, origin and others, created the interesting mosaic of “the face of technology-related peace building today”. The most intense binary in terms of the dynamics appeared between western and non-western participants. In much of the work presented, represented or spoken of, the basic cultural dynamics became determining factors in the understanding of the work itself. And it became clear to me that much of what the father of post-colonial thought, Franz Fanon writes about in the first part of the twentieth century, are present, and in some cases dominant, even in conversations about peace and technology, even at the haute level of this specific gathering.

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Thoughts on the 2014 conference (by Jordi Torrent)

Many thoughts, the conference was wide and inclusive of ideas and approaches to the use of games and ICTs towards building more peaceful and less polarized societies. I liked the use of “humour” of some of them… “IsraelLovesIran”, for example. I also liked the grassroots strength of some others, the face to face approach of the Philippines project. I really enjoyed Ethan Zuckerman’s keynote speech, it helped me to better understand other approaches of the “search in the Internet” that other areas of the world might have.  It also made me even more uneasy to the potential dismantling of the Internet as we know it, the end on the “net neutrality” world.

The need to find the right balance between “entertainment” and “educational”. We need to engage audiences emotionally, “educate” through emotional exchange and “entertainment” digital platforms.  People need to feel touched, emotionally touched. The way they do watching films or TV shows they like.

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