Co-creating Democracy @ Dialogue Café 0 Reply

Technology and social media are tools for ‘co-creation’ – they enable people to come together and collaborate in new and different ways. Nowhere has the power of social media been more strongly felt than in North Africa and the Middle East. In the last few months, students, protestors and activists have been making use of social media tools and platforms – such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – to organise themselves, call for change and disseminate information about what has been happening across the region.

In this way, social media enabled a revolution – but could it enable a democracy? Can social media and other technologies be used to co-create a democracy and strengthen civic society? How can social media and other technologies be used to support government “by” and “with” the people and not just “for” the people? What are the key challenges facing the transition to democracy can these be overcome through citizen engagement?

These are some of the challenges and issues we discussed at Dialogue CafĂ© on the 24th and 25th May in the two sessions we organised as part of the SIX Spring School 2011.  

SIX Spring School_Cairo.jpg

In Cairo we were joined by, amongst others, Tarek Osman who talked about the longer-term social, economic and political factors, which contributed to the revolution. See here for his article on the subject and here for his latest article on sectarianism in Egypt.

SIX Spring School_Doha.JPG

In Lisbon we were joined by President Jorge Sampaio, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and journalists Pedro Lomba and Bruno Faria Lopes. In Doha, we were joined by Yomna Taher and Ahmed Ashour from Al Jazeera Talk and students from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar in Doha. In Rio we were joined by Mayra Jucá from Viva Rio and Oona Castro from OvermundoLab and in Amsterdam we were joined by Thomas Loudon and Arend Jan van den Beld, founders of the VJ Movement, a global community for journalists and citizen journalists.

SIX Spring School_from Amsterdam.JPG


Enhanced by Zemanta


Event 24/5: Social Media and the Arab Spring with Cairo and Doha 0 Reply

Tuesday 24th May
2-4pm (Amsterdam)
Participating cities: Amsterdam, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Doha and Cairo

This global conversation will bring together, via video conferencing, civil society actors, academics, NGOs, students, media activists, policy makers and social innovators from Doha, Cairo, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro and Amsterdam to discuss the role of social media in supporting citizen’s groups and initiatives and looking forward, how the enthusiasm, passion and expertise of citizens can be harnessed to build democratic public institutions. Could this provide a new political paradigm for an Arab Renaissance?

Recent events across the Arab Word have illustrated the profound importance of technology and social media. In Tunisia and Egypt, mobile phones, Facebook and Twitter paved a path for protest and now the seeds of democracy are being sown. Technology and social media are having profound effects in all aspects of our lives: from government and education to business and society. They enable us to rally around common causes and come together to collaborate in new and different ways. They are providing platforms for ‘ordinary’ citizens to become journalists, educators, activists, funders, entrepreneurs and innovators themselves. What really was the role of social media in supporting citizens’ groups during the Arab Spring? What were the effective tactics and tools used by pro-democracy movements and can they be used in other contexts? Going forward, can social media and other technologies be used to co-create a democracy? Can they help co-create institutions that are more open, transparent and user-centred?


  • What was the role of social media and other technologies in the Revolution?
  • Can media activists and pro-democracy movements around the world learn from the approaches and tactics used by the protesters in Egypt? If so, what?
  • How can social media and other technologies be used to support citizens’ groups during the transition to democracy?
  • A new political paradigm for an Arab Renaissance?


Tarek Osman is the author of Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak. He has published extensively on Egypt and the Middle East in leading UK, Continental European and US publications. His work has been cited widely, including in The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Jerusalem Post, The Economist, and Singapore Straits. For the past 13 years, Tarek has covered and reported on Egypt for a UK publication, an international strategy-consulting firm, and a number of institutional investment houses. He was educated at the American University in Cairo and Bocconi University in Milan. He lives in Cairo and London.

Jan Keulen is the Director of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. The Doha Centre for Media Freedom is a non-profit organisation working for press freedom and quality journalism in Qatar, the Middle East and the world.

Yomna Taher is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker currently working for Al Jazeera Talk. Al Jazeera Talk is an online Arabic youth community that was established in 2006 on the premise that anyone can be a journalist – all you need is a camera. The platform now supports 300 citizen journalists from all around the world working on a voluntary basis.  Al Jazeera Talk publishes 4 to 5 reports, articles and stories everyday from different countries. During the Revolution, Al Jazeera Talk published exclusive pictures and videos, on the website and on Facebook:

Arend Jan van den Beld is the Founder of VJ Movement and Cartoon Movement. Before that, information management expert at Philips International, Consumer Electronics and Corporate IT. Philips uses these platforms worldwide in their Call Centers and on Internet. Under his guidance, Philips was one of the world’s front-runners in this field. As an independent consultant, he was hired by Achmea Insurances, The Central Dutch Government, The Chambers of Commerce and again Philips. Holds an MA in Psychology, Leiden University (The Netherlands). Arend Jan is the former chairman of a political party in the city council of Haarlem in the Netherlands.

Thomas Loudon is the founder of the VJ Movement and the Cartoon Movement. Both platforms dealing with international news. Pioneered as a Video Journalist, based in Iran, Egypt and Jordan. Covered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other stories in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Contributed to CNN, BBC, PBS, NOS, Channel News Asia, Canal 13 and many others. He received several awards for his work. Taught video journalism at the University of Groningen. Speaks six languages. MA in History from Leiden University (The Netherlands) and MS in Journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (NY, USA). 

Pedro Lomba, Law Professor in European University Institute (Florence) and University of Lisbon/ Political columnist for the leading diary newspaper PĂşblico

Mayra Jucá is from Viva Rio, a non-profit organization engaged in the research and formulation of public policies that aim to promote social development, especially related to issues around urban violence. They have a portal on the Internet, named Viva Favela, focused on the daily life of the favelas, which shows the voice and the views from the local community and offers an agenda that the general media can’t access. The multimedia correspondents are residents of the favelas.

This event is part of the SIX Spring School 2011.

For more information contact

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bringing people together in conversation

Dialogue Cafe is facilitating dialogue between people from all walks of life, across the world, to address social issues ranging from youth literacy to urban development.


Connect with us on...


Social Innovation Exchange

Subscribe feeds

Latest comments

Hi Ashique, Thank you for your interest! Our cycle is finalised but more sessions on crafts will take place at Dialogue Cafe. For instance you can visit our profil in vimeo and attend online some sessions recorded. Otherwise we plan to publish a book with the recommendations and findings of our discussions on crafts. Keep posted! Thanks again for your interest DC team
daliasendra on 2019.07.29