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Web 2.0: The New Tools of Democracy

Turn on the computer and the evidence is clear: Web 2.0 in the hands of the people is revolutionizing the way we communicate, and the way we communicate is revolutionizing the world.

No longer can dictators or criminals commit atrocities and keep their deeds hidden, nor can they deny their crimes when the tools of new media allow us to be the eyes, ears , voice and conscience of our communities. With this new technology we become witnesses, citizen journalists and active participants in what is truly an international, borderless democracy.

Neda Agha-Soltan was a young woman shot and killed during the Iranian election protests in 2009. As she collapsed and died on the ground, witnesses with mobile phones recorded the event. The video evidence of Neda's death spread quickly around the world, making her an icon in the struggle for democracy in Iran.

At first Iranian authorities had kept silent about Neda’s killing, and when the evidence finally forced them acknowledge it, they tried to blame the West for her death. Yet, supported by a world of witnesses to the crime against his daughter, Neda’s father was able to openly declare that “no one, apart from the government, killed Neda. Her killer can only be from the government."

This is true democracy in action. It is currently breaking down the walls of silence throughout the Muslim world, and among the women who live in it. With Web 2.0 more people know about Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni activist leading the call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. Recently, when the president suggested protesters were violating Islamic law because women were mixing with men, thousands of women marched against him in protest.

Democracy extends to our personal freedoms. I’m from Canada, known to be one of the world’s most stable countries. However, as a result of free trade policies and cutbacks to social welfare, as a young mother I fell through the cracks of the system. I ended up in a low-income housing project struggling to care for my daughter’s needs, working several low-paying jobs to pay the bills, and putting myself through school. I often wrote about my struggles with poverty, but these were private thoughts hidden in journals.

Now, with this new technology, I am no longer alone. My daughter is grown, and I have found the power and freedom to use my writing and the tools of Web 2.0 to effect real change, particularly in my adopted country of Indonesia, a fledgling Muslim-majority democracy. I want so much for my writing to mean something, to help people, and to erase the borders between us.

Web 2.0 has leveled the playing field so that everyone, no matter what our age, race, religion, gender, country or financial condition, has a chance to participate in the world. With these tools we truly have freedom of speech, the freedom to gather and share information, and the freedom to tell our stories and expose injustice. Neda, whose name in Persian means “voice,” reminds us that each of us is still blessed with a voice to speak, eyes to see, ears to hear, and the heart to help those who need us.

Comments

Ariee's picture

loved your article

:)

Astha Joshi

WendyBoneAbroad's picture

Thank you, Astha! It came

Thank you, Astha! It came from my heart.

DDMCFARLANE's picture

Effecting Change

Dear Wendy, your post not only gave me a sense of your own personal story but also made vivid how technology has spread human stories globally. I encourage you to keep writing and you will certainly effect change.

DD

ddmcf

WendyBoneAbroad's picture

Thanks : )

Thanks for the encouragement, DD. After years of writing alone, it feels so good to connect with friends who care about the same things!

I would also like to recommend an excellent show on the power of the new media, called The Stream on Al Jazeera network: http://stream.aljazeera.com/ Through this show I have learned so much about how to use the new technology as a tool for social change, and I love that the show openly encourages audience participation. It is good to see so many women getting involved there.

Peace,
Wendy

char_lm146's picture

Lovely!

Hello Wendy!!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. I really felt like you had/have a story to tell. Your passion and sense of empowerment came out both through your descriptive choice of words and through your own personal account of your life.

I was hooked from the beginning with your opening and was left moved by your ending a truly thought provoking last paragraph; very humble and very moving.

I also absolutely agree with DomcMcfarlane that you should keep writing, I think you could be a good role model to others as you have experience and a sense of what can be achieved.

Thank you,
Charlotte

WendyBoneAbroad's picture

Thanks Charlotte : )

It is so nice to receive your comment, thank you very much! I am so glad I found this website and decided to join. I feel like it is really pushing me in the right direction! I look forward to also reading what you and my other sisters on World Pulse have to say!
Peace,

Wendy

Iffat Gill's picture

Greetings from a Listener!

Dear Wendy!

You have a crisp style of writing! Neda was indeed a sign of struggle ad hope for the people fighting for their rights to live and breath freely in a democratic and peaceful society. I liked your line: "Neda, whose name in Persian means “voice,” reminds us that each of us is still blessed with a voice to speak, eyes to see, ears to hear, and the heart to help those who need us."

I enjoyed reading about your passions, excitements, and how the modern tools of communication has boosted your personal empowerment. Just keep an eye on your word count and the rest is superb!

Keep writing and I look forward to read more from you.

Best wishes.

Iffat Gill

WendyBoneAbroad's picture

Thanks!

Thank you for the kind words, sister Iffat! I have so much to say that sometimes it is difficult to keep to word count :)

WendyBoneAbroad's picture

Nobel Peace Prize

As an additional note to this journal entry, I am so happy that Tawakul Karma is one of three brave women activists who just won the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership in the fight for democracy in Yemen, along with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first freely elected female head of state, and Leymah Gbowee, who helped bring about the end of civil war in Liberia with her Women For Peace movement.

Women are indeed a powerful force that is changing the world!

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