Blogs and Bullets: Evaluating the Impact of New Media on Conflict

From Iran to Kenya to Colombia, the impact of new and social media on movements for political and social change has been the subject of much discussion, and controversy. USIP's Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding and George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication hosted an event exploring the role of new media in contested politics around the world. 

The Center of Innovation for Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace and George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication hosted a public event exploring the role of new media in contested politics around the world. From Iran to Kenya to Colombia, the impact of new and social media on movements for political and social change has been the subject of much discussion, and controversy.

In a USIP report (draft) released at the conference, a team of scholars from GWU, in cooperation with scholars from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and from Morningside Analytics, take a fresh theoretical, and empirical approach to answering this question.The report critically assesseses both the “cyberutopian” and “cyberskeptic” perspectives, and proposes a new framework for assessing the role of new media in contentious politics. 

This event explored these themes in three panels. In the first morning panel, Alec Ross of the U.S. State Department, Berkman’s Ethan Zuckerman, and GWU’s Marc Lynch engaged in a discussion of these topics moderated by USIP’s Sheldon Himelfarb. The second morning panel featured bloggers and citizen journalists from around the world to offer a ground-view perspective. The final panel brought together tech firms like eBay and Facebook to explore their perspectives on new media and conflict. 

Agenda: 

8:30 am - 9:00 am: Registration/ Breakfast

9:00 am - 9:10 am: Introductory Remarks: Sheldon Himelfarb, Executive Director, Center of Innovation for Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding, USIP

9:10 am - 10:15 am: Panel 1

  • Alec Ross 
    Senior Adviser for Innovation, Office of the Secretary of  State
  • Marc Lynch
    Director, Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University
  • Ethan Zuckerman
    Senior Researcher, Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Sheldon Himelfarb 
    United States Institute of Peace (Moderator)

10:15 am - 10:30 am: Break

10:30 am - 11:45 am: Panel 2: International Bloggers

  • Mialy Andriamananjar (Madagascar)
  • Raed Jarrar (Iraq)
  • Onnik Krikorian (Armenia)
  • Nasseem Tarawnah (Jordan)
  • Golnaz Esfandiari (Iran)
  • Hamid Tehrani (Iran)
  • Abu Aardvark (Moderator)

11:45 am – 12:00 pm: Break

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Panel 3

  • Colin Rule
    Director of Online Dispute Resolution, eBay
  • Adam Conner
    Facebook 
  • Sheldon Himelfarb 
    United States Institute of Peace (Moderator)