Friday, February 20, 2009

Week 3: Asking Questions, Listening, Finding Stories

This week we are beginning to uncover stories as we think about moving beyond simply capturing an event on audio or video.

If you missed class last week, please take some time to listen to the rough cut audio recording of our video Skype conversation with Esra'a al Shafei.

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Business & Reminders:
  • Bootcamp Level 1 Training
  • Ning! Be sure to read my blog updates; Vision images coming through
  • Next Friday, February 27, we will not be meeting. We agreed to push back our meetings for an additional week so that some of us could attend the Advising retreat.
  • Take a look at this image
  • Take 1 minute to look carefully. What might be the story here?
  • Now let's listen to this NPR piece from today to learn more
  • Pay particular attention to the questions the interviewer asks
  • What makes for memorable interviews? Bad?
Our guest: Esra'a Al Shafei
  • Take 5 minutes with a group of 3 or 4 to brainstorm questions we might ask Esra'a
  • After 5 minutes, use the Live Question Tool to post your team's questions, paying close attention to those that have already been posted, promoting excellent questions with your team's vote. I will share the link to our questions with Esra'a so that she can respond.
Bio: Esra’a Al Shafei
Esra'a Al Shafei is the founder and Executive Director of, an award-winning, independent, interfaith network whose mission is to inspire and provide young people with the freedom and opportunity of expression, and promote a fierce but respectful dialogue among the highly diverse youth of all sects, socio-economic backgrounds, and political and religious beliefs in the Middle East. They use this freedom to prove that the collaboration necessary for stability is possible. Their online advocacy bridges seemingly impenetrable barriers of faith, geography and censorship to unite young people committed to fostering constructive discourse in the Middle East. Esra’a is also the founder and project director of a series of international activist campaigns for the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities, and for freedom of expression, including the widely acclaimed, The Muslim Network for Baha’i Rights, The Alliance for Kurdish Rights, Migrant Rights, NoHonor (in honor killings), and Sexual Terrorism (to fight human trafficking and sexual slavery in the region). She is the recipient of the 2008 Berkman Award from Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society for "outstanding contributions to the Internet’s impact on society over the past decade”. She also received the 2007 Templeton Freedom Award for Best New Intellectual Entrepreneur. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Monitor, The National, and other leading publications. Most recently, her live podcasts and blogs from Gaza during the Israeli incursions were featured on CNN International. She is 22 years old and is based in Bahrain.

“Activism 3.0”

In this presentation, Esra'a will take us on a tour of her cyber community, and discuss the challenges of activism in the closed-off countries of the Middle East, where speech and information are tightly controlled; how she and her colleagues maintain a fierce but respectful dialogue among members of diverse and often warring factions; and what the Internet can bring to the many religious and ethnic minorities in the region. She'll share how she and her team of cyber-activists are tackling the region's widespread human rights issues with Twitters and tweets, bytes, blogs and bleeps!

Contribution Options for the Ning this week (choose 1)
  • Write a reaction and engage in a Ning! forum discussion about our talk with Esra'a
  • Attend Esra'a's talk on Activism 3.0 on Tuesday evening 3/24, and write a reaction in a forum or your Ning! blog
  • Check-in to be sure you are on schedule to produce your first podcast
  • Begin getting your ideas out for your produced podcast episode for Global Voices series; use the Ning! to start organizing and forming groups

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