GVU Brown Bag Seminar: Michael Best on "Free, Fair and Facebook: Social Media Tracking of African Elections" (Lunch served at 11:30 am) Tech Square Room 132
The use of social media and crowdsourcing platforms is exploding across the African continent, especially via mobile networks and featured handsets. Over the last three years we have been developing new software systems and organizational processes to monitor social media (from Facebook to Twitter, Google+, Ushahidi, Mixit, and more) to help ensure free and fair elections in Africa. Our Social Media Tracking Centers (SMTC), along with our Aggie social media aggregator and monitoring software, have been deployed during the Nigerian, Liberian, Ghanaian, and most recently Kenyan elections. These real-world election experiences have demonstrated a number of strengths to our approach including: (1) Meeting the electorate where they are. (2) Technological neutrality. (3) The need for working software that can handle high volumes of social media inputs. (4) And the value of embedding SMTC team members with core stakeholders, such as election commissions and security organizations. We have shown that social media is routinely out front of traditional media, police, observer missions, or electoral commission offices in the identification of events and problems. Social Media Tracking Centers are proving to be a new way to ensure freer and fairer elections in Africa and beyond.
Dr. Michael L. Best is associate professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology where he directs the Technologies and International Development Lab. Dr. Best is director of the PhD Program within the Sam Nunn School. He is also a faculty associate of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Professor Best is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the widely read journal, Information Technologies and International Development. He is a frequent consultant to the World Bank, ITU, and USAID. He holds a Ph.D. from MIT and has served as director of Media Lab Asia in India and head of the eDevelopment group at the MIT Media Lab.