Alternative infrastructures for peace

[This blogpost was originally published in Insight on Conflict.]

This week, the Coalition Centre for Thai Violence Watch (CCTVW) is busy aggregating reports sent in from the streets of Bangkok to calculate a weighted index of violence risk, which will be published on their website and Facebook pages twice a day. The violence watch system is already very smart, and next week I’ll be joining a developer from Elva (a Georgian tech start-up) to work with the CCTVW team to make their processes and tools even more efficient. Every time I do work like this, bringing technology tools to local peacebuilders, I am reminded that highlighting this area of peacebuilding work was the impetus behind the Build Peace conference.

Rodrigo Davies, Jen Welch, Michaela Ledesma and I set up Build Peace to bring together practitioners, activists and technologists from around the world to share their experience and ideas on using technology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation. The conference had four broad lines of inquiry, each representing a function technology can play in peacebuilding: information, communications, gaming and networking. You can read more about how we came up with these four areas here and read a look-back on Build Peace 2014 here.

Alternative infrastructures for peace

The variety and depth of experience shared at the conference demonstrated that technology use is on the rise in local peacebuilding. That alone was inspiring, and generated enough interest that we will be organizing another conference next year. But perhaps more important is the over-arching narrative that these disparate experiences share: we are beginning to see alternative infrastructures for peace emerging that are (to a large extent) the product of tech-enabled initiatives.

In particular, I think there are three alternative infrastructures that point to the future of peacebuilding at the local level. First, digital media tools provide new, creative ways for local peacebuilders to foster alternative discourses and challenge prevailing conflict narratives. These new visions can often compete with existing visions by being bolder and engaging more closely with their audience. Second, networking platforms provide new opportunities for local peacebuilders to foster positive contact between conflict groups, building digital trust networks. Third, online and mobile tools give power to local peacebuilders to counteract calls for violence and make peace viral.

Making space for new visions

Digital media offers tools for collaborative media creation and dissemination: social media, blogs, wikis, citizen journalism, participatory maps, etc. Local peacebuilders are using these tools to bring new voices to the public domain. In Lebanon, Search For Common Ground ran a video competition that asked Lebanese youth to ‘Shoot [their] Identity’. Videos showcasing a diversity of experiences were posted online, with a prize awarded to the best video. In Israel, the Peace Factory runs viral campaigns on Facebook that encourage people to post messages of love and friendship across conflict barriers (Israel-Iran, Palestine-Israel, Pakistan-Israel, America-Iran, etc). In Sri Lanka, Groundviews is a website for citizen-journalists to offer alternative perspectives on governance, human rights, peace building and other issues. The site is credited with being the only source for controversial topics linked to the conflict and the only media outlet regularly challenging attitudes towards peace and conflict.

Creating digital trust networks

Online and SMS platforms can be used not just to transmit messages instantly, but also to form longer term relationships and regular exchanges (that may remain digitally-focused, or spill over into offline, in-person interactions). Local peacebuilders are using groups on social media, mobile chat rooms and dedicated networking platforms to nurture exchanges between groups that are divided by conflict lines. Soliya’s Connect Programis an online cross-cultural education program targeting young people in the West and in “predominantly Muslim societies.” Soliya facilitators accompany groups of ten students who meet online to talk about everyday life and culture, but also about controversial social and political issues. Run by the Parents Circle – Families Forum, Crack in the Wall is an online platform for conversation and engagement between families who have lost a family member as a result of the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The platform organizes “Round Tables” for facilitated (and translated) conversation and also gives users the opportunity to watch videos uploaded by others showing their daily life, and to upload their own. In Cyprus, UNDP has built an online community of people and organizations working to transform the island’s frozen conflict. Mahallae records the history of peacebuilding and provides a space for collaboration on innovative projects.

Counteracting calls for violence

Too often, technology tools are used to actively solicit and organize violent actions. Violent groups are known to recruit using social media. Calls to violent action spread fastest over mobile phones and the internet. Local peacebuilders are using the same tools as violent groups to counter negative campaigns by mobilizing collective expression of positive messaging. Kenyan NGO Sisi Ni Amani runs the PeaceTXT program, which aims to contact people in at-risk areas in order to propose a moment of reflection at critical times when calls to violence are spreading. Community informers identify such critical times and report to the Sisi Ni Amani team, who then consider whether a targeted SMS could interrupt escalation. In the aftermath of the London 2011 riots, vInspired ran the ReverseRiots campaign. The campaign provided a digital space for young people to share a positive action they had taken in their community, allowing them to take pride in positive behaviour and showing others in the community that not all youth were rioters. HarassMap is an SMS reporting system for women experiencing sexual harassment in Egypt. It is helping women reclaim spaces and counteract sexist messages that spread easily on social media.

From technology, to civic engagement, to peace

Powerful technology tools are increasing in the hands of local peacebuilders, and this is resulting in a proliferation of innovative initiatives. But does this collection of technology for peace initiatives really constitute an alternative infrastructure for peace, comparable to larger, better resourced and more traditional peacebuilding institutions? Daniel Kreiss describes socio-technical infrastructures as “the technical artefacts, organizational forms, and social practices that provide background contexts for action.” As a technical infrastructure, technology for peace is a series of tools that allow local peacebuilders to communicate with more people in more ways, collect better information and sustain relationships on digital platforms. As an organizational infrastructure, it is a means by which communities build new participatory processes, foster deeper collaborations and assume collective responsibility for building peace. As a social infrastructure, it circulates ideas and creates consensus about the importance of civic, grassroots engagement in peacebuilding.

What’s really interesting about tech-enabled peacebuilding initiatives is that they shift the balance of power. Thanks to these tools and the social and organizational forms they help create, local peacebuilders are now better equipped to challenge state-sanctioned or socially normative narratives and notions of identity. Technology can shape the future of local peacebuilding. The Build Peace team has set up a small organization – Build Up – that will focus on supporting the emergence of these alternative infrastructures.

As we look into the future, there is one question that I’m still wondering about. How will these alternative infrastructures work with more traditional infrastructures for peace? Or as my colleague Rodrigo likes to ask: can an alternative method of getting something done not only get it done, but also exert influence on an existing (sometimes broken) method?

Looking back on Build Peace 2014

[This blogpost is cross-posted from the MIT Center for Civic Media blog.]

Participants at Build Peace 2014

Participants at Build Peace 2014

Last week in Nairobi, a group of Somalis sat in a room trying to figure out how to make the most convincing infographic. They have been working for the past 15 years to build the trust and dialogue necessary to make democracy in the Somali region a viable alternative to violence. Recently, they’ve been using a combination of new tech-enabled tools to run participatory polls and visualize perceptions data in new ways. My colleague Michaela and I were there, helping them to navigate these new tools – and we were reminded yet again of why, together with Rodrigo and Jen, we decided to put on the Build Peace conference.

Build Peace 2014 explored how information and communications technologies, games, networking platforms and other tools can enhance the impact of a broad range of peacebuilding, social cohesion and peace advocacy initiatives. Most discussions on technology and peace focus on early warning and crisis response. Few pay attention to the use of technology for attitude and behavior change, collaboration, dialogue, or policy advocacy. Build Peace aimed to complement existing forums by expanding the discussion to encompass other important areas of peacebuilding practice, and to do so by drawing both on the expertise of academics and technologists and on the lived experience of practitioners working to transform conflict.

From the start, we wanted to organize the conversation in a way that would allow several parallel narratives on technology and peacebuilding to emerge. With this in mind, the conference had four broad lines of inquiry, each representing a function technology can play in peacebuilding: information, communications, gaming and networking. For many practitioners, practical considerations about how to integrate technology into programming are critical, so we also structured some discussions around the three stages of peacebuilding programming: conflict analysis, program design and impact evaluation. Finally, we recognized early on that many conference participants would have great experiences and ideas to share, far beyond what we could envision as organizers. The conference had open spaces in a variety of formats – short “ignite” talks, longer working sessions and a technology fair – to showcase this collective knowledge. You can read about what we learned as organizers in Rodrigo’s post.

The Start of a Community

We put a lot of thought into the structure of conference sessions, but it’s the quality of participant engagement that really made Build Peace a special event. We were blown away at the depth of knowledge and breadth of experience. Conversations ranged from measuring polarization, to capturing voices from the Rwanda tribunal; from hacking the border in the Dominican Republic to designing the constitution in Egypt; from teaching activist power in a video game, to building peace villages on Minecraft. We were humbled by the candid approach of practitioners, academics and technologists alike. When I opened the conference, I asked people to be tough on ideas, but gentle on people. It really felt like people headed this call, and created a space that allowed for honesty and creativity to flourish. As Sanjana Hattatowa of the ICT4Peace Foundation put it: “Over the weekend, you managed to create the space for structured dialogue, but also the kind of interactions and sharing that you’ll never even know of, leave aside capture the value of, but happened nevertheless between so many of those who attended.”

Build Peace 2014 was the start of a conversation and of a community. It was also the start of a small organization – Build Up – made up of the conference organizing team. Through Build Up, we’ll be pursuing a variety of projects to continue this conversation and support this community. The most developed to date is the Build Peace database, which aims to document uses of information, communications, networking and gaming technologies in peacebuilding programs around the world. We hope it will not only be a useful research tool, but will also continue to reflect the diversity of the Build Peace community.

Three Key Conversation Threads

There are also a few new trends or conversation threads that emerged during the conference that we’re particularly interested in exploring. Here are three of them.

Power, intervention and technology. Despite our attention to diversity in speakers and participants, some of the power dynamics of international conferences still played out at Build Peace. Too often, the North speaks and the South listens. From the start, we noticed many of our participants calling out this dynamic, rightly complaining about the “us-them” language. A debate on how to reverse this raged through the conference twitter feed. Both Sanjana Hattotuwa and Ethan Zuckerman referenced this issue in their keynotes (which you can watch here and here). Next year, we hope to have more scholarships and to create a space where we can unpack this issue explicitly. But we also want to do something to get many more voices into a dialogue about how to build peace, particularly voices that have a hard time being heard. This is why we are partnering with the Institute for the Future to explore ways we can facilitate mass online and offline conversations about the future of peacebuilding. We’ll be running a pilot game some time this year.

Creativity, art and peace. As we put together the conference program, we realised many of the projects and ideas showcased related to art and creativity. It’s a natural connection. One of the reasons that peacebuilders turn to technology is that digital spaces can allow for new narratives to emerge and new identities to be explored. This kind of creativity is central to arts for peace projects, which use various artistic tools to to deliver small, transcendent moments to people who live in conflict. As we prepare for next year, we’re hoping to reach out to more artists to curate and promote projects that bring together arts, technology and peace.

Evaluation, data and impact. One of the conversations that generated most interest started with a panel that explored how practitioners can assess the impact that technology is having on peacebuilding, and how technology can be leveraged to facilitate impact assessments. The discussion continued through a working session that explored a number of methodologies that might help us run better evaluations – from double-loop learning to process tracing. This blogpost by Jonathan Stray summarizes the working session. We hope evaluation will be a key theme at Build Peace 2015. In the mean time, we’re partnering with Susanna Campbell, Mike Findley and (hopefully) a large international organization to run a rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of crowdsourcing as a tool for monitoring peace agreements and peacebuilding activities.

We’re greatly indebted to all the participants and sponsors who made Build Peace possible and gave us the opportunity to experiment with the design of the event in these ways, particularly the Center for Civic Media. Thank you to everyone who contributed, and we look forward to doing it all over again next year. We’ll be thinking of ways to further expand and deepen this conversation – and we’d love to hear your ideas on this.

How to build peace through technology?

I’ve had a good reason for not blogging this past month: I’ve been busy organizing Build Peace, the first international conference on building peace through technology, together with my colleagues and friends Rodrigo Davies, Michaela Ledesma and Jen Welch, as well as a fantastic team of volunteers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Kate Mytty, Chelsea Barabas, Heather Craig and Chris Peterson). The conference will take place at the MIT Media Lab on April 5 & 6, and is receiving the generous support of the International Peace Institute, the ICT 4 Peace Foundation, the US Institute for Peace, the World Banks’s theHive, Innovations in Peace, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, Mercy Corps, Blue Nile Lotus, the United Nations Development Program and the MIT Centre for Civic Media. The full program is now up on our website. A word of warning: registrations are closed and we are sold out. So if you haven’t already registered, you’ll have to watch our livestream this year and sign up here to find out about future events.


It’s been a very interesting journey to define what we mean by building peace through technology. Build Peace is organized along four broad lines of inquiry, each representing one of the functions technology can play in peacebuilding: information, communications, gaming and networking. (See this paper for some background on the framework that underpins this thinking about technology and peace.) The keynote speakers each (more or less) represent one of these lines of inquiry. Sanjana Hattottuwa from the ICT 4 Peace Foundation will be talking about how information technologies support peacebuilding. Waidehi Gilbert-Gokhale from Soliya / Search for Common Ground will discuss how online networking contributes to peacebuilding. Asi Burak form Games for Change will share experiences in serious gaming for social change, and particularly how this can be applied to games for peace. Ethan Zuckerman from MIT’s Centre for Civic Media will close the conference with a reflection on how we create shared media experiences that cross community lines.

We also recognize that for many practitioners, practical considerations about how to integrate technology into programming are critical. That’s why the panels are organized around three stages of peacebuilding programming: conflict analysis, program design and impact evaluation. Each panel brings together academics and practitioners to reflect on general considerations and share specific practices from existing applications on the ground. The panels are also putting together white papers reflecting on key questions in their areas – we’ll be posting these to our website shortly.

One other thematic trend emerged organically as we put together the conference program: creativity, art and peace. This seems to me like a natural connection. One of the reasons that peacebuilders turn to technology is that digital spaces can allow for new narratives to emerge and new identities to be explored. This kind of creativity is central to arts for peace projects, which use various artistic tools to to deliver small, transcendent moments to people who live in conflict. Moments that remind them of their humanity and help create common visions of a peaceful future. That’s why we are dedicating the conference reception to art and peace, giving space for cartoons on tech4peace by Manu, an interactive documentary on love across divided Cyprus and the wicked tunes of Turning Tables (check out their latest music video below). We’re also pleased to host three film screenings during the conference: Peace in our Pockets, Blueberry Soup and Acting Together on the World Stage.

Finally, we recognized early on that many conference participants would have great experiences and ideas to share, far beyond what we could cover with keynote speakers and panels. The conference ignites, working sessions and technology fair showcase this collective knowledge. The variety in these sections is inspiring: polarization and data, disrupting war-building ICTs, grassroots cultural innovation, the brain’s empathy circuit, voices from the Rwanda tribunal, constitution design in Egypt, hacking the border in the Dominican Republic, people power games, accounts from the conflict in Northern Ireland… and so many more.

Our hope is that Build Peace 2014 won’t be a one-off event. We would like it to be the beginning of a community – a group of people interested in using technology to skillfully and creatively push the boundaries of peacebuilding practice. Whether you are attending this year or not, we hope you will join us to chart the future of peace.

Peace through technology: a framework

In this digital age, technology is altering how we engage with the world, offering new avenues for social change. Like any other tech-driven sociological shift, the expansion of these technologies of engagement requires our attention because it shifts the dynamics of social organization. This has important implications for how we protect and build peace. And yet most discussions on technology and peace focus only on how ICTs can help in early warning and crisis response. Few pay attention to the use of technology for peacebuilding, social cohesion and peace advocacy. My colleague Anne Kahl and I have just published this article in Stability Journal’s Special Collection on new technologies for conflict prevention in an attempt to expand the discussion to cover other areas of peacebuilding practice and other technologies of engagement.

In particular, we propose a simple taxonomy of functions that technology can have in peacebuilding:

  1. Data processing: improving data collection, organizing and analysis processe
  2. Communications: providing new avenues for sharing information and stories
  3. Gaming: introducing elements of gaming that can provide alternative incentives for action
  4. Engagement: creating new ways for people to influence or take action in their community

We then cross-reference these functions with four peacebuilding program areas:

  1. Early warning / early response programs
  2. Programs fostering contact and collaboration between groups in conflict settings
  3. Programs aiming to promote peaceful attitudes
  4. Programs supporting communities to influence policy towards peace.

The matrix and examples provided in the paper illustrate this taxonomy. Or for a quick overview, this prezi is an early version of the same framework with a few selected examples.

Michaela Ledesma and I have also been curating this database of tech-enabled peacebuilding projects that is organized using the same taxonomy. It is still a work in progress, we are adding projects every week and would welcome any suggestions on how to make it a more useful resource for practitioners and activists.

And since a paper and a database are probably not enough to really expand the conversation about how to build peace through technology, we’re also organizing a conference. The Build Peace conference will bring together practitioners, activists and technologists from around the world to share ideas and experiences on leveraging technology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Over the course of two days, we will explore how information and communications technologies, games, networking platforms and other tools can enhance the impact of a broad range of peacebuilding, social cohesion and peace advocacy initiatives. Registrations for the conference are now open and we welcome your suggestions for working sessions. Join us, let’s figure out how to build peace through technology.

Thick engagement in peace

Last week, I had the pleasure of giving a talk at MIT’s Center for Civic Media. There’s already a liveblog of it courtesy of Rodrigo Davies, so this is more of a personal reflection. I’m yet to find a theoretical framework that makes sense of the uses to which we put technology in the peacebuilding field. Speaking with the folks at the Media Lab helped sketch out some thoughts that I’d like to explore further.

It started when I listened to Ethan Zuckerman’s keynote at the Digital Media Learning conference in Chicago. Ethan put forth two ideas that I found compelling. First, he makes a difference between two types of civic participation: thick and thin. Thin engagement is where you’re asked to show up and do as the organizer tells you. Thick engagement is where space is made for people to come up with their own creative ways to act on an issue. Ethan goes on to say that if we if we want civic participation that is thick, impactful and scalable, then we have to focus on agency.

And with this in mind, there is one way of creating agency for peace activism that I am particularly interested in: changing the discourse of peace. A possible initial reaction is to ask whether we really need to work on a discourse of peace. Isn’t everyone already for peace? Thing is, everyone says they’re for peace, but then everyone shows up for war. When it comes down to it, everyone has a well-articulated, personal reason to go to war. In many ways, peacebuilding is about addressing the individual stories that we tell ourselves about war. I’ve written before about how Foucault’s understanding of the “game of truth” in society sheds light on the importance of discourse-building for peacebuilding. To recap, I think there is a key moment in many peace efforts when two people in the group realise that they are pawns in a game of conflict, they see the game, and therefore they skip out of the game. They step out of their subjectivity and become witnesses. Perhaps they see the truth of their sameness, the truth that beyond this game there is something in which they recognise each other. And from that moment on it’s possible to invent a new game – it is possible build peace.

I’ve seen these moments unfold before me, I remember them clearly in Sudan and Cyprus. It’s about two women climbing up a mountain together to look at their villages, and realizing both have the same thatch-roof houses and face similar daily challenges. It’s about a group of activists recounting a historic event and sharing what was happening in their family life at the time. My sense is that what enabled those new stories, new discourses to emerge was that communications were set up to be flatter, more participatory, more creative and entertaining. Together these conditions offered up the space for thick engagement in changing the discourse of peace. (Which is not to say they are a sufficient condition for this change to happen! Just a strategy that in some cases will deliver changes in the discourse.)

Thatch-roof houses in Sudan

Thatch-roof houses in Sudan

This theory appeals to me because I see it reflected in two projects I am working on: a community communications system in Sudan and a platform for peace activists in Cyprus. Both projects are trying to affect the discourse in the hope that people will change the ‘game of truth’ they are stuck on. They are both taking a risk: we don’t know what people will do with this information, with a changed discourse. We don’t even really know how the discourse will change. It was great to hear Ethan, in the same keynote to the Digital Media Learning conference, say that we need to understand  that thick participation at scale means devolving control.

Ethan also says that he believes we should enable people to deepen the foundations of their understanding of an issue while they climb the ladder of engagement. That’s what I think is different about these two projects – that’s also where I think we are going with these attempts to change the discourse. Both projects are providing an opportunity for people to deepen the foundations of understanding and climb the ladder of engagement. They are providing the space for that to happen. The Sudan project is very different to typical top-down early warning systems (which are all about thin engagement). It puts the onus of response on the same people who are warning. The Cyprus platform aims to make both peace activists and non-activists more reflective about their contribution to peacebuilding in the island. In its story-telling function, the platform makes everyone responsible for the story of peace in Cyprus. Both are ways to encourage people to surmount the sense of inevitability, which so often is present in conflict.

John Paul Lederac talks about this sense of inevitability. He says what peacebuilders fundamentally need to do is to provide spaces for the moral imagination to emerge. Moral imagination is the ability to recognize turning points and possibilities in order to venture down unknown paths and create what does not yet exist. Perhaps that’s another way to think about thick, impactful and scalable civic participation – in the context of peacebuilding.

SXSW: where next with tech for peacebuilding?

There was a lot of fun to be had at SXSW 2013: slicing fruit with LEAP Motion, making LED throwies for the MIT Media Lab party and Bruce Sterling‘s rant on treating innovation and disruption with moral gravity were my personal favorites. From amongst the fun, here are four selected, brief thoughts on what might be next in the use of technology for peacebuilding and conflict prevention:

1. Mobilizing ingenuity to strengthen global security

Rose Gottemoeller, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, spoke about how her office has been engaging with the tech community through a series of challenges on innovation and arms control. The first one closed recently, and focused on using technology to educate the public about arms control (winning submission: Bombsheltoe). The Bureau is now planning two new challenges. The first is to design tools for inspectors engaged in monitoring international arms control treaties, specifically tools that improve their situational awareness prior to arriving at a monitoring site. The second seemed a little vague, but interesting: to explore the use of crowdsourcing in monitoring arms control treaties. The Assistant Secretary acknowledge the ethical and practical difficulties to this approach (danger to citizen reporters, reliability of information), but also pointed to the potential for using tools that empower citizens to monitor at least certain effects of arms (e.g. RAVEN’s radiation detector using smart phones). This final discussion of the ethical / practical difficulties of crowdsourcing, but also the effects of grassroots monitoring on empowerment paralleled discussions on the use of similar methods for early warning and early response.

LED throwies!

LED throwies! 

2. Redefining Political Tech & Civic Participation

This panel covered a wide range of subjects relating to innovation in US government institutions – two had direct parallels to the challenges of innovation in the peacebuilding field; both were put forward by Jennifer Pahlka, Founder of Code for America. First, government institutions are not designed to take on innovative tech, so every innovative project that works is a “hack”. The hack can help build momentum for change by showing what’s possible, but this is not a sustainable model. If we are serious about innovation, we need to build tolerance around failure to reduce the cost of experimenting. Second, in the US, most innovative uses of technology focus on getting people elected. Innovation should now move to changing government. My parallel: in peacebuilding, most focus to date has been on using innovative tech to identify and predict conflicts (early warning); innovation should now move to changing relations and building peace.

3. I overthrew my government… now what?

CrimsonHexagon’s Foresight platform is being used to look at twitter conversations in Libya and Egypt and examine how social media is used after the revolution to build democracies and institutions. The research shows that people use Twitter in two ways post-revolution: instrumental (to tell social networks what’s going) and integrative (to express the meaning of their socio-political conditions). Nancy Messieh responded that analyzing social media conversations by looking at Twitter is pretty limited in these two contexts: people who tweet are pretty much talking to themselves, there is considerable trolling by big political actors and the conversations in English and Arabic are (deliberately) different. She offered instead that looking at the rise of citizen journalism (in Egypt particularly) provides an alternative narrative post-revolution and more effectively bridges the online-offline gap. If Egypt’s Bassem Youssef is anything to go by, this trend in citizen journalists providing alternative discourses with broad resonance is an important one to watch out for. How can such efforts be mobilized in support of peacebuilding?

4. Digital Diplomacy

The UK and the US have an increasing interest in “crowdsourcing foreign policy” by doing “more listening, less broadcasting” using social media. Lofty aims. The US State Department has even set up the Office of Innovative Engagement to test new technologies for use in diplomacy. But I suspect neither is prepared to be as radical as Sweden, whose Government decided to allow citizens to directly curate the @sweden twitter account. One citizen “owns” the handle for one week, then passes it on to the next. The only rule is to not say anything illegal, and the Government has so far stuck to its guns despite some controversy and common tweets about sex. The handle has gained a very large following as a result of this policy, and is probably more informative and engaging than official handles. It’s a new form of horizontal diplomacy. Can it be mirrored by horizontal communications when it comes to peace deals?

Crowdaoke gets honorable mention

Remember this crazy idea about promoting peace through karaoke? Not so crazy after all: our concept for a Crowdaoke app to build peace through collaborative music-making got an honorable mention at the UNAOC Create awards.


Crowdaoke is in really great company, check out the other honorable mentions and finalists here. I’m pretty intrigued by Reality, a game where players can “pursue news stories as a freelance reporter in this game that aims to raise awareness of media bias and promote critical thinking about what we read.”

Rodrigo Davies and I are hoping to move ahead with developing Crowdaoke anyway. We’re meeting at SXSW this week: he’s speaking about crowdfunding; I’ll be talking about technology for peace. I’m not sure we’ll karaoke, but we’ll certainly talk about Crowdaoke, dream up other projects and dance the night away. With friends like these, work and fun are all the same.