On Friday April 9th and 10th I participated in PH International's Social Media for Social Change conference in Tbilisi, Georgia.The agenda provided a wide variety of perspectives from both scholars and field experts on the role of participatory platforms in advocacy and politics. In tandem with the conference, there was a Social innovation Camp where Georgian, Azerbaijani, Armenian and American activists worked in teams to plant the seeds for networked public media projects. Each project addresses real problems within the South Caucasus and ways to solve them using web 2.0 tools.
This conference was unique in that a large number of audience members consisted of youth from Azerbaijan, Armenia and the United States. These youth have been using social media over the past two years to communicate with each other across closed borders and long distances. Check out their blog and a short video from a participant:
Youth from Azerbaijan and Armenia face particularly tricky relationship building issues. The two countries are involved in an intractable conflict regarding disputed land in the Nagorno Karabakh region. For these students, social media is a tool to connect with others like them, but with varied perspectives on this region. While the conference was not geared towards social media as a tool for conflict resolution, this function was clearly on the minds of many at the conference. In our white paper Public Media 2.0, we describe how publics can use communication tools for organizing to resolve problems