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 information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help in early warning and crisis response.
Few pay attention to the use of technology for peace building, social cohesion and peace advocacy. My colleague Anne Kahl and I have just published an 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 peace building practice and other technologies of engagement.
In particular, we propose a simple taxonomy of functions that technology can have in peace building:
Data processing: Improving data collection, organizing and analysis processes
Communications: Providing new avenues for sharing information and stories
Gaming: Introducing elements of gaming that can provide alternative incentives for action
Engagement: Creating new ways for people to influence or take action in their community
We then cross-reference these functions with four peace building programme areas:
Early warning / early response programmes
Programmes fostering contact and collaboration between groups in conflict settings
Programmes aiming to promote peaceful attitudes
Programmes 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 a 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 on 5 and 6 April, 2014. The Build Peace conference will bring together practitioners, activists and technologists from around the world to share ideas and experiences on leveraging technology for peace building and conflict transformation.
Over the course of two days, we will explore how ICTs, games, networking platforms and other tools can enhance the impact of a broad range of peace building, social cohesion and peace advocacy initiatives.
Registration for the conference is now open and we welcome your suggestions for working sessions.
Join us, and let’s figure out how to build peace through technology.
*This post was originally published on Let Them Talk, and shared with permission of the author.