Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law Program on Liberation Technology Stanford University

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June 13th, 2011

Bridging Silicon Valley and Tahrir Square


The Program on Liberation Technology at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) hosted two events in May, which brought together the technology and activist communities in support of a common cause-Egypt. Read more »

March 31st, 2011

Program on Liberation Technology spring update

CDDRL in the news

Check out updates from the Program on Liberation Technology at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law to see what is new and forthcoming for the spring quarter. Read more »

March 15th, 2011

New course: The internet, public action, and development

CDDRL Announcement

A new course entitled, The Internet, Public Action and Development, will be co-taught in the spring by CDDRL Director, Larry Diamond and Vivek Srinivasan, Program Manager for the CDDRL Liberation Technology program. This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in examining the relationship between Internet, democracy, and social change from a theoretical and practical standpoint. This course will be cross-listed with the Communications and Political Science departments. Read more »

March 9th, 2011

How Web 2.0 drives political change in the Arab world and beyond


On February 24, the Program on Liberation Technology at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) hosted a conference entitled Blogs and Bullets: Social Media and the Struggle for Social Change, in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (GW). This event was a high-impact gathering of scholars, academics, and representatives from the Silicon Valley tech community, to examine a very timely subject--how social media is being used to advance political change in developing democracies. Read more »

March 3rd, 2011

Fung on why technology hasn't revolutionized politics


Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at the Harvard Kennedy School, delivered the March 3 Liberation Technology seminar titled, Why Technology Hasn't Revolutionized Politics, But How it Can Give a Little Help to Our Friends. +VIDEO+ Video available +PDF+ presentation available
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February 10th, 2011

Hoffmann and Jeon on using ICT for clean water in Kibera


The February 10 Liberation Technology seminar titled, Can ICT Improve Clean Water Delivery Systems in Slums? Lessons from Kibera was led by two Stanford students, Katherine Hoffman, M.A. Candidate in International Policy Studies and Global Health together with Sunny Jeon, PhD candidate in Political Science. Hoffman and Jeon presented on the topic of the M-Maji system, a start-up non-profit project that uses mobile phones to empower communities with better information about water availability, price, and quality. M-Maji emerged from the Designing Liberation Technologies course taught at the Stanford, which is dedicated to using mobile phone technology for health improvement in Kibera. Read more »

February 3rd, 2011

Subramanian on information access under poor connectivity


Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, Assistant Professor in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU, delivered the February 3 Liberation Technology seminar on the topic of Information Access Under Poor Connectivity. Subramanian discussed the challenges facing many people in the developing world who are unable to access information where bandwidth connectivity is very low, making download time much longer and the web more unusable. +VIDEO+ Video available
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January 27th, 2011

Jennifer Bussell on reforming Indian Public Services in the digital era


Jennifer Bussell, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, delivered the January 27 Liberation Technology seminar on the topic of Corrupt States: Reforming Indian Public Services in the Digital Era. The theme of Jennifer’s discussion focused on the reality that public service provision is often flawed in the developing world. +VIDEO+ Video available +PDF+ presentation available
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January 20th, 2011

Vivek Srinivasan on the role of technology in combating corruption


Vivek Srinivasan, who will be assuming the position of CDDRL Program Manager for the Liberation Technology Program, delivered the January 20 seminar to discuss the use of technology to combat corruption. Previously, Vivek worked in India on anti-corruption and universal education campaigns as a grassroots organizer, using new online tools to monitor the implementation of these laws and regulations. Drawing upon his experience with India’s Right to Information movement, Vivek focused his discussion on how information and communication technology (ICT) tools could be designed and applied to strengthen people's movements to combat corruption. +VIDEO+ Video available
Read more »

January 13th, 2011

Yochai Benkler on 'A Tale of Two Blogospheres'


At the January 13 Liberation Technology Seminar Johai Benkler, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, presented, A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and the Right.. +VIDEO+ Video available
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January 6th, 2011

Jonathan Zittrain on minds for sale


The first Liberation Technology seminar of the winter quarter on January 6, featured Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Zittrain focused his talk entitled, Minds for Sale, on the variety of online platforms that harness the wisdom of crowds today, and closed with a discussion of the implications of these platforms. Read more »

December 16th, 2010

Can information technology transform authoritarian regimes?

CDDRL in the news

SMS messaging, blogging, Twitter, and other new media platforms are tools frequently employed by citizens in authoritarian regimes to share information, voice alternative opinions, and circumvent censorship. Scholars and activists have described them as "liberation technologies," for their potential to advance freedom in the face of oppression. During periods of election-related political unrest in Iran, Kenya, and Moldova, these tools have been used to challenge electoral fraud, mobilize protest, and fill the gap in credible, independent information. +PDF+ +Word DOC+ 3 papers, conference agenda available
Read more »

December 10th, 2010

Nathan Eagle on mobile phone usage in the developing world


Nathan Eagle, Founder and CEO of txteagle spoke at the weekly Liberation Technology Seminar Series on Dececember 2, 2010 about mobile phone usage in the developing world. Read more »

December 7th, 2010

Barbara Simons on internet voting

CDDRL in the news

Barbara Simons — a computer science theorist with a long history of involvement in policy relating to voting technologies — emphasized the immense limitations that characterize Internet voting technologies and that have compromised online elections to date in an October 21, 2010 Liberation Technologies seminar . +PDF+ presentation available
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Designing Liberation Technologies

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

Mobile phones are one of the most rapidly adopted new technologies in history, with usage in all parts of the world rising quickly—and soaring in developing nations. In 2000, there were 16 million mobile subscriptions in Africa; in 2008, there were 376 million. No longer limited to one-to-one communication, mobile phones are mini-computers that provide access to the Internet and a wide array of services from banking to shopping.

November 18th, 2010

Mark Lemley: digital technologies' effects on the content industry

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

As new digital technologies arise, leading the music, movie, print journalism and other content industries to complain that they “cannot compete with free,” Mark Lemley, Director of the Center for Law, Science and Technology at SLS, poses the following overarching question: is the sky really falling on the content industries? As Lemley makes clear through a series of examples, representatives from these industries have echoed this same claim countless times throughout recent history, and yet have never been fully accurate. Even so, both the courts and the legislature have taken action in response to content industries’ claims in some cases. Read more »

November 11th, 2010

Matt Harrison on mobile technology and the evolution of the nation-state

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

Matt Harrison, from the Prometheus Institute, began his talk with a discussion of the theoretical underpinnings behind the work of The Prometheus Institute. The work of the Institute is oriented by two central premises: first, that technology facilitates evolution, and second, that policy needs evolution. In this case, evolution is taken to mean adaptive self-organization, where the basic evolutionary mechanism is a progression through three steps: differentiation, selection and amplification. Harrison suggests that policy is not evolving rapidly enough because of legal and technical barriers--like opacity, perpetuity and monopoly--that impede progress, and that new technologies offer tools for improving self-organization and hastening evolution. Read more »

November 4th, 2010

Joshua Goldstein on making Gov 2.0 work in Kibera

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

The term Government 2.0 is often used to describe examples in which the tools, lessons, and ethos of the tech community are applied to help government and other organizations tackle big problems. By Josh Goldstein’s account, Government 2.0 has an especially large potential for impact in Africa, a fact that can be seen through examination of case examples at the local level. In an effort to better understand and communicate the link between technology and actual tangible impacts on people’s lives, Goldstein focused his talk on an organization called Map Kibera that represents an example of Government 2.0 that is playing out in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums. +VIDEO+ Video available
Read more »

October 7th, 2010

Daniel Colascione and Evgeny Morozov discuss lessons from the 'Haystack Affair'

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

Professor Joshua Cohen introduced this week’s session with an overview of the event that has been dubbed the Haystack Affair. At the time of the Iran election in June 2009, various projects emerged as attempts to improve the flow of information among activists. One of the projects that emerged at this time was Haystack, a circumvention tool that aimed to make it difficult for the government to trace what members of Iran’s Green Movement were saying. Around August 2010, there was a flurry of discussion and critiques of Haystack on Stanford’s Liberation Technology listserv. By mid-September, the Censorship Research +VIDEO+ Video available
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September 30th, 2010

Chris Spence: enabling moments of opportunity in closed societies using technology

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

Chris Spence, Chief Technology Officer of the National Democratic Institute, shared the National Democratic Institute's approach to the question of how technology can best be used for creating and advancing democracy in closed societies. There have been many recent developments in this space, including the publication of Blogs and Bullets (a report on new media in contentious politics), the closing of Haystack, and the occurrence of Google's Internet at Liberty conference in Budapest. However, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has been working in this area for several years, and today works in more than 70 countries across the world. +VIDEO+ Video available +PDF+ paper, presentation available
Read more »

September 23rd, 2010

Josh Cohen: mobile development meets design thinking

CDDRL, PGJ, Program on Liberation Technology in the news

Joshua Cohen, Professor of Political Science, Philosophy and Law at Stanford University, began the first session of this quarter's Seminar on Liberation Technologies by posing a big question: are information and communication technologies able to advance human well-being for development? After all, Mobile ICT has potential to be a good thing for development for a multitude of reasons. First, as Solow's model of growth has shown, technological innovation tends to be good for growth. Second, economic growth is closely related to development. Third, mobile phone usage is rapidly growing and indigenous in much of the world, which means that new technologies do not need to be "parachuted" in to scenarios where they are not matched to local needs. Finally, there is high mobile penetration today, even in low-income settings. +VIDEO+ Video available
Read more »

July 9th, 2010 class sees Stanford students develop ICT solutions to healthcare challenges in Kenya


This Spring quarter, while our seminar series took a break, Program co principals Terry Winograd and Joshua Cohen taught a new course at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the Designing Liberation Technologies. Read more »

June 18th, 2010

Patrick Meier and Evgeny Morozov to join the Program as Visiting Scholars


We are pleased to be able to announce that the Program on Liberation Technology will have two new visiting scholars from September 2010 - Patrick Meier and Evgeny Morozov. Read more »

June 14th, 2010

Program on Liberation Technology


Lying at the intersection of social science, computer science, and engineering, the Program on Liberation Technology seeks to understand how information technology can be used to defend human rights, improve governance, empower the poor, promote economic development, and pursue a variety of other social goods.

The Program will examine technical, legal, political, and social obstacles to the wider and more effective use of these technologies, and how these obstacles can be overcome. And it will try to evaluate which technologies and applications are having greatest success, how those successes can be replicated, and how less successful technologies and applications can be improved to deliver real economic, social, and political benefit. Read more »

March 29th, 2010

Liberation Technology Seminar Series to continue in Fall 2010

CDDRL Announcement

The Liberation Technology Seminar Series will take a break during Spring Quarter 2010 in order to present a class taught by co-sponsors of the program, Joshua Cohen, Professor of Political Science, Philosophy and Law and Terry Winograd, Professor of Computer Science. Read more »

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Q&A: Larry Diamond's documentary on democracy activism
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How Obama Abandoned Bahrain's Democratic Reformers
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Stanford announces commencement speakers
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Mention of Larry Diamond in Stanford University News on February 7, 2012

Warning: This Site Contains Conspiracy Theories
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The Dangers of Sharing
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