Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

May 30, 2010

Bangladesh: Facebook Temporarily Blocked

Facebook Banned In Bangladesh
Bangladesh has become the second country in Asia after Pakistan to block the entire Facebook domain in recent times. On 28th May, 2010 Friday at around 8:30 the ban was executed on charges of malicious propaganda against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and hurting religious feelings, reports [bn] blogger and journalist Biplob Rahman at MuktoMona blogging platform. However the site was still accessible via mobile (m.facebook.com).
Newspapers soon confirmed quoting high officials of Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) that Facebook was temporarily blocked.
Earlier, the BTRC had directed internet data service handlers Mango Telecom and Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd to find a way to block antisocial contents posted by Facebookers.
But the two companies failed to fix the problem, which prompted the government to block the entire prophet, said the official, asking not to be named.
The Daily Star
According to Facebook there are around 900,000 Facebook users in Bangladesh and 60% of them are aged between 18-24 years. Many netizens, like Sukanta Rai at Prothom Alo Blog had this question in mind:
ফেসবুক কি দোষ করল কেউ কি আমারে বলবা?
What did Facebook do can anybody tell me?

S. M. Mahbub Morshed at Sachalayatan informs:
বাংলাদেশের দ্বিতীয় জনপ্রিয় সাইট ফেইসবুকে হাসিনা-খালেদার ব্যাঙ্গাত্মক ছবি প্রকাশের পর মাহাবুব আলম রডিনকে গ্রেপ্তার করে র‍্যাব। এর কিছুক্ষণ পরেই বাংলাদেশ থেকে ফেইসবুক এক্সেস না করার খবর আসতে শুরু করে।
After publishing perverted images of Hasina and Khaleda (The Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition) in the second most popular site in Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion (RAB - a special force) arrested a youth named Mahbub Alam Rodin. Bangladeshis could not access Facebook soon after that.

Chitpotang at Unheard Voices blog wonders whether a threat from some religious parties prompted the government to take this decision:
That’s the “official” eyewash. What’s the real reason? Hmm, could it have something to do with Naya Diganta and Khatme Nabuwwat, Amini, et al’s return in the form of exporting Pakistan’s Facebook ban for the Mohammed Cartoon Contest? The threats to hold a rally the day after BNP’s June rally that will be even bigger? As usual AL (Awami League) responds in only way it knows to an Islamist/Rightist threat, cave in immediately.
However Aminul Islam Sajib at Life with technology opines:
Although the BTRC is saying that the site has been blocked for hosting anti-religious and pornographic contents, I feel that the site is blocked mainly for the reason that caricatures of two political leaders were shared on the site. The government could take necessary steps to remove those contents. Instead they are blocking us for their own interest and trying to make us understand that the reason is something else (anti-religious stuffs). Don’t they know that there are over hundreds of proxies such as hidemyass.com, redfish.tk (giving you the links so that you can still access the network) to gain access to Facebook. So, why ban Facebook? Banning Facebook does not block people’s access to the site. It’s like a showdown that we have banned Facebook on grounds of being abused.
The Bangladeshi netizens are astonished and outraged by all these drama. Bloggers like and https Shahriar at Cadet College Blog are explaining how to easily circumvent the ban by using https and other web proxies. However, Aranya Anam at Amar Blog warns [bn] netizens to be cautious about using proxy sites and provides some useful links.
Haseeb at Sachalayatan names the ban [bn] as “commerce of sentiments”.
Arup Rahee at Somewherein comments:
ফেসবুক বন্ধ করা কোন সমাধান না। কেউ কোন বিষয়ে কোনখানে মতামত, সমালোচনা, ব্যঙ্গ-বিদ্রুপ ইত্যাদি করলে সেই মাধ্যমটাকেই বন্ধ করা খুব একটা কাজে যে আসে না, তা ইতিহাস বারবার প্রমান করতেছে।
The Facebook ban is not a solution. If somebody criticizes, caricatures or opines against somebody/something, banning the media is not a solution against that - it is being proven across history.
Samir Kumar Ghosh says:
আমার মতে এই উদ্যোগ টি নেয়ার আগে সরকারের একটু ভাবা উচিৎ ছিলো। সরকার যদি এসব করার ব্যাপারে সবাইকে সতর্ক করে দিতেন বা আইনের ভয় দেখাতেন তাহলে হয়তো এর চেয়ে বেশি ফল দিতো।
I think the government should have done some thinking before banning Facebook. If the government issued some alerts and some warnings - it would have been more effective.
However there were some opinions supporting the ban. Guru Bhai at Somewherein says:
যেসময় ওদের খেলার মাঠে বন্ধুদেরকে নিয়া খেলার কথা অথবা হোমওয়ার্ক করার কথা ,সেইসময় মোবাইল বা কম্পিউটার নিয়ে সোশ্যাল নেটওয়ারকিং এর নামে পরকীয়ায় বা ভার্চুয়াল ডেটিংয়ে (কিংবা অন্য কিছুতে) ব্যস্ত ,যা একটি স্বাধীন সার্বভৌম রাষ্ট্রের জন্য অত্যন্ত লজ্জাজনক

When these youths should have been spending their time playing in the field or doing their home work, they spoil their time doing virtual dating (or similar things) using social networking - which is shameful for a sovereign country.

Twitter users are also expressing their reactions:
taslimanasreen: Is banning contagious !! Pakistan banned facebook ! Now Bangladesh !
julu_vai: govt. in bangladesh, by closing facebook for their own personal anger, are causing needless pain to millions. Where is my Freedom of speech?
kowsheek: Finally govt realised that facebook is injurious for pm's health. #bangladesh
DarthShayan: People from #Bangladesh need to make a stand. We always let the political ppl dominate us. Is Bangladesh not a democracy with freedom?
A Facebook group named Withdraw the ban on Facebook in Bangladesh has been created. Kajal Abdullah at Somewherein reports that offline protests are also materializing:
অলরেডী প্রতিবাদ শুরু হয়ে গেছে। ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের শিক্ষার্থীরা আজ রাত ১২ টায় রাজু ভাস্কর্যের সামনে ফেসবুক বন্ধের প্রতিবাদে ব্যাপক প্রতিবাদ কর্মসূচী পালন করেছেন। এবং হুশিয়ারি দিয়েছেন অবিলম্বে ফেসবুক চালু না করে দিলে আগামী কাল থেকেই ঢাবি শিক্ষার্থীরা মানববন্ধনসহ নানা আন্দোলনে যাবে।

Protests have been started already. Some students of Dhaka University (DU) have arranged a large protest in front of the Raju monument at midnight. They have warned that if Facebook ban is not withdrawn soon the students of DU will take up human chain and other form of protests.
Nazrul Islam at Sachalayatan says:
আমরা প্রথমত একটা গণতান্ত্রিক সরকার চাই। যেই সরকার সবাইকে কথা বলার সুযোগ দিবে। সবার মত প্রকাশের সুযোগ দিবে।

ডিজিটাল বাংলাদেশ গড়ার স্বপ্ন দেখিয়ে বর্তমান সরকার ক্ষমতা নিলো। কিন্তু আমরা দেখলাম এই সরকার ডিজিটের কিছুই জানে না।

আমাদের সরকার জানেই না, যে এসব নিষেধাজ্ঞা কোনো কাজের কথা না। বর্তমান দুনিয়ায় নিষেধাজ্ঞার চেয়ে হাস্যকর কিছু নাই আসলে। যার দেখার সে ফেসবুক কেন, দুনিয়ার সবকিছু দেখতে পারবে। তবু সরকার নিষেধাজ্ঞা জারী করে। [..]
এই নিষেধাজ্ঞা হয়তো কয়েকদিন পরই তুলে নিতে হবে। কিন্তু এই সরকারের ইতিহাসে তা আজীবন রয়ে যাবে।

We want a democratic government which allows freedom of speech - ensures everybody's freedom of expression. This government has come into power promising a digital Bangladesh. But we are witnessing that it knows nothing about the term ‘digital'. Our government does not know that these bans are not effective - there is nothing sillier than these in today's world. If anybody wants he/she can access Facebook or everything on the internet. Still the government goes for another ban.
They will perhaps be forced to withdraw this ban within a few days. But this will remain as a bad mark in the government's tenure.

First Published in Global Voices Online

May 28, 2010

Civics In Difficult Places

In a live demonstration of globe-straddling communication technologies like Skype, this forum connects to citizen journalists and activists around the world, some of whom frequently test the limits of governmental authority. Moderator Ethan Zuckerman wonders if these new digital forms are fundamentally liberating, providing users access to public spaces they might otherwise be denied. He pursues this line of inquiry in a series of internet conversations with correspondents covering some of the world’s most ravaged or oppressed regions. (MIT World)


Cameran Ashraf
Mehdi Yahyanejad
Georgia Popplewell
Huma Yusuf
Ruthie Ackerman
Bev Clark
Lova Rakotomalala

May 22, 2010

Packman's 30th Birthday Celebrated By Google

If you go to Google.com today you will find The Pac Man logo displayed on top. You might be wondering what an ugly looking logo is doing there. Actually its the 30th anniversary of the legendary video game and its Google's tribute to Pac Man. And guess what! The Google Logo is actually a playable version of Pac Man. Yes playable! When you click "Insert Coin" or just click on the logo you can start playing. This is really amazing!

May 20, 2010

Global Voices Summit 2010 In Videos

The Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010 in Santiago, Chile at a glance.

Ceasefire Liberia: Rising African Voices from Kevin Rennie on Vimeo.

Presentation of Nat Bayjay, project manager of Ceasefire Liberia, a Rising Voices project.

A Discussion of Content Moderation: Global Voices Citizen Media Summit Santiago, Chile, May 6, 2010. Victoria Grand, Senior Manager for Communications at YouTube, speaks on content moderation processes. Grand provides a 'behind-the-scenes' look at YouTube's content removal and deactivation policies. The panel discusses content removal and deactivation across a number of platforms, as well as the importance of context and transparency in dealing with activist content on these platforms.

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit, Santiago, Chile, May 6, 2010 The panel, which is moderated by Rebecca MacKinnon, includes Jillian Jork who focus on the case of Facebook and Oiwan Lam, discusses content removal and deactivation across a number of platforms, as well as the importance of context and transparency in dealing with activist content on these platforms.

Bloggers from around the world, and representatives of the Diarios Ciudadanos, Vota Inteligente, the Observatorio de Comunicaciones Digitales, Google, Youtube, Yahoo, Knight Foundation, Open Society Institute, among others, gathered in Santiago for the most important event of its type in the world. via Biblioteca del Congreso de Chile BCN

May 13, 2010

Goodbye Chile

The last ten days were an amazing experience for me in life. I have been one of the most exciting countries of South America, Chile. I am sorry I could not update the blog for many reasons. Twitter and facebook killed much of my time. And if you are following me on those you could get many updates.

During the Global Voices Summit we stayed at a hotel which had a great wifi service (and free). But as soon as all the laptop totting Global Voices people started to come in dozens their server crashed. And we had virtually no internet for the first week.

After the summit many GVers lodged in a great hostel called Che Lagarto which was cheap and fun. 6 of us shared one room in bunker beds - with clean sheets and quilts (what more do you expect with USD 10 a night?). They had also basic breakfast inclusive.

I have been to some places outside Santiago, and I will write about it soon.
Writing from an internet booth in Santiago airport. Bangla unicode sites are displayed here without any problem. Soon will start a long journey home (will reach Saturday evening).

Catch up with you later.

May 07, 2010

Images from the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit - Day 2

Technology For Transparency session

Namita speaking

David, Ivan, Georgia

More faces from Santiago - Via Alexei Sidorenko 

May 06, 2010

More Images from The Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010

Images via Kenyanpoet

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit In Chile 2010 Live Blog

Follow the live blog here.

Tweets About The Summit

ivonotes: RT @gvsummit2010: We are on twitter and on Yahoo meme http://meme.yahoo.com/globalvoices/ . Remember to use the hashtag! #gv2010

akareilly: at #gvsummit2010 in Santiago Chile, learning about and meeting people responsible for citizen media around the world. #fb

drawab: Internet at #GV2010 suffering from 'hyperblogger degenerative syndrome' - too many bloggers hogging the net

latelyontime: #gv2010 In Chile, in 2009, 1 million twitter accounts were created in a population of 16 million, where 7 million are already on #FB Whoa!

sarahstandish: Chilean bloggers: Chileans are schizophrenic bc they are shy but also want to be famous. #gv2010

emjacobi: A shout out for @votainteligente, who are working to increase political participation in Chile. #GV2010 http://www.votainteligente.cl/

slazar: RT @EthanZ: Tax collection, returns in Chile is entirely online. Publish purchasing, procement online as well. Societal shift. #GV2010

eliaws: First panel at the #GV2010 in Santiago, focusing on citizen media initiatives in Chile. Very dynamic speakers (one has notes on a napkin)    

latelyontime: #gv2010 Brilliant formulation: Access as a perverse way of looking at the Digital Divide. I agree. Virtual standing ovation Abbagilati.

enda: Does "social media" came with the same responsibility with the "regular media"? #gv2010

mkarim: The Rise of Citizen Media: Chilean Social Media (summarised first session) http://bit.ly/cR6dwp #gv2010

netfreedom: 'Democracy Isn't Just A Tweet Away' http://bit.ly/asUSBi something to keep in mind given session now at #gv2010

lemarietta: Enzo A:"Digital citizen is just a segment of the citizens." - something we always tend to forget. #gv2010 

giantpandinha: The language of civil society has changed via social networks. But info online continues to be top down says @fheusser #gv2010 

anelsona: Student from Valparaiso: "Today's youth talk about rights as citizens, but not duties. It's all about 'me.' How do we change?" #gv2010 

Images from the Summit

#gv2010 summit registration line

Solana and Stephen

Photo by Enda Nasution (Indonesia)

Session on internet in Chile and how it has grown. Social Media helps people overcome social isolation. Facebook and twitter provide people with an outlet and a way to communicate.

(Image by Fabsy_)

The Summit Has Started

Ok. Folks. I am in Santiago, Chile since last Monday. The first two days we had informal workshops to help the Rising Voices guys who will be presenting their projects in the summit. I have walked a bit in the town and went up to the hills of San Cristobal.

How can I describe Santiago (Chile) for you? Lots of stray dog and hot dog booths, fast food, lots of buses and Metros full of people, universities, fresh fruits, most beautiful Tomatoes I have ever seen. People are alive, bustling, showing love openly, speaking only in Spanish (I obviously failed in communication), gathering in a square to listen to an impromptu political speech by someone..

I thought I was going to blog everyday about it as the hotel had wifi. But we were so busy meeting all the gvers from different continents of the world who have come in these few days. From day before yesterday the wifi was wobbling and yesterday it completely broke down as many of the 100 gvers present were trying to log on at the same time.

(Image courtesy Kosmo Blog)

The summit starts in a few minutes. Those who could not make it can follow us from Santiago Chile using this url http://summit2010.globalvoicesonline.org/ We will have live streaming videos.

May 03, 2010

Images From My Travel

Starry night in the flight from Jakarta to Dubai

Burj Dubai

Burj Al Arab

May 02, 2010

In Dubai

The journey from Jakarta to Dubai was full of uncertainties. My flight was pre-poned and I went to the airport 2:30 hour early. But there were large queues in all the Emirates check in counters. It took me 2 hours to check in and at one point of time I became scared alongwith other passengers that we are going to miss the flight. The Boeing 777-300 must have been full booked with more than 400 passengers which created more chaos. I don't know whether the computerized system or the check in staffs were slow - but I must say they had enough counters to process all these passenger. Finally we flew 1 hour late (7:30 hrs flight time).

I got a 24h visa sponsored by Emirates before they transferred me to a hotel. I checked in at the hotel and saw a sign of a night tour going in 45 minutes. I decided to make the most of the Dubai Visa and took it after some rest and light refreshment.

The night tour was great - wonderful views of Dubai skyscrapers at night. We also drove through the palm Islands and got off near Burj Dubai, Burj al Arab etc. to take pictures (will upload later). It was a fascinating experience. I came back at around 4:15 AM all exhausted and caught some sleep.

Now I am again at the airport waiting for the flight to Sao Paolo. The flight is more than 17 hours long. Hope I will still be fit for my onward connection to Santiago, Chile. 

May 01, 2010

Global Voices Citizen Media Conference In Chile 2010

In a few hours time I will be starting my journey towards Santiago, Chile to attend the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010.
Countdown To Santiago:

Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen.

Those, in case you were wondering, are the 60-plus countries and counting, that will be represented at this year's Global Voices Citizen Media Summit.

Biblioteca de Santiago, venue for the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2010. Photo courtesy Biblioteca de Santiago

Around 200 people from 60 different countries will be meeting to discuss about contemporary issues in citizen media, transparency, censorship, advocacy and there will be workshops and presentations of different leading projects and initiatives across the world. Here is the program format. The main summit will be on 6th and 7th of May, which will be live broadcast via streaming web. Please keep an eye on this site. We have workshops and internal meetings before and after the public summit.

The first Google/Global Voices Breaking Borders Award and latest round of grantees for Citizen Media Outreach in Egypt will be announced.

I am pretty excited with the prospects of meeting old and new friends and colleagues - many of whom I have never met. I am also glad that this time we are able to bring two volunteers of Bangla Lingua page, Kowshik & Bijoy from Bangladesh. I hope it will be a good experience from them meeting bloggers and online activities from across the world.

I had my first hiccup as my flight with Emirates was cancelled and pre-poned for 10 hours and I had to take visa for the hotel during the extended layover. But sadly I will arrive at night in Dubai and my next flight is in the morning so won't be able to see Dubai. The flight to Sao Paolo seems daunting 17 hours and I have a short connection time towards Chile. All in all looks a pretty challenging journey which spans almost two whole days.

For the next two weeks I will be either on the road or busy at the summit so won't be able to update much. But lets keep the fingers crossed. Wish me luck!