Speaking of Italy, there is an interesting conference about emerging social media technologies and their impacts this summer in Urbino, Italy, from 29th June to 5th July 2009. The 9th International Conference of Sociocybernetics will take place at the Faculty of Sociology of University of Urbino “Carlo Bo”. More about the programme and keynote speakers in the upcoming days, and here is the list of accepted papers that cover areas of Cybernetics and Web Science, Social systems and economic models of the web, Culture, knowledge and social impact of the Semantic web, Cyberculture, knowledge and local communities, and many other topics that you can check out in the Call.
Let me know if you are attending this conference, surely I’ll be in Urbino on Modernity 2.0 and interact with many academics.
I want to share some of my personal reflections on the earthquakes happening in Italy in the past seven days. Now, it’s been a week since a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck in Abruzzo, at 3.32AM (01.32 GMT, EDT Sunday) killing over 270 people and causing severe damages to several cities. Especially the city of L’Aquila because there was the epicenter (96km northeast of Rome) of the “terremoto” (Italian for the earthquake).
Since I was immediately awaken, first thing was grabbing the mobile and twittering about this (which is not so smart to do if you’re in the middle of strong shakes, but…), and then I’ve realized that only few of us (read 6, and later 7 people) in the Italy were twittering about this live. It was interesting that the social media in this case was faster than national TV and radio stations. Usually, international media houses, e.g. CNN , are 15-20 min behind the social web and networks, while Italian national stations needed more time, let’s say an hour, hour and a half.
You have to understand this from two reasons (not necessarily in this order): 1. life philosophy in Italy (so far as I got it) is “piano, piano…”, which means “as slow as possible…” – implemented in every aspect of (Italian) life, and 2. political reasons and the premier’s ownership of all National TV channels (and other relevant media). Sounds familiar? Well…You probably heard the controversial story of a scientist in L’Aquila, seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani claiming that thanks to his research he had foreseen the disaster four days before it have happened but he had been ignored by Civil Protection. Nothing that we’ve never seen before regarding the government and the media and freedom.
Anyways, I was sending tweets from Rome as I was checking if any media online reported about the earthquake, but the fact was that the very few of us awakened by the quake used Twitter to spread the news before any news agencies. In the next few hours Twitter was the only source available to Italian people to share news and information as well as the contact medium for their friends and family in L’Aquila. The next morning and day(s), Twitter, beside other social networks (especially Facebook) was the major information tool to keep updated with the events in the region and spreading the news world wide, because there were aftershocks and minor tremors (still present). After the major quake, Facebook and Friendfeed were the most active social networks with a role of the spreading the current situation, announcing appeals for help, ways on how to make donations, keeping in touch.
Current situation in the Italian twittersphere cannot be compared with the massivness and the noise that happened in Moldova recently, because as micro-blogging tool it presents among Internet users something new. IMHO, it is the matter of time when this social media tool, that’s being mostly used by the academics and IT/social media professionals, will be spread amongst Italian population, the active Internet users of the other social networks.
Five days ago I experienced really nice act of kindness by Twitterer on my followers/following list. Five minutes or so before leaving my working station I twittered about free hugs, to test the power of Facebook and Twitter in foreign city and country as well as the radius of my digital visibility here in Italy.
A minute later I got direct message from a Twitterer residing in Rome, Apple fan and one of rare Romans who is using Twitter in tech, saying he’s coming in 15 min to meet me in front of my building. Very spontaneously this nice person arrived immediately via moped in front of my working place to give me a hug, and Moleskine notebook -City Rome. Those who are following me on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and where not – can notice that I dig Moleskine notebooks. Thanks to Twitter, I’ve instantly met a person with whom I was sending replies and exchanged thoughts on technology and life in Rome the same day. Moleskine notebook was really nice gesture and welcoming gift, and I am very grateful to all people who are interacting with me, and picking up things I say or write.
The power of social web implies also analogue communication performances influenced by the online presence and ID management of the persona. This act of kindness du jour and the whole week I am memorizing fondly as one of the advantages of the usage of web 2.0 services. I’m very thankful that I can gradually, here and there, meet my invisible audience.