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Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood

December 9, 2013
01:00PM - 02:00PM

Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, 19104

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Categories: Seminar

Bits and Atoms (co- edited by Steven Livingston and  Gregor Walter-Drop) looks at the role of information and communication technologies in enabling local communities and NGOs working in areas of limited statehood — places where the state’s capacity at service provision and application of legitimate force is limited or non-existent.  Put another way, the contributors to the book consider the extent to which digitally enabled collective action in areas of limited statehood constitute an alternative governance modality.  How are various technologies being leveraged by NGOs and community groups, and even by weak state institutions themselves, to strengthen and expand governance capacities?

Steven Livingston is Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs at The George Washington University with appointments in the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) and the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA). Livingston’s principal research interests center on digitally enabled collective action – or governance – in areas of limited statehood, places where the state is weak and ineffectual.  He also continues to research questions relating to news coverage of political conflict. His interests have led to extended stays in Northern Ireland, Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and East and Central Africa.  He went to Iraq twice in 2008 and once in 2009.  At the invitation of the Canadian government and NATO, he was in Afghanistan in 2009 and again in 2010.  He has advised a wide range of governments, the U.N. and NGOs on matters relating to governance capacity building, media and media relations, technology, and public opinion dynamics.  Among other publications, Livingston has writtenClarifying the CNN Effect (a monograph published by Harvard University in 1996) and The Terrorism Spectacle(Westview Press, 1994); When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina (W. Lance Bennett and Regina Lawrence, co-authors) (University of Chicago Press, 2007); and Bits and Atoms: Information and Communication Technology in Areas of Limited Statehood (with Gregor Walter-Drop) (Oxford University Press in 2013).  In 2011, he published Africa’s New Emerging InfoSystems: New Pathways to Security and Stability (NDU Press 2011).  A follow-up study, Africa’s Information Revolution: Implications for Crime, Policing, and Citizen Security was published in 2013. Both studies were supported by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies and based on extensive field research in several African countries.  He is currently planning a book with Patrick Meier that examines digitally enabled collective action and economic development.