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Home » Be Inspired! » PDF09: Liz meets Mark Belinsky and talks about how to make “Digital Democracy” happen!

PDF09: Liz meets Mark Belinsky and talks about how to make “Digital Democracy” happen!

I met alot of people while I was at the Personal Democracy Forum Conference 09 and Participation Camp 09 in NYC and as I mentioned in my blog post here before…

The minute I arrived at the conference, there was a feeling of being surrounded by people who were intellectually in tuned with their passion, skills, knowledge and desire to make an indelible mark within their areas of expertise. However they weren’t just people who were just there because it was apart of their jobs, but there was a genuine sense of wanting to make things better and learn as well as share stories of each other experiences.

And its a pleasure for me to say that Mark Belinsky was one of those people that I was referring to. His organization called Digital Democracy (@digidem) …

...develops information and communication tools to address the needs of the vulnerable and disempowered communities where we work. Our work strengthens social bonds within and among communities, fostering networking and civic participation.

Digital Democracy has been working for two years with the Burmese community in Thailand,Bangladesh, India, and China as well as with resettled Burmese populations in Indiana, Washington, DC and New York. D2 staff have published and presented research on Burma with an emphasis on technology use by displaced Burmese groups. In addition to Burma?s borders, we have conducted research in Cuba, Armenia, Mali, Zimbabwe,South Africa, and Israel.

To learn more about Digital Democracy, have a look through these slides….

A little bit about Mark… Follow Mark on Twitter at @mbelinsky or @digidem

(Founder/Co-Director of Digital Democracy): Mark has been working at the intersection of technology, media and civil society for over five years, with projects extending from Europe, the Middle-East and the Caucasus to South and Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and the USA. Inspired by his parents’ escape from the Soviet Union, he has sought to empower other at-risk communities. While working in the Caucasus he helped to found and develop Bem, a youth progressive action center that serves as a platform for Armenian youth to build an active civil society through technology, art, and media for free-expression. Since January 2007 he has worked closely with Burmese populations in Thailand, India, Bangladesh and resettled communities in the USA, researching their projects and developing media and online strategies for a coalition of pro-democratic Burma-related groups. He also consults on new media strategy and produces films through his company New Words, recently making films for Amnesty International, Guaranteed Health Care Coalition, Norwegian Refugee Council, and Current TV. He has recently been a presenter and trainer on new media and digital organizing for Open Society Institute, United States Institute for Peace, Tufts University, and others. Mark is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University. You can read more on Mark’s blog.

Marks bio at the Participation Camp 09

Mark serves as director of Digital Democracy, but at PCamp he will lead a session on the OpenMyCity project.  The goal of OpenMyCity is to find the best ideas about how to make use of municipal open data by asking citizens and organizations to answer a simple fill-in-the-blank question: “If I knew ___, I could do ___.”

OpenMyCity is backed by a coalition that formed around the Pioneersconference that took place recently in New York and Amsterdam.  At PCamp, Mark will lead a workshop to build a plan for capturing as many stories as possible.  This effort provides a human component to the technological and legislative efforts already happening around municipal data.

Video Interview with Mark at #pdf09

Here’s my interview with Mark at the Personal Democracy Forum Conference 09. Apologies for the shouting! It was really really noisy, I could hardly hear myself. Doesn’t help that Mark is so so much taller than I am, I was on my tippy toes trying to capture Mark’s voice clearly LOL. Anyways, hope you enjoy the interview and find it useful. I think next time I’ll bring a stool with me just in case ;-p

I admire and am impressed with what DigiDem is doing….

Its just amazing what DigiDem is doing for people around the world. I love and admire their efforts to help people and make the world a better place to live in using the resources available to us in the 21st century. I hope I too will one day make such a mark on the world as ‘Mark’ has made. I wish Mark and his colleagues all the best in their efforts and hope everyone will continue to support their admirable efforts…

Hope this was useful! 😀


About Liz Azyan

Liz is a CREATIVE digital professional dedicated to helping individuals, governments and businesses realize their digital goals. She offers digital consultancy services on her website Liz is also a Google Fellowship Recipient (individuals selected based on their work and initiative in the arenas of technology, politics and social entrepreneurship), an invited expert panel on the Guardian’s Public Leader Network and has spoken at many public events and conferences on the subject of digital engagement.