Workshop: Navigating the Digital. Getting your message heard and staying safe

By Julieta Romero Güeto and Simon Didszuweit

In Germany 1989, social change started with people gathering in a church. This year in Egypt, cameras and mobile phones played a key role during demonstrations. That’s how Marek Tuszynski, co-founder of the international NGO Tactical Tech Collective, opened the workshop “Navigating the Digital: Getting your Message Heard and Staying Safe” during the second day of the FoME Symposium.

When rights advocacy meets information

“Every revolution needs to mobilize and gather people,” said Tuszynski, pointing out how platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become present in the streets and walls of today’s revolutions. During his workshop Tuszynski presented three important strategies to successfully target audiences:

  1. Information design: data journalism and activism
  2. “Sousveillance” – culture jamming
  3. Mediated mobilization

Journalists now have plenty of tools to visualize information and tailor their messages, whether with pictures, symbols, colors, infographics, maps or words. Services and programs like “Many eyes“, “Wordle“, “Vidi“, “Gapminder” and others – which are mostly free and open source software – help drawing symbols and numbers.

How big is your digital shadow?

Since Internet has become an ideal platform to gather people and spread information – and since the role of social media is (partly) shifting from entertainment to political action – advocates and journalists frequently become targets of state censorship and monitoring.

Marek stated that people are no longer able to oversee the risks they take by using new technologies such as mobile phones or e-mail, simply because they do not really understand how they work and who controls them.

Aiming at covering this lack of information Tactical Tech produced the animated film Survival in the Digital Age, starring Ono, the robot. The film aims to raise awareness of the traces left behind in the Internet and the potential dangers of managing sensitive information. It poses questions about freedom of speech, privacy, access to information; and also gives practical advices about how to make your message heard and stay secure – without being a geek.

Watch “Survival in the digital Age” at