Check out the State Department’s new Opinion Space

We are interested in your perspectives and input on a series of important foreign policy questions.  “Opinion Space” is a new discussion forum designed to engage participants from around the world.

Every participant chooses a “point of view” on a global opinion map. Your position is not based on geography or predetermined categories, but on similarity of opinion: those who agree on basic issues are neighbors, those who are far apart have agreed to disagree.  You can instantly see where you stand in relation to other participants; by reviewing their comments, you help the community highlight the most insightful ideas. 

Let us know what you think!

A screenshot shows the locations of Hatian Creole volunteers who have translated 40,000 text messages

What an interesting use of new technology!

Within hours of the earthquake that crushed Port-au-Prince January 12, Haitians in peril could send text messages for help over cell phones to a newly created emergency response number, 4636. It was the rough equivalent of the 911 emergency response number in the United States — and literally was set up overnight.

Utilizing Ushahidi — a Web portal born in 2008 to help citizen activists track post-election violence in Kenya — volunteers around the world who speak French and Creole translated thousands of messages, mapped where the calls came from and directed the most urgent pleas to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Red Cross and other relief and rescue agencies.

Against the enormous scale of suffering and loss in Haiti, and the bottlenecks in delivering food and medicine to survivors, this seems like a modest triumph. It could become the model for tapping digital technology — from mobile phones to creative software and social networking applications — to speed help in future catastrophes.

For related items, see The Americas: Partnering for Haiti Relief and Recovery and the America.gov feature The Power of a Mobile Phone.

Read the full article here.

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It is our pleasure to announce that Łukasz Szozda, one of over 26 Poles who submitted their videos for the “Democracy Is…”  YouTube/U.S. Department of State Video Challenge, was chosen as one of the 18 global finalists and will represent Europe in the last stage of the contest.  The jury selected his animated film from among 196 submissions by filmmakers from around the world who made it to the semi-finals. Congratulations Łukasz!

Public voting to select six grand prize winners opened on May 15 and will continue until midnight on June 15 (EST).  The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw would like to encourage everyone to vote for their favorite video here.

Six winners will be selected from the 18 finalists – one each from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Middle East/North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia and East Asia/Pacific – and grand prize winners will be announced in mid-June 2009. The winners will receive an all-expense-paid trip in September to Washington, New York and Hollywood. The prize package includes time on television/film sets, meetings with film professionals, democracy advocates, the media, government officials, and special screenings of their videos.

The finalists, chosen from among a pool of more than 900 entries from 95 countries, represent Brazil (2), Cote d’Ivoire, Germany, India, Iran (2), Japan, Nepal, Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, the United States, Uzbekistan, and Zambia. These videos provide an array of voices and visions about democracy from around the world. The finalists were selected by an independent jury, co-chaired by Michael Apted (President of the Directors Guild of America) and Hernando de Soto (President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy).

Here’s what’s going to happen next: (more…)

You don’t have to have a VIP invitation to Prague, Strasburg, or Istanbul.  You can chat with Obama live from Turkey at 9:00 on Monday morning in Poland.  Just join in through Facebook on CO.NX, a new State Department page hosting video chats with Americans you would like to meet.  (more…)

Joe Rospars, co-founder of Blue State Digital and New Media Director for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, made a stop in Lodz on his recent visit to Poland.  Joe spoke to a standing-room-only audience at the University of Lodz Faculty of International Relations, interviewed with TVP Lodz, and gave an exclusive talk for students of the Higher School of Film, Television, and Theatre.

More photos from the University of Lodz here.

Check out Joe’s talks from both schools on YouTube, courtesy of Projekt Lodz:

And for those of you who are interested in seeing them again, here are some of the clips from Joe’s talk:

A huge thanks to Projekt Lodz and our friends Blazej Moder and Krzystof Kaluzna for their assistance in putting together the day’s program, and to Professor Oleksy and the American Corner at University of Lodz, and an even bigger thanks to everyone who came out for these presentations and really engaged with us and asked such interesting questions.  I felt like America and Poland really met face-to-face there in Lodz, and that’s what it’s all about.