Friday, November 18, 2011

Head Up, Eyes Closed

In February 2009, not long after I arrived in Geneva to work for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, I started this blog - mainly as a means to write about humanitarian issues that I felt needed discussion or greater awareness but also as an exercise in learning more about social media.

In no small way the discipline of writing a blog (over 200 original posts to date) opened up my eyes and provoked my curiosity about the power of citizen media and how new technologies can empower people who are often characterized (wrongly) as helpless victims.

The power of technology to empower is an issue that is becoming clear in political circles, slightly better understood in the corporate world and just about gaining attention in the aid and humanitarian sectors.

In recent weeks I moved jobs to pursue my growing interest in the role of technology in society - that is, not about my interest in technology per se (though I am partial to a few gadgets for sure) but in how technology can be used to bring about real change from the personal, community, organizational, national and even global levels.

In my new role with the International Telecommunication Union (the UN's specialized agency for information and communication technologies) I will be focused on how technology can be used for good, how we can work together to bridge the digital divide and how we can shape policies that guarantee not just people's right to communicate but their right to access the critical infrastructure that enables communication.

So, while I step slightly aside from humanitarian action and dip my toes into issues more related to development and technology I will also take the opportunity to close the Head Down Eyes Open chapter and wander into new blogging adventures. The plan is to create a new blog that focuses more directly on the centrality of technology in transforming the world. It will advocate for peoples right to communicate and champion access to critical communication infrastructure so these rights - as laid out in Article 19 of the bill of Human Rights - are to be respected.

In the coming days I will post a link to the new blog but in the meantime I wanted to thank everyone who I had the pleasure to engage with - more than 50'000 readers - to everyone who contributed comments and of course to JoeJoeBloggs who penned some fantastic posts for HDEO. I hope we all managed in some small way to contribute productively to important humanitarian debates and make a few new friends along the way. Thanks a million and hopefully see you all over on the new blog in the not-too-distant future. And remember, Head Down Eyes Open ;o)

Watch this space ..... 


  1. Cheers Paul, nice piece - and for those who still want great writing in the HDEO mold, come to :)

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