Open Media Boston

Arab Spring, a Literary Festival in Gaza, and the Role of Media in Revolution

Profile of Boston Palestine Film Festival artist Omar Robert Hamilton, originally published on Open Media Boston, October 24, 2013.Image courtesy BPFF, from Hamilton's film "Though I Know the River is Dry."

by Tate Williams (Staff)

Omar Robert Hamilton’s entry in the Boston Palestine Film Festival is his third fiction short, but he’s made several other films, dozens, in fact.

They’re mostly brief documentaries he filmed and publicized as co-founder of the Egyptian film collective Mosireen, which played a major role in documenting the 2011 revolution and aftermath. Mosireen became the most-watched nonprofit YouTube channel in Egypt, and even worldwide during one month.

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Bill McKibben's Organizes Protest and Mass Arrest at MA Power Plant

Originally published in Open Media Boston. by Tate Williams (Staff), Jul-24-13

Cambridge, Mass. - The climate movement is a unique one, longtime activist Bill McKibben told an audience in Cambridge Sunday night, because it doesn’t gain its strength from a few powerful advocacy groups or high-profile leaders.

“What we are getting are thousands of nodes of people all around the world, groups in the community, fighting particular things—particular power plants, or fighting for wind on Cape Cod, fighting on all those fronts, but also realizing that they are connected and part of something much larger,” he said to the crowd at a rally and fundraiser.

And that’s why, McKibben would conclude, he wants you to get arrested in Somerset this weekend.

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Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Return to Cambridge City Hall to Celebrate Defeat of DOMA

Originally published in Open Media Boston. | It was right here on the steps of Cambridge City Hall, on May 17, 2004, where it all started. To the cheers of a crowd waiting eagerly outside, Cambridge opened its doors at the stroke of midnight on the day Massachusetts became the first state to cross the federal law of the land and allow same sex marriage.

So it was a fitting place for hundreds of supporters, many of whom were married here on that day nine years ago, to reconvene and celebrate the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act, struck down by Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision.

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Free Software: changing the world while toiling in obscurity

Originally published in Open Media Boston by Tate Williams (Staff), Mar-26-13

Cambridge, Mass. - The free software movement—based on the idea that computer programs should be available for anyone to use or modify—is in some ways at the top of its game, and in others facing its most difficult challenges.

For example, free programs like Firefox and mostly free Android are highly popular. And collaborative software projects are tackling serious, global issues like improving health care in developing countries. But activists are still struggling to gain broad support, and to stay relevant in the face of increasingly proprietary devices.

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Activists Rally for Aaron Swartz, Moving from Sadness to Political Action

Originally published in Open Media Boston

by Tate Williams (Staff), April 16, 2013

BOSTON/Dewey Square - The Boston rally to honor programmer and activist Aaron Swartz had tearful moments, but it went beyond remembrance. Supporters of Swartz’s work called for a move from sadness and outrage to sustained political action that will reform computer regulations and the criminal justice system.

More than 100 people—academics, parents, children and 20-somethings—gathered at Dewey Square Saturday to mark what would have been the end of Swartz’s trial for downloading millions of academic papers over an MIT network. Swartz never made it to trial; he took his own life in January at age 26.

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End of An Era for Boston Media as Phoenix Shuts Down

Originally published in Open Media Boston by Tate Williams (Staff), Mar-15-13

BOSTON - When the Boston Phoenix announced it was shutting down Thursday afternoon—after nearly 50 years of often being at the cutting edge of alternative media—the response was a mix of utter shock and resigned acceptance.

After all, while it had been a staple publication for the city for decades, there was general awareness that it was struggling in a world where classified ads are all online, and “alternative media” has fractured and bled into every corner of the Internet.

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Boston Programmers Join International Push for Open Government Data

Originally published in Open Media Boston by Tate Williams (Staff), Feb-26-13

BOSTON - Hidden within the endless bytes of government data is information on everything from how corporations are influencing the votes of politicians, down to when the next bus will arrive.

But even if governments make data available to the public in a clear and accessible way (which is often not the case), there is still a mountain of information to process that, for citizens and government staff alike, is often far too much to approach in a useful way.

That’s the problem that Open Data Day—an annual event of more than 100 affiliated hackathons around the world that took place over the weekend, including one in Boston—hopes to tackle.

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Programmers hold Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathons worldwide

Originally published in Open Media Boston by Tate Williams (Staff), Feb-05-13

BOSTON/Kenmore Square - The reactions to the death of prominent computer programmer and activist Aaron Swartz have ranged from sadness, to calls for investigation, to fiery demands for policy reform.

But for many of the people worldwide who were influenced by Swartz, one very important response has been to get back to work, that is, to start coding.

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Anonymous Mourns Loss of Aaron Swartz, Demands Legal Reforms

Originally published on Open Media Boston by Tate Williams (Staff), Jan-26-13

BOSTON/South Boston - Members of the Internet collective known as Anonymous took to the streets of Boston yesterday in memory of fellow activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life earlier this month, and to protest the criminal prosecution that they believe contributed to this death.

But despite the sinister grins of their characteristic Guy Fawkes masks, the protest had a much more somber tone than many of Anonymous’ previous public actions.

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Boston City Councilor Pushes for More Access to Hubway Bike Sharing Program

Originally published in Open Media Boston by Tate Williams (Staff), Dec-28-12

BOSTON/Government Center - Boston’s bike-sharing program is heading into its third year as a major success, exceeding ridership expectations and planning to expand. But one city councilor has expressed concern that not all parts of the city are benefitting from the project’s success.

Councilor Charles Yancey, as part of the authorization of a $300,000 grant to expand the Hubway program, asked city staff involved to create a written plan for expansion into underserved areas such as Jamaica Plain, East Boston and Mattapan.

“Far too often, in part because of the disparities in neighborhoods, many neighborhoods are left out of certain programs,” Yancey said in a phone interview this week. “My challenge to the administration is to find creative ways of expanding the program.”

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