Citizen journalism or citizen empowerment?

It's been a funny old week. After last weeks interview, news broke on another subject - the use of my FrontlineSMS system in the monitoring of the Nigerian elections this coming weekend. NMEM, the Nigerian NGO who are running the project, will be using volunteer observers to text in any observations (good or bad) as they go through the voting process. There has been a lot of talk in recent months (and years) about citizen journalism - people reporting on news in their area - but what is happening now, with software such as FrontlineSMS, is more citizen empowerment. The difference here is that with empowerment they not only report on their surroundings - they are suddenly able to fully engage and influence the outcome.

NMEM, whose mission is to "encourage the Nigerian electorate to participate in the electoral process", are a non-profit group of young professionals in Nigeria advocating for social change through good governance. NMEM had the mission, NMEM had the passion and NMEM had the commitment and vision to drive this forward. NMEM also found FrontlineSMS, and they took the software and ran with it. With the exception of several emails and the odd 3am phone call (!) they have been pretty much alone in this venture. The story is really theirs.

This is just the beginning. The future is not citizen journalism - it's citizen empowerment...