TED Community » Sanjana Hattotuwa

About Me

See FastCompany profile of my work - http://www.fastcompany.com/1711352/2011-ted-fellow-cuts-through-wartime-censorship-in-sri-lanka


Schooled at S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, Sanjana read English at the University of Delhi, India and as a Rotary World Peace Fellow, was awarded an Advanced Masters in Conflict Resolution and International Relations from the University of Queensland, Brisbane with a Dean's Commendation for High Achievement.

He is currently a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives. Sanjana is a frequent commentator on journalism and new media in domestic and international fora. In addition to hosting a talk show on public television, he also lectured at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ) for a number of years, teaching journalists to use web, Internet and mobile technologies to strengthen professional, independent and investigative journalism. Sanjana is the founding editor and curates the entire media operations of Groundviews (www.groundviews.org), an award-winning web based civic media initiative.

Since 2006, Sanjana is a Special Advisor to the ICT4Peace Foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland. Through the Foundation, Sanjana works to further the use of ICTs in crisis information management and peacekeeping initiatives at the United Nations. As a Fellow of the Centre for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Sanjana has contributed to the praxis of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), focussing on mobile telephony's utility in ethno-political conflict transformation.

In 2011, Sanjana was the first Sri Lankan to be awarded a TED Fellowship, two years after he was awarded a News & Knowledge Entrepreneur Fellowship from the Ashoka Foundation. Both awards recognise pioneering efforts to leverage web based citizen journalism and new media to bear witness to violence and strengthen democracy, human rights and a just peace.

Sri Lanka, Colombo
Current organization:
ICT4Peace Foundation
Past organizations:
Centre for Policy Alternatives
Current role:
Editor and Curator
Areas of expertise:
peacebuilding, New Media, Citizen Journalism, Journalism

TEDCRED 50+ TED Fellow

More About Me

I'm passionate about

Using Information and Communications Technologies, new media and mobiles for peacebuilding and human rights. Travelling and reading compete for attention.

An idea worth spreading

Bearing witness to inconvenient truths through new media.

Talk to me about

1. Peacebuilding, which is not always achieved through non-violence and negotiations. 2. English literature. 3. New media literacy, which is more than IT literacy.

People don't know that I'm good at

Singing karaoke very badly. I also know far more than someone at my age should about teen pop.

My TED Story

What you take back from TED is a sense of wonder, but also an abiding sadness, that the world is perhaps not listening as much as it can, and should, to the thoughts expressed by Fellows and Speakers at TED.


  • TEDCred score: +60.20 TEDCred reflects your contribution to the TED community.

  • +1

    A reply on Conversation: Technology doesn't kill the magic

    Mar 29 2012: Actually Asha I don't propose it takes away the 'magic' as you see it. I am merely suggesting that greater access and the better clarity afforded by technology is no guarantee of engagement, learning and debate. The potential is there and indeed growing, the choice remains deeply personal. No argument from me against technology's greater use, adoption and adaptation, but just a caution against a heady optimism that - to use your example - sharing on FB, tweeting, blogging and uploading video on Cameron's dive - just by that fact, and over the longer term, strengthens our understanding and engagement with the wonders of deep sea science, and indeed, life on earth. Questions to consider, for me, are how we sustain interest, how we further real learning, how we nurture critical engagement, and how the magic you see, and want to share, can be best channeled through appropriate technology.
  • +1

    A comment on Conversation: Technology doesn't kill the magic

    Mar 29 2012: Great question Asha, and maybe you can post the video of your response once it's available on the web. What I was interested in, more broadly, is in the contest between - as you say - technology making the what's outside our immediate experience and imagination that much more accessible, and the risk, as I see it, of making the unknown somehow ordinary. The first compels us to engage. The ordinary makes us disengage. Technology at its best fuels curiosity and learning. Yet how many of us have visited the Nelson Mandela Digital Archive, seen the Google Gigapixel images of the world's rarest art, traversed the most scenic route on Swiss railways through our browser and gone on to read more, check out a book from the library, download content off the web, speak with our children about it, and beyond our social networks, spoken about it? My submission is that technology doesn't necessarily take away the magic of discovery, but that there is always the risk of assuming that access and consumption is the same as engagement and learning?
  • A comment on Conversation: It's about time for civility to make a comeback. Not just in the current political mayhem, but everywhere.

    Feb 26 2011: Good to see this initiative. I've written specifically about the challenge of fostering and maintaining online civility particularly in emotionally charged contexts of violent conflict. See Beyond O’Reilly’s online civility dictum: Fostering healthy debate on the web and internet (http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2007/04/26/beyond-oreillys-online-civility-dictum-fostering-healthy-debate-on-the-web-and-internet/) and Blogging Code of Conduct: Does one size fit all? (http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2007/04/10/blogging-code-of-conduct-does-one-size-fit-all/)