‘Disruptive’ Mobile Plays Well with ‘Older’ Radio

Many of us in developed countries find it annoying when somebody calls and hangs up before you can answer. But in developing countries, "missed calls" are becoming an extremely cost-effective cue for transmitting and obtaining information—without incurring fees for voice calls or text messages. In India, for example, small businesses call vendors and hang up to indicate they need deliveries, fishermen use a "missed call" to inform buyers they are on the way back … [Read more...]

Crowd Accelerated Innovation and the War of Ideas

One of my posts from 2010 was about a TED video on “Crowd Accelerated Innovation.” The video is about how the Internet is connecting people all around the world, enabling people who otherwise would never meet to share ideas and fuel and perfect innovation. I recently connected with David Bailey of The Military Social Media Blog after writing my recent series of posts about the lack of sound communications strategy plaguing the U.S. military in the very places … [Read more...]

The ‘Knowledge Management’ Cure?

A potential cure exists for the lack of sound communications strategy plaguing the U.S. military in the very places sound strategy is needed most to curb Islamist extremism.  As I’ve blogged about before, it’s mindboggling that the suggested reason for obvious blunders is large contractors hoping to make an easy buck pushing sales/ marketing/attitudinal communications to enact change versus the more effective behavioral/ strategic communications approach. The … [Read more...]

Channeling Sun Tzu, Not Orwell’s 1984

Sadness. Shock. Disbelief. These are the emotions I felt reading a recent report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College indicating the U.S. military's information operations (IO) and strategic communication efforts were bungled in the very places they were needed most to curb Islamist extremism. As I've blogged about before, it's mindboggling that the suggested reason is large contractors hoping to make an easy buck … [Read more...]

Case Study: Behavioral Communications Done Right

Editor's Note: I am pretty upset about the U.S. military’s mind-boggling bungling of information operations (IO) and strategic communications programs, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here's a positive post on psychological operations in Colombia to break up what will be a series of critiques (I have another post planned on why lying, except in battle planning in the spirit of Sun Tzu, is counterproductive to stabilization and democratization). Also, on a full … [Read more...]

Parallels with ‘Fake’ Mandela Signer Hiring Problem?

What do the South African government officials who hired the "fake" sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial have in common with U.S. military commands charged with contracting communication firms for information operations (IO) and strategic communication efforts? Apparently, hiring people without the necessary expertise because they have no background in the area. According to a fascinating report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. … [Read more...]

Crowdsourcing USAID Monitoring and Evaluation

Crowdsourcing! Big Data! International Development! A recent Washington Post article on future U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities in Afghanistan piqued many of my interests. According to the article, after coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan next year, only 20 percent of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars will be in areas safe enough for U.S. officials to visit and … [Read more...]

Using #SMEM Lessons Learned for Public Diplomacy

What do natural disasters and social media swarm-fueled diplomatic disasters, such as the recent anti-Islam film riots, have in common? One hundred percent certainty that they will occur regularly, albeit unpredictably. Now that one third of the world's population has Internet access and 79 percent of people in the developing world have a mobile phone (more than the percentage with access to electricity), anything anybody writes on social media, no matter how … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Free Mobile Books for Africa

I first heard about nonprofit Worldreader—which gives Kindles to students with little access to printed books in rural sub-Saharan Africa—last January on the Build It Kenny They Will Come Blog....  The following line in the post really wowed me: "Imagine, all the books a child would ever need to see them through their basic education, all packed into a ~$100 device." It turns out WorldReader is taking its idea of bringing free digital books to the developing world … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Message: Gratitude, Love & Blue Keys

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." —Melody Beattie Even in tough times like these, we all can count our blessings on Thanksgiving. We can be thankful for our family, the accident of our birth in a nation with abundant food and water, and a roof over our head. We … [Read more...]

Q&As on Using Social Media to Get Rid of Narco Gangs

What do public officials and narco gangs have in common? Usually nothing. But in Mexico, both have rallied against citizens' attempts to use social media to warn others about cartel checkpoints, shootouts, grenade attacks, and other public safety concerns. Narco gangs see social media as a threat to their hold on power, while public officials complain the new technologies spread rumors. In fact, several Mexican states are considering laws criminalizing the sowing … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Do Aid Workers Need PR 101?

I ran across a first this week. A video of a TED Talk I didn't find remotely jaw-dropping, informative, or inspiring. The video, my October 2011 video clip of the month, features Amy Lockwood, deputy director of Stanford's Center for Innovation in Global Health talking about promoting condoms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Her ingenuous idea? Something "perhaps the donor agencies had just missed out on... … [Read more...]

500 Years of British & World History Sold on eBay?

Ironically, the day before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a blog post about the closing of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) library caught my eye. The post contained an unsettling quote from the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague: "Finally, as a politician and part time historian I was surprised and indeed shocked upon my arrival here by the sight of the vast expanse of empty wooden shelves … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Booker, Social Media & Irene

A tweet about diapers caught my eye during my frantic Twitter searches last weekend to find information on Hurricane Irene's impact on Long Beach Island. It read "If u have problems finding diapers please DM me your # so we can talk. @darkangel1321" and was from the "verified" account of Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (@CoryBooker on Twitter). I took a couple of seconds to read the mayor's Twitter stream and found he was doing more than help moms find diapers. … [Read more...]

Are Municipal Entities Getting Social Media Message?

Are municipal entities around the country getting the message that social media plays an important role in communications during and after natural disasters? My personal experience trying to get information about Long Beach Island (LBI) following Hurricane Irene where my in laws have a cottage makes me wonder. Only one island municipal entity, the Harvey Cedars Police Department, is on Twitter. None, except the Borough of Harvey Cedars, appear to be on … [Read more...]