‘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...]

Visualizing the Disruptive Power of ICTs

Here's a graphic showing why information and communications technologies (ICTs) represent the power to influence behavior and affect large-scale change at a reasonable price for the first time. The graphic's four cells show how ICTs represent a disruptive technological shift to public communications: Cell 1: Until recently, most traditional advertising and public communications campaigns used the approach shown in Cell 1. Because stakeholder groups were … [Read more...]

Top 3 Disruptive Trends to Track in 2013

Rapidly changing technologies continue to keep the field of communications in flux. Communications practitioners are under pressure to keep pace with the changing ways people use technology and adapt their communications models to a world where information flows in real time. Besides social media (old news at this point), here are three of the biggest disruptive trends to track in 2013. Mobile Mobile Mobile This year mobile devices will pass PCs as the most … [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...]

HOW TO: Ground VOA’s Global Ambitions in Reality

Just after reading a fascinating post on Mobile Mahaal, an innovative experiment making radio more interactive in Afghanistan, I read another by Kim Andrew Elliott on proposed Voice of America (VOA) budget cuts and programs "under other names." Kim wrote: "Congress should not spend money on an international news service that the private sector can accomplish at no cost to the taxpayers." Kim's comment was in reaction to a post on the Mountain Runner blog by David … [Read more...]

Tweeting Libya’s ‘Digital Black Hole’ Revolution

"RT @mashable: Unconfirmed: Tweets Say Gaddafi Has Left Libya [BREAKING] - http://t.co/zOpe3NO," read a surprising tweet flashing across my smart phone screen Saturday afternoon. Since Mashable is a very reputable social media and technology blog, I immediately retweeted the message to my Twitter followers and began running searches to find out more about what was going on. Last January and February I'd followed the Revolution 2.0-powered uprisings in Tunisia and … [Read more...]

HOW TO: Reach Your Audience with Text Messages

Sending a text message is almost the only way you can be sure your target audience actually reads your message. An amazing 97 percent of mobile subscribers will read an SMS message within four minutes of receipt. But only 20 percent of listserv e-mails, depending on your industry, are ever opened at all. Here are six steps organizations of any size can use to add text messages to their communications mix: 1. Choose a text message delivery system. While there … [Read more...]

Top 12 Blogs to Help You Change the World

If you want to use social media and mobile applications to make the world a better place, a number of blogs can help you chart your way, even as technologies change. Among the many strong ones out there, here are my favorite 12: Beth's Blog—one of the most popular and useful blogs for nonprofits (and anybody else interested in making a difference)—provides the latest insights into social media, online networking, and transparent organizational management. Its … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Treesaver & Accessibility

My April 2011 video clip of the month features a pre-release demonstration of the free open source dynamic publishing platform Treesaver. Online publications created with Treesaver automatically adjust to the size of any screen (you've got to see it in action). Treesaver is a lot like the Flipboard iPad app except it's built with web standards—HTML, CSS, and Javascript. That means you can just design a publication once and the same code will work on any device … [Read more...]

Mobile the ‘Missing Link’ in Revolution 2.0 Debate

"I'll send you the email tomorrow when I have power. We're in a brownout," a volunteer I was coordinating with in Kenya tweeted in a direct message to me using her cell phone. The exchange (for one of my non-profit clients) brought home for me the "missing link" I think many are missing in the debate over social media's role in the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. To connect to Revolution 2.0, you don't need a computer. You don't even need electricity. All … [Read more...]

Egypt and the Rise of the Social Media ‘Swarm’

Last May I wrote that "we are on the verge of a massive shift in the way we communicate and inspire action." As I watch jubilant Egyptians in the video below celebrating the resignation of their 82-year-old former president, I think I can safely say that paradigm shift has arrived. The leaderless Revolution 2.0 in Egypt, and earlier in Tunisia, illustrate how powerfully social media can be used to galvanize real action in the real world. Social media contributed … [Read more...]

Using Social Media for Emergency Response

You've got to check out this fascinating video of Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), explaining why his agency plans to engage the public more in disaster response via mobile phones and social media. "A government-centric abroad to solving disaster problems will fail in a catastrophic disaster," he says. "It is a brittle system that does not have the resiliency that we have when we can incorporate the rest of the team: … [Read more...]

McDonald’s Foursquare Success: $1,000 Pays Off Big

Mashable posted a fascinating article today about how McDonald's spent a modest $1,000 on a pilot Foursquare campaign resulting in 33 percent more foot traffic in one day, more than 50 news articles, and 600,000 people opting to follow and fan the brand on social media sites. McDonald's Foursquare Day on April 16 used 100 randomly awarded $5 and $10 gift cards to lure Foursquare users into McDonald's restaurants to check in. Foursquare is a mobile … [Read more...]

Exciting or Scary? Rise of Social Media Swarms

Today, we are on the verge of a massive shift in the way we communicate and inspire action. Social media is creating a new kind of communications fluidity, a fully immersive experience enabling conversations to be hijacked in ways unimaginable in decades past. Up until the 1980s, totalitarian governments, superpowers, media cartels, and leading brands had dominant control over national and even global dialogues because of superior resources and a monopoly … [Read more...]