‘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...]

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...]

The 10 Most Popular Blog Posts for 2012

eVentures in Cyberland: Through the Web 2.0 Looking Glass, and What Communicators Found There! turned 3 years old this fall, and 2012 was my blog's best year. Even though I post less often now that I've returned to semi-full-time work, the blog on average attracted some 2,000 unique visitors a month this year. That's up from a dismal low of 50 unique visitors a month when I first started out in 2009 and an average of 500 unique visitors a month in 2010 and 1,400 … [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...]

Castrating Hate-Fueled Leaderless Web 2.0 Swarms?

A low-budget Islamophobic video translated into Arabic and crafted to provoke, offend, and evoke outrage near the anniversary of 9/11 is the latest example of how almost anyone can incite powerful leaderless social media swarms. The scary thing is a tech savvy but disturbed high school or college student could pull a similar stunt. It turns out the producer of "Innocence of Muslims"—which mocks Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and incited mob protests against … [Read more...]

HOW TO: Unleash the ‘Crowd’ to Create Change

A Communications 301 rule of thumb is "information alone doesn't change behavior." You might have brilliant left-brained arguments about why people should do something, but if you don't touch them emotionally, they won't be swayed. O.K., maybe they'll give you a thumbs up, but they won't act. Raising awareness is only effective in changing behavior when you have the time and resources to reach the saturation point of "everybody knows that everybody knows that … [Read more...]

Video Clip of the Month: Leading Online Communities

How can you turn a leaderless communications swarm into a collaborative online community that achieves results? That's the zillion dollar question for 2012. As my runner up for January 2012 video clip of the month below shows (and anybody who has been following the news knows), self-directed communications swarms fueled many of the top news events of 2011. While my runner up for video clip of the month above is inspiring, especially on the New Year, my main … [Read more...]

Strategic or Scary? Public Diplomacy Commission Cut

After Tripoli fell to anti-Gaddafi forces last August, I remembered a particularly clairvoyant blog post/radio interview I ran across a couple of months earlier. The blog post/radio interview gave a spot on analysis of how information could be used to empower Libyans to take back their own country. When I went back to the blog to find out if its author had any new predictions, I found out the Mountain Runner blog was on hiatus because its author had recently … [Read more...]

The Klout Fallacy from Its Marketing Manager Herself

I hit the Klout jackpot this week. No, my Klout score of 40 isn't suddenly up. Klout's Marketing Manager Megan Berry personally left an incredibly insightful comment on my blog. Her comment isn't gold to me because of the ego boost (O.K., maybe a little). It's gold because it plainly illustrates the fallacy of Klout's claim to be "the standard for influence." Here's how Berry summarized how Klout scores work: "1. Influence isn’t about you, it’s about your audience. … [Read more...]

Social Media-Fueled Swarms Don’t Need a Leader

Almost a year and a half ago I wrote that "we are on the verge of a massive shift in the way we communicate and inspire action." Last February, as I watched jubilant Egyptians celebrate the resignation of their 82-year-old former president, I asserted that paradigm shift had arrived. Today, as I read news articles mocking the Occupy Wall Street protests spreading from Lower Manhattan to hundreds of cities and towns, I realize how many still aren't visualizing the … [Read more...]

Following the Organizing Advice of Mao Tse-tung?

“The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with.” —Marty Feldman Did you know a '60s-era campaign organizing strategy inspired by Mao Tse-tung foreshadowed social media's power? From Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics: "In his recent book, How to Win an Election, Stephen C.  Shadegg [Barry Goldwater 's Campaign Advisor] cites a statement attributed to Mao Tse-tung: 'Give me just two or three men … [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...]

40 Tweet Gems from NEMA’s #SMEM Camp

After participating in the Emergency Social Data Summit remotely last summer (see my 30 Tweet Gems from Emergency Social Data Summit wrap-up post, I was thrilled to learn the public was invited to attend the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Social Media in Emergency Management (SMEM) Camp yesterday in Alexandria, Va. I signed up as soon as I cleared the date. Why? Of all the ways social media can make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary … [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...]