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...]

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: Creating a New Narrative

My February 2011 video clip of the month features the founders of the nonprofit Ushahidi (Swahili for "testimony" or "witness") discussing the revolutionary free and open source software they created for crowdsourcing and democratising information. If you haven't been following Ushahidi and crisis mapping, you've got to check the video out. The Ushahidi story is amazing. Ushahidi collects eyewitness reports sent in by e-mail and SMS/cellphone, allowing "everyone … [Read more...]

Cookie Monster, Social Influence & Crowdsourcing

Tweets about watching a Cookie Monster audition video to help him land a gig hosting SNL started showing up in my Twitter stream this week. While I typically tweet about things like old and new media, public relations, and Montessori, I couldn't resist retweeting the plea. Yes, you read that right. A Montessori mom who doesn't let her 3-year-old watch television, including Sesame Street, was one of the people who helped Cookie Monster's video reach 1 million views … [Read more...]

How Crowdsourcing Helped Iranians Beat the Censor

I read a fascinating article in Newsweek today about a 25-year-old computer programmer who created crowdsourcing software that broke the grip of Iran's censors after the disputed 2009 election. The programmer, Austin Heap of San Francisco, developed the software, called Haystack, to open up social networking sites the Iranian government was blocking, such as Twitter and Facebook, to allow people on the ground in Iran to organize inside the country and communicate … [Read more...]