20 October 2009

Get noticed without talking

InDev Jobs, a recruitment website focused on the development sector, offers some useful tips on using 'non-verbal communication to market yourself'. Some of the points are fairly obvious - a smile when you meet somebody - but always worth remembering.
Read more.

31 August 2009

Culture and potential of social networks

It seems everybody is hot for Twitter, Facebook and their ilk. But what is their real potential for development-based communications? Who is using them, for what purpose?

I follow a bunch of interesting contributors on these networks, from UNEP and UNICEF reporting on the UN's operations in developing countries and conflict and disaster zones, to InvisibleTV, reporting on the US homeless. Their posts are interesting and sometimes motivating. But are they just preaching to the converted?

These organizations also follow my tweets; are they really interested in what I am saying? Are we having an interactive conversation? Are we together engaging more people, exploring issues and improving lives?

"What happens when millions of people engage in social networks? Online communities are not a new phenomenon, but the creation of large online meeting spaces marks a new era and new dimensions." Blogger and consultant Christian Kreutz looks at the cultures of social networks and their potential, on Web4Dev.

03 July 2009

OECD adopts Gapminder data technology

I earlier reported on the work of Professor Hans Rosling who is exploring new ways to express data and in particular help people understand the causes of poverty. The tools can be found at the site Gapminder, and now the OECD has picked them up, getting the BBC very excited.

09 June 2009

AudienceScapes project wins Gates Foundation support

The innovative AudienceScapes project by Washington-based InterMedia, has won support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
A $1.3m grant will fund research in Africa of how people gather, share and shape news and information, particularly as it relates to development, and boost the AudienceScapes website, with 'Country Communication Profiles', an interactive global media and communication data map, etc.
The site is still in development, but shows promise, especially for students of media and those in development needing to know how to reach and engage with audiences.
How many radio listeners in Lagos? What's TV penetration like in Bosnia? How many use mobile phones in China? Is the media free and democratic in Peru?
"There is a great need for evidence-based research that supports and informs development communications," said InterMedia President Dr. Mark Rhodes. "It's an important base, a launching pad for an expanded research program and information resource for development organizations, starting in Africa but in other regions as well."

07 May 2009

Web conferencing services

An idea to cut travel and your carbon footprint. The following services allow everybody to be 'on the same page' during a long-distance meeting.

1. GoToMeeting
Free 30-day trial.

2. Adobe Acrobat Connect
Free 15-day trial.

3. WebEx
Free 14-day trial

They work on the same principle. Install the application on the host machine (e.g. a laptop that you will use on the day). Having registered in the service, you generate a code that is sent to the participants. They simply click on a link, enter the code (or this is automated), and then watch whatever you show them, via their web browser.

The host PC controls what is visible on the other machine (a spreadsheet, video etc.). The host can also hand the controls to any of the participants. The host controls what the participants see: just a window from the host PC, or the whole screen.

Both services enable participants at up to 15 locations to join. Additional facilities include voice (VOIP) integration, and instant messaging (chat windows to ask questions, send messages between participants etc.). Webex even enables users to log in from a smart phone.

05 May 2009

UNICEF Innovations

UNICEF is innovating around social networking, mobile media and 'rugged computing' (think beyond one laptop per child), and the people responsible have even built a website dedicated to innovation. At its root, UNICEF is about children and their development, so it is interesting to see how they employ innovative technologies and communications channels.

03 May 2009

Communicating in low-bandwidth environments

Opening Facebook takes 3 minutes, podcasts are impossible and major blog tools (like this one) are off-limits. Censorship? No, it's a lack of bandwidth. Welcome to the developing world. Broadband is coming, but for most people it remains a remote possibility.
Happily there are tools and techniques for communicating in low-bandwidth environments, as blogger Christian Kreuz explains.


01 May 2009

How to pitch your social venture to the media

From Social Edge (Skoll Foundation):

Do you need media coverage? And if so, what is the best timing to reach out to journalists?
  • Peg your business to a news event
  • Journalists love celebrities
  • Write an op-ed piece
  • Focus on the solution of the problem
  • What are the results
  • See: guidelines for freelance writers

Mobile Web for Social Development

"The MW4D Interest Group explores how to use the potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on Mobile phones as a solution to bridge the Digital Divide and provide (health, education, governance, business) to rural communities and under-privileged populations of Developing Countries.

The objective of MW4D IG is to gather all stakeholders in a global forum in order to identify the key challenges of using mobile phones as an ICT-platform in Developing regions, and to draft a roadmap to work on.

The targeted players are Web experts, Mobile specialists, Academics from Developed and Developing regions, NGOs with field expertise, and International organizations working on reducing the Digital Divide."


Developing countries drive growth in mobile phones

From The Guardian (UK)

More than half the world's population now pay to use a mobile phone and nearly a quarter use the internet, as developing countries rapidly adopt new communications technologies.

By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1bn mobile subscriptions, up from 1bn in 2002, according to a report published today by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN.

That represents six-in-ten of the world's population, with developing countries accounting for about two-thirds of the mobile phones in use, compared with less than half of subscriptions in 2002.


22 April 2009

Mobile news in Africa

From TED: Erik Hersman presents on Ushahidi, a GoogleMaps mashup that allowed Kenyans to report on violence via cell phone texts following the 2007 elections. The tool has evolved and is now used in DR Congo etc.

Hersman goes on to explain that the ability for the broad public to generate information via the mobile phone is already creating more noise than people can handle: witness the overload of Twitter entries during and after the Mumbai shootings.

What I find most interesting in this short item is how local African developers are building a filter to turn crowd-sourced information into ranked 'truth'. A major weakness in socially-sourced information is misinformation and inaccuracy (as opposed to the reliability of professional, commercial media!). The idea is that users rank information so that you can tell what is really true.

For sure, some form of ranking and filtering is needed, but will this simply mean that the most popular version of events becomes the accepted reality?

08 March 2009

The changing fortunes of developing countries

Although this presentation appeared in 2006, it continues to provoke thought and no less so than for the energy of the speaker, Swedish professor Hans Rosling, and the innovative display of statistics.

I heartily recommend exploring other videos on TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) for provocative, exciting and always entertaining discussions. Consider it the thinkers' YouTube.
A good example is the video below, wherein Prof. Rosling provided an update, one year later (mid-2007), with 'New insights on poverty and life around the world'.

04 February 2009

Mobile media in developing countries

Internews Europe, part of an international media development organization, has published a great new study on the growth potential of mobile telephones in developing countries and what that means for media organizations in particular.
"The Promise of Ubiquity was commissioned by Internews Europe in order to help the media to understand the exciting potential, the incredible challenges and the perils of refusing to change. What kind of information services can be carried on the mobile now and in the next five years? Is the mobile viable as an information channel even when many new users may be illiterate?"
I particularly like the use of case studies of innovators who have put mobile telephones to new uses and developed new business models. This is clearly an area where 'developed' countries can learn from their less wealthy counterparts.
Read the study for more.

16 January 2009

Universal declaration of human rights (video)

Lovely video on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Hollywood meets the UN!
Hopefully this gets the message across in a complementary way to the earnest persuasion of politicians and activists.
I love the comment on YouTube: "where can we sign...".