Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reconstructing Communities Using Mobile Phones

Today I had the privilege to present at the UCT Graduate School of Business Mobile Marketing Course. This course is managed by no one other than Dave Duarte, one of the greatest minds in South Africa. The talk was titled "Reconstructing Communities Using Mobile Phones" with a focus on how mobile phones are integrated into daily lives to bring about a change in local communities. The presentation can be viewed below:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Red HIV Zone on MXit

Today we launch another exciting inititiave a collaboration with Cell-Life. South Africa has 5.7 million people living with HIV of which and estimated 3 million between the ages of 12 and 35. This is also the age group that has the most mobile and mobile chat (e.g. MXit) users. To ensure that people in this age group are reached with information and advice about HIV on a communications platform that they use daily MXit proved to be an ideal medium.

This is the Cell-Life Red project that will provide users FREE access to information and advice to information about HIV and AIDS. This service is available 24 hours a day and is easily accessible. This new service will offer people opportunity to be part of a community that will support those in need.

Information about HIV will be available in 5 languages (including a chat language)and will also have competitions, contact details and much more as part of reaching the 14 million users on MXit.

If you want to go Red on MXit then you can do the following:

- Go to Tradepost
- Select MXit Mix
- Select My Culture option
- Select Red
- Add Contact

Our goal is to reach at least 250,000 users who will use this contact for information and advice relating to HIV and AIDS. The Red revolution has surely begun. Follow Red also on twitter @RedMXit for more information and updates about the service

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Debt Breaker on Angel

With the increase number of people looking for assistance on how to get out of debt and the number of MXit subscribers increasing we've added our Debt Breaker service to our MXit Angel Portal.

This service will give consumers an opportunity to add our MXit contact and they will be able to access FREE information about debt and debt counselling over their mobile phone.

MXit is a Mobile Instant Messenger that is available for most handsets and PCs. MXit Lifestyle also launched an application for the iPhone. It can be downloaded here

You can add our Angel service on your MXit application as follows
- Go to Menu
- Contacts
- Add Contacts
- MXit Services
- Add the following (Service Name: Angel, Nickname: Angel)
- Accept Contact

For more information about our Debt Breaker Service you can go here

Twitter Translator: "Twinslator"

With the number of Twitter users increasing it is no surprise that more translator applications are becoming popular. One such application is the Twinslator which allows you to translate your tweet into another language. It is powered by Google Translate and then allow you to either post both messages or just the translated message. A pity about having to enter twitter details each time you want to do a translation. Does prove to be a bit tedious but simple enough to use.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Social Media and Teens

After spending 4 weeks in the UK and connecting with a large number of young people it was interesting to hear some of their comments about Social Media. Speaking to approximately just over 100 teenagers during my stay I wanted to know what are their social media tool of choice, what they think of micro-blogging like Twitter and what are the Instant Messenger that they use most of the time.

All the youth (aged 13 - 26) indicated that they are using FaceBook and that it is their social network of choice. Only 5% of the youth have a Twitter account and some of them thinking that Twitter is for "famous people". Only two of the 5% were using it often and almost 10% did not know about Twitter. The Instant Messenger of Choice was MSN and very few of them used Mobile Instant Messengers.

It would be interesting to see how Teens in South Africa and those in the UK are adopting Social Media. We are currently running a Social Media with Teens programme as part of the Athlone Living Lab project and it seems as if from the offset it has been received positively by our teens in Cape Town, South Africa.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Add us to MXit: New Times

To add us on your MXit you can do the following:

1) Go to contacts
2) Add contact
3) Go to Jabber or Google Talk (depending on your version of MXit)
4) Jabber or Google Talk ID:
Nickname: DAS
5) Accept contact

This service runs Mondays to Thursdays between 4 and 6pm. Join us as we reconstruct our communities.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Angels and Mobiles

Thanks to Nick Booth for recording this quick video displaying our MXit Angel project.

Angel service for Drug Addicts in South Africa from Podnosh on Vimeo.

Read his post about the Reconstructed project here

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Power of Social Media

There are many people doing amazing work around the world through the use of social media. A few minutes ago I saw another example of how through the use of social media an audience that would generally take a long time to reach or be expensive to mobilise can be reached within minutes at almost no cost.

An hour ago a call for support was sent out to distribute a message that a young girl went missing (See image above). How could you reach more than 4 million people within minutes at very low cost? The answer is the Kutcher-Effect on twitter. Asking Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to Retweet your message on twitter who has more than 4 million followers combined.

Within minutes the message was sent throughout the world (I am included in that list) possibly on every continent for the twitter community to look for this young girl (3 minutes after the tweet Ashton tweeted the message - see below).

Forty minutes later the millions who were reached were informed that the young girl is safe and sound.

This shows the power of social media and just one of those ways again how it can be used for good. How are you using the power that you have at your fingertips?

Digital Birmingham: A quick tour by a Capetonian

Monday I decided to make a trip to Birmingham to see what the social media scene would be like in that city. Initially I had no idea what to expect but was looking forward to the journey (also the furthest north I have travelled in England). Entering the beautiful city and observing many industrial landmarks it was no surprise to me that my visit would be one that would be beyond memorable as I began meeting with the Brum Bloggers (Birmingham Social Media Community). I was hosted by Jon Hickman lecturer at Birmingham City University and also the course director for the Masters degree in Social Media. I was intrigued by the fact that they would be the first to offer a Masters in Social Media and was good to understand the thinking behind the course.

Meetings with other interesting social media experts working in local charities (Michael Grimes)and with young offenders (Jon Bounds)also proved to be very useful learning how different communities in contexts were using social media. Although we come from different parts of the world we all shared a view that key to social media is the community more than just the tools or technologies. Later the evening I had the privilege to join the Birmingham Social Media Elite (BrumBloggers) where various people in the social media sector came together to share and just chat around the table. Amazing group of people all around the room and was fortunate to connect with the likes of Nick Booth and Pete Ashton who had an interesting take on engaging with social media. Nick with his years of experience in the industry and more so trying to break down barriers within engaging using Social media in the government context reminded me of the same challenges we face with funding being available for certain initiatives yet it never reaches the ground because somewhere the message gets lost in the chain of command. More so the importance of Government when it comes to what is called the Digital Citizen. Really an informative evening having great conversations from what a Social media consultant is to how social media should be more used in the area of social good.

My second day started off meeting Chris Unitt who has an interest in social media in developing countries and was able to share some of our experiences with the Athlone Living Lab and Reconstructed Project. Key for us to social media in a developing context was identifying your champions in the community that could drive the initiatives and build capacity to contribute towards sustainability of such activities. Also did an interview with Nick (a,k,a PodNosh on Twitter and was good to share a little about the work we are doing back home. The day continued with a meeting with Dave Harte who is key in the Digital Birmingham initiative and more so part of the Liviing Lab that could lead to collaborations with our work. I can see how Cape Town who are striving to have this digital citizenship and services could learn a lot from the work that Dave is involved in and where we could share about our experiences with building innovative parters with various stakeholders. The day ended with a Social Media Cafe session in Wolverhampton where the discussion was about "Social Media Non Adopters" (This Post is on its way). The conversations was definitely heated as many had different opinions to how a social media non-adopter should be described and identified.

Overall I am very impressed by the level of creative industries involvement in the space of Social Media and It also showed me that here in Birmingham there is a breed of social media people who have such a vast amount of experiences to share and could be useful for others out there to make the trip or connection with any of these amazing individuals who will add value to your social media experience.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Athlone Living Lab in Southampton

This week the Athlone Living Lab Project Manager and I had the privilege to present the project and solutions to a group at University of Southampton. It was a wonderful experience to share and learn from others who are passionate to see mobile technologies being used for social change. We have gained so much through this week of Living Labs Workshops in the UK and looking forward to applying these new found knowledge in our context.

We will also be deploying one of our social innovations (Advice Support Network) in Southampton fulfilling our vision of having a global impact with the solutions produced in the Athlone Living Lab.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Watching the Michael Jackson Memorial Live

Free Videos by Ustream.TV

With Social Media playing such a big role in Michael Jackson's memorial and coverage to the ends of the earth using technology like never before you can follow it through live the stream above.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Social Media is a great leveler

Over the past few weeks I have seen the power of Social Media and how it is a great leveler in a society where status and many other factors separates communities. Through our Reconstructed and Mom2.0 project we saw people embracing life through the use of Social Media where they share stories, give messages of hope and do not feel inadequate when connecting with people across the world.

Through the use of Social Media people who before might have felt disjoint from communities are now able to use this medium as a way to improve communication and writing skills, regain confidence and above all feel that they are part of a global conversation where their voices are heard irrespective of their background, status, race, culture or whatever else generally would bring about discrimination or separation. Social Media in my opinion is a great leveler and we are seeing the fruits of it in the conversations that are floating around and the real impact its having in the lives of people.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Athlone Living Lab: Community Innovation Space

The Athlone Living Lab Space are being upgraded and will be ready by next week. The space will be used for the Advice Support Services, training and development space for social and services innovation. Thanks to the Reconstructed Team for all the hard work in getting the space ready.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mind Your Language

The above episode reminded me of how important language and community is. Trying to get people who are foreign to the language to understand it is a struggle but always leads to interesting interpretations. This is not so much different to what we are currently experiencing with people trying to understand the Chat or MXit language.

On the Advice Support Network (ASN) service we speak to thousands of youth and it is interesting to see their interpretations of the chat language. Having conversations such as:

Me: Hi. Welcome to DAS how r u doing?
@mxit: hi. gd thx u?
Me. Well thanx. What r u up 2?
@mxit: libl2mnjc

With conversations containing chat acronyms such as libl2mnjc (laying in bed listening to music and just chilling) and wuu2n (what are you up to now) does cause us to mind our language. With many parents who see their children on MXit and even when they do see the conversations they still need an interpreter to try and understand what the conversation is about. We could easily have a Mind Your Language back but this time instead of teaching the international language of English we could be teaching "Chat language" to the millions out there who would like to get a better understanding of it.