A global jam session for development

Next week the US government will host what they are calling a “jam session” for individuals interested in, or working in the field of international development. They are calling it Global Pulse, and it will be held, live and virtual, from March 29-31.

Ideas come from other ideas....lots of light nulbs emerge from one large bulb

Using the IDM “Innovation Jam” platform, they hope to have upwards of 20,000 participants sharing ideas and brainstorming on issues such as empowering women and girls, eual access to quality education, civil rights, global health, equitable trade and environmental protection.

Its a neat idea, and an interesting use of technology. All that is required is IE6 or Firefox 1.5 or above.

Oh, and a high speed internet connection.

While I understand the technical need for the high speed connection, I wonder how many people who should be a part of the conversation will be left out?

I’ll be attending the sessions as much as possible. I’m particularly interested in how the needs of people with disabilities will be addressed in the discussions, and I’m curious to find out how people in the field are using media and communications in their programs and ideas.

Stay tuned……

Can social marketing reduce stigma?

This was one of the questions I addressed in my masters thesis this past summer. Specifically, I wanted to explore how different cultural interpretations of disability would affect communication efforts to reduce stigma in developing countries. More on that later.

As I was doing research, I came across a very interesting campaign from Scotland. The tagline is “See Me,” and they have lots of interesting uses of media in their campaign. In addition to tv and radio ads, they have photography contests, polls and downloadable curriculum packs. They also have a great collection of evaluation tools.

Each TV ad has a very clear target audience in mind, whether children or adults, the ads are aimed a people who know someone affected by mental illness. Take a look:

For children-



For adults-

(My favorite line from this one is, “Patterns change, friends don’t”)


(This one has some great brotherly ribbing, showing how their relationship didn’t change as a result of the mental illness)


Its the subtleties that I appreciate most in the ads for the adults. The ones aimed at children are clear and hopefully incite some empathy and understanding….

What do you think? Do you have some examples of stigma reduction social marketing that you found particularly good. Or bad?

Don’t let your work hide on a shelf!

Messy Bookshelf

Last semester I took a course on children in international development. It was an amazing overview of some of the particular development issues that hit children – child labor, trafficking, education in crisis, early marriage, HIV/AIDS to name a few.

The final project for the course was a case study and we were partnered up with others with similar interests. My partner and I decided to focus on interventions that are in place for young disabled Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

Not only did we have to turn in a paper, we also had to present our research to the class. So, rather than bore everyone with another power point, we decided to create a website.

But not only did this give us a different way to present, it also creates a ‘living document’ so to speak. It makes the information available to others, provides resources, and gives us a way to keep our work from hiding on a shelf somewhere. Because, really, what good is it going to do there?

So check it out! We incorporated videos, photos and all kinds of links!

Feedback is welcome!!


Photo: Home and Garden Webshots

Getting Excited About Maps

There’s been a lot of buzz about using maps in advocacy, and its been something I’ve been meaning to explore further. I knew about the use of maps to see that damage done in Darfur (you can track as village go missing, and as communities are destroyed in Zimbabwe). And as neat as these were, they didn’t really do anything more than show me what I had just read before I click on “see map.”

But today I came across a completely engaging use of maps.

Buried somewhere in the Oceana website (it really should be easier to find) there is a fun tool for getting people involved in increasing awareness of mercury in seafood. If you visit Oceana’s Green List, you are asked to enter in your zip code. The site will then show you a map of your area with all the local grocery stores marked with either red or green map pins. The green pins indicate the store posts warning about mercury levels in seafood. The red ones indicate stores that have yet to post these warnings. They are on the so called Red List.

If you click on one of these pins, you get the sotre’s name, logo and address and a link that says “Help us get to your store to hang signs.” and “Sign up to speak with your store manager.”

When you click on the link, you fill out a quick form (name, email address) and then you are given a link to a printable comment card that you can drop into the stores comment box.

Personally, I found this very fun and engaging. I would have never thought about lobbying my grocery store on this issue, but now I can ‘t wait to drop this thing off!

(This post was originally posted on my blog at NetCentric Campaigns.)

Live Blog Coverage of the Internet Advocacy Roundtable

The Center for American Progress holds a monthly event called the Internet Advocacy Roundtable. Today’s roundtable is called “Party On…line with the Republican and the Democratic parties.

I’ll be attending this event and invite you to follow along! Please feel free to post any comments of questions.

If you are seeing this after the fact, you can still read through the blog’s Instant Replay.

To follow along or see the Instant Replay, please click here.

Voice to Text as a Development Tool

This morning I read about a web application called Jott.com, which uses voice recognition to let users send email and text by speaking. The idea is that you call a phone number, select the destination of your message, then speak. The voice recognition program then turns your speech into text and will then send it to recipients via email or text messaging.

You can leave messages to yourself, to others, or to a group.

But here’s where I think it would get useful- Africa.

Internet connectivity is still hard to come by in most places, but cell phone service is much more widespread. Wouldn’t it be great to have a similar application with phone numbers that could be dialed from countries in Africa? Then users could send emails and text messages from places where they have no internet connection.

Currently Jott.com’s telephone numbers are only available in the US and Canada.

FaceBook to protest guerillas!

What do Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and Oscar Morales of northern Colombia have in common?

They all use FaceBook (with varying success) to call people to action. But Morales has had far greater success than either of the Democratic candidates.

Earlier this year, Morales created the FaceBook group, One Million Voices Against the FARC and used the site to organize a worldwide protest march. The FARC and other guerilla movements began in the 1960s, and they have been accused of kidnappings, civilian massacres, political intimidation, extortion and other human rights violations.

Colombia has almost 650,000 FaceBook users, but the support for the march came from all over the globe. As the group’s popularity grew, more traditional media outlets pick up on the story. In the end, an estimated 2 million Colombians marched on February 5 in a unified show of protest, and solidarity protests were held in 193 cities throughout Latin America, Europe, North America and Asia.

What made this communication tool so effective?
Online social networking sites are a great way to get information spread throughout your network, and to simultaneously increase your network, so the basic structure and culture of the application helped.

Clarity was another factor of success. Rival and copy capt groups appeared on FaceBook calling for other marches, but their details were less clear. Said one marcher, “I received a FaceBook invite for a different march on December 16, but the message was so vague. The organizers of that event were saying they wanted peace, but they weren’t pointing out who was responsible for the violence. So I didn’t go. With this invite, it was so clear that I sent it to all my friends.”