Saturday, May 23, 2009

4 Ways Social Media is Changing the Non-Profit World

A good summary of why non-profits should get on the social media bandwagon - and that it's more than just a bandwagon! It's the path to further engagement in this day and age.

Read the article here by Beth Kanter

Friday, January 23, 2009

Engage young with new media

Jan 16, 2009
By Clarissa Oon
Straits Times

SCHOOLS are starting to use new media tools such as role-playing and simulation games, blogs and animation clips to engage the young on how Singapore came about and the challenges it faces.

Praising the approach, Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said it was 'timely and important' for National Education because the young are exposed to so many 'competing worldviews' online.

Dr Ng was speaking on Friday morning at a seminar attended by some 300 National Education practitioners such as teachers, Singapore Armed Forces personnel and representatives from ministries like Education and Home Affairs.

His remarks reflect the Government's growing push to engage citizens online.

The seminar was organised by Nexus, the central coordinating agency for National Education, which aims to get younger Singaporeans such as students and National Servicemen interested in the country's past, its challenges and values and its future.

Dr Ng noted that while the Internet is a source of valuable information and views as well as bigotry, prejudices and untruths, 'thankfully, teenagers in school are discerning' and know which websites to go to for more reliable views.

Still, National Education efforts must have a presence online and 'provide a balance to ideas that sow discord and unity', he said.

How to do that effectively involves not just putting out information, but requires using digital technology to 'become better story-tellers' and to bring people together, he added.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fund-raising on Facebook rises

Jan 4, 2009 (Straits Times)

IT IS not every day that you find a corporate bigwig sharing his personal interests or posting pictures of his company's fund-raisers online.

But Mr Tan Suee Chieh, chief executive of insurance firm NTUC Income, is doing just that on popular social networking website Facebook, to raise money for charity.

Inspired by American President- elect Barack Obama's successful use of new media to woo voters, Mr Tan and his staff are using Facebook to get people excited about NTUC Income's charity drive called Project Love.

Read Melissa Sim & Theresa Tan's story in Monday's edition of The Straits Times.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Internet revolution that elected Obama could save Earth: Gore

8 Nov 2008 (AFP)

SAN FRANCISCO — Former US vice president Al Gore said an Internet revolution carrying Barack Obama to the White House should now focus its power on stopping Earth's climate crisis.

The one-time presidential contender turned environmental champion told Web 2.0 Summit goers in San Francisco Friday that technology has provided tools to save the planet while creating jobs and stimulating the crippled economy.

"The young people who have been inspired by Barack Obama's campaign and the movement that powered Barack Obama's campaign want a purpose," Gore said.

"One of the reasons we were all thrilled Tuesday night is it was pretty obvious this was a collectively intelligent decision."

The Internet's critical role in Democrat Obama's victory in the presidential race against Republican John McCain was a "great blow for victory" in addressing a "democracy crisis" stifling action against climate change, Gore said.

The Web has "revolutionized" nearly every aspect of running for US president and delivered an "electrifying redemption" of the founding national principle that all people are created equal, according to Gore.

"Some week," Gore said in greeting to an audience that leapt to its feet cheering. "It really was overwhelming. It couldn't have happened without the Internet."

Obama's victory, seen by many as a repudiation of policies of president George W. Bush, was validation of sorts for Gore, who lost to Bush in a controversial election outcome in 2000.

"Belated redemption is part of what we are celebrating this week," Gore said.

Since leaving politics Gore has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless efforts to combat climate change and starred in an Academy Award-winning global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

He also founded Current TV, a cable television operation that taps into user-generated videos and news coverage fed to its website.

The one-time newspaper reporter said his reasons for creating Current included a belief in the need to "democratize television media."

"One of the main reasons why our political system has not been operating well until this election is the unhealthy influence of the television medium as it has operated," Gore said.

"The Internet comes in and democratizes information again and it is so exciting. All the vibrant forms of information are living on the Internet but TVs are still dampening it."

Current TV teamed with Twitter and Digg on election night to weave feeds from the popular Internet websites into its coverage of the vote.

The Web has the potential to "revolutionize almost every aspect" of running for US president, according to Gore. He believes that social activism made possible by people connecting and sharing information online is in its infancy.

"What happened in the election opens a full new range of possibilities and now is the time to really move swiftly to exploit these new possibilities," Gore said of turning the power of the Internet to cooling global warming.

Gore said Obama should announce a national goal of getting all US electric power from renewable and non-carbon energy within the next decade and spend the billions necessary to build an "electrinet" smart power grid.

"Web 2.0 has to have a purpose" Gore said.

"The purpose I would urge is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our relationship to this planet and the imminent danger we face. We have everything we need to save it."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maps, Online Communities and Games for the Environment

from the Reuters Environment blog by Juliana Rotich

Kenyan blogger Juliana Rotich is the editor of Green Global Voices, which monitors citizen media in the developing world, and will be a regular contributor. ReutersThomson is not responsible for the content - the views are the author’s alone.

Earlier this year, GV Environment listed the web2.0 tools for environment activism. Since then many more tools have been developed to help concerned citizens make decisions about their carbon footprint and engage with others using maps and games. This post will highlight some mashups, online communities, carbon footprint calculators and one online game.

More on the Reuters Environment blog.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blogging for nature

Rosslyn Beeby, The Canberra Times 10 Sep 08;

It's no surprise to learn evolutionary biologist Henry Gee, one of Britain's best known science authors and senior editor of the uber-respected international science journal Nature has a blog.

It's called The End of the Pier Show, and he calls it his "online scratching post". But what is surprising delightfully so is the revelation that the award-winning author of In Search of Deep Time and Jacob's Ladder: The History of the Human Genome has a bunch of rebellious chooks "that break into the house and go directly for the dog food". Photos of the chooks, Heidi the dog, Fred the cat and assorted guinea pigs are frequently used as a kind of visual punctuation on Gee's blog, illustrating his witty meanderings on such unrelated topics as the befuddled logic of creationists and mobile phone spam.

Gee's blog is ranked on as one of the most active, with new postings every other day and three posts last Friday, with Gee reflecting on the decline of science teaching, the folly of stating the bleeding obvious and why Aretha Franklin would make a better Republican vice-presidential candidate than Sarah Palin.

His blog is also popular, attracting a regular and wide circle of readers, but being a professional writer and editor is possibly an advantage when it comes to the discipline needed to keep a blog ticking over.

According to studies cited by Google, around 60 to 80 per cent of blogs are abandoned within a month of being created, and few are regularly updated. A report by Calson Analytics, an online independent analysis of digital technology trends, states that the average blog has the lifespan of a fruitfly. Another study, "The Blogging Iceberg" by the Perseus Development Corporation, differentiated between popular blogs (like Gee's) "which are often updated multiple times a day and which by definition have tens of thousands of daily readers" and those written for "nanoaudiences" of family, workmates and friends. The survey found blogs were updated "much less often than generally thought". Active blogs were updated, on average, every fortnight. Some 2.7million blogs were abandoned after two months, with fewer than 50,000 updated daily. Blog abandonment rates were not based on age, but those who gave up on blogging "tended to write posts that were only 58 per cent as long as those bloggers who continued to publish". The conclusion was that "those who enjoy writing stick with blogs longer".

But while those "dear cyber-diary" blogs written for nanoaudiences may be as ephemeral as fruitflies, there's a thriving cyber community linked by a love of the natural environment. Many of these blogs are linked to carnivals a blog event dedicated to a particular topic and, like a magazine or scientific journal, published weekly or monthly, with each "edition" cross-linked to other blog postings in the designated topic. Two of the most popular with cyber-naturalists are Circus of the Spineless ("a monthly celebration of insects, arachnids, molluscs, crustaceans, worms and most anything else that wiggles") and I and the Bird, "a bi-weekly showcase of the best bird writing on the web". The Nature Blog Network lists the best nature blogs on the web, based on a daily hit rate and the average number of page views. Top of the list is "Ugly Overload" a blog dedicated to "giving ugly animals their day in the sun", with scientifically knowledgeable postings about not-so-cute critters such as spiders, caterpillars, worms, Borneo bearded pigs and Pacific Spookfish. You can browse postings on a variety of categories, including vermin ("Chow Time for Roaches") and Oversized Uglies, which features snippets on elephant seals, hippos and genetically modified beef cattle.

The Nature Blog Network lists more than 400 environmental science blogs, and uses coloured arrows to indicate those climbing the charts (green) and those either plummeting in popularity (red) or heading for abandonment.

It's a brave new world of publishing where the passionate home-blogger frequently outscores those blogs attached to business, university or not-for-profit organisation websites.

Bottom of the heap on the network is BBC Wales Nature with a red arrow and no recent hits. Perhaps that's no wonder, with a five-line posting about glimpsing a flock of house martins and the news that otters have been voted Britain's favourite mammal. The Ocean Doctor blog has also taken a dive (written by the former vice-president of The Ocean Conservancy), ranked at 428 and on the way out of the charts with no hits. But Greg Laden, a biological anthropologist, whose most recent posting is about excavating a giant Buddha in Afghanistan, is the network's third most popular blog with a daily average of around 1800 readers. Here's a quick sample of some of the best nature blogs online.

The Nature of Robertson

Yes, that's the pretty little NSW town just up the road in the Southern Highlands where they filmed Babe. Denis Wilson is a keen naturalist, home gardener and photographer and his most recent postings include a photo essay on spring garden flowers, a visit to the town by Canadian water expert Maude Barlow, the landscape scars of the Bungonia limestone quarry, a tribute to National Wattle Day and a link to his other passion peonies.

Ben Cruachan

Not Scotland but a puddingstone mountain in East Gippsland, near Maffra. "My name is Duncan, and I'm an amateur naturalist and photographer. My present main interests are birds and native flora, but anything that walks, flies, wriggles or swims will attract my attention and the lens of my camera," writes the blogger (a member of the Sale Field Naturalists) who lovingly crafts this very popular site. Latest posts include spring wildflower perfumes, the two-tailed spider, sawfly larvae and a botanical photo essay of wildflowers encountered on a recent bushwalk.

A Snail's Eye View

Molluscs, stranded jellyfish and gastropod shells are among the postings that have earned this blog a spot just outside the top 50 on the Nature Blog Network. Snail is an anonymous blogger based in Melbourne, and is "writing a book (two, really, but only one involves a contract) and illustrating a series of taxonomic papers (for someone else)". Well worth a look for the site's bird photos, and last month's post about seeing the first grebes of the year.

Wrenai ssance Reflections

Now in its third year, this is the Michigan-based blog that organises the globally popular "I and the Bird" carnival. Stunning photo essays on American birds, links to other bird blogs around the world and a segment called Skywatch ("a communal sharing of photos of the sky') are some of the features. The website and blog "enable me to share my enthusiasm for backyard wildlife habitats as well as the joy that I've gotten from creating, improving, and living in one," writes the anonymous blogger behind this multi-tiered site.

Living the Scientific Life

Written by grrlscientist - a female evolutionary biologist this is the second - most popular blog on the Nature Blog Network list with more than 2000 readers. Her story will be a familiar one to many Australian scientists. Inspired by a love of birds combined with skills in molecular biology, she "pursued ornithology as my career". After finishing a degree in microbiology, a PhD in zoology, and a two-year postdoc, "reconstructing a molecular phylogeny of parrots of the South Pacific Islands ... I am still trying to find a job".


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Government engaging bloggers

Monkey observes: The Social Media Breakfast gets covered on the news yesterday. Read my blog post about SMB here. Interesting the writer is a recent NUS CNM graduate.

Come Blog About It
Govt agencies get help putting message out in cyberspace
Today, 20 Aug 2008

YOU want to create an online buzz about a government-sponsored commercial on the family. What do you do? Invite eight bloggers to preview it.

This happened two months ago at a special session organised by global public relations firm Ogilvy. The commercial depicting a single father struggling to raise his daughter eventually aired on June 21 — with the buzz the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) had hoped for.

Mr Richard Tan, MCYS director for communications and international relations, told Today the experience was new in his 20 years' involvement in policy implementation and "very exciting".

Not only did the bloggers come to understand how and why the commercial was made, Mr Tan read their "heartfelt" reactions online. Such sessions "give policymakers and implementers a greater feel of how people really see our initiatives", he said.

Two years after signalling the need to engage the Internet at his National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revisited the topic on Sunday. Ahead of that, certain Government agencies have already been making the effort to court bloggers' views, while hoping they would put their message in cyberspace.

It is, to some extent, a gamble. These engagement events come with no strings attached — the invited bloggers are free to write what they want, or indeed, not write at all.

Sure, the event could have backfired. But blogger Ian Timothy, 27, who was at the preview, said: "While bloggers have the tendency to be overly critical, we also swing to the other extreme — when we really like something, we won't just stop at talking about it on our blogs, but also share with our friends through other channels."

Public relations, cyber-style

The National Heritage Board, meanwhile, has been hosting museum tours for bloggers and held a session last Saturday for 40 of them at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

In what it believes is a first among agencies here, the board is recruiting for an in-house "social media marketing" position, to cultivate relationships with active bloggers.

Said Mr Walter Lim, its director of corporate communications and industry promotion: "As social media gains prominence, we do have a very high proportion of people, especially teens, who spend time online. It is critical that organisations look at how we can leverage on this growth."

Such perspectives are a far cry from the early days when online views were sniffed at because of their mostly anonymous nature. Blogger EastCoastLife "applauds" the recent initiatives. The mother and education consultant, who asked not to be named, said: "It's better to work with the people, listen to them, than suppress their views."

Bloggers now appear to function as a "public relations arm" and the Government is recognising them as an important medium to reach the public, said Dr Linda Perry, a senior visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore's department of Communications and New Media.

Last year, the National Council Against Drug Abuse rolled out its anti-drug campaign on social sites such as Friendster and YouTube, and prominent Singapore-based bloggers were invited to blog about it.

They were given campaign information, and left to decide if – and what – they wanted to write. "It was a means to reach out to youths through their peers," said a spokeswoman from the Central Narcotics Bureau. Youths complimented this "ingenious approach", with at least one blogger, Darryl Kang, posting the "best campaign ads I've ever seen" on his blog and highligting the dangers of drug abuse.

For bloggers, what this all eventually might mean is a greater role in policy, said Ian Timothy. Instead of just blogging about what they see the Government doing, "we become active participants".

Press accreditation for bloggers?

Could such participation go a step further to include news reporting? Last month, the Malaysian Government issued press passes to about 10 online news sites such as Malaysiakini, but stopped short of handing them out to bloggers since blogs are often personal in nature.

Press passes would allow bloggers access to Government briefings or press conferences, for example, and the access to speak to officials at these events.

Said editor of The Online Citizen Choo Zheng Xi: "It's better to bring them in and allow them to see things from the government point of view, rather than lock them out and they criticise without understanding."

This could mean fewer misunderstandings and, while bloggers may still be critical, "it will be more constructive criticism", he added.

But one concern among commentators is credibility and accuracy – bloggers, after all, would largely not have journalistic training and their writing would not be subject to the editing process of the traditional media.

EastCoastLife said most bloggers at the preview of the MCYS commercial "weren't prepared and not active in responding. There were many questions to be asked, but they let slip the opportunity." Most bloggers, she felt, are not ready to be responsible.

Associate Professor Ang Peng Hwa of Nanyang Technological University's communications programme: "Unless they are prepared to have themselves held accountable (for their writing), I don't see how bloggers can equate themselves with professional media."

Member of Parliament (MP) Baey Yam Keng said blogsites that report on government issues should be regulated like traditional media, "to establish the same quality of objective and responsible reporting".

"I think it (bloggers reporting) could happen in the future, but looking at the state of the blogsphere now, I think the Government would not be comfortable," he said.

Still, fellow MP Lam Pin Min was "not averse" to credible bloggers covering press conferences as it would "be a positive step" towards harnessing blogs to put out information, "engage and solicit feedback from the public".

WEBTURN @ A blogger on the CNB's anti-drug campaign online: