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Social Media for the Social Good

21 Nov

Never again can it be said that social media doesn’t help.

Parents these days are complaining about their children’s addiction to Facebook, about how their daughter checks her Twitter account during the family dinner, about how their son keeps playing Mafia Wars and updating his status.

It helps in a lot of ways, but not the ways you may think.

For regular people like me and you reading this, social media helps us by letting us go online so we can talk to our friends, catch up on Facebook, using socialmention.com to research about a particular brand for a school project or even get that new bag we’ve always wanted through a social media friend.

But for the people of Concern Worldwide, social media is the newest tool to help them raise money to help children worldwide through education.

Concern Worldwide is just an example of the many non-profit organizations that are slowly opening up and reaching out to social media in an effort to spread the word about social change and social good.

To put things in a local aspect, social media, while still considered the newest fashion of technology, has already started doing some good in Singapore.

On March 2010, Twestival SG was held at Brewerkz Singapore, along Clarke Quay. It was an independent event contributing to the efforts of Concern Worldwide. Spreading the message via various social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Twtvite as well as having their own Twestival FM, it was a successful example of how people could come together through the tools they use everyday.

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The event raised more than 7,000SGD and that’s not even including the sponsorship figures.

But thing is, when I say social media, anybody’s first thoughts would go to “Facebook” or maybe even “Twitter”. But what about “YouTube”?

YouTube is the most popular video-sharing community online, boasting statistics of 24 hours of video content being uploaded literally every single minute and with a daily viewership of 2 billion. The most interesting thing about YouTube, however, is it’s community. A large portion of what makes any campaign successful (whether for the social good or not) is how viral it is. And YouTube is excellent for going viral.

Recently in September, StickAid2010 happened. StickAid is a live 24-hour non-stop variety show hosted by 2 of the UK’s most popular YouTube personalities, Myles Dyer and Charlie McDonnell in an effort to raise money and donate it to UNICEF. Not only did they have a YouTube account for it, they had a Twitter account, Facebook page, Twibbon add-on as well as a justgiving.com page where anyone could donate online.

Myles and Charlie, being internet phenomenons, naturally began tweeting about the event, before those tweets started going around, gaining more interest from those who don’t even have a YouTube account and haven’t heard about these two people before.

Apart from just talking about StickAid and how people could help by donating money, Myles & Charlie, as with any other program trying to raise money for a good cause, did some wacky stuff during the 24-hour live show to encourage people to tune in and donate. This includes Myles smashing raw eggs with his forehead, Myles & Charlie exchanging clothes on air, scotch-taping their good friend Alex Day on the wall and even re-enacting a scene from Twilight.

The pair initially decided on a goal of raising £10,000 for UNICEF, but after 24 non-stop hours, they ended successfully with a record of £19,592.57. 96% more than their original target.

I’m not saying that social media is the only way to go about doing social good. There are the usual, traditional ways of donating and raising funds, but while everyone’s hopping onto the social media bandwagon, why not NGO’s and non-profit organizations too?

The aim of these organizations is to raise money, but to raise money, you need to reach out to people and tell them of your plight and most importantly, make them see how important a role they play in helping out those in need.

Social media is a fantastic tool for reaching out to people on a more personal scale, and that is why I believe that no longer can it be said that social media doesn’t help.

So, what happened to the funds raised by Twestival?

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of The Minority Report & Why We Should Care

8 Nov

A week ago, the entire class watched The Minority Report for New Communications Technology (NCT).

Needless to say, it was an interesting movie. I wouldn’t call it enjoyable because I’m not one for these kinds of movies (read: the kind of movies that involve Tom Cruise) but it was alright.

The Minority Report revolves around Tom Cruise’s character, who is the captain of the Precrime precinct, a subdivision which possesses the technology and authority of preventing a murder before it happens. The system is propelled by three “Pre-cogs”; genetically-altered beings that have the ability to predict murders, and from their “visions”, Precrime is able to arrest the supposed murderer.

Sometime later, Tom Cruise’s character becomes a potential perpetrator as predicted by the “Pre-cogs” (try saying that really fast) and thus begins the race against time to prove his innocence.

But we’re not here to give you a movie review, we’re here to analyze the type of technology that was used in the movie.

The first type of technology we see is Augmented Reality, when Tom Cruise puts on a pair of cool black gloves and whips out a screen from thin air and starts organising information left and right, dropping them into places, shoving them to the back or enlarging certain parts.

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Lo and behold – this kind of technology already exists!

Augmented Reality is slowly becoming a trend, and is already being utilised – to play games, card tricks, even to help a company advertise their latest car. While it is still in the beginning stages, we can definitely expect it to change the way we communicate in the near future.

This is another type of technology in the movie –

Through scanning his eyes, the ads are able to know his name and apply that into that advertisements, making it more personal. This is a good tactic for those who have businesses, because it is always easier to sell something if you can make it relate to the consumer.

On the other hand, I believe this technology crosses the boundary of privacy because sure, they might only know your names, but sooner or later the people behind these ads are going to want more than that, like what your marital status is, what you do for a living, how much your salary is so that they can better personalize the ad according to the person and I’m not ready to divulge my personal information randomly. The way I see it, technology is technology but there are certain boundaries that need to be respected, especially if it involves privacy and personal information.

Not shockingly, technology that mirrors the scene from the above video is already being developed by IBM, and you can find more information about it here.

“Engineers in Japan have already developed a billboard that is capable of identifying a shopper’s age and gender as they walk past to offer them products that are more accurately suited to them.

The signs, developed by Japanese electronics company NEC, use basic facial recognition software and cameras to determine if someone is male or female and their rough age range before showing an advert that matches their demographic.”

I think it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see the technology in Minority Report in our daily lives sooner rather than later.

Watch this space!

20 Oct

Looks like this blog will be revived again for my New Comm Technologies (NCT) blog posts!

Watch this space! :)