NGOs & Nonprofits, Presentations, Social media & networking

EMC Summer School

As I mentioned in my last post, I presented at the Essential Media Communications Summer School last Thursday. My topic was social media for social change – looking at the principles of engagement with a specific emphasis on achieving social outcomes.

As happens with most presentations I do I was tweaking my slide deck right up until the last minute. The Summer School last week was no exception, so the version of my slides that was distributed to attendees at the conference is slightly out of sync with my actual presentation.

Thus here’s a PDF of the slides (6.24 MB) with my associated notes (which are also updated slightly from the distributed version).

From the conversations after my talk, there seemed to be a lot of interest in the diagram about different participation levels. While all this is included in my slide notes, I thought it worth noting that the diagram was conceived by Nicholas Street in response to a couple of reports, most notably the Participate Online research report (PDF 815 KB). It seems the diagram is no longer published on Nicholas’s blog – so I’m reposting it below for reference:

Chart depicting different levels of engagement in online participation

Around the time I came across Nicholas’s post I documented my thoughts, with an emphasis on my experience of Earth Hour 2007 – but have since expanded on them based on conversations with the Social Tech group.

While I still think the concepts are useful to consider, the Participate study is getting a bit long in the tooth now, which is why I didn’t spend a lot of time on that slide in my presentation. Seggr’s post on What social technographic are you? provides some more recent commentary to Forrester’s updated Social Technographics Ladder – both worthwhile references for those of you that are considering different types of participation.

The Pyschology of Influence and Sharing came across my Twitter stream while the Summer School was transpiring, which adds another perspective.

Thanks to everyone who attended the presentation, for the challenging questions at the end of the talk and for the kind words some of you shared with me afterwards. And thanks to EMC for inviting me to talk.

NGOs & Nonprofits, Social media & networking

Online campaigning effectiveness

A little while back Priscilla made some interesting comments about online-only campaigning.

I didn’t get a chance to comment on the post at the time (and the comments are now disabled for that article), but I did have some thoughts that I thought might be worth sharing.

I agree that online-only campaigning may not be as effective as a mixed media campaign. Certainly there is only so much that can happen online, and the more channels that you can leverage to reach people where they’re at (I use these words carefully – if your target audience is mostly online, why spend money on offline activities?).

I do, however, think online campaigning is one of the most effective – in terms of cost and reach – of all the media. This is especially true if you can successfully “flip the funnel” and get other people to help you do the work.

It would be great if we could all afford magazine spreads, a solid PR strategy, TV ads etc., but all of those cost a lot of money with unclear benefits IMO – most of the time anyway. As I was saying to a colleague the other day, more traditional advertising is geared towards brand building and positioning within the market – and it’s much harder to track a direct ROI on it.

That said, I’m a big believer in integrated campaigns – especially those that combine online and offline actions. Even low-cost opportunities, such as events etc. can really help lift an online action. The Participate Online study I think demonstrates this too – people often get active around a specific event.


Chinese Internet Censorship Index

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been working on part of the Uncensor [site no longer available] project for Amnesty International Australia.

Well, the main feature I’ve been working is partially live now – so I have something to point to :) – and given today is the Day of protest [site no longer available] it seems fitting that I should talk a little bit more about the project.


The Chinese Internet Censorship Index [site no longer available] (or the short version: CICI – pron. chi-chi) is a symbolic visual representation of the level of internet censorship in China at any time. It collects data about sites that have been reported as blocked and presents them as a pseudo “stock index” – if the index is up, it means that more sites are accessible, down means more sites are blocked.

I was responsible for defining the methodology (some of which is outlined in a PDF [266 KB] on the site [site no longer available]) and building the data collection tools for the index. I also built some of the registration features, integrated the site with my favourite email management tool, Campaign Monitor, and a REST+JSON API to support the Flash visualisation and an AJAX testing application (more on that in a sec).

For the technically inclined – i.e. the folks for whom all those acronyms actually mean something ;) – all the components were developed in Django (a Python-based framework).

Getting the data

Data for the index is collected by testing sites via proxies that are hosted within China, and also via the in-browser testing application that volunteers can run from within China. We have some tricks up our sleeve for ensuring that the test app isn’t blocked for participants – so you if happen to be visiting China in a period around the Olympics, you may want to register as a CICI tester [site no longer available].

The hope is that by testing in the lead-up to, during and after the Olympics in August, we can evaluate if the Chinese government lives up to its promises about lifting the measures of internet censorship that have become known as the Great Firewall of China.

Sites will be added to the index over time, as they are reported (in places like the Twitter #gfwlist). My personal hope is that the data collected may also help initiatives like the Open Internet Initiative – but we’ll see about that in due course…

Anyways – check it out and spread the word. I’m a big fan of Amnesty and the campaign, and I’m stoked to have been able to participate. I hope that the campaign can continue to build in the coming weeks and play a role in lifting internet repression in China.

NGOs & Nonprofits, Social media & networking

Uncensor Day of Protest

Uncensor Day of Protest screenshot example

The Uncensor campaign recently launched an online protest [site no longer available] to take place on 30 July.

The action page contains instructions on how to add a small bit of code to your blog theme to participate in the protest – which will activate automatically on 30 July.

The page explains in more detail and includes a way of previewing what your blog will look like on the day (the screenshot above shows the banner on the Amnesty website).

Disclosure: I’m working on the Uncensor project, but this action is not my work. My bit will be launched real soon now :)