Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Barcamp

author: Liz Hodes
date: 2009-02-25 00:10:33+00:00
slug: mobile-tech-4-social-change-barcamp
title: Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Barcamp
wordpress_id: 291

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This past Saturday, Mark and I attended the Mobile Tech 4 Social Change Barcamp in New York City hosted by at Hunter College’s Integrated Media Arts Program. A barcamp, also known as anunconference_, follows a more informal model from standard conferences: it’s designed to promote conversation and collaboration that may otherwise occur among small groups during free time at more traditional conferences.

The primary focus of this event was bringing people from a variety of sectors together to discuss new ideas for social change, discuss projects that are currently in development, and encourage attendees to present their new technological tools. It relied on the knowledge-base of everyone present, and therefore, while we learned from the expertise of the other attendees, we were also expected to bring our own ideas to the table.

The Barcamp included an address by Ethan Zuckerman via Skype. Ethan spoke about the ways we can be the most effective activists now that mobiles are almost universal. He touched on three important points:

  1. We have the ability to effectively mobilize using mobiles. With increasing means of social networking (including Twitter), mobilization is most effective when people send messages to a few friends, spreading this message virally among those people who know one another.

  2. People love mobiles, but they are not the only media. Mobiles for activist uses are often more powerful when one connects them to other media. He cited Ghana specifically, and the way this country combines radio and mobile phones to promote public participation in national issues.

  3. Do not assume that people want to use mobiles. Often people are more comfortable with older kinds of media, and have a hard time adapting to the use of phones, especially for reporting when it pertains to citizen journalism. It’s important to recognize this, and figure out the ways to make people feel comfortable using these new technologies.

After Ethan’s keynote, the group broke into breakout sessions. The barcamp was a great model for an event that promotes participation in the development of new projects, some of which are still emerging out of the idea stage.