ITP2800 – Week 4 – Mobile Commons, TXTPower and Campaign Strategy

Week 4 – September 29 Mobile Campaigns from Text to Video: Texting, Ringtones and Camera Phones


Homework:
1) Create diagrams for your cause proposal based on the pyramid and pillar diagrams below.
2) Read the following:

3) Read this post: Turn Your Blog Into a Native iPhone App in 10 Steps
4) For those interested in Android development, you should download gReporter open-source project and get your development environment setup -> http://developer.android.com/

Here’s the audio from the first hour of class, listen to this while reviewing the text below:

Class begin with a discussion on the use of strategy from the school of non-violent direct action, as means for planning and designing mobile applications for social activism. In other words, approach mobile application design from a typical “product” or “consumer” perspective or even a thoughtful usability/design approach, may not make sense when it comes to trying to implement something to create actual change in society.

In the case of social activism, you must developer a strategy to affect an existing regime. A regime can represent a corporation, government, a specific issue, social prejudice, or any existing state of mind or structure in society that can be targeted for change. A long term strategy is necessary to keep focus on the goal.

Opportunities present themselves over time through the effort to affect change on an issue. They can be expected or unexpected. Your effort should be positioned to take advantage of them as they emerge.

Tactics are short term actions implemented to take advantage of opportunities. They can be of varying length and intensity, but must be aligned with your overall strategy. Multiple tactics can be used at once.

You must also consider deeply the structure of the existing regime you are targeting. Here is a typical governmental regime and the “Pillars of Support” which actually make a government function.

However, this same concept could be applied to more mundane campaigns such as increasing efficiency in shopping or promoting the purchase of only pasture-raised eggs at the Park Slope Food Coop:

These timeless approaches to campaigns, drawing from the likes of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” as much as from the non-violent victories of Gandhi and Mandela, are useful and powerful constructs within which any campaign must be processed. More specifically, for mobile application design, it is critical that you consider a non-corporate, non-consumer perspective as part of your design process, and ideally throughout your campaigns efforts.

Many thanks to The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict for their great instruction, content and overall efforts in this area of work and practice. Here are some related readings on these concepts and more:

Guest Speakers

Week 4 features two excellent guest speakers. The first, Ben Stein, presented a US-oriented perspective through the work of his organization, Mobile Commons, and the many mobile advocacy campaigns they’ve implemented, including fighting for their own right to broadcast Pro-Choice SMS messages on the Verizon Wireless network. The second speaker, Tonyo Cruz, spoke to us in the midst of the Philippines cleanup from a large storm and flooding in which mobile phones were used to coordinate rescue and raise money. Tonyo’s perspective on the use of mobile in a more social, distributed, “peer to peer” manner, was an excellent contrast to the more centralized broadcast and web-based models that Ben described in the US.

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Ben Stein – MobileCommons http://www.mobilecommons.com
Mobile Commons’ customers are some of the leading cause-related organizations in the world. They use our web-based application to create mobile programs based around text messaging, voice calls, and web-based interactive components. With those tools, they raise money, build their lists, add interactivity to live events, get more support from the web, and make it easier for their ideas to spread.

Our second guest of the evening was Tonyo Cruz of TXTPower– Mobileactivist, writer and journalist Philippines – Since 2001, Tonyo has helped convene TXTPower, the leading mobile activist group in the Philippines and helped initiate its many high profile campaigns.

6 thoughts on “ITP2800 – Week 4 – Mobile Commons, TXTPower and Campaign Strategy

  1. I'm interested to find your website after reading about the forthcoming CSCE hearing and look forward to reading more about your ideas.

    I think I see a bias to over-enthusiasm about the open-source movement to solve everybody's problems, however.

    And Gene Sharp couldn't save Belarus then or now, for example, whatever the usefulness of trying to apply his ideas. You cannot twitter your way out of a bludgeoning by Iranian security goons. While mobiles might seem ubiquitous, they're also expensive and they inevitably tend to incite partial reading of complex texts.

    Mobile activists call it “persuasive technology”. I would call it baking ideologies into the tools and propagandizing people in the space.

    I'm not sure that the apps stores or various social media services should have their public commons taked up with progressive causes constantly beaming messages, or for that matter, conservative causes which presumably the progressive causists would concede should have rights in the mobile commons, too.

    It's not just the proprietary companies and their restrictive TOS you have to be concerned about; you have to ask where the First Amendment and the “town hall” will really take place, when it has to be guarded not only by and from corporations but by and from zealous and aggressive social activists groups that want to seize what is essentially interactive in nature and turn it into a broadcasting tool for their own ideologies.

    Looking at these simplistic diagrams of institutions, I'm also struck by how troublesome it is to positive social activism against such primitive schematics.

  2. I'm interested to find your website after reading about the forthcoming CSCE hearing and look forward to reading more about your ideas.

    I think I see a bias to over-enthusiasm about the open-source movement to solve everybody's problems, however.

    And Gene Sharp couldn't save Belarus then or now, for example, whatever the usefulness of trying to apply his ideas. You cannot twitter your way out of a bludgeoning by Iranian security goons. While mobiles might seem ubiquitous, they're also expensive and they inevitably tend to incite partial reading of complex texts.

    Mobile activists call it “persuasive technology”. I would call it baking ideologies into the tools and propagandizing people in the space.

    I'm not sure that the apps stores or various social media services should have their public commons taked up with progressive causes constantly beaming messages, or for that matter, conservative causes which presumably the progressive causists would concede should have rights in the mobile commons, too.

    It's not just the proprietary companies and their restrictive TOS you have to be concerned about; you have to ask where the First Amendment and the “town hall” will really take place, when it has to be guarded not only by and from corporations but by and from zealous and aggressive social activists groups that want to seize what is essentially interactive in nature and turn it into a broadcasting tool for their own ideologies.

    Looking at these simplistic diagrams of institutions, I'm also struck by how troublesome it is to positive social activism against such primitive schematics.

  3. Hi, Prokofy! Thanks for tracking me down.

    >I think I see a bias to over-enthusiasm about the open-source movement to solve everybody's problems, >however.

    I absolutely, 100% agree.

    >And Gene Sharp couldn't save Belarus then or now, for example, whatever the usefulness of trying to >apply his ideas. You cannot twitter your way out of a bludgeoning by Iranian security goons. While

    Nor can you from the PSB cops in Tibet and China, or at the G20 in Pittsburg for that matter. Trust me, I have plenty of personal experience in both being on and supporting people mobilizing on the streets. I also believe the role of technology in supporting the Green Revolution's various actors has been overinflated and used to the benefit more of Twitter and new media technology than for the movement itself. I'll be saying as much at the CSCE hearing.

    However, much like Gene Sharp's writings and theories, technology is another tool that can help activists and movements better frame and consider their efforts. Most importantly, it provides an outlet other than violence through which to channel their energy and efforts.

    >mobiles might seem ubiquitous, they're also expensive and they inevitably tend to incite partial reading >of complex texts.

    I think as a trend, they are getting cheaper and more powerful however. It is also very different in depending which region of the world you are focused on. The battle between China Mobile and China Unicom has created a real push for the adoption of more advanced mobile phones and 2/2.5G data networks throughout China and even Tibet. In Africa, there has been a steady, noticeable shift from SMS-based services to J2ME-based applications that can actual store data on the phone. I think also it is not about every single person having one, but key players (community organizers, local journalists and bloggers, human rights advocates) having access to these tools.

    I do a agree about the partial reading, but I did read your entire comment on my mobile phone, though I didn't feel like I could adequately reply to it until I was back on a full size computing device.

    >Mobile activists call it “persuasive technology”. I would call it baking ideologies into the tools and propagandizing people in the space.I'm not sure that the ?>apps stores or various social media services should have their public commons taked up with progressive causes constantly beaming messages, or for that

    This is an interesting perspective… and I think I agree with it. App stores would start to suck if they became a political battleground. I do like the idea of trying to subvert them, though.. to try and beat out iFart with something that opens peoples minds a bit. Maybe it is about being subtle. Beyond that, I think the important of “app stores” is going to slowly decline, as platforms open up… we are already seeing this with Android, where you can download an app by simply pointing your camera phone at a picture in a magazine.

    >Looking at these simplistic diagrams of institutions, I'm also struck by how troublesome it is to positive social activism against such primitive schematics.

    Here's an analogy… when I studied music composition in school, we began with a year of writing four-part counterpoint. Over and over again, we learned how to follow basic rules within a fairly rigid definition of correct music. Later, this training, this established model, provided me with a foundation to explore my influences, my ideas, my creativity within a template and a process.

    These diagrams should be seen as nothing more than exercises designed to help students realize that even when it comes to being an activist, you must consider, plan, organize, discuss, design… you don't just all at once take to the streets, charge down to the government center and shake your firsts in the air to demand change. When you do that, that is when you get shot at, arrested and ultimately lose. When you bring technology into the mix, you must be responsible about the claims you make of its potential impact or usefulness on any given cause… this process, these exercises are my way of helping the students learn how to do this.

  4. Hi, Prokofy! Thanks for tracking me down.

    >I think I see a bias to over-enthusiasm about the open-source movement to solve everybody's problems, >however.

    I absolutely, 100% agree.

    >And Gene Sharp couldn't save Belarus then or now, for example, whatever the usefulness of trying to >apply his ideas. You cannot twitter your way out of a bludgeoning by Iranian security goons. While

    Nor can you from the PSB cops in Tibet and China, or at the G20 in Pittsburg for that matter. Trust me, I have plenty of personal experience in both being on and supporting people mobilizing on the streets. I also believe the role of technology in supporting the Green Revolution's various actors has been overinflated and used to the benefit more of Twitter and new media technology than for the movement itself. I'll be saying as much at the CSCE hearing.

    However, much like Gene Sharp's writings and theories, technology is another tool that can help activists and movements better frame and consider their efforts. Most importantly, it provides an outlet other than violence through which to channel their energy and efforts.

    >mobiles might seem ubiquitous, they're also expensive and they inevitably tend to incite partial reading >of complex texts.

    I think as a trend, they are getting cheaper and more powerful however. It is also very different in depending which region of the world you are focused on. The battle between China Mobile and China Unicom has created a real push for the adoption of more advanced mobile phones and 2/2.5G data networks throughout China and even Tibet. In Africa, there has been a steady, noticeable shift from SMS-based services to J2ME-based applications that can actual store data on the phone. I think also it is not about every single person having one, but key players (community organizers, local journalists and bloggers, human rights advocates) having access to these tools.

    I do a agree about the partial reading, but I did read your entire comment on my mobile phone, though I didn't feel like I could adequately reply to it until I was back on a full size computing device.

    >Mobile activists call it “persuasive technology”. I would call it baking ideologies into the tools and propagandizing people in the space.I'm not sure that the ?>apps stores or various social media services should have their public commons taked up with progressive causes constantly beaming messages, or for that

    This is an interesting perspective… and I think I agree with it. App stores would start to suck if they became a political battleground. I do like the idea of trying to subvert them, though.. to try and beat out iFart with something that opens peoples minds a bit. Maybe it is about being subtle. Beyond that, I think the important of “app stores” is going to slowly decline, as platforms open up… we are already seeing this with Android, where you can download an app by simply pointing your camera phone at a picture in a magazine.

    >Looking at these simplistic diagrams of institutions, I'm also struck by how troublesome it is to positive social activism against such primitive schematics.

    Here's an analogy… when I studied music composition in school, we began with a year of writing four-part counterpoint. Over and over again, we learned how to follow basic rules within a fairly rigid definition of correct music. Later, this training, this established model, provided me with a foundation to explore my influences, my ideas, my creativity within a template and a process.

    These diagrams should be seen as nothing more than exercises designed to help students realize that even when it comes to being an activist, you must consider, plan, organize, discuss, design… you don't just all at once take to the streets, charge down to the government center and shake your firsts in the air to demand change. When you do that, that is when you get shot at, arrested and ultimately lose. When you bring technology into the mix, you must be responsible about the claims you make of its potential impact or usefulness on any given cause… this process, these exercises are my way of helping the students learn how to do this.

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