Mobilized twitterers do more than chatting

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was not convinced that twittering text messages via mobile phones and internet of 140 characters would make my communication work easier. I know now that twitterers can be mobilized combining chatting with fund raising. Enjoying the first Twestival in 202 cities with local parties and twittering with each other they helped raise more than US$250,000 for water supply in the developing world in February 2009.

US-based campaigning NGO charity:water has on 11 April started broadcasting live via satellite the drilling of the first Twestival well in Ethiopia. Four daily videos of the drilling are shown on their web site , and they introduce you to the community who got the donations. Amsterdam was one of the cities where the festivals brought together Twitter communities on 12 February 2009, see our electronic Source Newsletter.

Lessons from US presidential TV commercials

The independent video Yes We Can (Web) setting one of Obama’s slogans to music, was a viral video hit, viewed online by more than 20 million people. View it at The Living Room Candidate. This fantastic site contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952, “when Madison Avenue advertising executive Rosser Reeves convinced Dwight Eisenhower that short ads played during such popular TV programs as I Love Lucy would reach more voters than any other form of advertising”.

For high school teachers and students the site has eight lessons. The first one on understanding the language of political ads will make students understand the nature and uses of language in presidential ads, and make them aware of the ways in which this language can be used to influence viewer opinion. I wish I would have had this opportunity at my high school in Schiedam, see the heading of this blog.

Readers asked: help fund this story!

“Climate activist in SF in self-immolation PR action stunt to raise awareness about global warming: Do not try this at home! If you want to see this story researched, written, and published, click donate to help fund it!” That is tip 164 from a reader on , a non-profit project that is pioneering “community-funded reporting” in California. My Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant had a feature about it today on its media page with the heading “Help, journalism is disappearing.” As I wrote in my earlier blog, I am worried about  the future of my newspaper. 

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New iPhone touch wonder


Since yesterday I have my first iPhone … and what a pleasure and ease to get it going and use with my Mac Book: accessing the latest music, news and other internet options with only a touch on the screen. Looking back at my PC and internet history since 1994 Apple has made my life at 62 a lot easier.

Not convinced about Twitter

In my office ( we have started a WASH twitter site with a number of colleagues. A quick check on the WASH twitter site has not convinced me that following this group twitter is helpful for my information and communication work on WASH in the developing world. All the tweets I saw were on washing bodies, cars and babies, mainly in the USA. This is happening the same with the internet  searches on “water”, which starts with mainly USA sources.

Last Friday I finished two days of facilitation work at UNESCO IHE in Delft on water education and communication for and through mass media professionals. In an expert group of 70 education and water people from Europe and USA only two IHE people use twitter. I am on since early last year, but after a first couple of checks I could not see value for my work. With the IHE people we have started a Global Water Communicators group on Facebook. IHE’s Laura Kwak has promised me that she will put there simple Twitter applications that should be useful for my communication work.

Twitter made the Tros Radio online programme on Radio 1 on Saturday afternoon. Valerie Frissen (professor ICT and social networks) confirmed my worry: twittering is costing a considerable amount of time. So does using and and other social network communities.

I am looking forward to be convinced that the time I would spend on these are making my writing and communication work easier!

Green campaign through virtual trees

Six friends campaigning by sharing an interactive campaign tree on a green topic. More participation in online actions help pimping the team tree and score points and lead to green prizes. That is the concept of the new Dutch site  In the first days more than 5,000 people registered; 1,200 already joined the first campaign “stop the paper telephone guide”.

Kairos Tools, a small internet tool development foundation, developed the concept to draw in 20-35 year people (older alsoe welcome) with an active social network and some interest in green and fair topics. They can put the virtual tree on their own sites or friends sites such as Hyves. It won Kairos Tools this weekend the 25,000 Euro first prize in the Digitale Pioniers Academie 2009 pitch in Amsterdam.

The Guardian “tracks” a rural development project in Uganda

“I wonder if it will ever happen again,” pondered Madeleine Bunting, editorial director of the Guardian’s Katine project – a three-year link up between two NGOs – the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Farm-Africa – and the media organisation in north-east Uganda. The NGOs are implementing the work in the rural sub-county, while the Guardian reports on progress on its dedicated website and encourages donations from readers, which are being matchfunded by Barclays.

So would it? Possibly not at the Guardian – at least not in the same way – but perhaps in a different form, elsewhere. But whatever people think of the Katine project, it has demonstrated how new media can be used to campaign and fundraise, writes Glenda Cooper in her 5 Feb blog.

Since late 2007 the Guardian is tracking Amref’s three-year development project to improve the lives of the 25,000 people in Katine sub-county in Uganda. They are explaining where donations go, how aid works, and how lives are changed.

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The Printed Blog with local news hits the street in Chicago

I was in Egypt for 10 days combining training 21 journalists from eight Arab countries on water and land with holidaying along the pyramids and tomb complexes of Ramseses, Isis and other kings of 3000-5000 ago (more on the is to follow). In the plane on 21 January 2009 I picked up the International Herald Tribune with the extra pages of news and analysis from Obama’s glorious inauguration.

In the same issue there was an interesting story on a start-up The Printing Blog that has started reprinting blog posts on paper surrounded by local ads in Chicago. From three distribution points it launched the free issue web zine on paper.  The IHT reported that 300 bloggers have given The Printed Blog permission to publish their work for a share of the ad revenue. Founder and publisher Joshua Karp aims to sell 200 ads per issue, 15 signed up for the first issue. Initially publishing weekly Karp aims to eventually publish free hyper-local neighbourhood editions twice a day in many U.S. cities.

The print world will watch this interesting venture closely!

Dutch internet advisor happier in five weeks off-line


I occasionally listen to the Radio Online programme on Saturday afternoon from Dutch internet guru Francisco van Jole. On 27 December 2008 I heard Jim Stolze (35, internet advisor) explain that to his surprise his life was happier since he went totally off-line on 1 December. He did this for scientific research on internet usage and happiness by Twente University. One of the questions raised in this research is: Can you do without the internet in modern society?

Stolze is addicted to internet for his work and for his social contacts. The first thing he does after he is woken up by his IPhone is checking his e-mail, next he makes his tea reading mails. What a difference with me, starting with my newspaper as I mentioned one blog ago! At work he is permanently online through his phone and laptop. His last action before going to bed is again checking his mail on his phone.

Interestingly enough I read these details on Stolze’s life this morning in the Hart en Ziel supplement of my newspaper de Volkskrant. And only after that I went online to check the websites of the radio programme, the newspaper and the project.   

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