In January, a 26 year-old Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire to protest the unfair confiscation of his property by authorities. This was business as usual for Tunisia, so how did that event fuel a revolt that spread to Egypt with history-altering consequences? 20% of Tunisia is on Facebook and Facebook has pictures and video.
Within 24 hours of the Haitian earthquake, the Red Cross raised $5,000,000 in donations. How did they not only get the word out, but get the money so quickly?They accepted donations through text messages.
Some young women in rural India are determined to learn English so they can go to university, but there is no school in their village. How do they practice English every night? They share a mobile phone with access to literacy and language learning programs.
A young man was so moved by poor Argentinian children being denied education because they had no shoes, that he started a business based on an entirely new model. Buy one pair and he gives a pair to a child in need. How did he get the word out without an advertising budget? He has a blog and a YouTube channel.
All of these are innovative solutions for social change using social media. But I’m not going to just talk about how people are using new tools. I want to convince you that social media is an agent of change because it is restructuring global communications and changing our fundamental assumptions about how the world works and our place in it. I will briefly describe the structural and psychological impact of social technologies, and then show you some examples of the four ways social networks fuel social change.
Original communications were restricted by time and place. Harder to share, but easier to control and public access to information was limited.
The mass media model—what we now think of as traditional media-- is one-to-many. One message was distributed to many people. In this model, information access is wider, but still controllable. The small number of distribution channels means information is filtered by the producers.
What we have now is a “mash-up” of the first two: Web 2.0 and social media have taken the power and distribution qualities of mass media and made it personal by creating peer-to-peer communication that allows for the creation and exchange of user-generated content, and produces links and connections that are dynamic and constantly changing. The new media landscape profoundly affects the ability to connect people with resources.
If social media is changing our assumptions. Let’s first ask: What do we mean by social media?
The first thing that comes to mind for many people is Facebook or Twitter.
Facebook is just one application within one type of social media—it’s a social networking site. There are several kinds of social technologies: search engines, collaborative sites like wikis, tagging like digg or Technorati, and blogs and microblogs. They are all interactive information organizers, just in different ways. All types of social media create connections and respond dynamically to the user.
We can break down the impact of social technologies into two parts: structural and experiential. Information flows both ways—between people and on demand.It is available 24/7 without regard to time or placeAt the same time, the growing connections increase awareness of community
The features of social technologies have a less obvious but more profound psychological impact. They fundamentally shift power to the user—whether it’s socializing, researching, or shopping. It create new expectations aboutaccess and feedbackhaving a voice and being heardtransparency, participation, and collaborationindividual and collective agency Our expectations are changed because we now have avenues to speak up, take action, to participate, to contribute, to exchange ideas, to show our support, to receive validation and feedback and to become engaged in communities.
Interacting with social technologies changes our efficacy beliefs because we have the power—our interactions are self-directed, self-relevant, and, consequently, intrinsically motivated. Engaging with technology allows us—all of us--to effectively impact our environment. This builds our sense of efficacy, and has also been shown to increase social capital, empathy, and civic engagement.
This is only possible, of course, if you have access. We often debate the digital divide based on broadband access, but that’s the wrong measure.
There are many different social networksThe power is in accessYou have to have access to the physical technology to have access to the resourcesIn the United States, communities of color are leaders in mobile web use with than 85% of Latinos and African Americans accessing the Internet through mobile devices. Globally, cell phones networks are the most cost efficient way to link rural areas and under-served populations to social and economic resources and education.
Globally 76.2% developed nations have 116% penetration of mobile subscriptions; developing nations 67%. Contrast that to landlines, worldwide is 17.3%Mobile broadband subscriptions: Africa 3.6% to .2% 18 times; Arab states 9.7% to 2.3%, 4 times as many According to the UN, mobile phoens are available to 90% of the worlds population
What does social change look like in a globally networked world?
So, what does social change look like a socially networked world?I want to show you four types of social change innovations facilitated by social mediaOrganizations who’ve adopted social mediaCrowd-sourced social change effortsSpontaneous social change due to social media Entrepreneurs adopting a pro-social business model
Some big organizations are innovators in adapting social technologies.
Manobi is one of the leaders in using mobile technology for advocacy in several different programs. By creating special interface for low literacy users, they make market prices available to rural farmers in Africa. No longer at the mercy of middlemen or needing to travel the many miles to the closest market, this information improved their standard of living by 400%.
Manobi also works to ensure land and birth registration rural areas. By giving free cellphones to midwives and village chiefs, Manobi created a system linked to city hall for electronically filing. Manobi estimates that 55% of the residents of Africa are unregistered; this makes getting medical care or other social services difficult. Land registration is critical for women because it allows them to inherit family land rather than having it pass on to male relatives.
Large organizations like the Red Cross have implemented multiple forms of social media to better serve their constituencies and to better engage their volunteers and donor support. Social media tools refocus a big organization back on peopleRed Cross has used tools like Facebook and Twitter to provide online gathering areas for loved ones during emergencies with information and links to resourcesCrowd-sourced postings and tweets supply reliable real-time information for victims, families, and journalistsAlso, these social platforms allow the broader community to show emotional support and concern
Using social media to make it personal; using technology to allow instant and direct participation
In the United States, communities of color are leaders in mobile web use with than 85% of Latinos and African Americans accessing the Internet through mobile devices. Globally, cell phones networks are the most cost efficient way to link rural areas and under-served populations to social and economic resources and education.
In December, 2009 Rising Voices sponsored the first ever national school Blogging contest for students in Uruguay who were part of the One Laptop Per Child program (OLPC). Rising Voices develops programs to encourage citizen media activistsAccording to Miguel Brechner of Plan Ceibal (OLPC Uruguay) who evaluated the project's successKids are more motivated to go school and to do homework. They are not repeating grades. The OLPC also meant thousands of children for the first time received official identification documents to receive the laptops.
MILLEE Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies sponsored the development of mobile-based games that simulated local village games to help kids learn English.
Without English, kids have little hope of getting into higher education or getting a good job. Mobile devices are, by definition, social devices.
The project involved deploying the Learnosity Voice platform in in 13 schools across three Australian states: South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. The project targeted 250 (primarily Year 9 and 10) students learning the Indonesian language. Pre and post test measureresults showed that the students, who took conversation tests at the beginning and end of the project, made significant improvements in their Indonesian language skills. An increase of 11% in the average score is shown between pre and post-tests. The improvements in test scores was particularly notable in weaker students.
The Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies program sponsored a program to give new and expectant mothers information to keep both moms and babies healthy via text messaging.Women can sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE in Spanish) to receive free text messages each week, timed to the due date or baby's date of birth. These messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defect prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health, and safe sleep. Text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.
Crowdsourcing is just about what it sounds like like—drawing on the resources of the “crowd” or population to sustain projects. A well-known example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia.
Free Rice is a simple example of a crowdsource based program to raise awareness for world hunger. It is a vocabulary game. Each time you get a word right, rice appears in the bowl. For each answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Programme
Kaboom began building playgrounds to give kids a place to be active and get exercise. They discovered they were more effective helping communities to build playgrounds with plans and resources than building the playgrounds themselves.
Sparks.org is an organization run on micro-volunteerism and that allows participants to exercise their sense of agency. It matches small non-profit needs—such as needing help with a website-- with digital volunteers who have a little free time.
Kiva.org also allows people the sense of direct participation by becoming a micro-lender. It links people from around the world who need help with people who are willing to make small—as low as $25—loans.
Kiprono Towett is asking for a loan of $575 to purchase and insure a dairy cowNom Jek wants a loan of $400 to buy pigs to raise to sell
Is a non-profit tech company develops free, open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. It is a crowd sourcing tool that aggregates information from the field onto maps and can provide critical data during emergencies. Ushahidi’s crisis-mapping software was developed in 2008 to track outbreaks of violence in Kenya. It has since been used to coordinate everything from disaster relief in Haiti to snow cleanup in New York City.
Social media closes the gap between individual and collective agency and causes spontaneous social change
In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage and his partner created a YouTube video to inspire hope for LGBT youth facing harassment and bullying. They wanted to let kids know it does get better.Within 2 months, the “It Gets Better Project” (TM) turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. Contributions have come from celebrities, activists, and politicians as well as regular people—both gay and straight.
In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive. This May, Manal al-Sharif, 32, was imprisoned for nine days after driving in the eastern city of Khobar. A YouTube video of her being arrested drew global attention; there is now a Facebook page and women in Saudi Arabia organized an official “Driving Day” though social media in protest.
Social media wasn’t the cause of the unrest in Egypt, but it accelerated it in several ways. This video was one of many and, alone, it had 600,000 views in the first two weeks. Social media, cell phones were used to organize protests and reach a broader audience, engaging more people. Social media influenced how the narrative was reported, effectively shaping perception. A New York-based Egyptian blogger interviewed by CNN urged the use of the words revolt and uprising instead of unrest, resetting the narrative. Egypt is one of the USA’s strongest allies in the Middle East, the amount of information coming out of the Middle East put pressure on Washington to address the issue rather than look the other way.
Whether you call them Generation Y, the Millennials, or the Net Generation, there is a generation that is growing up in the collaborative and participatory digital culture of social media. It is creating a new breed of entrepreneurs
The number of potential mobile phone subscribers in poor and rural areas is not lost on cell phone providers. From Nokia: “According to extensive Nokia consumer research, nearly half of emerging market customers state that they would rather connect to the Internet over a mobile phone than a computer. As a result, in 2008 Nokia introduced Ovi Life Tools, a service that enables people to make better informed decisions, find timely and relevant information, access learning opportunities and enjoy entertainment via their mobile.Agriculture employs more than 60 percent of all workers in India. Nokia is collaborating with content providers to deliver agricultural services that send farmers accurate and regular information on weather, prices and availability of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and prevailing market prices for produce. The information is customized to the farmer's location and selection of crops, and is delivered directly to their Nokia mobile phone. By getting the latest information directly, farmers can overcome uncertainty and get the right information to grow and sell their crops.The education service of Ovi Life Tools aims to boost students’ English language and local, national and international general knowledge. Language lessons, quizzes on English words and phrases, general knowledge, as well as information on higher education, career guidance and tips, exam preparation, tests, and access to exam result are delivered direct to students’ mobile phones to give them an extra advantage in their education.OviLife Tools also offers a healthcare service that aims to provide useful information and tips to help consumers look after their family’s health and diet. From pregnancy and maternal health to child care and disease prevention the service delivers daily updates that are tailored according to location, season, weather conditions, or whatever the individual circumstances to ensure that the information is relevant to the subscriber.Another service aimed at the developing world is Ovi Mail, which has the potential to be the first digital identity for many people in emerging markets. Unlike most other email services, an Ovi Mail account can be created and used directly on a Nokia device without ever having to use a PC. Since the launch of the beta service in December 2008, around 90 per cent of the accounts have been created on a Nokia phone.An entertainment service is also included in most of the Ovi Life Tools markets.OviLife Tools services use an icon-based, graphically rich user interface that comes complete with tables and which can even display information simultaneously in two languages. Behind this rich interface, SMS is used to deliver the critical information to ensure that this service works wherever a mobile phone works, without the hassle of additional settings or the need for GPRS coverage.Ovi Life Tools is already available in India, Indonesia, China and Nigeria, and we are working to extend the service into other countries and regions also.”
CauseCast is a marketing strategy company built entirely around promoting social causes. It develops and manages socially responsible marketing campaigns for corporations and organizations, such as AARP's “Create The Good site”providing their 40 million members with ways to make an impact in their community.
Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS shoes on a new business model. TOMS isn’t just selling shoes created a “one for one” movement.
TOMS has been so successful that it has inspired students across the country to create campus clus and participate in “A Day Without Shoes” demonstrations
All of these examples are about people taking action facilitated by social technologies. Social media allows people to act successfully on the environment. We can see this in the context of Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build theory, Bandura’s social cognitive theory’s conceptualization of efficacy beliefs, or Vygotsky’s zones of proximal development, social technologies create a scaffolded environment for the development of individual agency. Manobi makes information available, but the farmers acting on their behalfFrom Sparks micro-activism to TOMS shoes, people are acting, inspired by seeing others act and by their own efficacy beliefsSocial media has dual pathways of influence: structurally, it can extend reach, accessibility and be tailored to meet the local needs, But the real power of social media comes from the psychological shift in each person’s beliefs about agency and self-determination, and that is what makes the difference for long-term behavioral change and adoption.
Pamela Rutledge: Social Media: Innovative Solutions for Social Change
Social MediaInnovative Solutions For Social Change Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge Media Psychology Research Center @mediapsychology #apasocialmedia American Psychological Association Annual Convention August 6, 2011 #apasocialmedia
Interactive Information OrganizersMultiple applications Information searches• Folksonomy/Tagging• Blogs• Wikis• Social NetworkingSimilar properties Participatory Interactive Connected Constantly changing #apasocialmedia
Structural Impact of Social Networks Interactive - On-Demand - Asynchronous - Wide Access #apasocialmedia
We expect to participate, be heard, collaborate, and connect. By doing so, we increase our our empathy, our social capital, and our efficacy beliefs.Psychological Impact of Social Networks #apasocialmedia
individuals can make a difference #apasocialmedia
Self-efficacy shortensthe gap between individual and collective agency #apasocialmedia
Social Media: Dual Pathways of Influence Social technology provides new and innovative opportunities for extending reach and tailoring relevance The use of social media shifts assumptions toward agency and self-determination that facilitates behavioral change and long-term adoption Social Technology Behavioral Media Use Change Tailoring #apasocialmedia
Thank you Dr. Pamela B. RutledgeDirector, Media Psychology Research Center @mediapsychology #apasocialmedia
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