Mobile Activism

Ideas and Issues International Personal Writings

New Orleans     We like to keep everyone up to date with the fast moving utilization of mobile phones and cellular technology that not only shrink our world but put people into motion. Several months ago we met with Nokia and Eriksson to explore these issues and now there are more examples popping up everywhere.

Even in the USA! Some organizers cited the use of mobile phone text-messaging as a factor in the turnout for the protest march around the Jena 6 in Louisiana.

In the Philippines and some Spanish speaking countries people have used ring tones on their phones quoting politicians taking bribes or King Carlos and his “shut up” to Hugo Chavez.

The Economist mentioned that a non-governmental organization called Witness that records and denounces human rights abuses has added a place on its web site called the “Hub” where they are posting visuals taken by the camera feature that has become so ubiquitous on mobile phones. For the life of me I don’t know why we don’t get a hundred pictures into our office a day.

They also mentioned another outfit called Frontline SMS that has developed a laptop (and by definition portable) technology to get around the problem of “interoperability” (the terrible fact that companies are using difference systems that restrict free flowing communications). Deployed in the very sketchy conditions of the recent Nigerian elections the Frontline technology allowed people to text voting problems from the voting site to a computer where they can be handled and checked by the monitors. Now that is a breakthrough!

Getting around the information freezes in Burma (Myanmar if you prefer) as the monks gave the regime holy hell also depended on the cells, and you read snippets about their utilization in crowd turnout and some of the general mayhem in Pakistan these days.

We’re missing the boat here and need to figure this out!