Unicef Tap Project: A Reflection

Creating this project was more than just a class assignment, it was a way to leave our footprint and help out with something that is important not only to us but the rest of the word. As soon as Grace pitched the idea in class of how this could all be funded from PUTTING OUR PHONES DOWN, I was sold. It was simple, genius idea that packs a powerful punch and delivers an important message: Our cellphones are almost as vital to us as water is for people in less fortunate countries, and to be able to put that down is a big step (as sad as that may seem) for everyone. We each added a little insight into where we wanted to see the project go and how we wanted to communicate the importance of it to everyone. We turned to what we know best, social media and a simple website. Since the tap project was originally internet-based it only made sense to keep it going in that direction. To add a little flavor (literally) and raise some extra dough on our own, we had a bake sale at our school, Columbia College, where we raised $100 and that felt damn good. Although I wasn’t able to make the bake sale, the pictures I got to see and the things my group members were telling me gave me so much hope. Some people didn’t even want a baked good, they just wanted to donate which was awesome.

If I could revisit this project I would completely focus my attention on that alone with no other distractions, because I have to admit although we did a damn good job, trying to accomplish all of this while doing a million other school things probably put a damper on it in the long run. But for the timeframe we had and the things that were accomplished I am very proud. Through the book I read, Social Media in Disaster Response by Liza Potts, it really put into perspective how much Social Media can make a change and I tried to keep that in mind when working on the project. All in all I never thought I would be so excited for the growth and direction that new media is taking today, but I’m even more excited that I get to be a part of it. 

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Social Media in Disaster Response: A Book Review

Social Media in Disaster Response by Liza Potts was one of the most ambitious and detailed books I’ve probably ever come across. Throughout the book Potts really focuses on how the social web tools we use today can provide researchers and practitioners with an opportunity to address disaster communication and information design to our consumer culture. The problem that is trying to be solved is that both of these groups lack the certain tools for tracing these networks across systems and there isn’t much understanding when it comes to designing across multiple social systems. Through examples such as “The Boston Bombings” and “Hurricane Katrina”, we are able to truly see how important understanding how people communicate over social media in disasters like these really is. This mode of communication can truly be used wisely and there are architects that are working on creating frameworks for things like these so this research can be put into practice. 

As a young person seeing how social media has flourished, it was really incredible to see that all this new technology has been so well thought out and can be channeled for the greater good of the world. In some cases disasters talked about throughout the book would have never been as effectively made aware to the public if it weren’t for social media and the more we know and the more people who want to make a change, the more help and information can be provided. Liza Potts has thought about every single aspect of this and has worked with the most experienced social media architects to make this known to people that it can change lives and I think it’s something everyone should read and become aware of. To learn more about how social media can be used for more than just posting pictures of cats and burritos, take a look at her website for access her book as well as updates on how she is creating a change. 

The Strategic Toolkit

What is Content Strategy?

Content strategy is a tool that every team should use to their full advantage. Basically this world is overloaded with information and we are all fighting to get other people to care about the information that we want to get out in the world. The most logical and effective place to start is with the audience. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, then you will end up just another balloon of information floating into space. People need a reason to care about what you have to say, they need incentive and they need to know that this could make a change not only in their life, but perhaps the world. Who wouldn’t want that?! Along with the audience comes a vision of your own brand and how you want to represent yourself. Without a solid brand image no one is going to take you seriously. You have to make yourself stand out from your competition. Lastly, the most important of them all is STRATEGY. How are you going to put your information into tangible, deliverable content/media without annoyingly interrupting people’s lives?The most basic ways to achieve this are: 1) Be the brand you created. Be yourself. People like authenticity.  2) Figure out the best medium for your audience. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if it is engaging enough. 3) Come up with a big idea first and then start thinking of ways to deliver this idea to your audience. Format follows story

How is the Unicef Tap Project applying all of this?

We’ve recognized that this project could and should reach a very large audience. Why? Because everyone needs water to survive and it sucks to see other people suffer for something that a lot of us take for granted. Also it gives everyone a challenge to put down our precious smartphones for a good cause; It’s simple, yet effective. Although we would all like to save the world, our team realized that we need to start small. So we decided to start with people just like us, people who we can relate to: Columbia Students. We believe the best way to do this is through word of mouth which is the most effective way of delivering a message. This way we can show people how the app works and they can show their friends,  who will show their friends and so on. Our team want’s to be looked at as a fun and engaging group of individuals who want people to care about the direction of the world’s health.   So not your typical  “For just a penny a day you can save this puppy with one eye” type folk. We want to deliver all of this through our knowledge design, social media and most importantly BAKED GOODS! These are all things our target audience love and cannot resist. 

Progress

We are still making progress and figuring all of this out, but now that we have a good idea of how we want to approach this we can hit the ground running. You can track all our progress on our website, which we are updating and changing regularly. Let’s make people care.

Unicef Tap Proposal

What is it?
Unicef tap is nationwide campaign that has invited people to go without their phones to help children in need of clean water. This means that for every ten minutes that you don’t touch your phone, Unicef donors/sponsors will fund one day of clean water for a child in need. Just $1.00 can provide 40 days of clean water.

Why water? It’s simple; human beings cannot survive without it. Over 768 million people around the world do not have safe, clean water to drink and 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a proper toilet. The push towards clean water will keep 1,400 children from dying from diseases linked to unsafe water. In addition to Unicef’s campaign, we plan on spreading the word to people to participate through a project of our own. Let’s show the world that we can put down our phones to provide others with something they actually can’t live without.

How we plan to reach our goals:

Specifically, our digital networked response will be a facebook page and an informational wordpress blog promoting the UNICEF tap project and how Columbia can help. We would like to create a blogroll on the wordpress site directing people to our facebook page and to UNICEF’s website.

For the research plan, our team will have to visit the UNICEF website in order to become more informed on the application. This is the essential site that will provide us with the most accurate and thorough explanation on how/why/where this project will affect most people. Also, in order to fully push the campaign, we can use our own experiences with the app to understand why it’s effective. Each of us can download UNICEF tap project at a designated period during the day and then discuss how it personally impacted our time. After that, we can explore various social media sites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) to see if there were any other individuals around the world who tested the app and reported their encounters or knowledge of this mobile campaign. In an effort to reach out to more Columbia students, we can go to the official Facebook page and ask if anyone has heard of this app and post a link for any potential responses. A lot of students use this page as a means of interacting within the school’s community. So it turn, we can see some surprising results.

Creative’s putting their heads to the test:

Our team members have a diverse number of skills which will help us as a team to complete our project effectively. Jess and Chris have skills in ad art so they will be creating posters and stickers to advertise a bake sale that we will be having in addition to promoting UNICEF. Carolyn is good at photography so she will be taking pictures at our bake sale and putting them up on our wordpress and facebook page. She will also help with making things for our bake sale and overseeing our facebook page. Grace is skilled at baking so she will provide items for the bake sale as well as overseeing the donations to UNICEF that our team will hopefully be able to collect at the bake sale. She will also be overseeing others in the group to make sure that tasks are completed on time. Joe will be helping out with our wordpress page and making sure the posts are up to date.

Time & Date:
We plan on having the bake sale the last week of April. We are looking to have it on a Wednesday since that seems to be the best day for everyone. We will affirm this the first week of April and make the necessary reservations on Columbia’s campus .During this time Chris and Jess will begin to make the stickers and posters advertising the bake sale. Grace will check in every week with Carolyn and Joe to make sure that the wordpress and facebook page are up to date. The week of the sale, the whole team will work to provide items to sell and help man the table. The first week of May Grace will inventory the donations accepted and donate the money to UNICEF. Carolyn and Joe will post updates to the wordpress and facebook pages on how much we earned.

The digital assets we need in order to fulfill the campaign push, will obviously be the UNICEF website because it has the most accurate information on the app. Secondly, we’d have to create a wordpress site (tentatively titled, “Columbia College Chicago UNICEF Tap Project”) in order to specifically inform CCC students with news, events, updates, and social media links. Thirdly, our Facebook page will connect the online CCC community to interact with each other and share their experiences. Lastly, we need a Twitter account to connect with students through ‪#‎hashtags‬ and respond immediately to questions or comments on upcoming occasions or the app.

For more information about this campaign click here!

html ?!

HTML is kinda fun…

Being as Art & Design student, I think knowing a bit of html could help me a lot in the long run. As far as writing goes it definitely makes posts more interesting/dynamic. I do a bunch of design, but nothing near the point of developing a website. Html is helpful for me in the sense that if I recognized the basic elements of it I would be able to to look at a website and tweak it to my liking. Back in my Myspace days I would customize my website by using some basic html such as bolding text and finding pre-written html codes to change the layout of my page. I was also a little asshole and would find code that would hide my music player so no one would know the name I was playingdumb, I know. All in all learning html would be beneficial if you are a designer or have a blog to maintain, but if your career doesn’t call for typing a bunch of weird carrot symbols to make something pretty and/or functional…then I’m not so sure.


One more thing…is there really a difference between making text bold or strong? Because I really can’t tell the difference.

html

DA PITCH

I always tend to have the most complicated, far-fetched ideas. When coming up with the Facebook distraction button, I knew in the back of my head that it would take a lot more time than a couple weekly sessions in class to accomplish..but it was worth a shot! I was surprised by the simplicity and power of my classmates ideas when presenting their pitches for class. SIMPLICITY IS KEY. I need to remember this more in my own ideas and work. I’m excited to see whose idea gets chosen, but I have a few favorites:

Grace’s pitch for Unicef Tap really stuck out to me. Not only by the power of the presentation but how little it would take for Columbia as a community to help underprivileged people get clean water. This can all be done by PUTTING DOWN OUR SMARTPHONES?! I was mind blown and I think this is something that we would be able to make happen through a simple website, video or social media strategy.

Another pitch I liked was Tim’s “Arts Agora” because as a student I would find this very helpful to be able to reach out and see how not just my peers, but well known artists have become successful with their work. It would be a cool way to get advice and motivation to keep going if we had a little outside direction from a site like this. The only thing I think would take some time and effort is to trying to track down some actual Chicago artists and get them on board with this idea. (maybe alumni?) 

Lastly, Eugene’s “Help the Mixtape Artist” pitch really struck home with me because I am a musician myself and I love and understand hip hop culture and can really see where he is coming from. If this was chosen we would just need to create some sort of direction to get more people to pay for music, with a creative strategy/entertaining of course. 

All in all I was really impressed with what my classmates had to offer! It was nice to actually hear their voices since we only get to meet for an hour a week and see online personalities more often than in person. Can’t wait to get work on one of these topics and start to make a difference.

Social Media as a Movement

“We are not prisoners. We are not shackled in cells, with no rights and no say in governance.”  Zeynep Tufekci’s article, “Is the Internet Good or Bad?” has made many good points supporting both sides of this argument. One of the major benefits that was targeted was the freedom of social media in relation to protests in Istanbul and Ukraine. Without the power of Twitter to make people aware of what was going on, it may have never been known because of the way news has been filtered through TV and other forms of media in these countries. Social media was a lifeline, and Twitter got the most use thanks to the service’s phone-friendly simplicity and short message length. Tufekci stated, “Parents swore that they were going to apologize to their children, whom they had derided for spending too much time in front of screens. “They were right and we were wrong,” one woman told me. “We didn’t understand our kids. None of this would be possible without the Internet. The Internet brings freedom.”

Although this type of media has given the public a sense of freedom, our activity on the internet is still under extreme surveillance; which is where the bad side of the internet comes into play. The government has the power of monitoring every single thing we do online and use it to their advantage in political campaigns and tailored advertising. Political campaigns can find out a lot about American voters just from the things they post on Facebook and the things that they “like”. So they use this sort of information in their favor by telling us the things that we want to hear, rather than publicizing things that may cause an uproar. The power of this type of surveillance should be taken more seriously by the public, because the government and corporations have so much power. When Tufekci was questioning a chief scientist on Obama’s data analytics team about his worries he replied, “It’s just a tool. You can use it for good; you can use it for bad.” At first I agreed with this statement, but when Tufekci put this into perspective when comparing “a tool” to nuclear weapons I began to wonder more. When something like the internet has equally just as much power to do good as it does to do bad, how can this ever be used in solely a beneficial way? It seems that anything with great power seems to turn into something dark and malicious. All we can do is make people aware of what is going on in our world and only then we will be able to see some change, even if there are consequences. We need to update our nightmares.”

 

 

The Internet is not a Resource That Will Run Out

I had no clue that this idea of “net neutrality” even existed until I watched John Wooley’s “Leaked: The Internet Must Go”. It can be a confusing concept to understand, but once you get it it’s pretty easy to pick a side depending on the type of person you are. Basically the amount of internet traffic that is occurring has turned it into a tangled mess. Big corporations such as Verizon, At&t, Comcast and Time Warner are attempting to push the idea of a “faster, “cleaner” internet by limiting our access to certain things we see. If you want a higher speed internet or if you want access to certain things you will have to pay more money to be in the faster stream of things, if not you will be pushed over to the side. The only type of people that would be able to afford this would be bigger businesses and the internet would no longer be free to the public. From the looks of Wooley’s market research it appears that the majority of people he spoke with are against this idea, even the bigger companies. Net neutrality is equivalent to freedom of speech, and without that there would be many unhappy people. Not having this freedom pretty much gives no hope to start-up companies who are trying to get their name out and make their mark in the world, which changes our apparently American “opportunistic” views. These internet providers receive a pretty hearty income because they don’t have many competitors, yet they want more money? Pretty selfish if you ask me. If their real concern was “people” then they would be working on creating “more internet” instead of restricted internet. So many great things have started all from one simple video or from one single post, and taking away our freedom to promote these creations and innovative ideas would make the world a pretty dull and unhappy place.

The Internet is Weird

In this week’s readings I was kind of turned off by the “Web Writing Style Guide” because it seemed like a popularity contest to me. Depending on your role in social media certain things you say could effect any “persona” that you are trying to encompass, but the fact that it seems like a competition of who’s posts are better seems a bit bizarre to me. I want to write about the things that I like and  are interesting, but why put a cap on what that could be? The internet is a free space to express yourself and inform others, don’t let it be put in a cage people!

 

What is so “new” about Writing for New Media?

In our generation innovation has become an obsession. As I read through these articles I have come to an understanding that much of the technology that is being created is serving a purpose towards sustainability. Old technology is not being replaced, but rather being updated to become something better. It is an irretrievable part of how the world is evolving now, and it’s something that we cannot escape..SO EMBRACE IT! Just as Thomas Carlyle stated, “Man is a tool-using animal…Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.” Technology has become our tool, our chance to discover the world through a completely different viewpoint. Yes, I would have to agree that although it has become a “tool” it has also become a distraction and has sort of devalued the quality of life in some ways.  Such as how face-to-face interaction has diminished or how reading a book is a struggle because of surrounding technology pulling at our brain. With that being said, if our tools are being used for the greater good and not being abused then it can be a marvelous and eye-opening addition to our lives. This is a barrier that we, as a society, will have to work together as a whole to put to good use.