Tag Archives: guest post

Upcoming Farewell Blog Tour

Linda Raven Moore, professional writer and founder of my much-beloved Markeroni, is hosting a Farewell Blog Tour for her book, A Little Twist of Texas. I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It’s basically a motorcycle travelogue with BookCrossing, Markeroni, and serendipity thrown in. Besides a month-long blog tour throughout October (of which Utter Randomonium will be taking part), Linda is offering copies of her book at a serious discount. I would love to buy a box, go on a road trip, and release them all along the way, but alas, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Anyway, stop by her blog, pick up a copy, participate in the blog tour, and watch this space for an upcoming guest post!

10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World

Guest post today. Enjoy.


This post was written by Rob Reed. He is the founder of MomentFeed, a location-based marketing, strategy, and technology firm.

Location technologies are transforming how we experience, navigate, and ultimately better our world. From the global to the local, here are #10Ways geolocation is a positive force for good.

Social media has changed the world. It has revolutionized communications on a global scale, and the transformation continues with every status update, blog post, and video stream. The global citizenry has become a global network.

Since becoming widely adopted just a couple years ago, social media has supercharged social action, cause marketing, and social entrepreneurship. Indeed, the true value hasn’t been the technology itself but how we’ve used it. Today, a second wave of innovation is defining a new era and setting the stage for change over the coming decade.

Mobile technologies will extend the global online network to anyone with a mobile device while enabling countless local networks to form in the real world. We’ve decentralized media production and distribution. We’re doing the same for energy. And we’ll continue this trend for social networking, social action, and commerce.

The combined forces of smartphones, mobile broadband, and location-aware applications will connect us in more meaningful ways to the people, organizations, events, information, and companies that matter most to us—namely, those within a physical proximity of where we live and where we are. Can location-based services (LBS) change the world? Here are #10Ways:

1. Checking in for Good: If Gowalla and Foursquare have taught us anything, it’s that people respond to simple incentives. By offering badges, mayorships, and other intangible rewards, millions of people are checking in to the places they go. Apps like Whrrl take this a step further and enable like-minded “societies” to form on a local basis. The next step is for these apps to add greater purpose by encouraging more meaningful checkins and offering corresponding badges and stamps, thus mapping the cause universe. Or for a dedicated app to be developed that rewards conscious consumption, social responsibility, and civic engagement. Yes, the CauseWorld app features a cause element, but it’s not about cause-worthy places.

2. Eating Locally: Sustainability demands that we source our food as close to its point of production as possible. Many so-called locavores subscribe to the 100-mile diet, which requires that one “eat nothing—or almost nothing—but sustenance drawn from within 100 miles of their home.” Given the difficulty of accessing and verifying this information in order to live by this standard, there’s a geo-powered Locavore app. It gives you info on in-season foods, those coming in-season, farmer’s markets, and links to recipes. This rather simple app is clearly just the start. In time, location-aware apps will guide us not only to the grocery store or farmer’s market but through them. All the while identifying foods based on our particular diet or sensibility.

3. Political Organizing: In the next presidential election, politics will not only be local but location-enabled. We saw the power of social media in Obama’s 2008 landslide victory. In 2012, location-based apps and technologies will play a central role in how campaigns are organized, managed, and ultimately won. Much of this will be visible through mobile apps and location-aware browsers. Activists and volunteers will be more empowered. Voters will be more engaged in the moment, right down to casting their votes. Behind the scenes, though, we’ll see massive new sets of data available to campaigns for targeting, empowerment, and optimization. The party, candidate, and/or cause that has the best handle on geolocation will have a measurable advantage. (The Elections app will soon be updated for 2010.)

4. Finding Green Businesses: The web has effectively replaced the paper Yellow Pages as a way to find local businesses and services. However, this “stationary web” experience is quickly being supplanted by the mobile web and mobile applications, which give us access to this information when we most need it. The Yelp and Around Me apps are popular ways to find restaurants, coffee shops, or hotels wherever you are, but what about green-rated businesses? Greenopia has transformed its printed, local guides into a dynamic, nationwide mobile application that lets you find local, green-rated businesses in any category. No more paper and a much better experience. The Green Map app is another that facilitates discovery and connects us to local green environments.

5. Traveling More Efficiently: We’ve had access to GPS navigation systems and static traffic information for some time, but only now are we seeing the full potential of these technologies. With access to more detailed traffic information that is specific to your route and updated in real time, we can minimize congestion and maximize traffic flow (as much as physically possible). The new turn-by-turn MapQuest 4 Mobile app is a good start, as you can get traffic alerts specific to the route you program. However, user-generated information from apps like Trapster and Waze can crowdsource more specific details, such as whether to avoid an intersection due to a toxic chemical spill. Or, if you want to avoid automobiles altogether, Google Maps makes it easy to use public transportation and take a bike.

6. Scanning for Ethical Products: With online shopping, we’ve become accustomed to reading reviews and making comparisons before we buy. This can now be done in the physical world through games like MyTown and services like Stikybits. By scanning a product barcode using a smartphone camera, you can unlock a treasure of additional information (not to mention deals) that can help with your purchase. This might include where it was produced, how far it traveled, the reputation of the manufacturer, chemical contents, carbon footprint, or the full lifecycle analysis. Location-aware applications can also transform commerce itself by giving us better access to local inventories and locally-produced goods. Whether it’s fruits and vegetables or books and electronics, if something can be found within blocks of your current location, it makes no sense to ship it from afar.

7. Networking Neighborhoods: One of the hottest categories in geolocation is neighborhood networking. The vision for many of these apps is to strengthen the very fabric of our communities. With DeHood, you can keep track of what’s happening in your neighborhood, share your favorite places, and grease the wheels for actually meeting people. After all, if you’ve made contact through the app, it’s a lot easier to say “Hello” in the real world. Blasterous is another that lets you share information locally, whereas BlockChalk does this on an anonymous basis. Finally, NeighborGoods uses your street address to facilitate one-to-one borrowing and trading of useful stuff. In the end, making connections with your neighbors can lead to safer, more productive, and more sustainable communities.

8. Tracking Environmental Disasters: The size and scope of environmental disasters appears to be growing. In 2008, we had the Tennessee coal ash spill, which was billed as “the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States.” And that was before we realized it was three times bigger than originally estimated. More recently, the BP oil spill set daily records for “largest environmental disaster in the U.S. ever.” In each case, geolocation technologies can be used by engaged citizens to monitor and track the effects. They can be used by response teams to coordinate containment and cleanup efforts. Ultimately, these technologies can be used to accurately measure the size and impact of a disaster in order to better understand its damages and costs.

9. Viewing the World Through an Eco Lens: Augmented reality (AR) follows geolocation as one of the hot trends in mobile technology. It enables you to view the world through a smartphone camera (or similar device) and see layers of geo-specific content or information. One of the most popular apps is Layar, an augmented reality browser/platform that lets you choose specific data layers or experiences. The potential for green- and cause-related content is tremendous. You might view green-rated businesses, LEED-certified buildings, or virtual GHG emissions as they enter the atmosphere. Combined with smart meter technology, you could see the most efficient and inefficient homes around you in real time. And for the cynics among us, you could view our mountains, forests, rivers, and oceans as they once were…before the effects of climate change and so many environmental disasters.

10. Capturing the Moment: Better access to information about what’s happening around us—right now—can dramatically improve quality of life. This sense of “geospatial awareness” is possible through today’s smartphones, whereby a piece of content or information—a moment—is captured and preserved based on the unique time and place in which it occurred. It is essentially to document spacetime. Protests, natural disasters, sporting events, parties, political crises…real-time information about anything happening anywhere at any time, as well as the history of what happened. This will take several years and a number of different applications to realize. In the end, though, it will revolutionize how we access and consume content. It will complete the democratization and decentralization of news and information…based on time and location.

Cautionary note: Privacy is the single biggest issue in the LBS industry. It’s important to understand what information you are sharing with regard to your location and with whom.

Author’s note: We’ll be hosting geolocation events for Social Media Week in Los Angeles this September. This is the third in Max Gladwell‘s #10Ways series of distributed blog posts. It was published simultaneously on as many as 300 blogs.

10 Ways to Support Charity Through Social Media

This post is a collaboration between Mashable’s Summer of Social Good charitable fundraiser and Max Gladwell‘s “10 Ways” series. The post is being simultaneously published across more than 100 blogs.

summerofsocialgoodnew

Social media is about connecting people and providing the tools necessary to have a conversation. That global conversation is an extremely powerful platform for spreading information and awareness about social causes and issues. That’s one of the reasons charities can benefit so greatly from being active on social media channels. But you can also do a lot to help your favorite charity or causes you are passionate about through social media.

Below is a list of 10 ways you can use social media to show your support for issues that are important to you. If you can think of any other ways to help charities via social web tools, please add them in the comments. If you’d like to retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

1. Write a Blog Post

Blogging is one of the easiest ways you can help a charity or cause you feel passionate about. Almost everyone has an outlet for blogging these days — whether that means a site running WordPress, an account at LiveJournal, or a blog on MySpace or Facebook. By writing about issues you’re passionate about, you’re helping to spread awareness among your social circle. Because your friends or readers already trust you, what you say is influential.

Recently, a group of green bloggers banded together to raise individual $1 donations from their readers. The beneficiaries included Sustainable Harvest, Kiva, Healthy Child, Healthy World, Environmental Working Group, and Water for People. The blog-driven campaign included voting to determine how the funds would be distributed between the charities. You can read about the results here.

You should also consider taking part in Blog Action Day, a once a year event in which thousands of blogs pledge to write at least one post about a specific social cause (last year it was fighting poverty). Blog Action Day will be on October 15 this year.

2. Share Stories with Friends

twitter-links

Another way to spread awareness among your social graph is to share links to blog posts and news articles via sites like Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, and even through email. Your network of friends is likely interested in what you have to say, so you have influence wherever you’ve gathered a social network.

You’ll be doing charities you support a great service when you share links to their campaigns, or to articles about causes you care about.

3. Follow Charities on Social Networks

In addition to sharing links to articles about issues you come across, you should also follow charities you support on the social networks where they are active. By increasing the size of their social graph, you’re increasing the size of their reach. When your charities tweet or post information about a campaign or a cause, statistics or a link to a good article, consider retweeting that post on Twitter, liking it on Facebook, or blogging about it.

Following charities on social media sites is a great way to keep in the loop and get updates, and it’s a great way to help the charity increase its reach by spreading information to your friends and followers.

You can follow the Summer of Social Good Charities:

Oxfam America (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube)
The Humane Society (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr)
LIVESTRONG (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr)
WWF (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr)

4. Support Causes on Awareness Hubs

change-wwf

Another way you can show your support for the charities you care about is to rally around them on awareness hubs like Change.org, Care2, or the Facebook Causes application. These are social networks or applications specifically built with non-profits in mind. They offer special tools and opportunities for charities to spread awareness of issues, take action, and raise money.

It’s important to follow and support organizations on these sites because they’re another point of access for you to gather information about a charity or cause, and because by supporting your charity you’ll be increasing their overall reach. The more people they have following them and receiving their updates, the greater the chance that information they put out will spread virally.

5. Find Volunteer Opportunities

Using social media online can help connect you with volunteer opportunities offline, and according to web analytics firm Compete, traffic to volunteering sites is actually up sharply in 2009. Two of the biggest sites for locating volunteer opportunities are VolunteerMatch, which has almost 60,000 opportunities listed, and Idealist.org, which also lists paying jobs in the non-profit sector, in addition to maintaining databases of both volunteer jobs and willing volunteers.

For those who are interested in helping out when volunteers are urgently needed in crisis situations, check out HelpInDisaster.org, a site which helps register and educate those who want to help during disasters so that local resources are not tied up directing the calls of eager volunteers. Teenagers, meanwhile, should check out DoSomething.org, a site targeted at young adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their communities.

6. Embed a Widget on Your Site

Many charities offer embeddable widgets or badges that you can use on your social networking profiles or blogs to show your support. These badges generally serve one of two purposes (or both). They raise awareness of an issue and offer up a link or links to additional information. And very often they are used to raise money.

Mashable’s Summer of Social Good campaign, for example, has a widget that does both. The embeddable widget, which was custom built using Sprout (the creators of ChipIn), can both collect funds and offer information about the four charities the campaign supports.

7. Organize a Tweetup

You can use online social media tools to organize offline events, which are a great way to gather together like-minded people to raise awareness, raise money, or just discuss an issue that’s important to you. Getting people together offline to learn about an important issue can really kick start the conversation and make supporting the cause seem more real.

Be sure to check out Mashable’s guide to organizing a tweetup to make sure yours goes off without a hitch, or check to see if there are any tweetups in your area to attend that are already organized.

8. Express Yourself Using Video

As mentioned, blog posts are great, but a picture really says a thousand words. The web has become a lot more visual in recent years and there are now a large number of social tools to help you express yourself using video. When you record a video plea or call to action about your issue or charity, you can make your message sound more authentic and real. You can use sites like 12seconds.tv, Vimeo, and YouTube to easily record and spread your video message.

Last week, the Summer of Social Good campaign encouraged people to use video to show support for charity. The #12forGood campaign challenged people to submit a 12 second video of themselves doing something for the Summer of Social Good. That could be anything, from singing a song to reciting a poem to just dancing around like a maniac — the idea was to use the power of video to spread awareness about the campaign and the charities it supports.

If you’re more into watching videos than recording them, Givzy.com enables you to raise funds for charities like Unicef and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital by sharing viral videos by e-mail.

9. Sign or Start a Petition

twitition

There aren’t many more powerful ways to support a cause than to sign your name to a petition. Petitions spread awareness and, when successfully carried out, can demonstrate massive support for an issue. By making petitions viral, the social web has arguably made them even more powerful tools for social change. There are a large number of petition creation and hosting web sites out there. One of the biggest is The Petition Site, which is operated by the social awareness network Care2, or PetitionOnline.com, which has collected more than 79 million signatures over the years.

Petitions are extremely powerful, because they can strike a chord, spread virally, and serve as a visual demonstration of the support that an issue has gathered. Social media fans will want to check out a fairly new option for creating and spreading petitions: Twitition, an application that allows people to create, spread, and sign petitions via Twitter.

10. Organize an Online Event

Social media is a great way to organize offline, but you can also use online tools to organize effective online events. That can mean free form fund raising drives, like the Twitter-and-blog-powered campaign to raise money for a crisis center in Illinois last month that took in over $130,000 in just two weeks. Or it could mean an organized “tweet-a-thon” like the ones run by the 12for12k group, which aims to raise $12,000 each month for a different charity.

In March, 12for12k ran a 12-hour tweet-a-thon, in which any donation of at least $12 over a 12 hour period gained the person donating an entry into a drawing for prizes like an iPod Touch or a Nintendo Wii Fit. Last month, 12for12k took a different approach to an online event by holding a more ambitious 24-hour live video-a-thon, which included video interviews, music and sketch comedy performances, call-ins, and drawings for a large number of prizes given out to anyone who donated $12 or more.

Bonus: Think Outside the Box

blamedrewscancerSocial media provides almost limitless opportunity for being creative. You can think outside the box to come up with all sorts of innovative ways to raise money or awareness for a charity or cause. When Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, for example, he created Blame Drew’s Cancer, a campaign that encourages people to blow off steam by blaming his cancer for bad things in their lives using the Twitter hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer. Over 16,000 things have been blamed on Drew’s cancer, and he intends to find sponsors to turn those tweets into donations to LIVESTRONG once he beats the disease.

Or check out Nathan Winters, who is biking across the United States and documenting the entire trip using social media tools, in order to raise money and awareness for The Nature Conservancy.

The number of innovative things you can do using social media to support a charity or spread information about an issue is nearly endless. Can you think of any others? Please share them in the comments.

Special thanks to VPS.net

vpsnet logoA special thanks to VPS.net, who are donating $100 to the Summer of Social Good for every signup they receive this week.

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About the “10 Ways” Series

The “10 Ways” Series was originated by Max Gladwell. This is the second simultaneous blog post in the series. The first ran on more than 80 blogs, including Mashable. Among other things, it is a social media experiment and the exploration of a new content distribution model. You can follow Max Gladwell on Twitter.

This content was originally written by Mashable’s Josh Catone.

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