Posts Tagged ‘blog


blogging rehab

Marlon Parker’s talk entitled “Mxit and Community Blogging” was by far the highlight of the Digital Citizen’s Indaba (DCI) for me. I had been looking forward to the talk and even managed to put down my camera so that I could actually listen and take some notes!

In previous posts I have mentioned some of my thoughts about mobile applications such as Meep and Mxit, but I had never really thought about how such technologies could be used for good. I have pointed out that they are a tad self-obsessed, are contributing to the lack of face to face interactions between people and have a disastrous effect on the English language, but not once did I look at the other side of the coin.

Parker’s project is based in the Cape Flats, where drug abuse and gang activities are rife. “I wanted to find the worst of the worst and work with them to try and rehabilitate themselves and also the community,” said Parker. 

Parker detailed how one of the main drug dens in the Flats, called ‘The White House,’ is run by The Americans (the most notorious in the Cape) and is located near a playground. As a result there are children as young as seven years old who are peddling TIKand Meth, and children as young as ten are admitting to having smoked weed for more than two years already.

Parker has personal experience with the drug problem that is occurring in the Western Cape as his own brother is currently in prison for dealing TIK, as well as being addicted to the drug. “Communities are living in tension,” said Parker, “there is a lack within the community and something needs to be done.”

Something certainly is being done and with tremendous results, even in such an early stage in the project. After the initial counselling over Mxit (which is performed by rehabilitated addicts), patients are invited to come in an start the rehabilitation programme. Patients begin blogging on a blog called Reconstructed, which Parker says has not only encouraged the patients to become more tech savvy (by using the Internet and the blogging site), but has also prompted them to try and teach themselves other computer applications.

The project has plans to move into various different prisons and is already working closely with the South Africa Police Service, who are referring addicts to the programme. So in a very short amount of time a great deal of good has been done, through technologies such as Mxit and blogging. In Parker’s words, “reconstructed citizens lead to reconstructed communities,” and the future certainly looks bright for Parker and his team.


The upcoming DCI

So as many of you may know the Digital Citizen Indaba is coming up this weekend and I shall be lucky enough to attended the event. My New Media class shall be keeping people around the world up to date with the Indaba through the use of social networking. We are going to be doing a range of things like short video’s, twittering, photographs and running a live blog.

For me, as someone who blogs about mobile media, what is the most interesting thing about this years programme is the address by Marlon Parker (PhD, Cape Peninsula University) on “Mxit and Community Blogging”. I have discussed the social impact of applications like Mxit and Meep for the younger generations, and am interested in how it can be used within a community for good.

Marlon started up a program where by he was reaching out to drug addicts using Mxit (which is the most used technology across all communities). Marlon’s PhD thesis is on how technology can be used to facilitate change within a community, and thus as an experiment he approached a school about having a counselling service on Mxit. The counsellor’s chat to patients on Mxit, off computers in the counselling center. Marlon said that during any 2 hour session there were at least 50 people online. Once the patient has chatted online, they are then invited into the center to have a one on one counselling session.

There is also an Interactive Panel entitled “How cellphones can empower African digital citizens” which also promises to be informative. The discussion will be moderated by Peter Verweij from the School for Journalism in Utrecht.

I am hoping to do a short interview with Parker so check in again on Monday!


Anything you can do, my phone can do better!

Mobile media’s potential power is becoming more and more apparent as time goes on. So much so that big name companies who usually use traditional means to get their product recognised, are using different mobile technologies.

Imagine you are walking down the street, past a billboard advertising the newest Nike shoes. You don’t really notice it that much, and you don’t intend on visiting a Nike shop. But then your phone starts behaving like a crazed animal in your bag, beeping and vibrating until you pick it up and give it the attention that it wants.

It’s a message, from Nike, sent to your phone using Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth allows electronic devices to communicate wirelessly, but only from a short range. It tells you that if you run to the nearest Nike store you could win a brand new pair of Nike Zoom shoes, which were advertised on the billboard you passed by.

Then you arrive at the bus stop, and you get another message on your phone, sent via Bluetooth. It says:

I’m watching u. Ur at the bus stop.”

Now you’re a bit creeped out but then a few seconds later you get another message, this time saying:

Big Brother is back. 7pm weeknights on Ten.

This is a message from the producers of Big Brother in Australia. Their new season is starting and they want as many people to tune in as possible.

Now despite the obvious annoying, spam-like quality of these types of messages (but remember that one can only receive Bluetooth messages of your Bluetooth is turned on), it happens to be an ingenious advertising technique that is utilising mobile technology. And one that confirms for me that we can so many things off our cellphones, and these can be done simply and cheaply.  

Users can use search tools like Google, you can check Facebook, you can chat to friends really cheaply through a number of different devices such as Mxit and Meep, you can internet bank, you can blog, you can shop online, you can find out breaking news using news websites or social media sites like Twitter, you can even take a guided tour of South Africa’s historical sites using your cell phone!

So with all this new mobile technology and the obvious convenience of it all, what is there that we can’t do on our cell phones?