Posts Tagged ‘haiti’

Social Media: More than Just Fun

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Several times over the last couple months I’ve commented here about the power of social media to bring people together around campaigns – raising awareness for Rare Disease Day, help for Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, saving a favorite television show with #Heroes100. It’s a fun, easy, almost magical way to take action on the causes that matter most to you. In a few short seconds you can reach out to thousands of individuals – something that even ten years ago was almost unthinkable.

But what happens when that cause is your very survival? What happens when social media is something more than just fun — a means for isolated individuals to reach out to the world beyond their sickbed, wheelchair or hospital room?

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Twitter Hosts a Different Kind of Tea Party

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

When I think of a cup of tea, I think: calm, tranquil, serene. The mental picture is two hands on a steaming cup, eyes closed while I breathe in vapors that tantalize the senses with hints of chamomile, mint or citrus smells (depending on my mood).  Now thanks to a story from the Associated Press this week on Chinese activists going online to blast “drinking tea” warnings by meddlesome authorities, I’ll never see that cup of tea quite the same way.

According to the Associated Press story:

Police have long tried to shush and isolate potential activists, usually starting with a low-key warning, perhaps over a meal or a cup of tea. Now, the country’s troublemakers are openly blogging and tweeting their stories about “drinking tea” with the cops, allowing the targeted citizens to bond and diluting the intimidation they feel.

The movement is an embarrassment for officials, who are suspicious of anything that looks like an organized challenge to their authority. And it can’t help that “drinking tea” stories seem to be spreading among ordinary Chinese, including ones who signed a recent online call for political reform.

The country’s top political event of the year, the National People’s Congress, has given the stories another bump. More than 200 people say they’ve been invited by police to “drink tea” since just Friday, when the congress began, said independent political blogger Ran Yunfei.

 That Chinese activists found ways to go around official censorship of the Internet and get their stories out to others helps increased a sense of community for those under scrutiny and reinforces the power potential of the Internet.

 As we saw in Iran following the disputed June 2009 elections and for Haiti after January’s massive earthquake social media like Twitter can simultaneously allow users to spread information about events and draw in a truly international “coalition” of people who feel the same or empathize with the challenges. Those coalition members can and have raised the profile of the issue, raised money and provided invaluable moral support to those struggling through difficult situations.

 It’s a strange kind of magic that unfolds via spells crafted of 140 characters or less. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what practitioners come up with next.

New Media: The good, the bad, and the downright ugly

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Over the span of the last two weeks we have witnessed both the power and the folly of new media.

The blogosphere, twitterverse and other online forums proved to be effective rapid-reaction communications tools when a massive earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12. Outside Haiti, the Internet exploded with posts and tweets providing donation information, suggestions to help people search for loved ones and heartfelt entreaties to lend a helping hand. From inside Haiti survivors tweeted eyewitness accounts and offered to help locate loved ones, uploaded information to MySpace, YouTube and Facebook.

Did all this online activity dig people out from under collapsed buildings? Did it put bandages on bleeding wounds? No, of course not.

But it did provide an almost immediate platform for people to come together, share information and reach out with compassion and do what they could to help Haiti.

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Hope for Haiti, Hope for the World

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The blogosphere and twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a massive 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. The current outpouring of support, prayers and entreaties to help Haiti recover are both humbling and inspiring – and remind us all that even in the face of great tragedy there is hope for us all when people of the world unite in common purpose.

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