the grass is greener on the internet

Social media? Or development studies?
November 2, 2008, 11:29 pm
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I feel a little guilty for not updating over the past week – by the time I finished my mad rush to get my essays done I didn’t feel like writing any more!

However when I was writing, it struck me that many of the methods and issues in social media are remarkably similar to those used in development studies to communicate health or human rights messages. Thought it was interesting to look at the similarities/differences between the two types of communications – perhaps they can learn from each other.

Agree? Disagree?

It’s kinda funny because in the late 50s the theory was that if you gave developing countries modern technologies (like radio, TV, phones etc.) they would automatically become modern and developed. (See: Lerner, Rostow)

Then they realised that interpersonal communications were required: the target communities had to participate (Freire). But they found they couldn’t FORCE communities to participate if they didn’t want to. The change had to be at least partially organic.

The most effective social change projects have been where members of the community have produced communications in a way that feeds back into itself.

Sound familiar?

It took 40 years of academic research to come up with the tactics and criticisms that are pretty much the same as what I read on blogs every day.


Communicating the green message
August 26, 2008, 11:52 pm
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Cutting carbon emissions is the cause du jour – sod the other environmental effects, let’s just measure our CO2 and then cut, cut, cut!

A lot of companies are spending a lot of money to try and tell consumers that they’re doing just that.

Perhaps they should be looking at spreading the ‘green’ message in a ‘green’ way, though…it’s been calculated that marketing communications cause over 500 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year and is likely to increase, according to TrinityP3. (See here.)

What can you do? For a start, include it in your ‘carbon footprint’ when buying offsets. Then have a look at communication delivery methods and how they can reduce environmental impact whilst retaining their marketing impact. Waste paper is an obvious sinner, as are novelty products that require transporting long distances, but internet isn’t entirely blameless either.

It won’t be perfect, but it’s definitely something to think about.