Tag: South Africa

Stuff I've seen January 16th through to January 22nd

These are my links for January 16th through January 22nd:

  • Puffbox.com » Archive » Creative Commons coming to data.gov.uk – "There's something almost unnerving about the launch of a government website getting so much positive coverage. But today's been data.gov.uk's big day, and everyone seems to agree it's a jolly good thing. For now.
    James Crabtree's piece for Prospect magazine hails it as 'a tale of star power, serendipity, vision, persistence and an almost unprecedented convergence of all levels of government'. The New Statesman says it's 'a far more radical project than it first appears… a clear break with the closed, data-hugging state of the past.' We're all getting quite excitable, aren't we?"
  • Unlocking innovation | data.gov.uk – Advised by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt and others, government are opening up data for reuse. This site seeks to give a way into the wealth of government data and is under constant development. We want to work with you to make it better.
  • News Corp is foolish to block linking | Media | The Guardian – "Linking is a right. The link enables fair comment. It powers the link economy that will sustain media. It is a tool for accountability. It is the keystone to free speech online."
  • The Through the Viewfinder photography of Pete Ashton – My mate Pete keeps on forging new ways to make money from networks, trust and creativity: "As part of my plan to make lots of money from my photographs I’m encouraging you to download high resolution versions of my TTV photos to make cool things with them and I don’t mind if you pay me or not."

    There’s a new section in my shop: Roll your own. That explains how I expect this to work so go read it before reading on.

  • African Social Media Surgery launch | Technology for Community Empowerment – I am almost impossibly excited by this first social media surgery in Africa: "The Social Media Surgery will be managed by Craig Ross and the rest of the RLabs Superstars. What excites me about this initiative is that the management and our surgeons will be men and women who use to disempower their community through drugs and violence, who are now giving back and empowering citizens through Social Media."

Social Media Surgery in Africa

It is with almost heart thumping glee that I get to write about the first use of a social media surgery in Africa (at least the first I now of).

I met Marlon Parker when he visited Birmingham last year.  He taught us really interesting stuff about using mobile phones and went back intent to get a social media surgery started in South Africa.

He writes:

Today was no ordinary day for the RLabs team as they launched the first African Social Media Surgery. The idea was to take Social and New Media to the public in an open space providing them with basic skills on getting started on this exciting journey. The launch was hosted by Vangate Mall in Bridgetown (Setting up of equipment above), Cape Town and 47 people actively participated by spending at least 15 minutes each with our Social Media Surgeons. These included people signing up for email accounts (gmail), Facebook as well as Twitter accounts. There were people also interested in sharing sites such as Flickr and Youtube with also the occasional person asking about blogging. Below we see Clive, one of our Social Media Surgeons, helping a couple with an email account that could be used for their small business.


The surgeons included some people who had previously learned about using social media from Marlon. One of them, Craig, sums of the group of teachers as:

ex drug addicts and ex gangsters that have completed the course: Social Media for Social Change and various other training at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

Judging from this tweet surgeon and patient appreciated it (which is what we find here).

@marlonparker it was great, alot of positive feedback from our "Patients" lol. Africas 1st #SMsurgery.

Birmingham’s Central Surgery carries on in a new venue tomorrow night. The folk at The Studio have kindly offered to host it. For more please look here.

Impact Direct and social media training for former drug addicts in South Africa

It’s been quite an eye-opener meeting Marlon Parker.  He’s visiting the UK from Cape town in South Africa and has come over here to share some of his work at the charity Impact Direct.  He was here with Jon Hickman.

Below is a quick interview with him, where he explains how he began using social media to help gang members and drug addicts tell their stories, initially as a means of educating the wider community about what to expect.

Marlon Parker talks to Nick Booth about Impact Direct in South Africa from Podnosh on Vimeo.

On the face of it this is very similar to the social media surgeries we run here in brum, but just bolder. More like the work that wesharestuff does with young people who’ve recently been in prison.

But Reconstructed (Marlon’s original project name) blossomed from simply helping a few people to a network of people who are using mobile phones and instant messaging to mentor individual and families with a huge range of problems – from drugs addiction to HIV/Aids.  Here’s a scrappy bit of video of Marlon showing Chris Unitt how the mobile phone stuff works, using an application put together by the original groups of social media trainees. It’s interesting:

Angel service for Drug Addicts in South Africa from Podnosh on Vimeo.

The whole project is built on the some of the core principles that makes social media more than a means of connecting online, but as a means to gain or regain control:

  • Just get on with.  Marlon doesn’t wait for funders to OK something, he gets on with it and hopes the world will catch up.
  • Concentrate on the useful.  When encouraging people to use social media find something that’s useful for them
  • Get people teaching as much as they learn: the beauty of social media is it’s simplicity. It’s good to get those you are teaching to teach others, that strengthens the network and relationships.
  • Don’t wait for the kit, use available technology.  Instant messaging and mobile phones work in South Africa because that’s what the people Marlon want to reach have.

In the end none of the work that Marlon does, we do or loads of the rest of you do with social media is to do with specific tools or bits of technology.  It is essentially about helping people get to know each other well enough to be able to achive things together.  To do that it pays to  use whatever it takes to connect folk.