Mobile phones have had a huge effect on society by making interpersonal communication instant and always available. They are also becoming important tools for political and social change. Here are a few examples:
- Most of the reportage, both text and pictures, documenting the repression of the Tibetan Independence movement has come from camera phones and SMS eyewitnes accounts.
- Twitter proved it's value for emergency communications in use by police and fire departments and the Red Cross during last October's Southern California wildfires.
- Barak Obama's presidential campaign is using text messages to get out the vote and organize rallies. The candidate also has wallpapers and sound bite ring-tones for download by supporters. Hilary Clinton is using text messaging political organizing too.
- Zimbabwean workers in South Africa use mobile banking to send their money home to avoid having to pay bribes to border guards.
- In Nigeria, teenagers can get their questions about AIDS and safe sex answered by a free SMS service sponsored by the government and a consortium of agencies.
Some of these stories appeared in the mainstream press, but I heard about them first by reading MobileActive.org's blog. MobileActive's motto is "Mobile Phones for Civic Action". They do this by reporting and encouraging the use of mobile technology for the common good and by connecting non governmental political action organizations working in areas like human rights, democracy campaigns, environmental awareness and disaster relief with mobile technology and mobile technologists. Besides the blog, MobileActive's web site has a directory of current activist projects using mobile technology, another directory of tools and vendors supplying technology of interest to political action organizations, and a great database of global mobile usage statistics.
MobileActive is a must read for anyone interested in social change and mobile technology. And you can read it on the mobile web. The mobile edition of the MobileActive blog at mobileactive.mofuse.mobi is created from the site's RSS feed using Mofuse (review) and offers the full text of the ten most recent posts. Since my review, Mofuse has added Mowser integration which means that you can click through to a transcoded version of the full MobileActive blog to leave and read comments on items.
Link: MobileActive - mobileactive.mofuse.mobi