[Session proposal] Mobile Devices and Human Behavior: How Can Institutions of Conscience Leverage Phones for Social Good
Monday, November 30th, 2009 | dklevan
Among the many challenges facing institutions of conscience is the question of best methods to engage and mobilize a global constituency to raise awareness, learn and investigate facts, modify behavior and take action in order to prevent genocide, promote human dignity, etc. I am particularly interested in the role that mobile devices can play in such efforts. Because they are highly individualized, intimate, globally ubiquitous, and mobile, cell phones offer exciting opportunities and challenges for institutions of conscience.
It is now common knowledge that mobile devices are among the three objects which most people carry with them wherever they go. They have become indispensible to modern modes of communication. So-called smart phones are expected to make up the majority of the market by 2012 or 2015 in the USA (depending who you ask). Most people are already aware that mobile technology (combined with social media) has played an important role in human rights movements from Egypt to Iran to China as well as the United States, usually because the technology allows users to easily photograph or video capture events and upload to the Internet for a global audience. In addition, mobile apps are emerging that leverage volunteer efforts to tag photographs, provide data quality assurance, and contribute to or promote various campaigns via social media.
This session proposal seeks to explore how institutions of conscience can best exploit the unique qualities of mobile devices to raise awareness, promote action, and affect behavior change in a global constituency. Questions for exploration include:
Because mobile devices are (were) originally designed for personal communication, what are best practices for institutions to use them without violating the personal space of constituents? What challenges and opportunities does this highly individualized and intimate technology present for institutions of conscience? What, if any, is the potential for creating a sense of connection, intimacy, and belonging?
What opportunities for contributions of user-generated content are unique to mobile devices? What challenges do they present? What opportunities do they present?
Mobile devices collapse our physical reality. We can “be” in multiple places at once, wherever we are. What are the implications of ubiquitous communication? Does this open opportunities/pitfalls for institutions of conscience? If so, what? For example, there was much discussion about the implications of becoming “a fan” of Auschwitz on Facebook. It just sounded odd. Are there implications for our particular institutions as we engage people in other highly personal, informal, and often unpredictable settings?
As social media (Facebook and Twitter in particular) integrate with mobile devices, what opportunities for instantaneous and viral action emerge?
Many venues have already demonstrated the potential of mobile devices and social media like Twitter and U-Stream to create blended virtual and live events. In a world where this capability is increasingly in the hands of the end-user, what potential is there for institutions of conscience? Can such content be readily integrated into Augmented Reality via mobile? And how can we exploit the immediacy of such content without sacrificing our reputations for authenticity and authority?
Finally, how can mobile technologies best be leveraged to facilitate communication, understanding, and a sense of shared obligation between people in communities around the world?