Posts from the ‘Mobile’ category

Mobile Smack Down: Obama’s Responsive Design vs. Romney’s Mobile Site (and More)

Image Courtesy of Smashing Magazine

While the candidates themselves call upon differing mobile strategies, it appears they aren’t the only ones to disagree. When it comes to mobile, where do you stand?

Think “Mobile First”

While many of us can agree with a “mobile first” approach (hopefully, right?), actually moving forward and implementing a particular mobile strategy is another ballgame. Note: For those still working within their organizations or with stakeholders to understand the importance of mobile, keep going. You’re not alone, and we thank you. All the people who have a phone yet not a toilet, thank you.

Not only is the “mobile first” mantra a cornerstone of the new Digital Government Strategy, but it’s also a strategic decision adopted by an increasing number of organizations. From Google to Salesforce and now Facebook, more companies are going “mobile first” when it comes to designing and developing web products, services and features.

OK – But Then What? 

Some organizations take “mobile first” a step further by deciding to go “all responsive, all the time.” Others, are mobile site ambassadors while others say “it depends” and some have yet to decide (or scarily, even discuss!).

In a wonderful display of responsive design, unveiled its new website as one of the first Federal agencies to go fully responsive. Rhode Island also has a beautiful responsive design that follows suit. Responsive design even gets a nod in the Digital Government Strategy defined as a method of designing content so that it can be re-sized to fit on various screen sizes (e.g. designing a service to work well on both a laptop screen and a smartphone, without the need to design and maintain separate “standard” and “mobile” sites). So, wherein lies the rub?

Responsive Design vs. a Mobile Site

Image Courtesy of riixlike

Jacob Nielson, a long-time usability advocate, greatly recognized for his expertise in web design and development, says not so fast. In April, Nielson advised organizations to:

“Build a separate mobile-optimized site (or mobile site) if you can afford it. When people access sites using mobile devices, their measured usability is much higher for mobile sites than for full sites. A mobile app might be even better – at least for now.”

Interesting. To further complicate things, Nielson throws in the app option as well – which we could get lost in debating the benefit and value in native apps vs. Web apps. To some of you, you might be even more confused thinking you understand “mobile first” and now find yourself weeding through the various options not sure what to do.

You’re not alone. In Smashing Magazine’s breakdown on Obama’s mobile strategy versus Romney’s (which is an excellent read that compares the pros and cons in choosing responsive design compared to a separate mobile site), author Brad Frost may capture it best when he says “this stuff is genuinely hard.” It takes thinking and discussion. And not everyone agrees. In fact, one advisor says “experience first” is a better positioning of the “mobile first” mindset. My advice: Start the conversation. Learn your options. Prototype. Test. Keep talking. Start.

Are you Appy?

It’s also worth noting that while Obama solicits a responsive design approach and Romney a separate mobile site, both also have their own apps as well. The plot thickens.

In the August 27, 2012 edition of Times Magazine, the article “Elections Will Never Be the Same” discusses how the future of politics is literally, in our hands. Brilliantly highlighting various features in both Obama’s and Romney’s apps, there is much here to offer for the public health professional. Hint: It involves mobilizing online advocacy through technology, networks and people. But that’s a post for another day…

Share: Given your options, where do you stand on “mobile first” and mobile strategy?

Bonus: For those interested, this Federal Computing Week article compares Obama’s overall digital campaign strategy with that of Romney’s.


Online and Mobile: The Potential of Personalized Health Information

Personalized Health

An average 24 year old will spend more time on Facebook than they will with their doctor in 20 years, according to Razorfish Health. Given this type of reality, how do you unlock the potential prowess of personalized health in online and mobile health strategies? That is the question.

Personalized Medicine vs. Personalized Health 

We are in an age of personalized medicine. Personalized medicine refers to therapies that can be tailored to an individuals own genetics and physiology. Some relate this to genomics as a way to bridge the gap between the Human Genome Project to individualized healthcare.  According to a report from the Kaufman Foundation, “personalized medicine” is a part of a broader field called personalized health.

Personalized health “includes predictive tests and technologies for individuals and for society, and science-based strategies to prevent or mitigate disease and poor health.” We don’t have to look too far to see personalized health at work, especially given the ongoing evolution in mobile technologies, digital strategies, online communities and health IT.

4 Additional Ps

In social marketing, we talk about 4 P’s (Price, Product, Place and Promotion) and sometimes 8 P’s (adding in Policy, Publics, Partnerships, and Purse Strings). Personalized health involves four Ps of its own as part of P4 Medicine:

  1. Predictive Medicine denotes the creation of therapeutics that will prevent a disease that a person is assessed to have a high probability of developing.
  2. Preventive Medicine refers to the development of a probabilistic health projection for a person based on his or her DNA and protein expression.
  3. Personalized Medicine refers to treating an individual based on his or her unique human genetic variation, completing the predictive and preventive efforts above.
  4. Participatory Medicine denotes patients’ active, informed involvement in their medical choices and care, acting in partnership with their health provider.
How can we best apply these concepts when developing personalized health strategies–especially for the expanding number of digital and mobile formats?

Going Online and Mobile

The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently released a new presentation titled, “Mobile is the Needle; Social is the Thread” which highlights the change in how information is integrated into our daily lives as compared to the turn of the century. One of the sound bytes that pops out the most  is that “information is now portable, participatory and personal.” Question for you: Would you describe your current online efforts, mobile initiatives or content in the same manner?

Herein Lies the Rub

Potential privacy questions aside, how can we apply personalized health online and via mobile devices–in an effective manner? Effective is the key word. Example: 80% of American Internet users have looked for health information online while 10% of American adult cell phone users have signed up for a health app–yet 26% of mobile apps are used only once.

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in what Darcy Sawartzki describes in her latest post for Social Marketing Quarterly: People like to make stuff–vs. make stuff happen. Perhaps we should take a step back from creating more apps, more Web pages, more online communities and ask: What are the small steps we need to take first? What are the motivations behind the little behaviors that can add up to big changes?

Moving Forward

Thankfully, learning how to make small steps towards big changes is the theme of B.J. Fogg’s Mobile Health Conference this May. Fogg has been looking into the science and psychology behind habit making and how this leads to success in three areas: behavior change, collaborations, and experience design. B.J. Fogg is also known for saying: “Put hot triggers in the way of motivated people” when it comes to designing for success. This starts to make even more sense when you look at what mobile apps researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found to be effective:

  • Those that send reminders to keep patients, such as those with HIV or TB, on their drug regimens.
  • Those that send messages to help people change harmful behaviors such as smoking.
  • Those that use texts about specific goals and behaviors to aid in weight loss.

In their research, one participated said she preferred one app over another “because it was more personalized.” If your not familiar with the personalized health movement yet, it might be time to get on board. As one source says: Whether it’s  mobile or digital health–it’s all personalized [health] to us.”


Additional Resources:

Crossing the Double Divide, Two Million Dollar Questions

Earlier this month, Susannah Fox discussed a health Information divide based on a recent report. This divide was also confirmed in a recent literature review on the effectiveness of social media in public health–cited as a double divide:

“A common concern raised in the published literature (38, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70) relates to the populations with limited online access, poor literacy skills, and disabilities that impair access to social media platforms: “…health scientists exploring the issue of the digital divide have found evidence of a double divide. Specifically, those without internet access (a large portion of whom may be without adequate health care access) are prevented from gaining health information available on the Internet” (38).

Though this double divide exists, it does not mean that we should disregard the Internet and social media as a tool in our health communications and social marketing work. There are bright spots of the Internet and social media’s impact in public health and in impacting the health of vulnerable populations. As, the literature review goes on to share that some researchers suggest that social media platforms can actually “augment poor health literacy of basic literacy skills” and “that digital penetration into marginalized groups actually improves access to some specific demographics.”  And this is where the importance of the National Broadband Plan comes into play.

Why? Because of the National Broadband plan not only outlines how to increase access to the Internet across the United States. But, it also includes key recommendations for increasing digital literacy. One of the recommendations that caught my attention most was the call to create a Digital Literacy Corps with the objective of mobilizing thousands of Americans across the United States to improve digital literacy. Compound that with last year’s release of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and the objectives set out in Healthy People 2020, and we’re on our way to crossing this double divide.

But what do we do until then?

The literature review offers the following recommendations on using social media to improve effectiveness for public health:

  1. Establish clear objectives.
  2. Know your target audiences.
  3. Design campaigns for longevity and/or have exit strategies and clear archiving processes.
  4. Determine resource needs.
  5. Determine agency content-clearance processes and/or prepare pre-approved messaging scripts.
  6. Listen to online health discourse.
  7. Encourage or sponsor research.
  8. Encourage coordination.

These are great recommendations, and number 7 is especially important. But value is gained from having a critical eye. So when data like this from Pew’s Health Topics report is shared, how can we be sure to reach the people who need our attention:

…fewer than half of adults in the following groups in the U.S. look online for health information:

  • African Americans
  • Latinos
  • Adults living with a disability
  • Adults age 65 and older
  • Adults with a high school education or less

As I write and work to use social technologies for social good, I know their potential and understand the benefits they can offer. So I don’t necessarily need “convincing.” Instead, I’m on the lookout for case studies–from the local level and up.

A Case in Point

For example, in St. Louis, the St. Louis County Library and the physicians of Saint Louis University have teamed up on a series of free community health literacy programs, referred to as “60-Minute Health Check-Ups.” The check-ups are” designed to provide information and resources to help attendees learn more about health-related issues. Each program features health information presented by a SLUCare professional, followed by health literacy tips from a St. Louis County Library reference librarian and free health screenings.”

This might not seem wildly innovative–but it’s a strong example of the place “P” in social marketing. And, when you add these stats from the 2010 U.S. IMPACT Public Library study into the mix (borrowed from a comment made by Luke Rosenburger on Susannah’s Health Information Divide post)–you can see the opportunity increased digital literacy could provide for better health:

Research has shown that libraries are a very important nexus for this kind of connection. The “US IMPACT” study, released April 2010 by the University of Washington Information School and underwritten by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reveals that nearly one in three Americans age 14 or older — 32% or roughly 77 million people — used a library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the previous year. Among people living in households whose income was less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines ($44,000 a year for a family of four), 44% used library computers and Internet access.

Thirty-seven percent of library computer users, an estimated 28 million people, focused on health and wellness issues, including learning about medical conditions, finding health care providers, and assessing health insurance options. In one particular group — seniors (65 and older) living in poverty — a full 54% used library computers for health or wellness needs.

The study also suggests that library computer use leads to positive action on health and wellness: roughly half of the people who used a public library computer to find doctors or health care providers reported that they made follow-up appointments. Among those who reported researching diet and nutrition issues online at the library, 83% decided to change their diet; among visitors who searched for exercise and fitness information, 84% decided to change their exercise habits. The benefits also reach beyond just the individuals who come into the library: nearly two-thirds of library computer users (63%) logged on to help others; 56% reported helping friends or family with health matters specifically.

So are libraries the answer? From the information provided and from knowing some smart and savvy librarians, I’d say yes! But, I feel like they are just part of the answer.

The Million Dollar Questions

One:  What are people doing to cross this double divide and what results are they seeing? Show us the case studies and share the lessons learned!

Two:  In what ways can we reach people on the side of the divide without health information and without digital literacy skills–and bridge the gap in terms of health disparities and health information, services and products? (And before you answer “MySpace” or “mobile” –show me the evidence. As, I feel more and more strongly, to cross the divide, we need a markets-based approach to health that addresses changes regarding the social determinants of health. No?)

BONUS: CDC’s January 2011 Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (CHDIR) — The information in this report is astounding and eye-opening.

flickr credit: kcryder

Still Here–Just In More Places

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting here quite as often. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been writing for a few different places over the past few months. I highlight some of the posts below:

  • Have Questions, Not Answers for 2011
    [On Care2’s frogloop Blog] In the nonprofit arena, the word “marketing” can have a bad rap. But you can help change that–and with good reason.  Marketing, in particular, social marketing can make all the difference in your organization’s work come 2011.                                               Read More.
  • In Review, the mHealth Attendee Gaining in Notoriety
    [On Pulse + Signal] This week’s mHealth Summit in Washington D.C rolled out the red carpet for some of the world’s top innovators including Ted Turner, Bill Gates, U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra and over 2,000 participants from 30 countries. It was a learning hub and feeding ground for those in government, NGOs, research, technology, policy and business. But there’s one attendee I spotted throughout the conference that gained in notoriety and demand—behavior change.
    Read More.

Hopefully, I’ll be back here posting more regularly again soon. However, I’m now starting to understand why, when I tell people that I blog, they ask me: How do you find the time? Well, as you can see, that’s been a bit of a struggle lately. Never fear though–something it always in the works. Until next time, Alex.

flickr credit: Leonard John Matthews

Low Cost, High Impact? The Growing Potential of QR Codes

The other week, a woman asked me what she could do with little time and a little budget that would have a high impact. Her question was poignant and just about everyone in the room at the time could relate. Maybe you can. The phrase I often hear is “low risk, high impact.” Now however, with budgets being stretched like Mr. Fantastic–the focus is even more so: “low cost, low risk, and high impact.” This is a triple threat–that can be quite foreboding. Enter Manor, Texas.

The City of Manor, Texas recently received a Web and technology Gov 2.0 make-over. Dustin Haisler, Assistant City Manager and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the city provides a mini case study of all the innovations the city has integrated into its programs and services. All of the innovations aim to make the city more transparent, collaborative and participatory, but what caught my attention was the application of QR codes.

The City of Manor developed and launched a QR program providing “physical hyperlinks” from 35 points-of-interest around the community. The price? Free (except for printing).

QR-codes are multi-dimensional barcodes that can be read by barcode scanner applications (such as Google Goggles) that are available on most newer smartphones or that can be downloaded. The great potential? URLs can be embedded into QR Codes, for free and in less than 60 seconds! QR Codes, also referred to as paper-based hyperlinks, tie real-world objects to online content and can be located anywhere–on receipts, signs, advertisements, business cards, products, even Times Square–the list goes on.

QR stands for “quick response,” so that when a person comes across one, he or she can scan the barcode with his or her phone and be linked to more information through just a click of a button. For more information, SearchEngineLand lists a number of QR codes generators, readers, uses and over 15 organizations who have used QR codes including The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). NTEN used QR codes to conduct a scavenger hunt at the recent NTEN conference.

Additional examples of QR Codes making a low cost, impact:

  • Be the One–Save the Gulf Campaign: QR Codes were used to direct people to the campaign’s video and to sign the campaign’s petition.
  • The RememberMe’s Collaborative Art Project: OxFam and TOTeM supported, this project uses QR Codes on used clothing that point to audio-based stories of where the clothing originated.
  • Starbucks and Project Red: According to Joe Waters, Starbucks and Project Red are using QR codes on Starbuck’s mugs to engage people further in Project Red–highlighting the benefits of the program and engaging others in advocating for it. To me, this one is interesting as it highlights the linear model of viral sharing (one to one vs. one to many or many to many).

Before we get too excited, there are still questions I would love to have us answer:

  • Do people actually use QR codes?
  • How much time do people spend reading/scanning the information accessed through a QR code?
  • What audience groups are most likely to engage in QR codes?
  • What’s the ROI from some of the organizations using QR codes? The examples shared show the quick, easy and neat aspects of the technology. It would be great to see follow-up posts about the results achieved.

With Smartphones having a 21% share of American subscribers, you may want to think twice about if a QR Code program is right for you. However, with Nielsen predicting that 1 in 2 Americans will have a Smartphone by the end of 2011, the potential for high impact is there.

And for now, that may be all you need to know. If you are going about a QR Code program or know of research around these types of programs, please share it with us in the comments. Otherwise, what questions do you have around QR Codes? What am I missing?

flickr credit for photo: scott_bl8ke

From Awareness to Action: Using Pledges and Triggers to Make It StickK

Have you ever forgotten to do something? You’re not alone. This is why to-do lists are so handy–they remind us of the tasks we need to complete. Going through my own mental to-do list on my walk home today, I came across something to add to the list. A poster ad that asked me to “pledge to be car free on Car Free Day September 22.” Let’s walk through this:

Moving Through the Stages of Change

Before seeing the ad, I did not know about with Car Free Day, so the ad helped me become aware of the day. The ask was clear: Pledge to go car free and actually go car free on Sept. 22. Enter my dilemma. At that moment, I wanted to pledge, but I couldn’t take an immediate action except to add it to my already long to-do list. Imagine a different scenario…

What if, instead of just asking me to pledge, the ad encouraged me to pledge, on the spot, by sending a text message using shortcode as the way to officially make a pledge. And then, by pledging, what if I was also able to get a reminder on Sept. 21 that I had pledged to go car free or opt-in to receive tips, promotions and specials from participating partners? And then what if on the 22nd, I received another text in the morning letting me know of the total number of people who made the same pledge I did. To go even another step, what is on Sept. 23, I got a text letting me know of the collective impact my pledge helped create, and asking me if I wanted to opt-in for a reminder to participate in Car Free Day 2011. This would make the desired behavior: easy to accomplish, fun to do and more popular.

Activate the Trigger: Pledges and Reminders

Lately, I’ve had a soft spot for the act of committing to follow-through on a certain, suggested behavior. This is because–in order for someone to go from the preparation stage of change to the action phase–they first need to make a commitment to do so.

Now, I realize commitment can mean different things to different people (just look at reality TV). This is why it’s important to understand the audience you are wanting to reach and the desired action and behavior you want them to take. For the Car Free Day example, I wanted to commit, and I can. But I know, that fitting something like that into my daily to-dos and priorities is hard despite my good intentions. However, I know if I got a reminder the night before, I would be more apt to follow-through. In short, a reminder would trigger the action I pledged to make.

Making It stickK

At the CDC conference earlier this month, a panel discussed the role of behavior economists in public health. They touched on a variety of applicable concepts to our work–one of them being the role of triggers in behavior change. In the case of Car Free Day, reminders can serve as a trigger to the action. As another example, the CDC panel highlighted Users of sign a “commitment contract” where they agree to achieve a certain goal and uses various triggers (reminders, personal support networks, and monetary incentives) to help people take and maintain action.

For the behaviors you want people to make, how can you help them go from good intentions to good follow through? Help them make a commitment and leverage triggers to make it easy, fun and popular for the behavior change to occur.

flickr credit: stevendepolo

The One Review of the iPad You Must Read

On the social media and tech stream this week, we have the iPad. Despite my thoughts on how the name “iPad” was determined, the iPad draws one’s curiosity.

I don’t have an iPad nor have I seen one in person, but Jeff Jarvis’ review captures two of the bigger implications of this new technology that deserve your attention.

  • Web sites vs. Apps
  • Content Consuming vs. Content Creating

I’m not going to repeat all that Jarvis says in his review–I’ll let you read his words directly as his points are worth your time and consideration. Instead, I’ll add in my own comments.

On Web sites vs. Apps: As mobile marketing continues to grow and evolve across the board (fyi: Mobile Health Conference coming up in May), this will become an ever-greater question. Not just in terms of execution and strategy, but also in terms of analytics. Many organizations are just now getting a grasp on their Web site analytics and how the data can offer insight and direction regarding an organization’s overall mission and objectives. The next phase many are working to figure out–is how to measure and assess not just a Web site–but a Web presence. The division between a site-based Web and an app-based Web will throw in another element into the analytics puzzle.

On Content Consuming vs. Content Creating: I may not have an iPad, but I do have the Barnes and Noble Nook. I love my Nook, but I want to do so much more with it. Barnes and Noble, if you’re reading this, please borrow a page from Netflix. So, I understand Jarvis’ point. As a consumer, there are times when I appreciate that my Nook is an ereader–nothing else. But there are times–where I want more. With the ipad, you have some degree of more–but not everything. Like Jarvis said, you don’t even have a camera (which seemed odd to me when the iPad launched). I think there is a need for balance. I don’t want another mini computer that I can connect to my email and social networks. I also don’t want another phone or a super machine. What I do want–is a relaxing user environment where I have the option to create, share and consume at my leisure on my terms. But then again, maybe I’m not the audience for the iPad. Maybe there are those that just want to consume–and not create or distribute.

Thoughts on Publishing and Content: I find this conversation interesting not because of the Web vs. App conversation or the hardware vs. software talk, but more so because it gets to the heart of publishing and distribution of content. The development of e-readers are changing the world of publishing and how the traditional business-model of journalism operates. Many are hoping, that if done right, it can “save” journalism. But here’s the thing: Journalism does not need saving. Instead, it needs pioneering. Perhaps, the “business-model” of journalism is where the rubber meets the road. This is where we need our innovations…  in my humble opinion.

In general, I agree with Jarvis’ main point about “implications.” How we maneuver down the road of information, communications and consumer-technology, will have implications. This is why, as consumers, it is important for us to know that our choices–where we spend our money, how we relate to information, how we choose to communicate, the type of content we consume and the type of content we produce–carries implications.

Your thoughts needed: Are the iPad, e-readers and tablets the best we can do?


This post was originally going to be the quote of the week–but I couldn’t choose just one sentence to highlight as Jarvis’ whole article stretches one’s thinking.

The Social Round-Up

I’ve called these round-ups by different names, but the concept is the same–share some of the recent links, resources and info I’ve been reading about social change, social marketing and social media. Now that I’ve finally switched my RSS reader from Bloglines to Google Reader, I find myself there a lot more–even more so than Twitter (gasp). Thus, let’s get on with the show.


Social Change

  • Industry Forecast: Philanthropy and Social Investing: Blueprint 2010–The great Lucy Bernholz, through her company Blueprint Research & Design and in partnership with Stanford’s Social Innovation Review, recently released “the first ever independent annual industry analysis for philanthropy and social investing.” According to readers, the forecast is full of insights and revelations regarding the business of giving.
  • What the World Needs Now–This is a bit of a softer piece, but Mitch Joel of Six Pixels Apart does a great job of inspiring by listing eight areas we should be focusing on and thinking about as we work to change our world for the better. Note: The first item he mentions is that the world needs a “mindshift” — and then points to the happenings in behavioral economics for added insight.
  • 5 Ideas Worth Spreading from TED–Nathaniel Whittemore of’s Social Entrepreneurship Blog is the envy of us all as he got to attend the TED 2010 Conference. If you want to do social change, look at what some of the top thinkers of our time are doing, why they are doing it and how it may influence your own work. From this list, the one that stood out to me was the idea that we need to change our relationship with food. Another, was how Nathaniel describes the moment when Bill Gates spent 18 full minutes publicly sharing his views on climate change.

Social Marketing

  • Design Thinking and Behavior Change: The term “design thinking” is everywhere–is anyone else noticing this? So, it comes to no surprise that design thinking meets behavior change thanks to social marketeer Craig Lefebvre who recently put together this helpful 17-slide presentation. Skimming through it alone will get the juices flowing about how disciplines can criss-cross, leading to effective change.
  • Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility–I know, you’re thinking “CSR is not social marketing.” And you’re right–Social marketing is bigger. However, I include it here because I see CSR as a rising opportunity for social marketing, and Geoff touches on the reason why–authenticity. More companies want to be more intentional and take CSR from something to throw money at to a sustainable, organization-centric value that has impact. Yes, I know “it depends,” but we’ve been keeping the treasures of social marketing in the realms of “just health” for too long. Why couldn’t we take the framework of social marketing and the lessons we’ve learned and apply it to CSR? We can. If it helps, don’t call it CSR. Instead, think of it as more people wanting to do business better.

Social Media and Communications

  • 5 Terms that Signify the Future of Mobile Marketing–Ogilvy PR’s Rohit Bhargava shares the five concepts that he thinks will move mobile forward in 2010.
  • Buzz vs. Facebook vs. MySpace vs Twitter–Jeremiah Owyang does it again and offers a strong breakdown of these four platforms. It’s the perfect chart that you can pass along to colleagues who want quick yet extensive information on how these platforms relate.
  • Can E-Readers and Tablets Save the News?–Not only does this article feature a Missouri J-School Professor (woot-woot!), but the article is deeper than the title suggests. At the heart of it, it talks about online content and digital publishing. Being an e-book reader myself and seeing the expanding number of communication platforms (hello Google Buzz), this article is worth the time to take in and meditate on the value of content and the future role of content vetting and control (via consumers, publishers or media producers).

What about you? What good info have you read lately? Please provide the link in the comments so we can all check it out. Also–if you’re in love with your Google Reader like me, here’s my public profile. Let’s connect.

flickr credit: Benimoto

Crossing the line or a Creative Cross? MySpace Research with “Dr. Meg”

Have you heard of Dr. Meg? Maybe not, but if you’re a teen on MySpace you may have. Interesting research that was first published in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showed that adult supervision of MySape can raise adolescents’ awareness of how accessible their profiles are online.

To come to this conclusion, Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and fellow researchers, embarked on two separate studies to explore this issue further. Both research studies are to 1) encourage increased parental and adult supervision by family and friends, and 2) to potentially encourage similiar outreach approaches.

Dilemma: To Cross or not to Cross the Ethical Line

The research is very interesting, however, I feel an ethical discussion must be had. I am not saying Moreno’s approach was wrong or right, but I think we should slow down and discuss it further to learn and develop best practices, as well as ethical guidelines, especially since others may adopt this practice towards younger youth.

Headlines have buzzed about “Busybody Dr. Meg,” concluding that this outreach and behavior-change may offer hope to future, similiar methods being implemented by others. To me, I feel there can be high-levels of concerns with a universal application of this approach unless the strategy and concept is stretched. Including, but not limited to – the age those being contacted, how people are being contacted, the language and type of approach involved, the privacy and the stalking-like component, among other items. Additionally, does it matter who, as in which type of organizations embark on this strategy? For example, I can foresee potential problems if adopted by government health agencies and citizens’ concerns over freedom of expression. Curious on others’ thoughts on this! 😉

Background About the Studies

Study 1. For the first, researchers located 190 MySpace public profiles in a single urban ZIP code, randomly selected from 10 U.S. Census areas with the lowest average income because researchers wanted to target adolescents who might have less access to doctors.

All the users involved revealed that they were 18 to 20 years old and their pages included three or more references to sex, drinking, drug use or smoking. Of the 190 profiles selected, half were sent “Dr. Meg” e-mails. After three months, 42% of those getting a “Dr. Meg” e-mail had either set their profiles to “private,” or they had removed both sexual or substance usage references. 29% of those not contacted made changes over the three-month period.

Study 2. In another study, Moreno and other researchers looked at 500 randomly selected MySpace profiles of 18-year-olds nationwide and found that more than half contained references to risky behavior such as sex, drinking and violence.

Your Turn: Crossing the line or a creative cross?

What do you think? I agree that there is a growing issue and concern for online safety and online identity of teens, youth, young adults and people in general, and this is an interesting new development to the field. How can you see this approach being adopted by your organization, or what would be your reaction if you were approached? Am I over-reacting?

photo credit: LoonSky

Liked what you read? Feel free to share with others: Bookmark and Share

Mapping Out Your Strategy: Using Maps as a Means for Marketing

Google Earth recently launched its iPhone app, so what does this mean. I think this means more non-profits and organizations taking notice on how to literally, map out their strategy.

Mapping Fun

Mapping, mainly through Google earth and Google maps, has been increasing in use. I was first introduced to mapping glorious-ness by my fiance. When we went to Rome last year, he created a Google map highlighting all the Gelato hot spots in Rome. What more can I ask for than a man who not only shares my second love of ice cream, but plans it as key stopping point while we tour Italy? Now, In terms of relevant non-profit mapping, I was moved by 1) Wild Apricot’s recent post about Google Earth outreach, and 2) a SB Reader.

As Wild Apricot shares:

Google Earth and Google Maps let anyone create a custom map — and share it by sending a link, or embed on a web page. Personalized and annotated, even enhanced with photographs and videos, online maps can help to engage your supporters in a way that bare text never can. New features now let you collaborate with others and import geographical data to customize a map.

Case Study Highlight

SocialButterfly reader, Dan, at Tutor Mentor Connections recently shared with me how he and his non-profit are utilizing mapping technolgoy. Over the past six months, Tutor Mentor Connections have developed a library of maps that are intended as tools that leaders use to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in specific geographic areas in Illinois. I conducted an email interview with Dan which I will feature later this week, but here is a sneak preview:

Why mapping?

“Maps are one form of visual communications. Pictures are worth thousands of words in communicating ideas. Generals use maps to distribute troops in time of war. They do this to make sure they have forces everywhere they are needed. A city could have a telephone directory full of youth program listings, and still not have programs in half of the places where they are needed. Maps can help leaders understand where there are programs, and can be used to help build business/non profit collaborations. They can be used as tools in any leadership strategy.”

I look forward to sharing Dan’s work with you as I think Dan is doing a fantastic job of creating a 1, 2 Punch when it comes to tackling giant issues (i.e. poverty and education) through mapping technology. Crafting data, supported by research, and translating that creatively through meaningful, visual representation.

Others Examples of Non-Profits Mapping

  1. Google Earth’s outreach blog highlights 10 example case studies on how non-profits have used Google Earth for their efforts. These groups include: the U.N. Environment Programe, EDGE, The Jane Goodall Institute, U.S. Holocaust Museum, Sierra Club and others. Whether this means providing virtual tours, highlighting the location of endangered species, or elevating the work of researchers and scientists, mapping can provide innovative and creative ways to communicate a message visually.
  2. The New Orleans Food and Farm Network used Google Maps to show how residents in devastated areas where to find food, from grocery stores and restaurants, to farmers’ markets and emergency kitchens. Additional related outreach included the distribution of paper and PDF maps.
  3. Mobilizing Youth – Though an older post from August 2007, the blog lists over 25 examples of non-profits using maps to conserve rainforests to raising awareness for child cruelty.
  4. Factory Farm Map – Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization concerned with clean water and safe food issues, had the goal to illustrate the growth of factory farms across the United States, mapping US Census data to show how and where animal production is becoming concentrated in different regions of the country. (Wild Apritcot) Thus, enter mapping technology to bridge the disconnect between dense data and understanding.

Where to Get Mapping


  • Google Earth, Google Earth Plus, Google Earth Pro
    • According to Wild Apricot’s summise, NP’s can use Google Earth Free, but it is not to be used to provide paid services. Compare Google earth packages to determine the one you need for your project. For the Pro version, organizations. To see what financial assistance may be available, be sure to check out Google Earth’s grant program.
  • Google Maps
  • MapBuilder
    • A mashup development tool that builds custom Google and Yahoo maps without any knowledge of the Google/Yahoo Maps API and JavaScript.
  • PlaniGlobe
    • Create interactive maps using a vector architecture base.
  • Zee Maps
    • Quickly create interactive world maps through a service that allows you to add your own search query, allow for user-admins and is multiple-user friendly.
  • Frappr
    • Frappr collects three pieces of information: an online guest book, a hit log and a map. Using Google Map technology, visitors to Frappr can enter their name, zip code and other information. Their locations are then marked on the map with a clickable flag that pops up their information. (Netsquared)
  • WayFaring
    • Create, view, share and and personalize your own custom made map. The user-interface on this tool looks very user-friendly.
  • DataPlace
  • Dabble DB
    • Helps you create online databases to manage, share and explore data and to build web applications. Some that can be represented in the form of a map to help breakdown and identify trends.
  • MapPoint
    • A product of Microsoft, this tool helps you visualize and translate your data into meaningful information.


Wrap Up

Mapping is a great visual. However, for the map to be both effective and useful, it must be fueled by great content while also being data-driven. Thought this research document is from 2002, skimming through it shows just how data can be re-constructed to be meaningful and cohesive. However, this is where I believe mashups come into play too.

What are your thoughts on mapping technology?

Photo credit: flickr, dannysullivan

Liked what you read? Feel free to share with others: Bookmark and Share