Posts tagged ‘mapping’

The Blogger Neighborhood: Meet the DigiActive Team

candle lightGet out of your comfort zone. This includes myself, often I am use to comfortably perusing my usual blogs in my RSS reader, however, when I first found DigiActive over the summer, I immediately knew I needed to get out more. DigiActive brings together a team of international bloggers from SIX continents and offers great content from diverse perspectives. The change movement knows no boundaries.

I must also give Amine, from DigiActive the award for patience. Amine and I conversed at the end of August, and I am just now getting up their interview. Thank you Amine and the DigiActive team for your world-class patience. Without further adieu, enjoy!


Blog Name:

Blog Topics: Being the Intersection of Technology and Grassroots Activismfacebook-guide-cover300px

Blog Explained: The group blog at is part of DigiActive’s overall mission to help grassroots activists around the world use technology to increase their impact. DigiActive also publishes guides, such as “A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism” and maintains a digital activism map. DigiActive is also in the process of launching a research program (R@D), which will provide actionable analysis for the benefit of digital activists around the world.

About the Author(s): The site features an international group of bloggers from six continents from countries including Iran, Morocco, China, Cameroon, the US and Germany. We come from a wide range of backgrounds and professions. Some of us work for NGOs while others are students or journalists. All our bloggers are volunteers and write for the site because of a passion for digital activism.

Why do you blog? A few answers from some of the DigiActive team members include:

“I love to write about things I love” –Kate Brodock

“I write for DigiActive because it gives me an excuse to keep up to date on the cutting edge of digital activism. Activists “hacking” online applications, creating new uses for platforms like Facebook or Google Earth and turning them into tools for change, that’s what gets me up in the morning.” – Mary Jocye

“I’m blogging for DigiActive because I have a crush on digital activism. Blogging let’s me share the product of this splendid connection with a global community, which is another thing I will never really understand, but always be amazed of.” – Simon Columbus

“It is a fantastic opportunity to investigate and learn about this increasingly important movement. I work in a part of the world where these tools are underutilized but needed with urgency, and I use my work to educate and involve the people around me.” – Tamara Palamakumbara

What first prompted you to blog? DigiActive was started by Mary and Amine, who met on Facebook and built DigiActive together before ever meeting in person. Our ambition was “to create a center for the global digital activism movement.” With an ever-increasing number of partners, we are still working to achieve that goal.

Why digital activism? What is it, and how do you know when it’s successful?

Digital Activism is defined as digital actions taken by grassroots organizations or individuals to achieve a social or political change. It means taking the power of the new global reach of user-generated content and turning it towards the purposes of social justice.

It’s hard to know when digital activism has succeeded. Clear-cut cases of digital success, like the Help Fouad campaign in Morocco are rare. Even when a goal is achieved, it is often the result of multiple campaigns, not only digital ones, and often it takes years to achieve these goals. I don’t think there’s a clear formula for success. Digital activism is not about quantity of people you can reach, but it’s about the quality by which you reach them.

What’s the impact digital activism has, or could have, on our community?

One of the greatest strengths of digital activism is that it allows people to collaborate closely regardless of physical location. As mentioned previously, Mary and Amine developed the idea for DigiActive and built the site without ever meeting. In fact, they still live on different continents. Talia edits for the DigiActive blog from Boston, even though our correspondents are dispersed across the globe. I think the two biggest technical advantages that digital activism has are 1) the speed at which technology is being introduced, improved upon, and made widely available and 2) the number of tools that are available, which enables users to use the one that best suits their situation. It’s not a one-sie-fit-all. It’s a custom-tailored approach. The biggest qualitative advantage of digital activism is, as mentioned, the ability to connect to so many people and get yourself in front of large number of eyes and ears!

If you could live on any street, what would that street be named and why?

“Hope Street” – Simon

“The Beginning” – Kate

“TechCanHelpUChangeTheWorld Blvd.” – Mary

Who would be your dream real-life neighbor?

Some of the answers from the DigiActive team include: An international group of passionate grassroots activists, committed to the goal of realizing the human dignity of all the world’s citizens. Dalaid Lama and Dave Barry. Maybe Jon Stewart too.

What was the last URL you added to your RSS feed?

What’s your favorite blog post and why?

Successful digital activism campaign are always fun to write about. Whether it be about young Egyptian activists using Facebook to organize a country-wide strike, about Jamaican gay rights activists who use blogs and the internet to fight to get into a UN AIDS meeting or about activists in Morocco who used the web to coordinate a successful international campaign to free the “Facebook Prisonner”. However it is also important to consider the limitations of digital activism and provide useful information and guides on how to best harness its potential.

What’s one lesson you’ve learned from blogging?

  • Don’t be afraid to express yourself – everyones experience and opinions count.
  • That it takes a global village to write a blog.
  • It’s a great way to meet and to get to know incredible people from around the world.

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Past Blogger Neighbors Include:

This continuous series highlights different blogs and their respective bloggers in the blogosphere neighborhood. Following the great Mr. Rogers, who tells us to ‘Get to know your neighbor,’ this series introduces us to our blogger neighbors, making for a more unified, collaborative voice for the social sector. Like to nominate someone or be featured yourself? Contact me @

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

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