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The President of India has a question

I love this. It really speaks to the ability of the internet to create a global community; building on each others thoughts, experiences and perspectives. I know the readers of my blog come from all over the world and I always appreciate the larger, global view; I think it is essential to moving forward. Which is why I am so pleased to see that Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the current President of India recently posted a question for the world wide web community to respond to -

What should we do to free our planet from terrorism?

If you’d like to join the conversation head over to Yahoo! Answers and tell the world (and the President) what you think we should do… I’d venture we need to put our collective heads together on this one.

[h/t - mythbuster33 on digg]

[photo credit: NikAt on Flickr]

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The United Nations makes social media a priority

In their Millenium Campaign to eradicate poverty, the UN is actively & innovatively engaging in the social media space. In order to reach as broad an audience as possible, and push the limits of how you can ‘be counted’, they are organizing events, and have kiosks throughout Second Life, as well as engaging ‘Lonelygirl15′ star Jessica Lee Rose to make an anti-poverty video that’s posted on YouTube.

This is a bold move by a nonprofit to utilize the strengths of the internet and social networking sites to raise awareness for the cause, as well as provide an additional platform for disparate people to get involved and build a movement. The foray into Second Life is quite interesting for its social implications, but a great alternative way for those who wish to, to ’stand up’ and contribute. It will be interesting to see how the move to engage a personality who caused quite a bit of controversy around authenticity is received, but with over 11k views since it was posted on October 5th, it’s off to a good start.

I’d like to see more active engagement with niche social networking sites, community building, and blogger awareness campaigns, but regardless, for an activism campaign it is off to a great and imaginative start.

[photo credit: pbo31 on Flickr]

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iBegin’s innovative charity drive

iBegin is a Toronto-based social reviewed search engine which enables the community to provide feedback on establishments, events, and residences, etc. in and around the city. Ahmed Farooq dropped me a line to let me know about a great charity drive iBegin has started which directly helps the Assaulted Women’s Helpline in Toronto. For each review or picture submitted to iBegin, 50 cents will be donated to charity with the goal being at least $10,000.

It’s an amazing venture and one I am proud to support – I plan on adding my first review today and will be snapping some shots of the Kensington Market area establishments later this week.

I asked Ahmed a few questions via email about how iBegin got started and the goal of the charity drive:

1. When did iBegin get off the ground? Who are the founders?

iBegin went live on March 4, 2006. You can read a bit more about how we think here. I run the site alone (I own a successful web development company).

2. What differentiates you from a RedToronto or Toronto.com?

This post sums it up well. It is quality results extended with useful information (pictures, reviews, tags, etc).

3. How are you spreading the word?

Bloggers, our own sites, and friends. Bloggers are the key ingredient here. We have opted to skip around traditional marketing methods for all of iBegin, and this donation drive is no different. It is so simple – add reviews or pictures, get money donated to charity, that I expect it to do well. It is a win-win situation for everyone. [note: you can download a banner for your blog at the iBegin site]

4. What motivated iBegin to undertake the charity campaign with the Assaulted Women’s Helpline?

Really it is more of a ‘why not?’ From my own point of view, I think a lot of people are teetering on the edge – they really want to be independent, they really want to make a difference, but they just need a little bit of a boost. And who appreciates life and needs a boost more than the women who call the helpline? Rhetorical question of course :)

5. Are you planning to expand to other cities outside of the GTA?

We will be expanding ’soon’. Our next city will be Ottawa, but there is no confirmed time-line on that.

The campaign runs from August 28th – October 15th with a daily goal of $200-300. So far they’re at $48 and counting so get those reviews going Torontonians – I know you have an opinion of your local watering hole or favourite restaurant! Share them with the world for a good cause!

[photo credit: moonpointer 1 on Flickr]

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Amnesty’s exceptional and innovative creative

Check out this extraordinary new outdoor campaign developed by Walker Werbeagentur Zuerich for Amnesty International, Switzerland. It’s provocative, stunning visually and brings their cause directly into your environment. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better use of outdoor media.

The campaign tag is “It’s not happening here but it’s happening now” and portrays human rights issues from countries such as Iraq, China, and Sudan.

The only thing missing is their website URL so the people who are motivated by this campaign remember they can do something to help.

[H/T Three Minds @ Organic]

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Sutori: are you ready for feedback?

Looks like the agency’s are starting to explore social networking and community relations. Tara points us to a new online review site developed by Blast Radius (a Canadian agency) called Sutori. It’s a good concept and one that I’m sure I’m not the only one who has talked about ways to implement in recent months… community reviews and feedback on companies.

What’s really interesting about this, aside from the idea of direct and meaningful feedback to begin with, is that an ad agency is building it. Good on Blast for taking this chance. I get how, from their perspective, this can provide a wealth of information on what consumers think about a particular company, or product, which Blast can monetize and use in their client campaigns (sorry, I’m never one to think anyone does anything for altruistic reasons… not in the agency world at least…)…(I could see it as two levels of packages: free summary and aggregate data which the brand can then try and disseminate and manage themselves and the “premium” package, available free of charge to current Blast customers, and for a fee to non-Blast customers… the premium package will most likely provide metrics and analysis of the data for the company). But it’s still taking a chance nonetheless; you never know what people will tell you if you give them an easy way to do so.

I like that the “three j’s” are thinking in terms of how to maintain civility in the reviews, and the plea to “contain a certain level of goodwill towards the brand, product or company you‚Äôre writing about” is a noble one, but, like I said, people are people and if they’re pissed off they’ll say so… and that could make a Blast client cranky. So it’s a chance, but a good one.

Of course, as with anything social networking related that is initiated by a company, it will need to remain authentic and transparent. Consumers are getting wise to PR, marketing and ad agency folk jumping into message boards and saying positive things about a brand without disclosure… I hope Blast has a strategy for combating this inevitable trend.

[Update] John from Blast clarifies the issue surrounding their intent to monetize in the comments. And, I apologize for the muddy title… the “are you ready” refers to brands hearing from consumers, not Sutori from me ;)

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