Saturday, September 19, 2009

Freedom of Speech & Social Media

Today is September 19th, and Phase I of the Books For Cameroon project still needs $4,699. Just a month ago, on August 18th, I began tracking the progress, and on that date, we still needed $8,570. I am quite pleased with the progress and hope we can raise the remaining $4k by the end of September.

It hasn't been easy raising funds, but I am glad to see the hard work paying off. Since I am stuck in a village here in West Africa, the Internet is my only tool to promote the project. My desperation drove me to employ desperate measures that included posting a message for on all 600+ "friends" on Facebook and 1,000 or more people with open comment walls on Peace Corps Connect.

The Peace Corps network was really useful and I received some really positive and supportive responses. However, I did receive an email from the person in charge of PC Connect asking me to limit my posting to appropriate groups as some people thought my message were spams. I was really discouraged by this email since this was an important network of people and I felt I was being accused on unfair ground. Frankly, I saw it as an infringement on my right to free speech.

This brings up an important issue on the ever-growing world of social networks and technology in terms of marketing. On Peace Corps Connect, members have the option to leave their profiles public, and their comment boxes open for all. But they can also choose to moderate their comments, or set their profile page to friends-view only. I utilized this tool and posted a generic comment on all members who left their comment boxes for public access. I saw this as analogous to people putting fliers into one's mailbox advertising for one thing or another. People receiving it has every right to either pay attention to it, or throw it away, which they can do by deleting the comment. Not to mention the message was about a Peace Corps project, not inappropriate content or trying to sell things.

Anyway, rant over.

On a much more positive note, through my rampant posting of messages, I reached a RPCV from Cameroon. John was very glad I had found him through Peace Corps Connect and became very involved in advertising the project through his own social network. Also providing me with a plethora of other Cameroon RPCVs from his era. Through the power of multiplicity, I was able to reached so many supporters through just one person.

Besides provide me with essential network, John also made a hefty contribution through the websites that he created. These educational websites share the same vision as my Books For Cameroon project, and I'd like to take this opportunity and share them with you.

Time4Writing.com
- Online writing courses from elementary through high school
Time4Learning.com - Home-school/after-school/summer learning curriculum
Vocabulary.co.il - Vocabulary Learning for K-12, ESL & Test Prep
SpellingCity.com - Vocabulary & Spelling Games
http://learning-fun.blogspot.com - Blog on learning & fun resources for kids

No comments: