Tag Archives: apps

Appy New Year!

Wishing everyone a very happy, productive and peaceful 2012.  My gift to you…

2011 by numbers:

1 new country, South Sudan, added to the world.

199 bloggers arrested, 31% increase on 2010 (Reporters Without Borders).

248 days from the first protests in Libya to the death of Colonel Gadaffi (15th February-20th October).

3,100 people arrested in connection with the Summer riots in England (BBC)

3,500 protesters killed in Syria (UN figures Nov 2011).

2 million people gather in Tahrir Square, Cairo, to demand the resignation of President Mubarak.

6.5 million people download Angry Birds on Christmas day.

Goodnight.

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Adventures in app-vocacy.

One of my major bugbears is seeing charitable organisations charged a fortune for simple technological tasks to increase their ‘online presence’.  If digital advocacy is here to stay, then being able to communicate with your members and donors is of course important. A quick google search will show a wealth of agencies offering to assist, but charging to upload a photo to Flickr? No thanks.

For the big campaigns, there are creative agencies out there with fantastic ideas desperate to get charitable jobs on their portfolio to stand out from the corporate-ness, so you can get some good talent at knock down prices. I managed to get a top design agency to brand a campaign, design a website and produce flyers and posters for £500. If an agency approaches you with an idea, take their hand off.

The old wives tale goes that Oxfam turned down The Global Rich List idea put to them (for free) by Simon Waterfall of the London agency Poke; he promptly took it to Care International, the site received 500,000 visitors in 80 hours, raised £15k in donations and received worldwide press for the little known charity.

More and more NGOs are employing digital media managers, but if your organisation doesn’t have £30k a year to spare, there’s no harm in a little DIY media strategy. However, a Facebook page and Twitter account doesn’t replace content, it is a tool to help you disseminate information and if you have the time (ha ha) you can invent a canny media presence.

I set out to support my theory by making this blog into an app. I have limited technological knowledge and my laptop is less powerful than my kettle. Seriously, how hard could it be…?

1. Firstly, you need an idea: What information are you trying to share, what issue are you raising awareness of? How can you visualise the information? In a previous article I listed the 5 best apps concerning rights. Now you’ve seen what can be done, have a think about the route you want to take. To make an app there needs to be content available on the web already, so you might have to spend some time preparing and publishing  blogs, photos and videos on platforms like WordPress, Flickr and YouTube.

2. Choose your software: Most of the software to make an app is open source, which means anyone can download and adapt it for free. Appmakr seems to be the easiest to use and is quite fun once you get into it. It is unfussy and holds your hand all the way through; play around with the visuals and content until you arrive at something you are happy with.

3. Choose your developer: There are 3 options- IPhone, Android or Windows. I succeeded in about an hour in making this blog into a simple app for Android; the problem is, I don’t have an Android phone so couldn’t publish the app as I don’t have access to the Android Task Manager! For my sins, I have an IPhone so I set about tackling the mighty Apple.

4. Curse yourself for having an IPhone: This is the stumbling block. Designing an app with Appmakr is free, as is publishing it through Android or Windows but surprise surprise, Apple is the only one who charges.  There is a one-off fee of $99, which isn’t astronomical but you have to set up a developer’s account  and Apple will have to vet your app before approving it, which takes time. This article about making IPhone apps is the best step by step guide I came across. The process does get a little complicated down the line and this is where you may need the advice of a techie friend (or the patience of a saint!)

5. Give up or press on: Even though I failed in proving my theory (this time), the point is, it’s not impossible or out of reach. I would definitely not be put off going through the process again in the future if I came up with an amazing idea. The tools are there for us to utilise, with a little time and willpower you can tame this technological beast! Go on, you know you want to…

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Top 5 Apps for Rights Information

In John Pilger’s 2007 documentary ‘The War On Democracy’ we find the Venezuelan Constitution printed on the back of local produce packets sold in government sponsored supermarkets. This is a significant and effective way to empower the people and spread the message that rights belong to everybody.  After all, how can you begin to defend your rights if you don’t know what they are?

In the UK, as we face uncertainty over the future of our own Human Rights Act, we are a long way from inviting human rights into our homes and perusing them on cereal boxes over breakfast.  Instead, we can download these brilliant apps and take our rights everywhere we go!

1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

This is where it all started. Members of the UN pledged to follow these 30 articles to preserve the dignity of the human. The home screen features a photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt with the original declaration where you choose your language from 14 options. Each article is laid out separately, it’s easy to read and use.  One step towards everyone knowing their rights. Download it right now! Available for iPhone/ iPad/ iPod.

2. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Once you’ve downloaded the UDHR which forms the basis of human rights law, you can find out about humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) through the Red Cross and Red Crescent missions. Regularly updated information, photographs and films via YouTube, plus full reports.  There is a huge amount of information on this for a phone app, really impressive and a great resource. Available for iPhone/ Android/ iPad/ iPod.

3. Human Rights Watch.

Released in January 2011 and only available on the iPad at the moment, most likely due to the huge amount of content available. Catch up with weekly human rights news and Human Rights Watch’s excellent reports which allow you to take notes, bookmark and highlight text. Videos, photographs and podcasts. Would love to see this available for phones, if the ICRC can do it, HRW can!

4.  Facts On The Ground

APN, (Americans For Peace Now) created this app in September 2010 to map Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  APN claims to have “the most comprehensive, up-to-date and authoritative database on settlements in the world”. This app lets the user pinpoint individual settlements, access information on their size, population and year of establishment and see population trends. I’m not sure how often it is updated, but more detailed information is available on the web-based app. Available for iPhone/ iPad/ iPod.

5. Digital Democracy

An ambitious project from a small New York based NGO using app-creating software AppMker, DD have put their money where their mouth is and created this app to update users on their most recent projects helping grassroots organisations and marginalised communities become media literate. Easy to use featuring videos, photographs and articles, some of which are a bit on the long side for an app but still worth a read as DD is involved with some really fascinating projects. Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod.

These apps are all great sources of information and I’m excited to see developments in more interactive apps, which I’ll review at a later date.  Amnesty International’s ‘AI Candle’ app is worth a mention as it gives information on current campaigns and ways to take action. However, it still suffers from glitches and is quite slow, I’ve  had problems receiving data so can’t give it a full review. Lighting the virtual candle to show solidarity and support to end human rights abuses is fun to play around with but only for a few minutes. I did manage to ‘burn’ the side of my phone though!

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