Asher Wren

Social media for social good, and stuff

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Why #BringBackOurGirls is NOT another slacktivism campaign

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On April 14th 2014, 276 Nigerian school girls were abducted by Boko Haram, to minimal outrage or global press coverage.

Two weeks later, a fire was lit in the form of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag campaign, and three days later still John Kerry issued the first official US government response to the situation.

By May 6th President Obama had vowed to send 30 personnel to Nigeria to assist in the rescue of the remaining captive girls; and on May 22nd a further 80 military personnel were deployed to Nigeria.

There’s no doubt at all that since the first #BringBackOurGirls mention by Oby Ezekwesil on April 23rd, the hashtag has pushed this crime from regional to global news and has contributed to Obama’s decision to commit personnel to Africa.

Why, then, has the hashtag had such an impact?

Firstly, this is not a divisive issue. Unlike hashtag campaigns that have come and gone before...

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Building Social Capital

At the heart of everything Tempero (my company) does is the goal of building social capital and the ethos that a community is greater than the sum of its parts. That, given the right platform, people will conspire with each other to instigate social change, and that the social web is a global platform that facilitates - for the first time in human history – the opportunity for thinkers and activists from around the world to pool together in order to upset the status quo.

State of emergence

During the web 1.0 years this kind of thinking was confined to niche forums and community pages where likeminded movers and shakers would affect undercurrents of change. Web 2.0 brought with it MySpace, selfies, cyber-bullying, Lily Allen and, more crucially, a plethora of emerging platforms with the potential to empower individuals and communities to challenge the world order.

Twitter added a...

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Top 5 Kickstarter projects for social good


I’m fascinated by the currency of social capital and the idea that a community can be more than the sum of its parts.

Never is the idea of social capital more evident than when you take a look at crowdfunding social network Kickstarter. While headline-grabbing Kickstarter pitches often aim to generate funding for wearable tech, video game development, or film-production; and are often pitched by celebrities, the pitches that fly under the media radar are often those with truly altruistic, society-benefiting goals. Here, in no particular order, are five of my favourite Kickstarter campaigns for social good:

Hungry Eyes
Pitched by medical volunteers in the rural village of Ollantaytambo, Peru, Hungry Eyes incentivises regular medical checkups for indigenous women and children with the provision of a nutritious breakfast of chocolate porridge, bread, a banana and a glass of milk. In...

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Ryman empowers customers to create a green(er) future


Ryman have teamed up with Grey London to launch a brand new eco-friendly font for customers who (still) use printers. The typeface, Ryman Eco, is not only beautiful and legible, it also uses an average 33% less ink than standard industry fonts including Arial, Times New Roman and Georgia. Over 15,000 people have already downloaded Ryman Eco, which launched this week, and, despite concerns from some observers over licensing of the font, this is a good thing.

What is particularly interesting about the typeface, which was publicized by a YouTube video complete with download link, is that Ryman have tapped into the clicktivism trend can in a way that cannot be misconstrued or obfuscated. In stark contrast with the infamous cancer #Nomakeupselfie nonsense of last month, which started as a vanity-induced, self-serving farce and ended with people accidentally adopting wildlife, Ryman have...

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Big data is BIG


If we take all the data generated in the world between the beginning of time and 2008, the same amount of data will soon be generated every minute!

Mind = blown.

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A follow up on Slacktivism: the Arab Spring


By way of following up on my Huffington Post article on the dangers of Slacktivism I thought it was worth examining whether unrestricted internet and real-world activism go hand in hand.

The Arab Spring is a great example. According to a study by the University of Washington:

During the week before Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation… the total rate of tweets from Egypt — and around the world — about political change in that country ballooned from 2,300 a day to 230,000 a day. Videos featuring protest and political commentary went viral – the top 23 videos received nearly 5.5 million views. The amount of content produced online by opposition groups, in Facebook and political blogs, increased dramatically.

The study goes on to argue that 20% of all blogs in Tunisia were analyzing Ben Alis leadership on the day that he resigned as compared with 5% just one month before.


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The ROI of ZunZuneo


If the U.S. Government did covertly build ZunZuneo to incite dissent in Cuba’s youth demographic, if they did, then $1.6 million dollars for 40,000 subscribers represents a CPA of $40. That’s $40 for, what turned out to be, two years of influencing one young potential dissenter, and building a profile based on age, interests, political orientation, susceptibility to manipulation, likelihood for activism.

What would you expect to pay in terms of CPA for a comparable profile? Genuinely interested - tweet me :)

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Slacktivism: technology is only as good as the people who use it


Since the dawn of social media, citizens of the social space have been exposed to an ever-increasing number of causes and movements. This in turn has helped to propagate the notion of ‘slacktivism’, the perception - arguably the delusion - that you can effect change without really doing anything at all.

Despite the pejorative tone, when the term slacktivism was coined in the 90’s it had a positive connotation. Slacktivism meant to make a small, personal societal contribution; to plant a tree instead of participating in a Greenpeace protest, for example. As technology has advanced and the term took on a digital dimension, our methods for mobilization have become lazier. We can share, like and tweet about the issues that concern us from the comfort of our sofas instead of participating in more meaningful methods for effecting societal change. Nevertheless, there have been positive...

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