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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Skype in Disaster Relief

Use your Skype profile for the next Tsunami.

After the 2004 Tsunami, people rushed to help. Skypers should be a part of this the next time. Four steps:

  1. Put Skype callto: links on the disaster web site, both in the directory of contacts and with each post/update. As important as phone numbers, especially when bridging long distances. This lets volunteers forage for the right contacts. The html is skypename
  2. Pick a "tag" for your disaster. TSUNAMI. MADRID311. TOMDELAY2006. Something simple and specific.
  3. Add the tag to your Skype profile's About field. For example, TSUNAMI-HELP-NEEDED let's others search for it. Also write what you need in your profile.
  4. Offer to help the same way. TSUNAMI-HELP-OFFERED. If you have something specific, describe it there too.

Now search the network for your new partners.

This leverages three great things:

  • Motivation and tools produce solutions. Immediately after the 2004 Tsunami, volunteers stepped in and responded without central direction. The Tsunami blog and wiki helped teams of strangers form online. Then they used listservs and SMS to work. If you want emergent organization in a disaster, give volunteers tools to co. Connect, collaborate, communicate, coordinate.
  • The Skype profile cloud is a rich but imperfect medium. Use the Skype cloud to help people find each other and start talking. This slashes the effort of connection (a barrier to group formation) and shortens the click-path between people. This model depends, like Skype itself, on cheap/free communication from the edge of a large network.
  • People tag when they care. This is an example of folksonomy reaching into the Skype network to bring people together for action, perhaps to save lives.

[Skype Journal]

Nice Phil ! Extend this to NGO's doing work in other areas as well ...

And in countries like India and I know many others in South East Asia .. bring Skype to a mobile phone and you've got a real winner!

5:19:55 PM    comment []  trackback []