Digital technology for change
BY: ERROL ABADA GATUMBATO
The British Council in the Philippines will sponsor a seminar today on Digital Technology for Social Change: Creating Impact in a Networked Society at the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City. This writer was invited as one of the resource persons and I will focus my discussion on biodiversity conservation relative to the advancement of modern communication channels, particularly the so called “new digital media”, which actually refers to technologies that people use to connect with one another, like mobile phones, tables, game consoles and computers connected to the Internet, among others. The target participants of this seminar are 18 to 25 years old who are actively engaged in community development. On its promotional material, the British Council claims that “through digital technologies, young people are participating in a range of activities, including networking, blogging, gaming, instant messaging, downloading music and other content, uploading and sharing their own creations, and collaborating with others in various ways”. It added the new digital media are a frontier rich with opportunities, particularly for young people, as they provide great potential for facilitating civic engagement and democratic participation. Leveraged properly, the Internet is a powerful tool for promoting social responsibility, the British Council said. However, the British Council cautioned: “Yet 21st century movements are more likely to create unlikely leaders. With young people having to move quickly with current social media trends and technology advances it is important to share good practices and discusses the issues and find solutions on how new leaders can build their capacity to make a greater impact on the world”.
During this seminar, I will share experiences on my biodiversity conservation advocacy through digital technologies, although I am also engaged in mainstream media through my contribution in this environment page of the Visayan Daily Star every Monday. In fact, this environment column, which I am maintaining for a decade now, has motivated me to go into blogging to further disseminate conservation messages across the globe, and I am humbled with the recent statistical review of my blog (http://errolgatumbato.worpress.com/).
The 2011 yearend report of wordpress.com multiplied the number of visits to my blog site by 20,000 times to the 2,700 persons who can occupy the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House. These visitors came from various countries in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and Oceana. In Asia, more than 90% visits came from the Philippines.
It is also important to link blogging into other forms of digital media to maximize the dissemination of conservation messages. For instance, the visits to my blog were usually referred from social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Yahoomail, of which I am also active in posting conservation messages. The social media are important channels of communication today, especially so that about 15% of our population is active in Facebook, while Filipinos are known as the 12th biggest Twitter users globally. The Philippines is also the 10th among all countries in using mobile Internet, and we are sending some two billion text messages daily. With the advent of new digital media, promoting various causes for social change is even easier and faster. Aside from reaching a broader number of persons through social media, people are given a change to directly engage in governance since many government institutions are also using social networking sites to reach out the general public. Even presidents of numerous countries, like our very own, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, have numerous official social media accounts, indicating how important digital technologies at present times.
Other speakers during the seminar at USLS are Gang Badoy, founder of RockEd; Jecel Censoro, Global Changemakers Network of the British Council; Lloyd Luna, Chief Executive Officer of the Lloyd Luna Corporation; and Lloyd Tronco, Media Strategist of the Certified Digital Marketer. Hannah Papasin-Mariveles, Chairperson of the USLS Mass Communications Department and Amanda Burrell, Director of the British Council in the Philippines are expected to deliver opening messages. The seminar will be on live streaming at http://www.instantpresenter.com/britishcouncilph6. (This article also appeared in 13 February 2012 issue of the Visayan Daily Star in Bacolod City.
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