Class of 2010 Social Media for Social Change Graduation

It was a great experience and witnessing how lives was reconstructed during the year’s Social Media for Social Change activities. People from different backgrounds and ages came to join this years session. It was wonderful to see how some of these graduates started their own blogs and even starting their own business with the skills they have acquired during the sessions. This year we had 35 graduates in total from the Mom3.0 and Reconstructed session.

Bloggers of year:

Gary Saaiman, Melanie Willie and Melissa Johnson – They were the most active on the Blogosphere and started their own blogs.

Micro Bloggers of the year:

Megan Hickley and Wendy Jefferies – These two ladies were the most active on the micro blogging platform. The team put Megan to a challenge she had to get 1000 tweets within 3 day but she did it in 7 days.

Social Media Enthusiast:

Vanessa Martin and Porchia Johnson – These two ladies came into our sessions not knowing anything about Social Media as they journeyed through we saw their growth and how to use Social Media to the max.

Social Media Socialite:

Jackie Biggs – Social Media Socialite was the Grand Prize Jackie Biggs was the most active and using all forms of Social Media tools that she has learned during the sessions. There was nothing that kept her from missing a class, with the prizes that she received and what she has learned will definitely be a endeavor worth keeping an eye on.

Well done to all the graduates of class 2010. Check out the pics of the graduation here



How Twitter is changing lives on the Cape Flats and beyond

Over the last two years Twitter had a very big impact on the lives of many in the RLabs community on the Cape Flats. The journey with this micro-blogging platform started in 2008 when a number of young men and women were introduced to Twitter for the first time by Rafiq Philips from Web Addicts fame. Most of this group were ex-drug addicts and ex-gang members who found Twitter to be an outlet where they can share their voices of Hope. In the beginning stages all the tweets were between the group encouraging one another and telling their stories of hope to the rest of their followers. What we saw was that the lives of those tweeting had a major transformation not just by the stories (See Video below) they were sharing but also having an impact offline. Instead of only using twitter as a news, media and sharing online tool it was also used as a gateway to positive messages that the group could disseminate offline with family, friends and wider community. These ex-gangsters were now calling themselves “Twitter Gangsters” also known as “Twitsters” even had the opportunity to share some of their stories at a World Bank event. One of the “Twitsters” (aka Brent Williams – no relation to Evan Williams) who was an ex-gang leader said he has more followers on Twitter than what he had when he was leading a notorious gang and he can now through Twitter leave positive footprints in the community.

It did not stop there, the group who were trained in using Twitter then started the Twitter School where they empowered women in the community to share their stories and encouraging one another. These Twitter Schools also moved into public areas where Social Media Surgeries were hosted to share twitter with community members.

This gave birth to the world’s FIRST Social Media Factory, where trained community members who are unemployed are given opportunities to create extra income through being part of a team managing social media strategies for businesses, organisations, schools and public figures. This meant that those organisations who are in need of having their Social Media Strategy being managed or outsourced not only get access to these services at very good prices but also the teams implementing these strategies will consist of a mix of experts and community members like our Twitsters and Twitter moms. Exciting when a housewife who have no other form of income can use her Twitter skills and manage the Twitter stream for an organisation via her mobile phone. She would then be rewarded for each tweet thus being able to make a basic living via the Social Media Factory system. No wonder one of these moms shared some insight to why she believe all women should be on twitter (See video below).

However what really got us excited was when we were able to give people in need access to our advice and support services via Twitter. This meant that access to LIVE support in the area of substance abuse, abuse, depression, stress and coping and debt counselling were now only a tweet or instant message away. These services extended beyond just the Cape Flats and reached the rest of Southern Africa.

Although most of the users accessing these services do so via Mobile IMs such as MXit the opportunity to reach wider audiences with Twitter has assisted us reaching close to 200,000 users to our mobile support services. The integration of Twitter with JamiiX gives us hope that we would be able to extend what we are doing to other parts of the world and changing it one tweet at a time….


Nokia Supports RLabs Graduation

The power of Social Media never seems to amaze us and especially when we have global brands that take an interest in local communities. Last week I sent out a tweet asking for sponsors for the RLabs annual graduation. This is the day when we celebrate the work by our community members who persevered and completed their course in using Social Media for Social Change.

It was therefore with great excitement when moments later RLabs got a response from Nokia RSA via twitter (@NokiaRSA) who offered to sponsor our Mom 3.0 and Reconstructed Programmes. Nokia will donate two special prizes (Nokia C 6 handsets) that will go to two deserving students who showed the most improvement during 2010.

RLabs would therefore like to thank Nokia for these amazing prizes that will go to the community members who have showed that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.


Older Adults growing on Social Networks

Over the past year we’ve seen an increase in interest from community members who are keen to be active on Social Networking sites. The Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs) have been running Social Media programmes for adults over the past 2 years and this year they’ve experienced high volumes of participants in all their classes. The interesting fact about this is that the members who were excited about Social networking were those who are 50+ and this is supports the research done by Pew Internet. According to a study by Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist:

“Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older has nearly doubled—from 22% to 42% over the past year. While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Although email continues to be the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, many users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications—sharing links, photos, videos, news and status updates with a growing network of contacts.

Half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one in four (26%) users age 65 and older now use social networking sites.
Half of online adults ages 50-64 and one in four wired seniors now count themselves among the Facebooking and LinkedIn masses. That’s up from just 25% of online adults ages 50-64 and 13% of those ages 65 and older who reported social networking use one year ago in a survey conducted in April 2009. Young adult internet users ages 18-29 continue to be the heaviest users of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, with 86% saying they use the sites. However, over the past year, their growth paled in comparison with the gains made by older users. Between April 2009 and May 2010, internet users ages 50-64 who said they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn grew 88% and those ages 65 and older grew 100% in their adoption of the sites, compared with a growth rate of 13% for those ages 18-29. (See image below)”


The full report can be downloaded here.


The Reconstructed 2010

We’ve started our latest Reconstructed class where we will take men and women from the local community on the lifechanging journey of Social Media. The class will be managed by the ex-Reconstructed team of 2008 and 2009. Some of the topics that will be covered in the evening sessions are:

– Blogging
– Micro-Blogging
– File-Sharing sites
– Location-based services
– Instant Messaging
– Using Social Media for Social Change

We are looking forward seeing how the future graduates of 2010 will embrace the technology in making a difference in the lives of others.


Sustainable Blogging for Communities in Tension

This morning the RLabs team had a special guest (Gerhard Potgieter from iGeek) who did a session on how to monetize your blog. Many of the team are working with community members who are engaging on various Social Media activities but who are unemployed. Unemployment is a serious concern facing communities and the South African government. Ongoing efforts are being made to decrease the unemployment rate and this initiative is one of many being done by RLabs to see how technology can be used to Reconstruct Communities.


Improving the Knowledge Exchange landscape on the Cape Flats using Web2.0

One of our papers titled “Improving the knowledge exchange landscape in the Cape Flats, a developing community in South Africa” published in the South African Journal of Information Management (SAJIM) explores the use of Web 2.0 services to ease the access to information by people living in a socially and economically deprived area. Even more barriers exist, namely that the community is affected by gangsterism and drugs. The article reports on an investigation into the use of Web 2.0 technologies to enhance the information flow within the community to assist preventing the growth and spread of gangsterism and the use of drugs among South African communities, especially those in the Cape Flats. The findings showed that, through the use of Web 2.0 technologies, interviewees (ex-gang members and ex-drug addicts) learnt to use, exchange and disseminate information that could be used to uplift their communities. This paper was based on the work at the Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs)and it is amazing to see how the team have developed since the time the paper was written.


Social Media for Social Change – South African Edition

Below just a presentation to indicate some of the activities at RLabs and how we using Social Media for Social Change. These include Social Media training with mothers and women from Cape Flats community (Mom 3.0), ex-drug addicts and unemployed (The Reconstructed), Senior Mobile Sessions and Social Media for Teenagers. Other activities also includes the Social Media Surgeries where we bring Social Media to the people and our latest offering to address unemployment, The Social Media Factory. Through all these activities we’ve seen many people’s lives transformed and with already 276 community members trained in Social Media, we are looking forward to expanding these services to other areas in South Africa.


Social Media and Geeky Moms


Yesterday we launched the second year of our Mom 2.0 programme where we teach women from our community (Buzz at RLabs above)how to use Social Media to share stories, local news and to connect with other women globally. This year’s programme will be different in we will not just explore various Social Media technologies but we will also use a different approach of empowering these women. Although many of these women come from different backgrounds that include no computer literacy, literacy problems and fear for computers we are sure to have an exciting year ahead. The programme will be managed by last year Reconstructed and Mom 2.0 graduates giving them an opportunity to share their experiences with other community members.

Some of the areas in Social Media that we will focus on are Social networking sites, blogging, micro-blogging, file-sharing sites and mobile social networks. We also had guests from Finland who joined us at the launch who shared some insights to the group about Living Labs and the importance of the Reconstructed Living Lab (RLabs). With such a great start to the year we are definitely in for a wonderful time and seeing more of our community members being part of the Social Media Factory.


Mom 2.0 and The Reconstructed Graduation fever

It is that time of the year again where we will have 19 graduates of our Mom 2.0 and The Reconstructed programme graduating for completing the RLabs Social Media course. This has been an amazing year with men and women from the local community excelling and
using social media beyond all expectations. From blogging, social networking to micro-blogging and vlogging this group certainly proved that with motivation and hard work anything is possible with the little resources at hand.

The graduation will be hosted at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Granger Bay Hotel School on the 23 December and we are all looking forward to the new graduates part of the Reconstructed Living Lab.