Without entirely meaning to, I have become a bit of an ICT “evangelist” on my team, promoting new ways new forms of communication can help us promote ideas in a more agile, more cost-effective way. Last month, our Private Sector Policy Analyst Anne Lindsay live-tweeted the EITI conference in Paris – she came back saying live tweeting is a game-changer at large policy events.
We have also set up an informal social media help-desk of sorts for partner organisations working in policy around the world. But our partners are doing most of the innovating themselves, Facebook stars like Aceh Institute (Indonesia) and Quiero para mi Municipio (Paraguay) are leading the way.
And yet with all of these changes, some older media remain just as effective as ever, something we need to take care not to forget.
World Comics is one reminder of the power of pen, paper and the rickety old photocopy machine. The “World Comics” concept – of simple, empowering training of grassroots CSOs in making comics – is the brainchild of Leif Palacken, Finnish ex-aid official, who began drawing at middle age.
The idea is to inspire what he calls the “local conversation”, with local language and local images. People with no previous artistic background or training can learn to communicate with comics in only a couple of days. The result is compelling in its authenticity.
These simple comics have been used to inspire conversation about child marriage, ending uncontrolled burning, and persecution of minorities.
With training of trainers in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and even with asylum seekers in Europe, the technique has proven really powerful. The concept has been super successful in India, where World Comics India is generating its own inspiring narrative of communication and empowerment.
World Comics reminds us that the lo-tech is not to be simply discarded in this world of 2.0. (Are we 3.0 yet?)
At a recent conference on Small Media, Iranian activist Hossein Sharif encouraged the audience to think about how the “ethic” of 2.0 can reinvigorate these pre-existing forms of expression, communication and participation. People have always been “participating” using media – sending messages to community radios and posting broadsheets – but the 2.0 ethic encourages us to think about how to speed up feedback and invent unmediated forms of comment and interaction.
We should focus on integrating the new tools into an already tried-and-true (and sometimes neglected!) field of development communications and participation methodology.
An interesting example of this is Frontline SMS’ new side project Frontline SMS Radio, that will provide community radio stations an SMS management platform, allowing them to react more effectively in realtime to feedback from listeners.
Please comment, or share other examples of this blending, we would love to hear about them.