July 9, 2010

An educator’s top 5 tools for social change

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“Copyright? What’s Copyright?” by MediaEdLab on YouTube.

Apps to enhance your productivity, visibility & privacy

Target audience: Educators, citizen publishers, journalists, nonprofits, social change organizations. This is part of Creating Media, our ongoing series designed to help nonprofits and other organizations learn how to use and make media.

Guest post by Barbara K. Iverson, PhD.
Co-publisher, ChicagoTalks.org

Here are five of my favorite online tools that I regularly use during the course of my work week. Some of these would help anyone, but because most are free, they can help people who are working to advance social change, social good or social activism.

ReclaimPrivacy: Take control of your privacy

1As an educator, I sometimes resort to the “first do no harm” credo, so with the Facebook privacy changes still fresh in everyone’s mind, let me start with an app that lets you check how secure your Facebook information is: ReclaimPrivacy.org. You drag the app’s button to your browser, open your Facebook account and it does a privacy scan. Note, it does not check photos and status updates yet, but it checks how secure the rest of your Facebook settings are.

cc logo

Creative Commons: Enabling sharing culture

2Creative Commons is a big favorite of mine. We publish our community news on ChicagoTalks.org using the CC license. Aside from being useful, the whole idea of CC helps people realize there are alternatives to business models based on scarcity. The videos about copyright, creative co-authorship and CC licenses are funny and educational.

Kachingle: Support your favorite sites

3I’m banking on micropayment systems that will appeal to people who want to pay creators and sites they like and patronize. Beyond a “donate to this site” button, I’m currently talking up Kachingle, and I urge any socially conscious sites to get Kachingle.

The idea is you put up a small amount of money, like $5 each month, that you are willing to give to sites you use. When you see a Kachingle button on a site, you click, and from then on, Kachingle keeps tracks of how many times you visit the site, as well as any others you Kachingle. Once a month, the money you pledged is divided proportionally among the various sites you Kachingled. I even did a movie for them, explaining why I like this cool app with the silly name. (Kachingle my site, ChicagoTalks, and I’ll Kachingle back.)

Lots of my friends think Kachingle won’t work, but it is gaining traction in Europe, and Pirate Bay has created a similar app, still in beta, called Flattr. For nonprofits, I think this is a way to promote community at the same time that you solicit some modest funds from your supporters.

Aviary: Breezy online image editing

4For online photo editing, I’ve been using Aviary lately instead of Picnik because Aviary includes image editing and most of what Picnik has but also includes a vector editor and a new audio editor and mix tool. It’s free and seems to be focused on artists and designers more than on hobbyists.

Zemanta: Enrich your blog posts

5Finally, I would recommend Zemanta to anyone who is blogging or publishing on the Web. Zemanta is a plug-in semantic web tool. When it is enabled, it will appear in the editing window of your blog, and it analyzes the text in your post (as you type it!) and makes suggestions for links, tags and images. You just click on suggestions that are relevant to add links, tags and images automatically.

When my reporters file a story, it makes it a snap to add links to maps, wiki pages and websites. Zemanta learns as you use it, so it can be kind of flaky when you first implement it, but it gets better the more you use it. This one you will need to try to fully grasp how useful it is. In our publishing, it saves us literally hours of work each week.

Barbara K. Iverson, PhD., is co-publisher of ChicagoTalks.org and a faculty member of the Journalism Department at Columbia College Chicago.
In this series

Change-makers share 10 of their favorite tools

6 productivity tools for social change

A change agent’s top 5 tools for social change

12 open source tools you should be using

A developer’s 5 favorite social tools

Top 5 tools for the entrepreneurial journalist

Creating media: Tools, tutorials, resources (Socialbrite)

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