Beth Kanter on mobile phone blogging

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Aug 03, 2007

Beth Kanter, blogger-extraordinaire, and an astute commentator on the use of technology in the NGO field, wrote a resource-packed article on mobile video blogging. Here are some excerpts for the community, reprinted with Beth's permission.

Learnings and Reflections about Mobile Phones for Video Blogging and Beyond, by Beth Kanther

I'm going to the Cambodian Blogger Summit in a few weeks. One of the ideas I've been exploring is the whole notion of video blogging from Cambodia by Cambodians. While I was in Chicago, Ryanne Hodson, who I met at last year's BlogHer, is in Cambodia and Southeast Asia with Jay Dedman to document the work of Project Hope International. (The back story is here)

I'm going to bring over video blogging kits - inexpensive cameras, rechargeable batteries, SD cards, and Ryanne's book. However, in one of the discussion threads on the Summit wiki, there has been mention about using cameraphones or smart phones for this in addition to.

So, while at BlogHer 07 I had a little bit of a personal learning mission: What can I learn about mobile video blogging in a global context?

Our questions were:

  • What do you need to know about web/blog design so that your blog can be read by people on a mobile phone?
  • What is the best blog platform for mobile bloggers?
  • How do you make your blog/web site mobile friendly?
  • How to best encourage people to engage in an online project/group that is discussing a physical location in the location itself using a mobile phone? (This was Liz's question and it relates to this art project)
  • How can a mobile device connect you to the physical environment?
  • If you were creating some instructional materials about mobile video blogging in a developing country, like say Cambodia, what are the most important points to cover? (that last question was mine and I had to draw myself a picture)
  • What video hosting platforms support cell phones?

Another question came up: "Perhaps it would be important to understand how to apply good asethetics to a tiny camera?" This lead us to brainstorm a list:

  • Closeups are a must - for picture and sound
  • Rule of thirds
  • Use of negative space
  • Don't use zoom with cameraphone
  • Shoot b-roll if you're doing editing and if it is in a noisy environment, include a b-shot of the noise source

Of course, we pulled out the digital camera because we're experiential learners and started to explore the ideas with hands-on practice.

We had a few "bumble bees" buzz by our table. One of them told us that there was a special plugin for wordpress that display the blog in style sheet that is readable on cell/mobile phones. Something must have jogged Liz's memory and she said, Jan ChipChase. It's a wonderful blog about mobile design and cell phones and I can't wait to dig in.

It was wonderful to see Georgia Popplewell (send from left) from Global Voices. I realized that it had been two years since we met face to face at the Global Voices Summit in London. (As Ethan says - "the more interaction we have virtually, the more important it becomes to see people face to face). Georgia moderated the Global Women's Panel with Amira Al Husseini (who also writes for Global Voices), Snidga Sen from BlogHer, and the incredibly smart Julia Rotich. She pointed to a case study of using cell phones for mobile reporting. (And, this was also mentioned on our discussion thread for the Cambodia Bloggers Summit too, but a different blog post.)

After the lunch on the second day, I sat down with Marshall Kirkpatrick to pick his brain on mobile video blogging and camera phones. Marshall shared his personalized Google search engine and we used to identify a few good links which turned out to be very valuable. The bookmarks are here.

This lead me to a little experiment with Blip.TV mobile posting. Click to Play

When I got home, I remembered the work of colleague Joitske Hulsebosch who has taught video blogging in Ghana. I went back to look at her how-to which could be adapted easily for Cambodia. As I was reviewing it, I noticed that Preetam Rai, who is in Singapore and is the Southeast Asian editor for Global Voices and who writes the fantastic blog "Better Days" was online. I pinged him the link and some questions. He suggested that a few pointers on shooting techniques and showing something like jumpcut because the video editing can be done online and convenient from a Internet Cafe. I edited this video for the campaign using jumpcut.

While at BlogHer, I was also online at the Cambodian Bloggers Summit page using the discussion area to get more background about mobile phones.

I was also curious about what brand of smart phones were primariliy in use in Cambodia. I learned about a mobile phone magazine in Khmer. Virak Hor mentioned:

The most popular brand is NOKIA which has many smart phone series and price is cheaper than others, and the rest are those phones that is running Windows Mobile OS. Sony Ericsson is also a popular brand even most of their phone are not smart, but they are good for photo and video capturing.

Some Cambodians may have more than one phone as Borin explains here Borin also writes about how he uses his mobile phone with his laptop to get online. As Jinja pointed out, there is an issue around sustainability.

And, of course, I have to take an indepth look at .....


Thanks, Beth, for this plethora of resources! If you have others, post them in the comments or write a blog post for us!