Project proposal: GV goes mobile

1. Full name

Claire Ulrich

2. Global Voices sections to which you contribute

GV in English
Rising Voices

3. Publication date of your latest post or translation

Date: – 29/1/2012

4. Title of project

GV goes mobile

5. Project representative (person who will sign award agreement and receive funds)

Claire Ulrich

6. Describe the proposed project as clearly as possible in five sentences or less

The rise of mobile devices heralds a new era for Global Voices and citizen media at large. In developing countries, mobiles could become the most available and in time the cheapest access to the Web. This project seeks to beta test a small scale “news via mobile or SMSs” experiment with a panel of 30+ beta users (Half being  mobile and news savvy contributors/translators of GV, and half not acquainted with GV or news on mobile)  located in Europe, South America, South Asia, Africa. The project aims to provide GV with feedback and findings on the following questions: 1- how can a citizen news outlets like GV be identified as such on mobiles, as opposed to traditional news providers, and reach to mobile users while encouraging participation? 2 – Which technical solution, functionalities, tools are needed to foster participation, conversation, and to encourage readers in different countries to contribute and share multimedia contents/news with GV? 3- How could GV current news formats (text or multimedia) be tailored to be useful and engaging for a global audience on mobile devices or even via SMSs, despite the regional constraints and differences in news reading? Special focus will be on users with limited and sometimes expensive connection, and/or not acquainted with citizen news or even smartphones. Findings from the two-month live test, will be presented to the GV community during the next GV Summit to inform the community and a discussion on the prospects of a GV mobile solution.

7. What aspect or need of Global Voices does your project address?

MGV (Mobile GV) wishes to address some of the questions raised by the fast migration of contents mobile handsets, globally, for a citizen website that does not only aim at distributing news, but has a wider mission. It seeks to provide feedback to the community and GV core-team, based on a 2-month live test with a multicultural panel in different regions of the world, to better understand the format, functionalities and possibilities to encourage participation and content sharing.

8. How would the project further Global Voices’ mission?

Global Voices’ mission, to amplify online conversation and make new voices heard, tackles a new environment on mobile handsets. The project wishes to gather and analyse users experiences and reactions to GVM in different contexts, from users with different profiles, in April and May 2012. The questions at stake are many, but the scope of the project is to identify readers interest and appreciation to different formats on their mobile, how they can be encouraged to participate in discussion, crowd sourced news and translations. It would also seek to list the prospects and challenges, the technical solutions and monetizing opportunities, when reaching out to a multilingual, multicultural, audience across the world on a small screen – with sometime limited and expensive mobile access.

9. What is innovative about your project?

The innovation lies in adopting a bottom up and multicultural approach to citizen news on mobile, testing GVM on users in different continents/contexts, with different interest and knowledge of mobile technology, to identify challenges and reactions to GV contents, willingness to use apps and tool to contribute, and to provide fresh ideas and perspectives.

10. Which section of Global Voices would your project most benefit (if applicable)?

GV in English
Rising Voices
GV Advocacy

11. How would the wider GV community utilize and/or participate in your project?

The participation and support of the GV community and friends/partners of our community in the academic and mobile technology industry would be essential. The project would need technical skills and counseling for the development or choice of a simple platform and interface, editorial support, and local support to recruit beta testers and gather feedback. Lingua editors and contributors could help identify and recruit beta testers reflecting different cultures, languages, and technology literacy. They could be of great help to interpret context, costs and strategies, barriers to access, local users habits, and to relay the findings in their respective context. The community could in turn benefit from a “sand box” to experiment locally with their contents and communities and learn from other GV communities, getting a clearer picture of the challenges and possibilities offered by this first step for their local readership.

12. List the other GV community members, if any, who will be actively working on the project. Please specify what role each person will play in the development of the project.

Beta testers will be recruited and interviewed on their experience on GVM by different GV and Lingua community/members, able to contextualize their experience. Africa: GV French networks in Francophone Africa. Greece: Asteris Mousaras. South America: Juan Arellano. Brazil: Paula Goes. South Asia: Rezwan and Bijoy.

13. What additional resources or expertise, if any, would you need to complete the project?

Access to mobile industry expertise, development expertise in the GV community at large, either on a pro-bono or willing to contribute for a moderate fee, would be of great help. Contacts are underway with experts, NGOs, sponsors, and developers in Africa as well as in the Francophone tech community and any lead or advice on potential technical contributors, experts, and funders would be useful and much appreciated.

14. Describe the prospects for sustainability/continuation once the innovation grant funding ends

Given the current interest for mobile contents, it is hoped that both the private and non-profit sectors will be interested in branching on a multicultural, multi country, live-test and involve GV in their future projects.  Humanitarian news, and mobile education, for instance, are topics of great interest for big NGOs currently: a partnership could be facilitated by the dissemination of the findings. Private or public sector media in Europe and elsewhere, who are currently exploring mobile news, can be approached. Telco companies in Africa, thriving with massive adoption rates of news via mobile, could also be a prospect to monetize or share revenues from mobile GV contents.

15. Please specify the timeline for the project, from start to finish

February – March 2012:  building or choosing and tweaking  a mobile platform, contacting sponsors and local mobile phones/access providers, designing and beta testing a format/content for daily/weekly edition for mobile testers, Recruiting and coaching members of the panel. April – May 2012: Testing the daily/weekly edition of GV mobile news (text and multimedia) on mobile site + via SMSs, weekly reporting via online survey or skype conversation, collation and analysis of feedback. June 2012: presentation and discussion of results during GV Summit

16. Provide a detailed budget of up to US$5,000 for project costs. (Please try and present as accurate a budget as possible: applicants are encouraged to submit budgets for less than the maximum amount as smaller grants allow us to fund more projects)

– Hardware/connection costs: It is hoped that local telephone retailers and access providers could sponsor part of the project, in some countries, by providing free or lent  smartphones with built-in camera or video for fifteen beta users, and credit bulk “minutes” of mobile connection for this project.- Technical development and maintenance: 2000 USD

– Project management and related expenses: USD 2000

– Provision for mobile internet connection costs and bulk SMSs  : USD 1000






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