2May

Murmur: SMS, Badges and Location

Butterfly Bridges, created by Natalie Jeremijenko’s X-Clinic, have spun me into idea flurry. Last night I attended her Strategic Lab (Slab) presentation on Measuring the Common Good in Smart Cities. She is teaching and shaping biodiversity in new urban frameworks. Civic action activities like this and placemaking really show the potential of how we can build community in new and creative ways.

Murmur, SMS + Badges + Location

It is no secret that I’m location-obsessed. While maps are storytelling devices and are not an end in themselves, there is a connectivity to how location and storytelling provide us with common space. The Emergency Hack Labs project attempts to connect SMS, Open Badges and Placemaking to help people during times of emergency. The goals include providing volunteer engagement and peer-to-peer thanks. I wrote about this previously in Open Badges in a Crisis.

Map/Location projects with a true plan to connect the online to the offline are the most sustainable. It is more amazing some of the creative SMS campaigns that give voice. These projects during times of crisis are busy and important windows into what is possible and where some of the opportunities exist. But, we should be building them outside of emergencies and morphing them to local language and context.

Murmur is a Toronto project that uses SMS to connect people to location for stories. You can simply call a number listed on a sign in a particular place. The recording places a story or poem. The thing that has always struck me about this project is that people share and they learn the power of location. What if Murmur was installed in post-conflict zones or risk-prone regions? Local communities could curate the stories and teach in community centres. And, what if Murmur existed when a disaster or emergency happened? Would there be a difference in the community if people already felt comfortable with that style of non-threatening, trusted network program? It could start as a creative and art project, but then change gears to be a recovery and healing project to help with storytelling, remembrance and support. This is all theoretical. Technical, privacy and security issues would need to be addressed. But, expecting people to trust location and report stories with no historical community process for this is always a hurdle. Another scenario is: What if Murmur or its SMS kin was turned into a Volunteer peer-to-peer thanks model like Emergency Hack Lab?

Surely, this has all been done before? What examples can you share? I want to dig in more to understand how we can make location and online storytelling tools realistically connect online and offline during times of crisis.

So, thanks to Butterfly Bridges. With all this thinking, I am going to the park.

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One comment

  1. It reminds me a bit of vojo.co. But I don’t know that it’s been done before. Let’s try it out!

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