[1] Blogging Tools
[2] SMS
[3] Video
[4] Photos
[5] Podcast
[6] Media Toolkits

1.Blogging Tools

Blogger (

Originally created in 1999 by Pyra Labs, Blogger was later purchased by Google in 2003. One of the earliest blog tools available – the tool offers functionality to post and embed text, audio, video, and other media. It also provides for users to share access to collectively form group blogs. It also offers free hosting at its service, Blogspot.

User Profile: No information seems available online as to the total number of Blogger users or its growth in the years since its creation. However, according to a blog post on kottke (which also provides early growth patterns for Blogger), Matt Webb produced a script a number of years ago that tracked the daily growth of that may be available.

LiveJournal (

Provides much of the same blog functionality as WordPress and Blogger. However, LiveJournal provides the creation of linkings of blogs to form online communities. To do so, it provides users with “friend lists” (that provide privacy management and syndication) and template spaces for users to create accessible profiles. Blogs can also become associated with particular pools or groups based on interest or other affiliation, which behaves in a similar way as the friend list. Access to service offered free of charge.

User Profile: Over 15,000,000 accounts exist on Livejournal. Geographically, users are disproportionately from the United States, though the service sees substantial participation in Canada and several European countries as well. Country-by-country breakdowns of use are available from their website.

WordPress (

Initially released in 2003, WordPress is a self-hosted open source blog publishing software that provides much of the same functionality as Blogger. Also allows for the creation of static pages within the blog itself. Their linked site “” provides hosting powered by this software for free.

User Profile: No survey information seems to indicate how many blogs run over WordPress. However, WordPress maintains a list of notable users, which gives a sense of the diversity of uses that the software has been used for.


Twitter (

Description: A microblogging service which allows a 140 character space for posting. It also provides functionality for users to “follow” others, which causes their posts to show up in a personal feed on the website. Other features include the ability to privately message others, save messages in a “favorites” folder, and reply to posts made by others (who are then alerted). Notably, mobile devices can also be enabled to allow users to text while away from their computers.

User Profile: A third party site unaffiliated with Twitter,Twitdir, indexes all available users who display their data publicly. As of June 11, 2008, the site is reporting 1,854,540 users. We have been unable to find reliable series cross-national statistics for Twitter, though Twitter Facts has some analysis (as well as a growth graph of the numbers reported in Twitdir)

Frontline SMS (

Description: Free software targeted at the NGO sector to resolve difficulties in communicating while working in developing countries with poor infrastructure. The program is installed on a Mobile devices can then send and receive text messages through this server to a defined list of users. There are also options to set up autoresponses, conduct surveys, and manage messages.

User Profile: Though we are unable to track down precise statistics on how many and for what purposes Frontline SMS is being used for on aggregate (partially due to the distributed nature of its use), their testimonials site gives some more well publicized examples. The software has been used in various situations in the developing world, including Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. Currently, however, its most publicized uses (or at least the ones made explicit on the site) seems to be for the purpose of organizing protests and promoting political agendas. An interactive map maintained by FrontLine and accurate up to November 2007 also gives some sense of the alternative NGO uses Frontline has been used for. According to Ken Banks, coordinator on the project, another 175 requests from NGOs are pending to download the new version of the software, set to launch Summer 2008.


YouTube (

Description: Founded in 2005 and later acquired by Google, YouTube is a video hosting site where users can upload, view, discuss, and explore related content. Accounts are not required to view the videos, though some potentially adult or offensive content is only accessible when logged in. Users can also embed the hosted videos in many popular blogging services, and can “respond” to videos with others. Currently, a joint collaboration between MIT and Harvard Free Culture is working on YouTomb, a system to track video take downs.

User Profile: As of April 9th, 2008, a search on the site reveals 3.75 million user channels. However, where the users that post video are distributed worldwide remains unclear. Numbers for YouTube usage between different nations are difficult to find, though the service has been notably banned in several countries, including China, Syria, Iran, and temporarily in countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, and Morocco. There have also been a series of highly publicized cases in which YouTube has been used by groups to promote or recruit for political ends (Note: Josh Green, research director for MIT’s CMS Department, has been conducting research on YouTube quantitatively and may be able to give a more granular analysis of the content).

DailyMotion (

Description: Founded in 2005 and based in France, DailyMotion is a video hosting service that provides much of the same functionality in posting, sharing, viewing, and commenting on contributed by users as YouTube. It also has several capabilities not implemented in YouTube, including the ability to stream directly from webcam as well as post from a mobile device. There are also some unique differences in the length and quality of video that can be uploaded (DailyMotion allows smaller though longer videos to be uploaded).

User Profile: Precise breakdowns on a country-by-country basis are not available, though as of late 2006, 9000 videos were being posted each day. Uses vary, though DailyMotion has seen extensive use for posting porn and copyrighted material. Also, like YouTube, the site has been banned, permanently and temporarily, from a number of countries, including China and Tunisia.


Flickr (

Description: Launched in 2004 and later acquired by Yahoo, Flickr is an image (and recently video) hosting website that allows users to post, share, and comment on each other’s content. These photos are organized by user-submitted tags, which generate emergent folksonomies of thematically linked photos. Users can also create photo pools, which allow others to submit images into publicly available repositories. Notably, the site also allows for Creative Commons licensing support in its service, allowing creators to share certain rights for usage of their photos with others. As of late 2007, the site hosts over two billion images.

User Profile
: Some relatively outdated statistics suggest that, by 2005, the site had acquired 775,000 registered users, though judging by Flickr’s growth in the 2 years since then, this number is likely no longer accurate. Furthermore, data on how this user base is distributed worldwide remains unclear. However, Flickr has been notably used by activists to compile and publicize events. Clay Shirkey’s “Here Comes Everybody” details the role played by Flickr in circulating photos of political protests in Belarus (p. 167). Similarly, Flickr users organized onsite protests against Microsoft’s attempted buyout of Yahoo in 2008.

Photobucket (

Description: Launched in 2003 and eventually acquired by Fox Interactive Media in 2007, Photobucket is a image and video hosting site which provides users with the ability to share and create slideshows from their content. However, this service is notably different from Flickr on three counts. First, Photobucket allows users to upload photos from a specified URL, while Flickr requires the photos to be local for uploading. Second, Photobucket has no similar structure for having users tag photos with metadata to create folksonomy based categorizations of content. Third, it also offers a battery of Adobe-produced tools to remix and mashup content available on the site.

User Profile: As of June 15, 2008, Photobucket claims on its site that it has 5,465,951,667 images loaded. And according to the March 28, 2007 edition of Fortune Magazine, Photobucket has 36 million registered users, adding another 85,000 new users per day. Though the company has not disclosed the geographic distribution of its user base, the data from Alexa suggests that it is mostly centered in the United States.


PodBean (

: Originally opened in 2006, PodBean is an online service that attempts to provide user-friendly tools to allow non-technical individuals to easily podcast. In addition to free hosting, it also provides support for syndication (via RSS) and podcasting on Apple iTunes. It also automatically collects statistics on traffic. Users are given a unique URL and PodBean’s podcast player is easily embedded into sites and blogs. It also acts as a platform for users to subscribe to and share other podcasts. Premium service is also available for a fee that includes additional bandwidth and storage space. As of early 2008, the site is now also expanding its service for businesses and organizations. This “business solution” product provides multiple administrator and user accounts, and the ability to manage multiple podcasts.

User Profile: As of June 16th, 2008, PodBean claims to have over 60,000 individual and over 1,000 business podcasts hosted on their service. Though no indication appears to be given as to how these are distributed geographically or by use, PodBean states that this group includes entities as varied as “educational institutions and churches to real state agents, musicians, sports clubs, travel agents and municipalities.”

PodOMatic (

Description: Like PodBean, PodOMatic offers free podcast hosting and offers services to create feeds and syndicate video. It similarly has enterprise podcasting solutions that incorporate similar features. There seem to be two main points of differentiation. First, PodOMatic provides its own native recording interface in addition to allowing users to upload directly to their site. The service also offers a number of unique software packages available to terrestrial radio stations to easily stream to podcast. Second, there are also additional interactivity features included for listeners, including the capability to call-in recorded responses to be used in broadcast.

User Profile: On the site, the most recent user information available seems to be from a 2006 press release, which announces PodOMatic taking the lead in podcasting services, with over 8,500 individual podcasts hosted. However, given the size of PodBean’s userbase (see above), it is likely that the recent years make these numbers are no longer accurate. A Google News search finds no stories about the service after 2006, though Podomatic accounts are mentioned in projects as diverse as promoting musician work, classroom experiments in creating student biographical pieces, and pro-wrestling commentary.

6.Media Toolkits

NGO-in-a-box: Audio/Visual Edition (

: Produced in a collaboration between Tactical Tech – an international NGO committed to the creation of software tools for activism – and EngageMedia – an online video sharing site for social justice and environmental issues, the audio/visual edition of the NGO-in-a-box is a suite of peer-reviewed, open source applications for editing and distributing content. In an effort to make these tools accessible to a budget-constrained general public, the package also comes with a series of beginner tutorials and reference works to these free tools. According to their site, the current edition covers:

* Audio and video editing and production
* Streaming
* Audio and video players
* CD/DVD ripping and burning
* CD/DVD/VCD creation
* Online distribution – podcasting, vodcasting and web publishing
* Micro radio and TV
*Digital distribution strategies

: This database also provides a brief profile on another edition of the NGO-in-a-Box project which emphasizes open source tools that provide security and anonymity online. See here.

User Profile: While there appears to be no available numbers or stories that indicate how the NGO-in-a-box audio/visual edition is being used, as of 2007 the project hosts an active series of seminars in South Asia and has released the Audio/Visual edition in Portuguese. The audience for these products appears to be mostly from small activist groups and the budget-conscious NGO community.

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