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Nokia’s interactive arrow billboard gets direction, shows direction

Nokia Arrow

Weathervane? More like whither-vane! (Sorry guys.) Nokia hoisted up an enormous arrow-shaped interactive digital billboard over the Tower Bridge in London to publicize their navigation services. Spectacle! What better way to tout services no one really knew they had?

The colossal signpost (as big as two double decker buses!), by Swedish agency Farfar, is controlled by the public–anyone can send in a location anywhere in the world via text or web, and the arrow will turn to point in the direction of the landmark, providing distance as well. It’s a great way to demonstrate–of course in larger than life hyperbole–the promise behind their navigation services: it’s powerful technology, and it’s at your command–quite literally, at your fingertips. (It reminds me of another excellent interactive billboard: BBC World’s provocative series that got people to engage with current events and made quite literal the notion that there are two sides to any story, reinforcing the BBC’s commitment to fair coverage and interest in all points of view. A great and thankfully not at all frustratingly irrelevant/pointless/bandwaggony use of user interaction and social advertising.)

In its aim to “make navigation into something social”  by asking people to “discover and share the good things,” the execution delivers a navigation experience beyond humdrum point A to point B–it engages people, it gets them thinking and talking and interacting–in a global community busy creating a global best-of. And in a shrewd reinforcement of these social communal it’s-a-small-world warm fuzzies, Nokia streamed it all live on video at their website, syncing all the submitted locations to a “Good Things” map for anyone to view–a global who’s who (where’s where?) of places worth knowing about.


Text to donate: Red Cross offers quick, easy means to help Haiti
January 13, 2010, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: , ,

Red Cross in Haiti

Make a difference in less time than it takes to get out your checkbook. Simply text the word HAITI to 90999 to have $10 automatically donated to Red Cross earthquake relief efforts in the disaster-struck nation. (The donation is added to your phone bill, easy as that.)

Donation by text is not new—for example, UNICEF’s TAP Project for clean drinking water used it to great results—but it’s effective, and an ingenious way to mobilize people in support of a cause. It’s smart, it’s easy, and it’s immediate—for us as donors and for the recipients and organizations in need of aid. It removes a lot of the obstacles that keep people from donating, making the act of giving almost as convenient as doing nothing at all.

The donation-by-text method capitalizes on the ubiquity of mobile phones (maybe the only thing we really take everywhere with us—even more so than money, as this campaign shrewdly observes) and allows us to seize the generous impulse before it has a chance to fade, or before we just forget.

Beyond just the ease and speed with which the text donation delivery method works is the “price point” of the donation—a mere $10. It’s meaningful and it adds up, but it’s small enough for most of us to donate without much thought. The token default amount of $10 can probably quickly generate—just through ease of donation and sheer grassroots volume of donations—a great deal more money and awareness than a smaller number of larger donations, as with a traditional crisis-response drive. (Of course, those who want to donate more always can—this text feature is not really for them, but for the “casual” donor, the everyman.)