For a little while now, I’ve been looking at security and anonymity as they relate to mobile. Truthfully speaking, there’s no such thing as being completely hidden when you are using anything digital and connected, though there are ways of layering your use so that it is at least a little bit harder for someone to find you as the needle in their haystack. I’ve been particularly interested in services like Tor which not simply a browser, but a means of “bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.”
The other week on Mobile Active, I saw something going down this line with a guide to using Orbot and other anonymous browsing tools on mobile. This really is interesting, and for good reason, there isn’t just the case of governments looking at you, private companies do an even more impressive job of keeping your tabs.
There’s also the perspective of carriers, which was highlighted recently at MobileGroove. While there is this understanding that conumers of mobile are thinking a bit more critically about the implications of the data that passes through their mobile devices, this is also presented as an opportunity for carriers and other information agencies to unpack options for some who would like things to be a bit more secure.
Mobile browsing, and the challenges for consumers, carriers, governments, etc. was discussed during the Mobile Ministry Forum Mobile Security Webinar. Check out this audio for discussion.
So here’s the question: do you use anonymous browsing tools or methods on your mobile? If not, would you consider doing so, even if you were in a country that is more open about where and what you can do in digital spaces?
While putting a vote in for the Mobile Media Kit on an SD Card for the Ashoka Changemakers competition, I also saw these projects noted on that page which might prove as avenues for applying mobile to your efforts:
Serval Project: Serval lets mobile phones work without infrastructure, such as during disasters or in times of internal crisis, by using your existing phone number. The group created open-source software that uses the WiFi radio in cell phones to create a P2P telephony and data service that behaves just like a regular cellular network, including using existing phone numbers.
CGNet Swara: CGNet Swara is a voice-based portal, accessible by mobile phone, that allows anyone to report and listen to stories of local interest. Reported stories are moderated by trained journalists and made available for playback online as well as over the phone. Check out our case study on CGNet Swara.
Global Participatory Journalism with FrontlineSMS: This project uses FrontlineSMS software to aggregate messages that are sent to a newsroom or other hub. Hosts and journalists will be able to sort through, curate, and verify primary sources, and can send selections of this content to mobile devices.
Mobile Journalist on an SD Card: Most citizen journalists and reporters already use mobiles phones, but the sheer number of tools available makes it difficult to know the best way to use them. Mobile Journalist on an SD Card tests and makes accessible the best of the tools for journalists and citizen journalists, downloadable and on SD cards ready to plug into any phone. Tools will span from basic feature phone to smartphones, and will be selected to work in varying situations, including low-resource reporting environments where Internet access is unreliable.
The text for these projects is taken verbatium from the Mobile Medita Kit’s article on being one of the 11 finalists for the competition.
Some years ago, the year when I attended both the BibleTech and VSN Leadership Conferences, I did something that was weird to some, amazing to some, and confusing to others: I plugged my mobile into the projector, and using a Bluetooth keyboard or joystick, was able to control the presentation (see the VSN video). This has been quite normal for me in terms of presenting, and I honestly have gotten all kinds of bent out of shape when the projector or my connection to it isn’t able to be done (for example, this year at GCIA).
Nevertheless, it just makes sense with many of the mobile devices that we have in our hands these days – and yes, I’m speaking towards most of you with smartphones. You really can get away with doing simfielding rural, urban, or educational mission fields. Its honestly not that complex to do, and is more or less a matter of making sure that your method of presenting the content and having enough power for the projector is taken care of.
Now, there’s a preliminary case study over at Mobile Active talking about this activity in rural India for educational initiatives. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve poked at the Kiosk Evangelism Project enough to consider this as a primary method of displaying and enabling interactive content in some contexts. But, I’ll leave that for you to explore and figure out.
For now, I’m going to take the next step forward in how I do presentations from my mobile (right now using an HTML-driven slide-show system, with short-URLs and QR Codes to incite interactive moments for additional exploration during presentations). You might not be going that far, but if the device is in your hand, you’ve got a responsibility to figure this one out if that’s how your field missions function.
These two innovative approaches to mobile learning have come across the screens lately. Both would be useful for increasing your skills and abilities to peruse mobile ministry endeavors:
MIT Center for Mobile Learning
The Center, housed at the Media Lab, will focus on the design and study of new mobile technologies and applications, enabling people to learn anywhere anytime with anyone. Research projects will explore location-aware learning applications, mobile sensing and data collection, augmented reality gaming, and other educational uses of mobile technologies.
Three MIT professors will serve as co-directors of the Center: Hal Abelson, Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Eric Klopfer, Associate Professor of Science Education; and Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research.
The Center’s first activity will focus on App Inventor for Android, a programming system that makes it easy for learners to create mobile apps for Android smart phones by visually fitting together puzzle piece-shaped “programming blocks” in a web browser. Abelson proposed an idea that prompted the development of App Inventor during his sabbatical at Google in 2008.
For more information, read the press release.
Cybermissions’ Mobile Ministry Training Courses
The Mobile Ministry Training Course is a 4-week introduction to the uses of mobile technology platforms for Christian ministry. It is expected to involve 4-6 hrs of study time each week.
For more information and to enroll, visit the Mobile Ministry Training Course website.
Bonus: Upcoming MMM-led Workshop
We still plan on having a few MMM-led workshops this fall. The first will be an iPad for Pastor’s Workshop. Stay tuned for more information about this.
One of the points that we tried to get across in our BibleTech presentation is that there are several layers to mobile life that need to be understood if mobile ministry initiatives are going to meet with any success. Part of understanding those layers is indeed the relationship between mobile and faith. Another perspective of the layers of mobile life comes from the marketing and analytic fields.
For example, the results of a mobile life survey by TNS Global Marketing displays some of what could be understood from following, or not following trends in mobile.
See this in more detail along with other visualizations of the Mobile Life survey data from TNS’s Mobile Life website.
Just as important as these observations are, understanding mobile living also has to be considered from the viewpoint of what’s happening on the ground. There’s not as much data from those areas, so we are good to rely on reports such as Mobile Active’s How Small World News Trains Citizen Journalists and Captures Footage from Libya and the book Where Are You Africa?
Trends analysis (such as this one recently posted at Wireless Week) helps to get an idea of where to focus towards, and also where to look for those spaces where data is or can be best interpreted. You don’t base products or initiatives on those trends though. Trends – like prophetic versus in Scripture – need to be interpreted in light of the context in which they are given. And especially with some mobile trends’ data, you will want to get below the high-gloss level of trends to what’s actually happening as we talked about in the items above. That said, you can do a lot worse than Chetan Sharma‘s data – his work in this space is really well founded.
For mobile to be better utilized, this kind of research and data is needed. And from these efforts can sprout the kinds of insights that enable people to engage mobile not just as a layer to their lives, but as a wand to create better lives for themselves and others.
Just a few items to note on this Friday:
One of the areas where mobile seems to be making some headway as a catalyst towards ministry engagements is in the media field- and especially in areas where traditional means of data collection, analysis, and even diagnosis is not as able to happen. And while I know that one day we’ll get to the point where there will be sensors in or around our mobile devices that will correlate to health and wellness, it is really neat to see some of the work that is happening around that field right now.
The 3G Doctor is probably the premier website discussion medial and mobile. This site isnt’t just a technology demonstration either, it is actual doctors in the field, experimenting and collaborating to learn and share the lessons about what’s possible given the abilities of mobile in areas where traditional health managment just can’t happen. Check out the 3G Doctor Blog for some additinal analysis and insights in this growing field.
The field is commonly referred to as mHealth (mobile health) and covers everything from applications, to services, to regional and global policy development. mHealth initiatives don’t just seek to wave a flag that mobiles can access emergency health services, but look to embed an entire ecosystem of health and wellness practices which as fostered in some respects by mobile devices or the mobile web. What’s been most interesting in the mHealth arena has been some of the specific regional topics which have been addressed: pregancy topics and prenatal care, nutrition, AIDS prevention and education, domestic violence, and excercise and wellness.
There’s also a great deal of information coming from entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Foundation, the World Economic Forum, and Mobile Active.
As with other aspects of mobile, there’s going to be a uptick in the information acquired and the education dispersed towards medical, health and wellness needs in the near future.To those communities and organizations who deal with health and wellness, the rise of mobile as another tool on the belt should be a welcome sign, and a empowering one.