Thursday, April 26, 2007

ID the Creep / Bore yourself to sleep

I found ID the Creep at Watercoolergames, a great blog about games with more than an entertainment purpose. ID the Creep was produced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

So the game starts: "You think you know who is E-mailing, chatting, or IM'ing with you? Really? Can you tell who means well and who doesn't? Play ID the Creep and see how you score when it comes to picking out the bad from the good....."

Then you get to be one of three young girl characters and 'play' some sample chats and IMs, and look at some email subject lines like this one from Robert Jones: "Can you help me download some music?" or this one from George Marxant: "Can you meet me at the food court? What R U wearing?"

Fast forward, if you made it through all three exercises congratulate yourself. If you're under 18 and you thought it was fun go buy yourself an ice cream.

The games purpose is fairly clear, but its method is flawed. There is no information for kids, or parents for that matter, about what the warning signs are. You're just supposed to guess at these cryptic little IM and chat messages. There is no reward for winning and no safety tips about what to avoid in real life.

Reminds me of another great idea without a point. I don't know the solution, but ID the Creep is a poor attempt.

Oh, and doesn't this picture of the "creep" look like a 10 year old with a grey streak and bags under his eyes?

New America Media surveys youth by cell phone

The results of a New America Media cell phone survey of 600 California residents ages 16-22 have been released, and are downloadable.

Here is the executive summary of the survey:
"One in eight of the nation's young people lives in California. Three-fifths are youth of color, and nearly half are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Taken together, this poll paints a portrait of a generation coming of age in a society of unprecedented racial and ethnic diversity – the first global society this country has seen.

"California's young people, as reflected in this poll, are strong believers in the American Dream, harbor deep concerns about family stability, cite marriage and parenthood as life goals, and are as apt to define their identity by music and fashion taste as by the color of their skin. Despite obstacles, they expect to create successful lives for themselves and imagine a more inclusive and tolerant society for one another. This collective optimism represents a unique source of social capital for California, and a mirror of what the U.S. is becoming as a global society."

The summary is really interesting and separates many questions by race and gender. For example, young men perceive themselves as healthier than young women do, and African American youth perceive themselves as healthier than White Anglo, Latino or Asian youth do.* Surprising to me was that youth did not identify gender as an important way they identify. Either that, or the researchers did not give gender as an option. I think it's the latter. Ooops, big oversight.

*These categories were defined by the researchers and self selected into by survey respondents.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What can we do with Wiffiti?

If you're reading this, I hope you didn't miss the Wiffiti on the right side of this page. Too many people today have asked that the hell it is. I'm starting to wonder myself. Regardless it's fun, and could have some powerful uses in public health/health communications if executed correctly (I think).

So what is it? It's a screen that you can put anywhere that people can send text messages too and have them be visible to anyone who is watching the screen. Right now it's embedded in my blog, and if you click on the mini version in the left sidebar you'll be taken to a larger screen on the Wiffiti sight. If I wanted I could feed it to a gigantic screen at an event, or display it on a laptop at a coffee shop. Get it? The Wiffiti blog explains it better than I do.

How do you use it? Send a text message to 25622. In the body of the message type @isisinc. After @isisinc add your message. If I wanted to say "what's up?" the body of my text message would read: @isisinc what's up?

So what can you do with it? Lots of things I suppose, but are there uses in public health, particularly STD and HIV prevention? Sexual health? Here are some of my ideas. Please add yours.

1. Text the location of services at large spring break events, such as where condoms can be found, or clinical services like STD testing.
2. Use in a classroom setting as a silent brainstorming tool.
3. Embed in a website and use as an easy way to get feedback from people about your projects, artwork, web design, etc.
4. Use as a billboard in an urban area with designated people updating it with prevention messages. Perhaps using a health department sponsor.

Are these boring? What do you think? Post your thoughts here or on my Wiffiti. Click the pink arrow to activate.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Planned Parenthood Pill Patrol

A kick ass move by Planned Parenthood's Save Roe campaign. The Pill Patrol is a an action tool that anyone can use to expose pharmacies with bad emergency contraception policies.

First: Find a pharmacy in your area (or several) with a simiple zip code search.

Second: Put on you secret shopper hat and ask for emergency contraception (Plan B) at that pharmacy using your downloadable Toolkit guide.

Third: Report back what happened on the Pill Patrol site. Eh em, "when we verify that a pharmacy refuses to provide EC, we'll alert you immediately and ask for your help. We'll demand meetings with the offending pharmacy. We ill apply pressure through rallies, letter-writing campaigns, and advertisements in local newspapers. We will make sure that women everywhere have every chance to prevent unintended pregnancy. "

The site has a Toolkit that can be downloaded that has a sample dialog to help seek the information that will be important to others, including tactful ways to ask why a pharmacy MAY NOT be carrying Plan B.

You can sign up for alerts via text message or email or both. I signed up with my cell to see what their text strategy is all about.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 sponsors ASACP

According to Xbiz, (in line with its model business practice record) has transitioned from being an ASACP member to a full sponsor. For those of us new to this lingo, ASACP stands for "The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection." Read their official list of best practices for websites, or this pdf of guidelines for adult dating sites.

Very loosely related, I found an article in the Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy (March 2007, Vol. 4, No. 1, Pages 93-104) about "virtual child pornography," titled "The International Yaoi Boys' Love Fandom and the Regulation of Virtual Child Pornography: The Implications of Current Legislation." The article is an interesting glance at this mediums precarious place in multiple free/protected speech debacles. Here's the abstract:

This article looks at current international legislation regulating child pornography, particularly at the category of virtual child pornography, or purely fictional images and textual representations of young people defined as minors. This legislation has been drafted primarily with adult male pedophiles in mind in an attempt to stop harm to real children. However, the legislation also inadvertently criminalizes a large, predominantly female group of manga fans who participate in online fan clubs dedicated to a Japanese manga genre known as yaoi, which celebrates love shared between fictional, so-called beautiful boys. Results of this study suggest that there is insufficient research into the effects of this kind of fantasy fandom on girls and young women and that the broad scope of existing legislation, which in some jurisdictions criminalizes these fantasies, may actually be harmful to young people who need the freedom to express sexual fantasies in a secure, supportive environment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ask Dr. K if you really want to know

A great resource that I have yet to write about is the Ask Dr. K column on the San Francisco City Clinic website. Dr. K (Dr. Jeff Klausner) is the Director of STD prevention and control services at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. His staff, including us at ISIS, help with writing, editing and column accuracy. Here are links to a few good ones:

Oral sex, anal sex and HIV

All about PEP

Yellow stain on underwear = STD?

Size matters for anal sex?

First time annual exam

Kissing and cunnilingus

Ebarrassed about HPV

Even if your question doesn't make it to the website, most are personally answered by City Clinic staff. Have a burning question? Give it a try.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'd call it "Where is Sick?"

Who is sick? is a website that allows anonymous posters to link their symptoms with a geographical location on a googlemap. When you go to the site you can see all* the runny noses in LA and coughs in Berkeley. The tool was designed to help provide people with current local sickness information.

The creators say:

"Who Is Sick was started in 2006 with a mission to provide current and local sickness information to the public - without the hassle of dealing with hospitals or doctors. With a strong belief in the power of people and a faith that user generated content can be extremely valuable, our team set out to create an entirely new system for tracking and monitoring sickness information."

"Given the relatively slower adoption of internet and "web 2.0' technology by much of the healthcare industry, our team of healthcare professionals, technology entrepreneurs, mothers, fathers, and caregivers set out to create a simple, user-friendly, and valuable website for the average consumer. We are currently building out our team and expanding our technology breadth across new and exciting areas of healthcare with Who Is Sick as our first offering. Stay tuned for more!"

The tool could be used to communicate STD hotspots in the future. *However, posters to the site are most definitely a biased sample of the ill.

The mapping tool is will be easy to use for anyone familiar with googlemaps, and the little pies...well, they look like Trivial Pursuit pies.

As for the slow adoption of Web2.0 to the healthcare field. They nailed it.

Update: BioSense, a CDC project makes much more sense, particularly because you have to apply to participate.

Friday, April 13, 2007


So we all catch on at a different speeds...especially with technology. Mark Morford's article in the SF Chronicle today titled "Wanna hook up? Let your thumbs do the dialing," made me laugh, but the way he wrote about SEXINFO, an ISIS project, did not.

It is no surprise that text messaging is used like other forms of communication to bring people together, be it for a drink, a meeting, or sex. Have a gander:

"The trends now appear and disappear so quickly, nothing is really definitive or permanent or actually essential to know. It's all just a shifting throbbing mutating gob of gizmo and sex and desire and potential heartbreak, pouring over the culture like some sort of sticky bittersweet Wi-Fi-enabled honey. Same as it ever was, just with fewer vowels and lots more tendinitis."

"And so maybe I can simply wait for the next wave, the next mode of hot tech hookup whateverthehellitis, which I imagine will be arriving any second now, if not sooner. Instant cell phone video clips? Bluetooth-enabled pineal gland implants? Viagra misters/thong detectors in the new iPhone? We'll just have to see. Can someone please text me when it arrives?"

I think the twitters, the dodgeballs, and the justintvs will have their year in the sun. Text messaging is different. It's like a landline, like a computer, like a TTY. The way we use it will change, but the tool has stuck.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How slick is your sex ? - anal sex quiz from Lifelube

LifeLube, a site packed with online resources for gay/bi/queer men, has a lube quiz aimed at helping researchers decide which lubes to prioritize for safety testing. If you are a lover of anal sex, take this quiz and help them out.

We like this site for many reasons, one being they are helping us share InSPOT with the world AND they have a great blog with recent posts about queerness in Saudi Arabia, circumcision news and serosorting debates.

Wrap it up NYC - sweet sweet city condoms

Normally I wouldn't blog this because it's not exactly technology related (although at one moment in time condoms were new), except the website is super rad and the general idea even radder. I couldn't resist.

The simple animations of New Yorkers humping in high rises, and gabbing on the bridge are awesome, and the list of spots where you can pick up free condoms is a goldmine (for those online at least).

What city will hop on next?

Update: Nordstorm did the website design and branding.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

SEXINFO, tree on a plane, badge of honor

So, as I mentioned before, ISIS was awarded a Techie from for our project SEXINFO. The money arrived, the tabel at the innovations plaza went great, the statue...well, it has a little life of it's own.

I didn't return directly to SF from the NTC in DC. I took a cab to Dulles, then a plane to Boston, then a bus, then a train, then trucked by foot to my friends house. The statue came with me. It didn't fit in my suitcase; it had to be carried. It wasn't until I walked, trained, bussed and crossed security in Boston to head home again that someone actually commented on the statue (there has been plenty of stares). An airport security guard was so excited about it that he offered his own little LCD flashlight into the tree's trunk and the security line got to see the wonderful branches illuminate.

Anyway, It made it home. I made it home. SEXINFO is more known to the world, and I am forever thankful that the tree is in the office and I never have to take it in a train, plane or cab again. Check out these additional Flickr shots of other Techie award recipients.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Hookingup and gaming meet in Naughty America

Nick Yee, in The Daedalus Project , wrote about his research into online relationship development in games (mostly in World of Warcraft) in a post called The Impossible Romance. What's really interesting here are the comments. I highly recommend spending some time reading folks' comparisons of meeting online versus meeting in real life.

Along the same lines, Naughty America has done what we've (or gamers looking for dates) have all been waiting for. Now here's a game (launching sometime this summer) where you design a character, rearrange and decorate your bedroom to get ready for some action, cruise around in different neighborhoods, etc. So it's kind of similar to other games like Second Life in that there's chat between avatars, but in Naughty America, each character has a real dating profile. So when you meet someone online, you can have virtual sex with them and move on from there. There are even sexual position choices.

Bonnie of Bonnie's Heroine Sheik blogged it too, specifically the reluctance of the game makers to admit it is in fact a sex game! I was surprised to see that like, Naughty America will submit game players to background checks.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Technology take up is natural for "digital natives"

I was reading the NTEN blog and found a great little article about reaching low income people with technology which features Joyce Raby from Legal Services Corporation, and some words from Lee Rainie of the Pew Internet and American Life Project , a non-profit research center studying the effect of the internet on American's. Anyway, particularly interesting for public health is Rainie's idea of "digital natives," or kids born after 1985 who have basically grown up with the Internet, and who are excellent targets for technology based messaging.

With our SEXINFO project (sexual health resource guide via text message), 90+ % of youth who remembered seeing the ad campaign for the text messaging service had their own phone. This was really surprising to us because all of these youth were from one of the lowest income neighborhoods in San Francisco.

The latest report from pew is a demogrpahic report about latinos with less english proficiency remaining a disporportionatly low percentage of total Internet users in the U.S. So, while the digital divide doesn't extend to youth in a general sense, non-english speakers (including youth), still don't have adequate access to Internet resources, even if they have access to computers.

InSPOT, our online STD/HIV partner notification system will soon be translated into Spanish. Perhaps translating SEXINFO as well will extend its benefit even farther.