Monday, March 31, 2008

Online network mapping pays off

ISIS certainly packed a double whammie with the Fresh Focus Sex-Ed Video Contest that concluded in January. Not only did we get 70 incredible videos from young people all over the country and Canada, but we developed our own unique marketing strategies in the process.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has written up our success story in a fund raising focused article titled New Rules of Attraction.

And one thing definitely leads to another, as Deb says about the some of the attention we've been getting from new funders, "This is a result of the visibility we generated through the contest and our positioning ourselves as thought leaders online."


Friday, March 28, 2008

My Name is ... and I am a TXT Addict

I saw a little Internet squabble a-brewin' and I couldn't help but put my two cents in, obscure though it may be.

Recently, in The American Journal of Psychiatry there was an editorial piece called "Issues for DSM-V: Internet Addiction." I will admit that momentarily I was afraid. I started thinking of the budding carpal tunnel in my left wrist, the appointment to the eye doctor I need to schedule and the semi permanent slouch I've developed. I was like great now I am not only a nerd but I have a mental illness.

The diagnosis "Internet Addict" is defined (in this editorial) as "a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder that involves online and/or offline computer usage and consists of at least three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text messaging. All of the variants share the following four components: 1) excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives, 2) withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the computer is inaccessible, 3) tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use, and 4) negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue."

And this is where the squabble begins. Dr Petra (whose blog I <3 )is quick to take up arms and defend us technophiles and computer nerds. Her response was "My problem with measuring concepts like this are they are often too vague to give us helpful insights into behaviours. For example someone might use a game or email excessively because they have some spare time, or because they’ve just got a new piece of technology, or because they’re involved in a long distance relationship."

Dr Petra seems to be forgetting one important thing - which is in order for something to qualify as a mental illness and thereby make it into the DSM it has to cause significant functional impairment in one's everyday life. This is like someone that drops out of school to play World of Warcraft or gets fired for looking at porn while working or like the editorial mentioned murders someone. Not at all someone who is repeatedly checking e-mail to hear about a new job or a sick relative (Dr Petra's examples)

So, Dr Petra, I love you but I have to disagree. The DSM has had a problematic history demonizing certain sub-groups (re: homosexuality)but in this instance Jerald J. Block, M.D., author of the contentious article does not appear to be doing so. The editorial doesn't seem to point fingers at we endearing little internet trolls that can mange 15 simultaneous chats and a text message but at those whose functionality is harmed by obsessive interaction with tech stuff. Long story short-- I'm not crazy, just a nerd.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

David Pogue shares tech predictions and a song

Jaime and I went to New Orleans for the Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN. Despite the massive delay/flight cancellations/lost baggage things went swimmingly. We were completely sated as far as food and drink and our SexINFO presentation was amazing! We shared the stage with Katrin Verclas of Mobile Active and Ben Rigby of Mobile Voter and had great audience involvement.

Bleery-eyed and bushy-tailed, we saw David Pogue (tech writer for the New York times) perform his hit tune, "iPhone," live on a baby grand for the keynote. Here is the original version that was number one on Youtube for 7 hours. Now that's fame.

For the non-musical part of his talk, We got a dose of future predictions. Want to know what's basically hot, in a baby nutshell?

Beyond Skype/Using the internet for calling: Grandcentral (one number for ALL your numbers), T-Mobile Hotspot (b/c T-mobile doesn't have a landline service, they can undercut the rest).

Saying goodbye to TV as we know it: Hulu (free tv programming from over 50 providers).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Utterz-ly Amazing

One day humans and computers will merge into one beautiful new super life form รก la Battlestar Galactica. But that will undoubtedly end in some cataclysmic hellfire war that will redefine what it means to be truly human. This, thankfully, is still a long way off. Until the end days are upon us, isn't it fun watching technologies merge and reshape how people can communicate? My latest curiosity is a the site, which seems to up the ante on my beloved in the mobile posting game.
With Utterz you can post pictures, video, voice recordings and text straight from your mobile phone all via MMS which means no going online, no clunky cell phone browser and standard text messaging rates. At first glance I was in love because I mistakenly thought I could post my MMS messages straight to my blog/site/social network. I was wrong. Like Twitter you set up a profile page that houses all your Utterz and you can network with other Utter-ers. In order to post your MMS content you have to embed an Utter widget to receive and display your utterz on your personal blog/site/social network.

Check out my Frak montage Utter, I know... I got a little stage fright and couldn't think of anything to say... but the true nerds out there will smile with me.

The direct connection between Utter-ing and sexual health remains to be seen but suddenly there are amazing new vehicles for communication and public and private domains are merging. It is interesting to watch the technologies that will reshape these boundaries.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Little Help From Our Friends

Dear Friends,

We need your support! We have entered our SexINFO project into the NetSquared Mashup Challenge and would love your vote. This could provide us some much-needed development support in growing the project.

Please take a second and vote for us at the NetSquared Mashup Challenge

Note: If you're not a TechSoup member, you'll need to register to vote. Thanks, it means the world to us.

Once logged in, click here for to vote for SexInfo then click "Vote" in upper right corner.

Thanks for your support.

- The ISIS, Inc. team

Friday, March 14, 2008

SMS and Computer Based Sex Ed in Nigeria is a computer based sex ed program for Nigerian youth. The site guides students and teachers through some of the rough puberty topics by offering conversation- starting texts and suggestions for activities. The topics for discussion range from: Body Image, Love/Friendship, Assertiveness and HIV/STIs. I do have to mention that though the site offers fodder for discussion the word condom never appears.

The really interesting portion of this curriculum is the text in feature. I would love to know how it works in a little more detail. But it seems that when students have questions they aren't comfortable asking an adult or in a group setting they can text their issue and receive a personalized response. In the first 2 months the service fielded 10,000 questions. I think it would be great to include the questions and responses on the site so students who didn't know how to frame their questions could learn from their peers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Reuters inSPOT snowball - and that's a good thing

On Valentine's Day Reuters touted inSPOT as another tool in the tool belt for putting the smack on rising syphilis rates in New York City. We agree, it's a sharp tool indeed.

Quick to follow Reuters was the DC culture blog Heybeus who called us inSPOT creators "tech-savvy, crotch burny San Franciscan[s]." And we totally take that as a compliment.

And the snowball gained ground... another wink and a nod from Vermont and our own local wit, SF Weekly.

More buzz = more awareness about STD and HIV notification options = more responsibility taken!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

1 in 4 Teen Girls has an STD

That is 1 in 4 girls here in the US. One in four of the teen girls that we see everyday- hanging out at the mall or walking home from school. These girls have clearly be done a grave disservice. These results come from a new CDC study released today that looked at the "combined national prevalence of common sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls." The numbers are staggering. Apparently, only roughly half the girls participating in the study acknowledged ever having sex. There is clearly some confusion about what sex is and how STDs are spread. In 2005 we see the first raise in teen birth rates in 15 years and now this study shows that we have group of confused and potentially unwell kids. What is to be done? Dare i point the finger at abstinence only education?

Friday, March 7, 2008

tech take-up and the dating curve

For the first two months after my mom upgraded her cell phone she would hang up on me every time I called. It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to me, it was that she couldn't figure out how her new phone worked. I always got an instant call back. Who can really blame her for not wanting to invest any energy into her phone. She can dial, and send me photos of dogs...and that's what's important.

But what happens when 50 and 60 somethings try out a new online dating site? I'm making an assumption here that the internet dating learning curve might be something like the cell phone learning curve for some older adults. It's a new way of communicating that hasn't always existed. Many dating websites are set up to be intuitive and facilitate quick communication via IM, text or internal email. Resorting to a good old fashioned phone call is not usually an option. Does this shake the boomers, or is everyone just adjusting?

Here are a few real life stories from two lovely ladies I know.

Case Study one: relative of friend, "Betty," 50s
Betty meets a nice man on They start to exchange messages about having dinner together and Betty provides her phone number. "Bill" confirms by email that he would love to have dinner and waits for Betty's email about where. Meanwhile, Betty starts cooking dinner, gets all gussied up and waits for a phone call. They never meet.

Case Study two: relative of friend, "Anne," 60s
Anne signs up on eHarmony and learns how to search the profiles. She quickly gets confused by the prescripted stages of communication that eHarmony forces you through. After sending multiple stock messages with no replies, she abandons ship and goes on a date with a neighbor she met while walking her dogs. "How could I communicate anything personal about myself using that thing," she complained.

But there are success stories too, of course.

I regularly orchestrate multi-friend events entirely over text and things work out fine. I even have a friend who has never once talked to her boyfriend on the phone, only via text. But there is a learning curve for figuring out how to communicate on a dating site, via IM or text message (let alone figure out how to send and receive these messages). Are these skills becoming necessary for older single adults?

And this goes for all ages, but it seems that calling your date has become scarier now that you can send a text or email.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Baring it All Online

Deciding when to unlink from a sig. other's blog or when to un-friend them on your various social networks is always a touchy topic. Everyone is guilty of a little internet snooping on a lost love at some point or other. So why not quit with the pretending and let that spurned loved one know exactly whats going on. Post it on your blog, uploaded it to youtube, embed it in every comment box from here to kingdom come. I'm just kidding that is no way to behave... but it was pretty funny when Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel did it: