March 2011 Mobile Portland

Last night I attended the Mobile Portland meeting held the fourth Monday of each month. This particular meeting was entitled “Mobile as a Platform for Change”.

Originally, I think the topic was to be solely about the new website that was developed by Uncorked Studios (great name!), and presented by Marcelino Alvarez. The website was developed to help track the recent increases of radiation being spewed into the air by the mostly destroyed Fukushima daiichi nuclear plant after the March 11th, 2011 9.0 earthquake in Northern Japan.

Later, Renny Gleeson, Global Digital Strategies Director at Wieden+Kennedy, as added to the lineup, talking about another aspect of mobile for change from his perspective of working with some of the largest consumer companies in the world.

Both had interesting topics and presentation, but honestly, Renny’s impressed upon me the most. Although, it seems a majority of his talk centered around Coca-cola (ah, refreshing) than any of the other brands. But, aside from this mono-corporate viewpoint, his talk was really interesting and thought provoking.

Did you know you can power a cell phone using a coca-cola for 5 hours? It is a bio-battery, and a concept prototype was created by Daizi Zheng. Perhaps the best use of that sugar-water. Although it begs the question, can a cell phone develop diabetes?

Nokia cell phone being powered by Coca-Cola.

Daizi Zheng's concept phone


In Africa, a doctor wanted to figure a way to keep vaccines from spoiling from lack of refrigeration while transporting them to other towns. He noticed that every day, a Coca-Cola truck came to make deliveries. These trucks were large refrigerators on wheels, and kept a consistent and timely distribution schedule. After much persuasion, he figured a way to piggy-back onto these transports by developing boxes that fit in the empty spaces between the bottle necks in the crates. ColaLife was born. That was thinking inside the box!


2 billion servings of Coca-cola are consumed a day! Aside from the obvious threat to our health of drinking that much sugar water, the possibilities of spreading messages of good and hope on those containers are limitless.

The take-away messages was that social change and social good can come from large corporations, if only they can be convinced to harness the power of their established networks and incredible amounts of available cash (many with more money than the GDP of a lot of countries). However, more often than not, as demonstrated by the first two points, the ideas of change come from the outside, and rarely from the inside.

Why am I discussing Coca-cola in a blog about mobile software and my company?

Because, another number was tossed out.

5 Billion.

That is the number of mobile devices in active use. Much like a simple drink can change lives (and not necessarily by actually drinking it), the mobile phone also is providing amazing opportunities for social change, and not just a way to call someone or check your Twitter feed. It is already becoming a game changer in many of the Northern Africa countries, allowing the people to report the truth, and hopefully drive democratic reforms in those otherwise totalitarian nations.

Something to think about. After all, that’s what going to Mobile Portland is all about.

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