Weekend reading: poopy cats, flat hunting and blame

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The 9 Circles of Hell of Flat-Hunting in Cape Town. We went through the flat-hunting process in Johannesburg earlier this year. It’s enough to make me want to buy a house. I never want to move again.

The Mystery of Elderly Animal Matriarchs. Did you know that there are only two species that go through menopause? Humans and orcas.

Brené Brown on Blame. My mum sent me this. Why do we blame people and what does it do to our relationships?

Who needs Creme Eggs when you can make your own Creem Eggs? I am tempted to make these but the cost of buying 800g of good quality chocolate puts me off.

Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon.  Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor for The New Yorker magazine, explains what makes cartoons funny and why.

Rescued from the flames. Read about the small team working to rehabilitate wild animals injured by the Cape Town fires.

A Day at Poopy Cat Office. This is pretty much my dream office environment.

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No Student Hungry Campaign: online advocacy

The No Student Hungry Campaign is a programme that has been started at the University of the Free State. It provides desperately hungry students with one meal per day at campus.

They have just released a great video as part of their online advocacy. The video is short, simple and very touching. Its success is in part due to the sensitive and endearing actor. His quick and enthusiastic answers to the general knowledge questions create the perfect contrast to his silence following the last question: “Where is your next meal going to come from?”

It is a great improvement on their previous video which is on their website and I can’t embed! At over four minutes it is too long and does pack the same punch as the short, simple narrative of their new video.

MEOW! What can online activist learn from cat videos on Youtube?

I love cat videos. They are my go-to choice on Youtube. My usual search terms are “cats doing cute things“, “talking cats” and “sleeping kittens“. I am easy to please.

While cat videos may seem like a guilty pleasure to some they actually hold the key to successful online advocacy. Who would’ve thought?

Jessica Mason of YouTube for Good asks: one, why are cat videos so popular on Youtube; and two, what can nonprofits learn from them? What would happen if social good organisations could create advocacy videos that have the same appeal as Simon’s Cat?

Simon’s Cat is the most popular cat on Youtube. His channel has over 1 million subscribers and his videos have been watched more than 300 million times. But the prize for top cat in 2011 went to ‘Cat mom hugs baby kitten’ with over 40 million views.

There must be something then that cat videos do right. Something that makes them go viral and attract millions of viewers. If nonprofits could do what cat videos do they could share their messages with many more people. What can we learn from cat videos when we think about making advocacy videos?

Jessica explains that most of these videos use animation, little language, humour and beautiful story telling to convey their messages. It is this simple formula that make videos about cats, animals and babies do well. All of these videos make boundaries, languages and cultural barriers irrelevant.

Drawing from the success of cat videos she suggests three tips for online advocacy videos.

  1. Tell universal stories
  2. Engage regularly
  3. Be surprising, orginal and action packed

The only other tip I would suggest is: keep it short! You have a fleeting moment to get a person’s attention before they click away.

You can watch her full presentation online.

The National Development Plan Does You Tube

I have watched the NDP’s videos on YouTube and apart from their impressive graphics I think they represent a fresh new way that government is engaging with the South African people. The graphics are both compassionate as well as informative – leaving the viewer with an understanding that words alone cannot achieve. The pictures depict the reality of most South African’s lives today, as well as the scale of the problems which need to be overcome.

However, you have to ask yourself who these videos are being watched by. You have to assume that the viewers have a computer with an internet connection or at very least a cell phone (I shudder at the thought of the data charges after watching the videos – nearly 17 min!). They also are in English – are there any plans to release them in any of our other 10 official languages. If seems as though the NDP is talking about Thandi but failing to talk to her.

We need this information disseminated across South Africa. We need it to flow on radios, TV’s and newspapers in the all the languages that South Africans speak. English-speaking, broad-band-using South Africans have now heard the message – the rest are waiting.