Got a Minute?

Would you give a minute to make your city better? That’s all that CEOs for Cities, a “civic lab of today’s urban leaders” is asking you to do. Their new Give a Minute program encourages citizens from Chicago (with Memphis, New York and San Jose to come soon) to enter into a public dialogue with their leaders via social media. The initiative asks, “Hey Chicago, what would encourage you to walk, bike and take CTA [Chicago public transit] more often?” Users then submit their ideas to the site directly or via SMS. Responses, on colorful post-its no less, appear on the site to be reviewed by community leaders like the chairman of the Chicago Transit Board.

While some suggestions might not take off (as a Chicago-area native and CTA veteran, I think a Starbucks at every stop might be a bit hard to pull off), there are plenty of reasonable ideas like train-tracking apps for your phone or pricing incentives. For everyone who’s ever thought they had the secret to fixing their morning commute, this is a much more productive outlet than grumbling into your coffee cup.

Let’s Analyze Some Tweets

In exciting news for data geeks like us, Twitter announced this week that they’re testing an analytics product for a possible release later this year. According to Mashable,

“With Twitter Analytics, users will be able to see a plethora of data about their account; for example, information about which tweets are most successful, which tweets caused people to unfollow, and who the most influential users are that reply and retweet their messages.”

As if that wasn’t enough good news, rumors indicate that the product will be free.

Underworld Goes Online

In what is bound to be the most interesting news about the Underworld action movie franchise, filmmakers of the latest edition are searching for their talent somewhere new: online. With this first casting call posted to Face of the Fan, Sony Pictures’ foray into virtual casting calls, potential stars can log in, download selections from the script, and upload their audition videos to the site. Will aspiring actors from the Midwest stop packing up their things and moving to Hollywood now that the casting call is on their laptop? (via Onion AV Club)

Facebook Has a Message For You

As many predicted, Facebook’s big announcement this week was about their messaging and email capabilities. Over the next several months, Facebook will be bringing users a new type of messaging, complete with a facebook.com email address. But Zuckerberg & Co. stressed that this is not email.

“There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.”

It’s going to differ from email, as well, in that Messages will build a conversation history for each person you correspond with, whether it’s by chat, email, or SMS.  And similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature, Facebook Messages will sift through conversations to separate out those that are “more meaningful” (i.e., from your friends and friends-of-friends). Will this be enough for you to move your correspondence into the Facebook system?

Activist Wizards

Photo courtesy of TheHPAlliance.org

With Harry Potter fever going strong this weekend, NPR ran a feature on the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes young people to take action on campaigns like Helping Haiti Heal or Wizard Rock the Vote.

“Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.”

The HPA should serve as a model for any group trying to mobilize young people. They reach out to kids using cultural touchstones that are important to them, in the shape of the pop culture icons that they love, and utilize social media tools to bring them together.  It’s no surprise they’ve been so successful; their campaigns have raised thousands and helped countless numbers of folks in need.

Roundup Flashback

While this isn’t exactly new, it’s new to me, and too fun not to include. Did you know that rapper Coolio has his own YouTube channel? Did you further know that instead of uploading his music videos or clips from his stint on Celebrity Big Brother, this channel features mostly his web show, Cookin’ with Coolio? Neither did I. Enjoy.

(via @bud_caddell)

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