Celebrating National Day via Social Technologies

August 9th, 2010   •   no comments   

NDP 2010 Preview Pics!
Courtesy of NDPeeps (on flickr)

As we celebrate our 45th year of independence across the island in many different ways, I thought it’d be interesting to see how this is being done in the digital dimension. Gauging from the amount of national day related posts, Facebook updates, tagged photographs, videos and other User Generated Content (UGC), we are certainly not lacking in patriotic spirit here!

A good place to start would be the official National Day Parade 2010 (NDP 2010) website, which looks like it is a website, UGC aggregator, and social media portal all rolled into one. I was immediately wowed by the clickable mosaic of different citizen-generated content on the home page, which brings you to short posts complete with photographs of what Singaporeans and residents feel about our national birthday.
If you look further at the left column of the website, you would notice the sections which brings you to the different highlights of the national celebration:
Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag

To capitalise on the theme of “Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag”, an entire section of the NDP website has been carved out for theme-oriented posts. They range from the launch video, the 6,000 car flags you see waving on the roads, to the winning schools of a “Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag” contest.

At the NDPeeps section, you can see links to a whole series of social media channels where fellow citizens can contribute content tagged with National Day tags (#ndpeeps) – Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, and Twitter.

There is even a link to a social media network for kids and their educators called Little Lives which I believe is linked to a National Education (NE) effort.

Throughout the NDPeeps website, one can also see lots of blogger contributions like this one here, describing their various experiences while participating in the multiple facets of the celebration. Its fascinating to read some of them, while others are just, well, there.

As I trawled through the NDP website, I discovered a total of not 1 or 5 or even 10 but 23 different contests that you can participate in! While I seriously don’t think that everybody will participate in all of them (unless you are a serial contestant), it does show how many companies, organisations and institutions are willing to invest in our nation’s birthday.

But wait there’s more.

If you’re unable to make it to a television set or the actual parade, you can tune in to the live webcast (via XinMSN) to catch the action online. This year’s event is held on the Padang with the City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings (home of the future National Art Gallery Singapore) as backdrop. Many would agree that this is the highlight of the celebrations.

Perhaps the icing on the cake would be the introduction of augmented reality for NDP. Labelled as NDP OnTheGo, there are two handphone applications for Android and iPhone users (pity I am neither!) which allows you to enjoy specific points of interest “live” on your mobile device. Using your inbuilt phone camera, you can pan the various points of interests and find out little trivia and facts about them!

Overall, I must commend the NDP Organising Committee for pulling out all the social media stops. They’re leveraging on the entire suite of social networking platforms and mobile applications, augmented by UGC, to get the word out there. With more than 31,000 fans on Facebook, it looks like there is good traction. I also noticed how its online campaign complements offline outdoor advertising efforts to get a central message of “Live Our Dreams Fly Our Flag” across.

It may be better, however, if there were fewer areas of focus. The current multi-pronged “everything-also-have” portal does seem a little overwhelming with its wide array of features. Having just one, two or three key highlights may help to draw more people into the central narrative, especially if we’re talking about augmented reality and transmedia storytelling. This does require a fair amount of creative scripting/directing and development of appropriate interactive interfaces though.

Another idea is to perhaps highlight just one or two citizen-generated stories revolving around the central theme “Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag” and to give them prime of place. There is a wealth of content here, and it would be great if the most heartfelt/tear jerking stories of patriotism could be featured, perhaps on a rotating basis.

Of course it is probably easier said than done. After all, the committee needs to satisfy the diverse needs and wants of numerous stakeholders. I think they are doing a fantastic job thus far, and we digital denizens should thank them wholeheartedly as fellow Singaporeans and residents of this beautiful city.

Happy 45th Birthday Singapore! May 2010 be a great one for all of us here in the Lion City.

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