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High Oil Prices and Your Advocacy Efforts

Oil has hit a new high so I thought I would recycle and reuse content form the past to see if we can't kick start some more noise about the dependancy on oil and the complete lack of vision of leaders to leverage the opportunity to create change.

Gas prices will be high for at least the next few weeks. It is going to pinch the economy and famlies again. The media will dutifly jump all over the issue. Bad air days, and Presidential politics are shaping up a media cyclone on energy. Get ready for another whirlwind of attention around energy issues.

This is a great time for a network-centric response from the movement. No one was pitching foundations and donors on a high gas price campaign two months ago. If you care about hurting policy makers that in federal office this is a good issue to jump on.

What does this mean to advocacy groups?
1. There will be new calls for all the wrong things (open reserves, pop open the Arctic Refuge, decrease environmental regulation and... tax breaks for the rich).
2. Other issues will fall lower on the priority (attention) scale for a moment.
3. Opportunity to engage new people for a few weeks.
4. There is going to be interest in the groups that have ties to the issue.
5. The media will need people to comment on story angles and debate energy issues.

What should you do?

* Develop your talking points.
This administration has continually demonstrated favoritism toward the oil industry over the concerns of ordinary people...opposing efficiency standards, creating Hummer Tax breaks, gutting clean air, green space and environmental protection. It is no surprise that higher gas prices pump millions of dollars of new revenue into the Texas oil economy. It is no surprise that our over dependance on energy continue to degrade quality of life. Feeding this economy more gas to solve an energy crisis is like feeding a pig more food to solve a weight problem. ......High painful gas prices are not merely a market trend it is a reflection of years of bad policy on fuel standards, energy efficiency requirements, sprawl and failure to seriously invest in renewable energy. It is a reflection of a hostile foriegn policy. People need mass transit (cut and opposed by lawmakers), need clean air that comes with better efficiency engines, need work and housing that are close to each other, they need recreational opportunities and green spaces that close at hand rather than far away.

....... Local politicians are not blame free. Local ordinances were defeated that would have saved millions in energy efficiency investments. The localities purchased SUVs and gas guzzler vehicles rather than hybrids. Today, people can do something to get the economy moving in the right direction, the sustainable direction. Towns can pass....

...Stop sending our family recreation money to Texas oil companies. Stop sending hard earned dollars to the Middle East. Pass laws that reduce our energy consumption.

* Advocacy Groups Must Get Ready...Move Resources
Move staff, tools and budget into the energy,climate, air, green space and program areas of your operations. Stop working on that report that you think was going to make big news (unless it is about gas) and table it until after this news cycle runs the course. Focus your web, email newsletters and press efforts on the energy "hook".

Develop at least 1 page on your site that talks about the policy that you worked on that would have helped improve energy efficiency. Develop a "high gas price email appeal" include the impact that high gas prices will have on your activities (travel costs, clean ups, organizing, etc.) You need more money because gas is more expensive (the appeal will not only drive home the point that high gas prices are sucking the budget out of schools, police, cities and nonprofit groups but out of their personal budgets and it may raise you some cash!)

* Prepare for Success
If you normally work alone on mass transit issues, energy issues or sustainability and efficiency issues you may have the opportunity to work with and organize many new volunteers (Most will only stick around while prices hurt so be prepared to do something constructive with them - have them meet at a local coffee shop to develop ten story angles and ten things anyone can take to save Gas. ) ...have volunteers check air pressure at gas stations and pass out literature...guide people as they check their own oil pressure...boycott the most expensive stations...offer people walking escorts to and from local mass transit...encourage folks to trade in SUV's for better cars.

Rally Your Speakers
Organize a cooffe discussion of talking points around energy issues. Bring a video recorder and practice interviewing each other. Jump on the talk radio and hammer the point home. Have talk radio parties at a local bar and use cell phones to jam a show about gas price issue.


Work the opportunity .
High gas prices hurt. They effect everyone. This is a bad issue for policy makers that have cozied up to the energy industry. The movement can loose ground or gain ground during this cycle. Loan your talents and expertise to the groups that can make best use of you for the next few weeks.


The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Bush and Kerry Camps Trade Blows Over Gasoline Prices

All told, prices have risen 43 cents per gallon since January 1," they said in the letter. "In addition, small businesses and commercial drivers are struggling to keep up with the cost of diesel fuel, and the cumulative impact of these price increases has fueled inflationary growth and hurt our economy."


Not that this was unpredictable...we will now hear the energy industry attempt to "turn" the high gas prices (which increases profits to oil companies) into a "NEED" for an energy bill which also increases profits and perks for the oil industry.

The White House has gleefully jumped into industry corner yesterday. I love that McCullen admits they have been trying to use every opportunity to pass the bill for thier energy buddies.....When gas prices were low we tried to pop open the Artic Refuge, when there was a blackout (caused by no regulation, voluntary standards and human error in an energy compant) we tried to pass the bill, when there was a war, when we got into office........now, gas prices are soaking American economy ...again, we propose to give perks to our friends in the energy industry....see a trend?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, the President believes, like Americans do, the gas prices are too high. That's why we need a comprehensive energy plan, to address this problem that continues to come up every year. I think we've gone through this every year from this podium during this administration.

... It was a comprehensive plan. It would also modernize our electricity grid. And this was an important plan.

Get ready, the energy industry really wants the energy bill to pass and they are going to ramp up the fight in the weeks ahead to punch it through Congress.

Advocacy Strategy for the Gas Crisis


Honk. Honk. Traffic Jams of Progressive Advocacy

I was really enjoying reading "Wisdom of Crowds". One of the things that really has my imagination is the discussion of traffic jams. I never considered the evolution of the traffic jam but it is really interesting that a traffic jam can stay in place and move very little even though there is nothing "holding" traffic. The traffic jam can sit in place for hours with tens of thousands of cars moving thru it slowly only to find open road at the end.

The traffic jam can be caused by something as little as one or two cars hitting the breaks and starting a chain reaction of lane changes, new breaks, lane changes, more breaks and then the only lanes moving bottleneck to a single lane. All the traffic moves slowly back and forth with changing cars, aggressive drivers and everyone moving at different speeds. Eventually, the jam starts to stick and hold based on the larger reality that traffic coming into a jam (moving > 65) is always going faster then the traffic leaving a jam (more likely to be slowly speeding up or leaving at speed limit).

Do we have a progressive traffic jam? We have lots of idealistic and wonderful ideas speeding into a pipeline where the process for pushing along all the good ideas is a mess. Is there anything we can learn about moving an agenda from clearing up traffic jams?

Honk. Honk.


Wisdom of Crowds

There is lots of fun food for thought in the new book "Wisdom of Crowds". It is a wonderful and thought provoking book sure to be unpopular by consultants and experts because it cries out against the silver bullet leader thinker. The basic idea is that crowds are smart and under the right conditions the crowd will always make better choices than the expert. The challenge is to set up a system (designed by individuals ) to harvest the wisdom of the crowd.

Think Bushin30seconds.com vs. Presidential campaign ads....

There are lots of really interesting examples of crowd problem solving and also dysfunctional systems that create market bubbles. It is a quick read and it inspired lots of ideas. I'll rant on a few of them tomorrow.


Campaigns Short Technology Investments

USA Today reports on a new study about a shift in political advertising spending. The study projects a 123% increase in total ad spending. TV and radio stations still attract the bulk of election ad and marketing dollars, but cable and satellite companies will pass newspapers for the third-largest slice of this year's gigantic campaign spending pie. The Internet will see 0.9% of political spending, up from 0.1% in 2000. That beats billboards, which will drop to 0.7% from 1.1%.

Hmmm..10% market share of readers and users (comparable to radio). The biggest chunk of activists and the highest fundraising and volunteer potential gets .9% of the funding. Am I the only one that thinks that there is a disconnect between strategy and reality?


Spontaneous Protest

This is an interesting site link via smartmobs on the outbreak of protest in Spain.

The March demonstrations in Spain were coordinated with SMS, chats, and blogs. Alvaro Aldura points to the 13m site, saying in his email that it "...is a web site dedicated to [the March demonstrations], and in general to any social demonstrations, boycotts, and protests, specially those that were spontaneous (for example, Barcelonas tramways strike in 1951, the first against Franco?s dictatorship). There are links to other pages with lots of info about 3-13 (13m in spanish), with videos, audio files, etc."

Here is the Google Translation Page


Actually it is Brain Surgery: Networks in Your Head and Movement

Ouch. I read this intro five times before I start to see the connections between output and advocacy capacity. I am not sure I am getting it all correct but the general idea is that the authors are applying measures of network health to analysis of the brain (multi-species) activity. The key variables that they find may effect output include:

Adjacency: " neighboring neurons tend to have similar functionalities, implying spatial correlation of neuronal activity along the cortical surface. Such an organization also accounts for a certain degree of redundancy."

Accessibility:"Neural operation involves intensive exchange of information along time and space. In order that decisions can be taken timely, it is important that neurons enrolled in cooperative processing have effective access to information in any of the enrolled cells. Information accessibility can be quantified in terms of time or distance... High accessibility demands more connections between neurons, with the highest possible degree being achieved when each cell is directly connected to every other cell. In other words, connectivity tends to favor accessibility."

Parallelism: "As neuronal cells are relatively slow processing units, real-time cortical operation requires parallel and distributed processing. It is important to observe that some parallel processing paradigms, such as vector processing and pipelining, do not necessarily lead to intense combinatorial connections between all involved modules."

Broadcasting:" Another important mechanism possibly underlying information transmission is broadcasting. Unlike point-to-point intercommunication, broadcasting is characterizing by the fact that the same information is sent to several other neurons. Broadcasting can be particularly useful for neural modulation and control. While wide broadcasting can take place along time, short term action demands high levels of neuronal connections."

The idea being for that our groups need to process opportunity to pass legislation or move an agenda much the same way a brain needs to solve a problem. The easier our movement can reproduce the dynamics of Adjacency ( all groups that work on a similar policy or regional political trend to attack the same problem to develop a solution providing redundancy in the processing of opportunities), Accessibility ( all groups can open intensive exchange of information along time and space. In order that decisions can be taken timely, it is important that all organizations enrolled in cooperative processing (policy making) have effective access to information in any of the enrolled groups involved), Parallelism ( all groups attack the same opportunities and problems at similar times so they can process choices together rather than sequentially) and Broadcasting ( ability to send the same information across the entire network needed to coordinate response and work flow) the more effective we will be as a movement.

Unfortunately, it seems like we have the ability to attack the problem at the same time but fail to have access to the same information or coordinate response. I am sure there is more cool nuggets of network analysis in these papers but I would enjoy kicking this one around a bit.

The present work reports on how recent results from complex network formalism can be used to quantify and model the effect of topographical connections between neuronal cells over a number of relevant network properties such as connectivity, adjacency, and information broadcasting. While the topographical mapping between two cortical modules are achieved by connecting nearest cells from each module, three kinds of network models are adopted for implementing intracortical connections (ICC), including random, preferential-attachment, and short-range networks. It is shown that, though spatially uniform and simple, topographical connections between modules can lead to major changes in the network properties, fostering more effective intercommunication between the involved neuronal cells and modules. The possible implications of such effects on cortical operation are discussed.

So what:

The main implications for cortical function and organization of the Finding reported in the current work are discussed in the following. First, it is clear that topographical connections, even at moderate levels, can affect the properties of the involved modules. Indeed, the addition of a few short length connections between the two topographically organized modules can considerably enhance the accessibility between any two nodes in the resulting structure, reducing the shortest path between pairs of neurons, with the consequent improvement of time accessibility. Such enhancements imply that information can be exchanged and broadcasted more effectively between the neurons of the resulting topographically connected network than in the cortical modules taken isolated.

Study connections to evaluate the output capacity of complex systems. Invest in connections among nodes and the entire processing map changes and the output increases. Anyone looking for a strategy to network your campaign?


Are We Learning the Right Lessons?

I have been very puzzled by the mix of lessons being teased from conservation work in PNW. This new post from Paul Brainerd seems to add more confusion to the overview perspective on the ways to attack the failures of the broader movement to move an agenda.

We asked Bradshaw a couple of simple questions: if the majority of the public embraces environmental values, why aren't environmental groups getting more traction in state legislatures? How can the environmental movement become more effective in persuading lawmakers to enact stronger policies? Bradshaw points to four things environmentalists should do:
1) Focus on a limited number of shared priorities
2) Build stronger personal relationships with legislators
3) Be more bipartisan
4) Be more flexible in dealing with legislative outcomes

Bradshaw is an old school organizer and an a respected advocacy strategists. His advise is good and his cycle of accountability is clear and straightforward. He has an impressive list of clients. Bradshaws recommendations seem to stem from a long history of organizing big groups to develop long term strategies to pressure change on an issue. The problem is that giving Bradshaw and these particular strategies credit for the success in Washington and Oregon may be a mistake.

There were many things happening in the PNW over the last five years that are much more important to the success and failure of the movement rather than these four "should dos". Bradshaw's strategies (without the broader changes in the network) may actually lead the movement toward more failure and fragmentation when taken as a primary subscription for strategy rather than creating the change all of us are aiming to achieve.

As an alternative set of lessons, I would suggest the success in PNW is that the community there has built considerable network cohesion and joint capacity to create social change which results in the flexibility to create shared priorities, build stronger relationships, increase trust across traditional lines and be flexible with outcomes (core of Bradshaw's suggestions). I would suggest that targeting network capacity is the essential challenge not some four point "should do" strategy.

In the last four years, Resource Media has built out the movements message capacity, OneNW has built dense communication ties, Grist has established a common communications channel, GMT, Groundspring and Action Studio have built out communications tools, funders have invested in joint projects (shared lobbyists) and capacity building and groups have come to share member lists and strategies on moving agendas. Most Importantly, the field staff in the PNW have come to be a tighter social unit than any other region. The people genuinely seem to trust and like each other as people and there seems to be the least amount of self-destructive competitive pressure within the local state and regional groups. Additionally, the movement has under gone huge tests ranging from the WTO protest and tough economic times to new common assaults by the current administration on everything holy. There are few leaders of groups in the PNW that seem unwilling to down play the brand for the success of the cause. (WORC and Resource Media have been doing amazing things with alternative spokes people.)

Paul Brainerd has funded it all. I am very hesitant to challenge his overview but it is essential that we tease the right lessons from our successes. Other funders and those that read about the progress in the PNW need to realize that the true answers to moving an agenda are not to be easily gained through bipartisanship, funnelling money into Republican contract lobbyists, and being more flexible in our trade offs. Our success will not come from a strategy from the top but in the connection of our movement together in new ways to powerfully swarm opportunities to move the agenda and to quickly disengage from failing campaigns.

The keys to success in a network model consist of sensing opportunity, creating trusted awareness of the information about that opportunity, assembling the resources to exploit the opportunity and synchronizing efforts to do so. Each component of that challenge have been aided by the trust and cohesion of the participants on the ground aided by the dense ties of communications and resources that can be deployed across issues in the PNW both on election day and throughout the year.


Warning Signs: Groupthink Befalls Your Leadership and Funders

It is just worth posting and thinking about in the context of foundations, philanthropy and campaign planning. The "symptoms" or "warning signs" of a group think outbreak are:

Having an illusion of invulnerability
Rationalizing poor decisions
Believing in the group's morality
Sharing stereotypes which guide the decision
Exercising direct pressure on others
Not expressing your true feelings
Maintaining an illusion of unanimity
Using mindguards to protect the group from negative information

Most the circle of campaign planners and funding think thanks seem to exhibit a high degree of these symptoms. There is a strong set of these beliefs around the current set of leadership focused on organizing political power. Membership is flat (has been for years), there are warning signs all over the place that younger generations are not interested in "joiner" benefits and work on many issue areas have stalled. Sure, some new groups have done amazing things in new ways and created new connections among the field but they haven't succeed in ...GOTV, voter mobilization? The only rational thing to do is to fund more of the same and invest in traditional organizing.

Advocacy is about speaking truth to power. How many folks walk in your office and let you know what they really think of your work? How many reporters really hear that coverage of complex environmental issues are total failure? Or that your last campaign didn't really change anything? If you are not hearing it and changing your behavior and strategy based on those comments be very afraid.


Dangers of GroupThink

The Wisdom of Crowds is a really wonderful book about the ways to aggregate human intelligence and insight. It is also interesting because it looks at bubbles and spin that might be associated with "groupthink" where the thinkers don't have the chance to operate independently.

I actually saw an interview with Rummy in Chicago where the old robot actually whipped off some comments against the ideas being pushed in the 9/11 commission. He correctly attacked the "one czar" model. He is thinking the right way about the problem. (We can get into the problems that are created when you have VP and talking points prompting group think and the total failure of the world intelligence community to listen to Hans Blix and other UN Inspectors that thought there was no reason to go to war but that is another rant. )

Anyway, here is the Washington Post fessing up to group think problems.

An internal Washington Post review found that, before the invasion of Iraq, "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?" - in the words of the paper's Pentagon correspondent. Managing editor Bob Woodward said "groupthink" compromised coverage of weapons of mass destruction charges, but "we had no alternative sources of information."

In an information age, it is hard to assume that the key information is "hidden" but more likely to assume that it is our filters that are blocking it out.

Are you and your staff guilty of group think? Do you foster and empower a diversity opinions and tactics? Do you encourage your circles of friends and connections to "speak truth to power"? Do you diversify the thinking in your circles to encourage your own team to speak truth to the power of the group? The power of the boss? The power of funders?


This is just nuts! The Real Economic value of Online Game Currency

I am getting officially wierded out by this concept. Here is a great article about a virtual game world market slipping into real world economic dollars. I am not sure what the hell this has to do with advocacy but there is a lot of weird ideas about what happens when online reputation starts to have real world value. Starting with the obvious idea that someone should set up a virtual fundraising department to the more complex ideas that there could be a new business model for advocacy campaigns out there this article is really just nuts.

Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Things got even more interesting when Castronova learned about the "player auctions." EverQuest players would sometimes tire of the game, and decide to sell off their characters orvirtual possessions at an on-line auction site such as eBay. When Castronova checked the auction sites, he saw that a Belt of the Great Turtle or a Robe of Primordial Waters might fetch forty dollars; powerful characters would go for several hundred or more. And sometimes people would sell off 500,000-fold bags of platinum pieces for as much as $1,000.

As Castronova stared at the auction listings, he recognized with a shock what he was looking at. It was a form of currency trading. Each item had a value in virtual "platinum pieces"; when it was sold on eBay, someone was paying cold hard American cash for it. That meant the platinum piece was worth something in real currency. EverQuest's economy actually had real-world value.

Nuts. Nuts. Nuts. I Love it. I can see the online donation buttons now (cash or items from your virtual world).


The Size of a Forest Fire Doesn't Depend on the Size of the Spark Which Created It

I have never questioned the idea that network-centric advocacy seems to have the potential to transform the landscape of civic participation or advocacy efforts but I now have language that explains why." The size of the fire has nothing to do with the size of the spark."

Tom Munnecke's rant on the "The Ratings made me do it" contains a few brilliant gems on identifying the features of a self-feeding system and the quote worth remembering.

So, in my emerging handbook for social transformation, Tom's Rules of Engaging Windmills, I'm looking for a network-based model, something that could start small, have the right values, and have its growth aligned with its values. If indeed such conditions are met, and they occur in the appropriate "excitable medium," then the transformation will occur on its own accord, not through high level meetings between power players.

The size of a forest fire doesn't depend on the size of the spark which created it. Similarly, the success of an idea ...depends on being the right idea in the right environment. .... We just need the right idea, and the right values. And a way of discovering the ones that are working.

These ideas are also delving into notions of what I call an attractor network, rather than a promotion network. The success of a node in a network is based on the attention it attracts, rather than the attention it promotes to itself.

This also relates to the notion of trustraising instead of fundraising, which would allow nodes in the network to thrive by becoming more trustworthy elements - doing what they say they want to do.

Growing a network based on trustworthy attractors rather fundworthy promotors has some very interesting dynamics:

It could inherently stimulate greater diversity. This might answer the riddle why theater owners build 23 screen multiplexes, but only show a very few movies at a time.
The network would amplify the values it uses to grow itself. If positive, this would be creating a virtuous circle.

With greater communications bandwidth capacity, then we might find new forms of competition, not always funneling down into "winner take all" promoted nodes....

The current context for creating change and developing a network-centric advocacy movement is the network of people, I know. It is my network. I am sure that I interact with enough key participants to build the momentum around an idea. I am also sure that there is plenty of "fuel" in the environment new peer and like minded liberal activists that are frustrated with the tempo, pace and failing success rate of moving an agenda. The network of friends, board members and peers working on advocacy are creating the intellectual and trust relationships into a virtuous circle reinforcing our moves to network the movement.


Stop Looking At Structures: Workflow is a Better Tool for Designing Change

Congress and the White House are at work on an organizational chart for intelligence operations that will put the right resources in the most effective places. Some analysts say looking at structure may be misguided, and what's more important is improving communication and information flow. NPR's Larry Abramson reports.

This news story on NPR caught my attention because of the ways it talks reshaping complex systems, (in the story context they are talking about the network of intelligence community (national, international, state and local intelligence collection efforts ..CIA to the local Sheriff). In many ways the progressive and environmental movement are struggling with the same questions.

The story by Larry Abramson possibly opened up some new places to mine for insights into “turning around the progressive movement”. The article looks at the recommendations from the 9-11 commissions and tries to find if there is anything “new” there. “If your tired of hearing about how government needs to share information, you are not the only one. Information sharing is really only another way to say communications.” It has become a new maxim that government needs to share information to win the war on terror."

Bruce Schneier (uber-hacker “Secrets and Lies” book) says the current focus on big organizational chart is all wrong. Bruce suggests it is much more important to look at the workflow and data flow. (We have a few years of data and now we can measure change. Is data moving where it needs to be?) This is really solid view that in the new networked world organizations and hierarchies should matter less and specific changes in the resources and information that flows throughout the network is what matters. (This is a ripe area for thinking about the silos of niche interest groups workin in an information vacuum...How many of the millions of dollars in polling done by the environmental movement do you have access to? What about the cross -tab data and the analysis of polling done by ACT or DNC?)

Larry also interviews an organizational psychologists, Kathleen Sedciff (?) who starts to slam on the big picture turn around language and encourages planners to focus on outcomes not on organizations. Kathleen states an obvious (but useful) observation that it is essential to develop solutions to short term problems to develop interim milestones. Otherwise, everyone knows that things should be different but no body knows what they are supposed to be doing. (What are your staff supposed to be doing to share information with people in other progressive groups? )

The final person interviewed is Lee Clark (Mission Improbable – added to my read list)) who suggested that the big organizations don’t encourage creative thinking and that the very largess of the organization leads to group think, norms, stagnation and complacency. Lee suggests that it is essential to look at failures and points out that it is possible with attention to learning opportunities that large organizations can evolve and shift. Lee points to the air traffic control system as a complex but dedicated to a process of learning.



Volunteer Scuba Divers Needed to Donate Images of Marine Decline: MarinePhotobank Requesting your Dive Shots

scuba_diverPlease forward or post this information on blogs, websites and email lists.

The conservation community dedicated to saving the world's oceans needs images to help them tell their story. Only a small percent of folks get the opportunity to jump in a hang out with the fish and coral at depth. While you are kissing the regulator please don't just take images of the pretty stuff ( yes I am sure the 400 images are a big hit slide show when you come home) However, the conservation community needs you to do a little work to help document and explain what is going on underwater to a huge population of non-divers.

Now, you can help (and justify the upgrade to that fancy underwater digital camera)

Look at the image banks.

Add Your Photos

There are hundreds of groups from around the world that need to tell the story of ways our oceans are threatened. Please take a few minutes on your dive, a few shots from your digital camera, and a few minutes to upload your photos to help protect these amazing resources.

Look at the images link : http://gallery.marinephotobank.org/objects/view.acs?object_id=761

Add a Photo Link: http://gallery.marinephotobank.org/photodb/0-photo-add.tcl?gallery_id=761


TxtMobbing the Protesters at the Conventions

Here is an interesting release on the technology used by some of the protest in Boston.

PROTESTORS AT DNC RELIED ON NEW TXT MESSAGING SERVICE; BIG PLANS FOR RNC IN AUGUST

Protestors at last week's Democratic National Convention had a new tool in
their arsenal - a text messaging service designed just for them. "TXTMob,"
as the service is called, allows users to quickly and easily broadcast
text messages to groups of cellphones. The system works much like an
electronic b-board: users subscribe to various lists, and receive messages
directly on their phones.

During the DNC, protest organizers used TXTMob to provide activists with
up-to-the minute information about police movements and direct actions.
Medical and legal support groups also used TXTMob to dispatch personnel
and resources as the situation demanded. According to TXTMob developer
John Henry, over 200 protestors used the service during the DNC.

"Obviously, we would have loved to announce TXTMob before the convention
began, but were concerned that the police might try to block our
communications," said Henry. "Frankly, it's a little ridiculous that we
have to go to such lengths to help people exercise their first amendment
rights , but I guess these are the times we live in."

TXTMob was produced by the Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA), an art
and engineering collective that develops technologies for political
dissent. The IAA worked closely with the Black Tea Society, an ad-hoc
coalition that organized much of the protest activity during the DNC, to
design the system. According to a Black Tea member who chose to remain
anonymous, "TXTMob was great! When the cops tried to arrest one of our
people, we were able to get hundreds of folks to the scene within
minutes."

IAA spokespersons refused to comment directly on future plans for the
service, saying only that they are now working with activists in
preparation for the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York
City. "We're making several improvements based on our experience in
Boston," said Henry. "New York is going to be off the hook!"

The current implementation of TXTMob is available for public use at
www.txtmob.com.



Designing Landing Pages for Internet Ads

The MarketingSherpa.com has kicked out an interesting article on converting a landing (from an Internet Ad) to a successful action. These are solid lessons for advocates and should be considered if you are paying for ads OR if you are viral marketing, email marketing or sending a request for action in a newsletter.

Your online ad dollars work harder when you focus beyond just getting a click to crafting what the campaign landing page (or microsite) clickers see next. But often, the budget is so tight that the bulk of time and money is spent creating the ad, and the landing page is an afterthought -- if it's even considered part of the creative process at all. If your landing page is disorganized and not compelling, says Michael Grover, Director of Marketing for CMP Media TechWeb, you lose conversions. Here are Grover's top 5 tips on making landing pages work harder.

I have actually seen this play out in many advocacy campaigns. So please consider these recommendations carefully.

1. Start your campaign efforts by designing the landing page "Maybe you say, 'Hey, here's a landing page that's going to convert well,' then you build the ad out from there,'" Grover says.. The landing page its the "final product" if you drive a million folks to your page but you can not convert them what have you accomplished?

2. Create specific landing pages for each ad or target audience. If you are kicking out a newsletter or sending out a press release or emailing all the people that showed up at a particular event make sure your landing page is tailored to meet their values and surfing behavior. Conversions are higher when landing pages are tied to specific ads, and they should follow through on the creative expressed in the ad.

3. Focus, Focus and Focus....Make sure that the landing page is simple and direct. "One of the things I know I've fallen victim to before is, While we've got them on this page, why don't we promote this other thing, too?". Investor information, press releases, support, other products, and various links from your home page template -- none of those have a place on the landing page. "They're all very irrelevant to what you're trying to get the person to do right then and there," The main and most visible link should be the one that gets viewers to do the action you want them to do. Grover suggests having a subtle link to your home page for people who want more information. Use the logo as the link for more information and the thanks you page for really showing off all your links.

4. Keep it live... <em>Grover recently sent out a direct email campaign to get registrants for a Webcast. "Within 24 hours I'd get 90% of the
people" he was going to get, he says. But the other 10% straggled in for weeks. "It just happened that those pages were still live weeks after I considered the campaign over," he says. "I'm sort of curious how they stumbled over it in their inboxes."


The article is worth a read.

I really like these landing pages ...Renew Assault Weapons Ban, or the Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships.


Alex's Lemonade Stand..

Thoughts go out to the Scott family. They have lost a wonderful little girl. She was 8.

Alexandra "Alex" Scott is the 8 year old founder of Alex's Lemonade Stand For Pediatric Cancer Research. Two days before her first birthday she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer. Since that time Alex has continually fought her cancer, with doctors and researchers still trying to achieve a cure. At the age of four, Alex decided to do something to make that cure more likely. She opened her first lemonade stand in July of 2000 with the idea of donating the proceeds to "her hospital." Each year since, Alex has held an annual lemonade stand in her front yard. As word has spread, donations have poured in from around the world, and she has raised over $700,000 for pediatric cancer. Thank you for supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand!.

Alex Scott passed away peacefully, at home, on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 1, 2004, with her parents holding her hand. In her eight short years, she accomplished what The Philadelphia Inquirer called "a lifetime of good." Though she did not live to see her goal of raising $1,000,000 for pediatric cancer research completed, her work and her guiding spirit will continue to inspire others battling neuroblastoma and desperately seeking a cure for this tragic disease.

Help the family see her goals realized. Go drop a few bucks at the Lemonade Stand.