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November 2004
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January 2005

To-Don't List

Here is a cool project management blog...(one of the areas I need to brush up on in 2005.) the idea of a to-don't list seems like a great way to keep discipline on a campaign or coalition. Reforming Project Management Theory and Practice.

How you spend your time matters far more than what you say when it comes to your staff or project team members. ...Want to produce change? You need to give as much attention to what you choose not to do as you give to what you say is important. Focus.

Put all those other things on your "To-Don't List."

I am also looking for best project planning and management planning tricks,tips, training and books. It is time to take the game up a notch when the administration gives us more new presents like the new forest mismanagement rules.


Fostering Cascading Network Failures Across PR images: Network-Centric Advocacy

When I finally grabbed LINKEd I had highlighted page 120 and started to right in the side bar some notes on "creating" cascading failures of bullshit PR campaigns. The reality is that much of the "image" that reeks stems from the hypocrisy in today's politics and corporate culture.

Things like the "defense of marriage" movement centered in states with high divorce rates and low civil unions. (Massachusetts apparently has a more stable marriage statistics than any state that passed the defense of marriage act) or the "patriotic" party that "loves solider's" the most working aggressively for war not peace. Or the tax reform movement being fueled from poor states that are net recipients of federal tax dollars, or cloths for children designed and produced in child sweatshops over seas, or .....

You get the picture. Can the failure of one chink in the "image" create an opportunity to rip down the larger connected system of bull? Can the large interconnected and dependent nature of Wal-Mart supply chain be a web of ties to unify a fight for fair wages, equal pay for women, stop sprawl or a variety of other issues.

Can we understand the system that creates a cascade failure in teams and social networks and "plan" that chain reaction? Are those that are opposed to cleaning up factory pollution, protecting communities from gun overload or defending the rights and advancement of minorities exploiting the dynamics of cascading failures to fractionalize coalitions?

Link: MeshForum: links - network discussion Archives.

Defending Networks against cascading failure DEFENDING NETWORKS AGAINST CASCADING FAILURE. Just as foresters can often halt a forest fire from burning out of control by deliberately setting firebreaks, it might be possible to reduce the size or spread of outages in a network in the wake of an attack or overload. The Internet and the electrical grid are just two such networks that might benefit from a new model devised by Adilson Motter of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden. Several previous network models have shown how an attack on key nodes of a system can cascade into a catastrophic failure. Motter's model shows how such a failure can be mitigated by shutting down selected peripheral nodes that handle only small amounts of the network's total load. Simulating attacks on networks showed that answering the original attack with several successive rounds of precautionary node shut-down drastically reduced the size of the overall cascade. (Physical Review Letters, upcoming article; motter@mpipks-dresden.mpg.de)

Excerted from a copy of Physics News update (received via another mailing list)
This is of interest to MeshForum participants as it points to the value of theortical research being shared with practitioners, this type of approach, if confirmed, could lead to new advances in management of power grids, TCP/IP


Power grids extend into many other sectors. What are the core nodes in the movement? What are the other nodes that we need to temporarily shut down? If the core node is the party do we need to hibernate single issue groups? Is the core of the movement lots of small grassroots nodes and we need to temporarily shut down big groups?

It is worth further digging.


You are what you buy: Do you buy membership or change? Organizations or Networks?

SethGodin: on Jeff Jarvis.

You are what you buy

Ken Mehlman, Bush campaign manager, reveals the bottom-line marketing strategy that led him to victory. It's the exact same strategy that sells cars: market segmentation.

No, we are not a red v. blue nation. We are Volvo v. Lincoln nation.
"If you drive a Volvo and you do yoga, you are pretty much a Democrat," Mr. Mehlman told an assembly of the nation's Republican governors here. "If you drive a Lincoln or a BMW and you own a gun, you're voting for George Bush." ...
"We did what Visa did," Mr. Mehlman said. "We acquired a lot of consumer data. What magazine do you subscribe to? Do you own a gun? How often do the folks go to church? Where do you send your kids to school? Are you married?
"Based on that, we were able to develop an exact kind of consumer model that corporate America does every day to predict how people vote - not based on where they live but how they live," he said. "That was critically important to our success."


Look at your organization. Look at the foundation, party and strategy you are buying ... Are you supporting the grassroots networks? Are you buying tools for the grassroots? or for the professionals? Are you empowering people or brands? Are the assumptions at the core of your organizing that it is "just to" complicated for grassroots activists.. can the public participate in more ways than giving money?


Maps to Connect the Network: Thinking on the Scale of A Movement or Party This is What We Need

Do you ever feel like the old boy network understands how to wire folks together. Look at the type of projects IBM is taking on....

IW: What does it mean to “do social network analysis” inside an organization?
VK: There was one consultant … [we worked with] who specialized in helping newly placed executives get up to speed. She would work with execs who had just been hired for a high position, C-level or VP, in an organization where they had no experience and no network. To hit the ground running, they needed to understand the organization. We would use InFlow to map it out. These people know this; these people know that; there’s a cluster. And we’d put together a strategic plan.

GK: My last project was with IBM’s On Demand strategy group, a leadership team of 23 men and women who report to the CEO. I had them stand in a circle, I took some black yarn, and I connected the strong links. There were only six. Then I gave everybody three pieces of yarn and said, “Who do you need to connect with next week?” Picture these people exchanging ends of yarn with one another to form a web. Then I got one of the leaders to stand on a chair and look down at that web. “That’s what your team needs to look like,” I said.


The movement is broke. Your job is to"wire" your campaign team.


More than Money: Trust the Movement

Over a fantastic discussion the other day a few of my peers and I started to look at the big trends in the movement and basic assumptions that stand in the way of building support for a more network-centric and bottoms up engineering of resources and strategy. It seems like a painfully obvious place serious investment.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a huge block to taking a network-centric approach to political organizing and capacity building which appears to be centered on views of the "public". The progressive movement is on its heels and has been for a long time.

Environmental groups and foundaitons are part of that larger progressive movement's failure. Like others the environmental wing has turned itself both into a fractured hodgepodge of issue groups and competing brands while also turning into a centralized, top-down system with a bunch of professional campaigners, communicaitons staff, lawyers and fundraisers. Large chunks of small groups never achieve the "scale of" the huge groups but the culture of organizaiton first consulting, fundraisng strategies and development "experts" have indoctrinated even the smaller groups into smaller versions of the centralized approach to advocacy.

A large segment of the professionals have been coached into looking at the grassroots base with disdain "you don't have the intelligence to understand our political strategy". "you're only good at sending money and letting me(the centralized group) tell the story and fight the fight." It is a strained relationship with groups increasingly tired of working with volunteers, training and supporting serogate or explaining itself to others. While individuals are incresingly burnt out by engageing with groups and leaders that show litle respect for their time, contributions or voice.

As a sector the tools, training, membership, media and investment strategy reflect this core assumption. intelligence, content creation, idea ownership, tools, evaluation, grants and membership models target group "ownership" not individual empowerment.

The real heart of resistance to building network-centric infrastructure, building distributed empowerment strategies or shifting power and control to the "edges" of the movement stems from a lack of trust of the base. "They might not do what we want them to" is the basis of the fear that cripples a genuine shift in strategy away from organizaitonal building toward movement building.

I am not really sure how to combat this breakdown other than total revolution but it seems to be the dominate force guiding the "whats next" debate for the movement and the party. The bigger the proposals for forming the "next big group" or centralizing more money and resource spew forth from those that trust people even less (after the recent elections). The assumption feeds the dynamic which serves to futher insolate the thinking and accelerate the alination of the very "outside" circles needed to start to produce different outcomes.

The bigger the push to deploy support tools, skills and people to local communities the higher the general level of trust in the public. Populism is the genuine alternative. Network-centric advocacy strategy would help accelerate the expansion of populist movment and exercise of the populist agenda. We need a strong faith that care, compassion, health care, fairness and environmantal protection will always be part of a populist based movement. We do not have the resources to win progress alone (on the terms our laywers and consultants would like) we must trust people and base our strategy on that trust.


We are all Ants that have arrived at the food pile and it is Gone.

A little story on NPR today caught my attention about the movement and path of ants. I have riffed in the past on agent based models and the impact that the research could have on bottoms up and network-centric advocacy.

I have wanted to find ways to leave "trails" once we find paths to the prize so our allies can help us transport food to those we serve.

The software finds the quickest route among a number of different destinations thanks to so-called "ant colony optimization" (ACO) algorithms, mathematical formulae that mimic the behavior of ants searching for food. Ants deposit a trail of pheromone — chemicals whose smell can inform or influence the behavior of other ants — along the route they travel in search of food. When a food source is found, the ant that discovered it communicates this information to its peers, who then follow that insect's pheromone trail. As more and more ants travel to the food source the pheromone track becomes thicker and thicker, attracting more and more ants, who in turn deposit their own pheromones, and so on. Eventually the ants abandon other avenues of exploration in favor of the one tried and tested route. When confronted with an obstacle on the preferred path, the ants quickly switch to the next most efficient line to the food.


I am interested now because the election stirred the ant hill but and our worker ants went out on the great political plains to create trails from the people to the campaigns. However, after the election we are now "out of food" and the command is to wonder until we find a new "source" of energy to feedback..

Some old ants are going toward the places they looked in the past and some of us must wonder into new fields and across new sites in order to find the next "mother load".


Message Assessment and New Strategy

Here is another smart chunk of work from Spin Project on ways groups should be thinking about strategy and communicaitons efforts in the weeks, months and years ahead.

I have hacked it up and grabbed a few points or notes ... that stick for me but I recommend a read.

Consider the political positioning of your organization: What can we do to stave off four more years of disaster?

* you may need to forget federal action and work the grassroots and statehouses even harder.
* Now is the time for a serious strategy re-assessment.
* progressives may be tempted to go home and forget about politics for a while.
* we have to be strategic and smart starting November 3rd.
* Need to redefine their political positioning.
* How can we position ourselves to see policy victories over the next four years? * And how fast do we need to mobilize to do it?
* Now is the time to retool. Are there issues or campaigns you want to launch in this new environment? This also applies to organizing and messaging.
* Progressive groups need to assess what will the outcome of House or Senate elections mean for your issue.
* Is there potential to educate and develop a champion for your cause? Now is the time to develop relationships with your Representatives.
* Every group will likely see organizational fallout from the elections.
* Odds are strong that memberships and donations will drop, no matter who wins.
* Burnout: Anticipate member and volunteer exhaustion....members may want to regroup, have their holidays and then re-enter the civic arena. Be ready for them. Have campaigns and actions ready for volunteers to take.
* Expect members who have had their hopes raised and dashed by a Kerry defeat not to be eager about volunteering at the grassroots level. (Unless you give them something new to do - after a decent mourning period.)
* Internally, your organization may also need to go through a period of reflection and reinvention.

So in summary....work harder, smarter with less energy and money. Focus on strategy, reinvention and repositioning and please remember there are lots of big fights in the pipleine that are going to turn the political landscape against you.

Not a great forecast. It is defenately time to find new ways to reorganize beyond the organizational level.

Here is another smart chunk of work from Spin Project on ways groups should be thinking about strategy and communications efforts in the weeks, months and years ahead.

I have hacked it up and grabbed a few points or notes ... that stick for me but I recommend a read.

Consider the political positioning of your organization: What can we do to stave off four more years of disaster?

* you may need to forget federal action and work the grassroots and statehouses even harder.
* Now is the time for a serious strategy re-assessment.
* progressives may be tempted to go home and forget about politics for a while.
* we have to be strategic and smart starting November 3rd.
* Need to redefine their political positioning.
* How can we position ourselves to see policy victories over the next four years? * And how fast do we need to mobilize to do it?
* Now is the time to retool. Are there issues or campaigns you want to launch in this new environment? This also applies to organizing and messaging.
* Progressive groups need to assess what will the outcome of House or Senate elections mean for your issue.
* Is there potential to educate and develop a champion for your cause? Now is the time to develop relationships with your Representatives.
* Every group will likely see organizational fallout from the elections.
* Odds are strong that memberships and donations will drop, no matter who wins.
* Burnout: Anticipate member and volunteer exhaustion....members may want to regroup, have their holidays and then re-enter the civic arena. Be ready for them. Have campaigns and actions ready for volunteers to take.
* Expect members who have had their hopes raised and dashed by a Kerry defeat not to be eager about volunteering at the grassroots level. (Unless you give them something new to do - after a decent mourning period.)
* Internally, your organization may also need to go through a period of reflection and reinvention.

So in summary....work harder, smarter with less energy and money. Focus on strategy, reinvention and repositioning and please remember there are lots of big fights in the pipeline that are going to turn the political landscape against you.

Not a great forecast. It is definitely time to find new ways to reorganize beyond the organizational level.


Frogs: IBM: Supply Chains and Network-Centric Advocacy

Somebody is thinking over at IBM... While I have been riffing on the ideas behind network-centric advocacy and the implications for campaigns and issue work it is nice to see big blue adding new language and marketing to the mix.

"Rana clamitans. The common green frog? Or on demand business case study? In a single summer, this three-inch carnivore devours almost 10,000 flies, It’s his opportunity. His seasonal spike. And he jumps on it. Odds are, you could use a little amphibious instinct. That ability to quickly leap out of hibernation and into your high season. Or to adjust to a change in supply or demand. Or customer preference. Or a new trend. Day to day , opportunities change. Needs vary. So should your business. You don't want to pay year-round for resources you need only during the rush. Paying for what you need only when you need it is on demand business. And it goes way beyond IT. It’s about viewing every bit of your cost structure as potentially variable. Potentially more efficient.

The frog knows: When the flies are out, chase flies. When they aren't, don't.

With the business expertise to see possibilities and the IT capabilities to deliver on them, IBM can bring more flexibility to your business, your technology and your culture. On demand business. Get there with on demand people. "

They are nailing it down for business leaders. We can say the same thing for our political movements and advocacy campaigns. When are your seasonal spikes? How do you hibernate your issue infrastructure? How quickly can you leap into action? Can our groups adjust to a change in supply or demand for public policy change, culture or media trends. Needs of your membership and allies change so should your advocacy efforts.

You don’t want to pay year-round for resources you need only during the rush. Paying for what you need only when you need it is on demand business. And it goes way beyond IT. It's about viewing every bit of your cost structure as potentially variable. Potentially more efficient.

Yes. Yes. yes.

Network-centric campaigns and organizing can help groups understand the new possibilities of working with the public in the age of connectivity. Bring more flexibility to your political organizing infrastructure, your staff, your technology and your culture. On demand advocacy.


Digitally Obese? How about Digitally Buff?

The BBC picked up on the concept of digital obese? I am not sure that I agree with the general assumption with the concept... you can be stacked with to much information, memory or data but it is interesting.

Gadget lovers are so hungry for digital data many are carrying the equivalent of 10 trucks full of paper in "weight". Music, images, e-mails, and texts are being hoarded on mobiles, cameras laptops and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), a Toshiba study found.

"Virtual weight" measurements are based on research by California Institute of Technology professor Roy Williams. He calculated physical comparisons for digital data in the mid-1990s. He worked out that one gigabyte (1,073,741,824 bytes) was the equivalent of a pick-up truck filled with paper.

If digital hoarding habits continue on this scale, people could be carrying around a "digitally obese" 20 gigabytes by next year.

"People are looking for more than just phone calls and text messages on the move, they want things like web browsing, e-mailing, music, photos and more."

The amount of data that can be stored has grown by 400% in the last three years, while the cost for every gigabyte has fallen by 80%.

It is also getting easier to transfer files from one device to another, which has traditionally been a slow and problematic area.

According to technology analysts IDC, a fifth of all hard drives produced will be used in consumer electronics by 2007.

Is it worth it to have digital memories. I take lots of shots on my camera phone so I can give my boys a "slide show" of my business travels. My Ipod is one of the noticeable changes in bringing my favorite music back into my life. I enjoy it all. Walking around with a truck of information,memories, art, music and date is a good thing.


Characteristics of Political Opposition that Exacerbate the Power of Controlling Party

I am digging into resistance/opposition literature and history of global political upheaval. Feeling like the liberals might need to learn something from others that have peacefully overthrown entrenched powers (like the GOP just did over the last 12 years to the dems). Lots of interesting wisdom to tease out of all the wacky stuff at RAND.

It looks like the history crowd generally agrees that one of the factors that magnify the ability of the controlling regime are the shortcomings in the makeup, organization, security, and field strength of the opposition attempting to wrestle control from the party in control.

• Opposition elements are often fractured and divided by personal rivalries, making it difficult to mount and sustain coordinated efforts.

• The ethnic, religious, or tribal makeup of an opposition limits its ability to mobilize broad-based support within the country.

• Opposition campaigns (needing to recruit and build base) often cannot maintain sufficient operations security to prevent infiltration by agents, which makes them vulnerable to preemptive action.

• The controlling parties control of the tempo of campaigns and the threat of total attack on one issue front make it difficult for the underdog campaign to accumulate the political prowess and momentum needed to prevail over well-financed and well funded political machine coordinating with government agencies.

The longevity of reigns of political parties and ideologies stems in large part from the strength of their own organizing AND the weaknesses of the opposition.

The development of a political strategies going forward is going to need to recognize and address these strategic Achilles of opposition efforts. We need to unify our political tribes...wetland protection, air groups,civil rights, education, peace, justice reform, labor and women's groups. We are going to need to unseat those that will let their personalities block coordination efforts. We are going to need to share assets, people, and skills at unprecedented levels.


Whipping a Small Digital Camera to 400 FT off the deck.

This is kind of nuts for lots of reasons. However, I am really impressed with the ability of amateur owned small drones to shoot high resolution digital images. Someone should organize these guys into a project like Lighthawk or Southwings. I can definitely imagine the media using these images to expose a story.


Remote Control Aerial Photographers (RCAPA) provides operational safety guidelines, best business practices, networking information and new technology information. Check out
Link: RC Groups Discussion - 2005 Calendar Entries.

This could be a great low cost way to capture landscape effects.


Worms: Darwin: Politics: Social Networks and Network-Centric Advocacy

Here is a fascinating article about Darwin's worms and the perspective that brandless self-moving worms are at the heart of all soil and the enablers of the grassroots.

I am not sure why I am making the jump between Darwin's worms and the concepts of network-centric advocacy strategy but i feel like the "underground" is really the pulse of the health of the movement. To some degree our grassroots thrive on an environment fertilized by the self-organized networks.

OK.. maybe it was just a cool article but I can really hear the professional campaigners dismissing self-organizing networks the same way traditional scientist blew off Darwin's worms.

At the time, people thought Darwin’s estimates grossly inflated and his claims exaggerated. No scientist before him had taken such an interest in the creatures living underfoot. Earthworms were still considered largely a garden pest that damaged plant roots and spoiled clean green lawns with their castings. At best, they were thought to provide some small service by perforating the earth and allowing water to penetrate. At least one reviewer of Darwin’s early papers insisted that worms were too small and weak to carry out the massive movements of soil to which Darwin assigned them. Another critic dryly observed, “In the eyes of most men . . . the earthworm is a mere blind, dumb, senseless, and unpleasantly slimy annelid. Mr. Darwin undertakes to rehabilitate his character, and the earthworm steps forth at once as an intelligent and beneficent personage, a worker of vast geological changes, a planer down of mountainsides . . . a friend of man.”

Yep.. I am hanging out with the political worms. We may seem like blind and dumb senseless networks to the traditional campaign organizers but I know it is these networks that move mountains. We need to stop killing them as pest and start feeding them instead. I am a worm.


Got Rocketfuel? How about a little perchlorate contamination in your milk?

This can't be good. Rocket fuel is showing up in milk, drinking water and vegetables. I have been a bit jittery lately but I thought it was just the election.

The results are startling new evidence that perchlorate, the explosive component of solid rocket fuel, is moving from the hundreds of places where it is known to contaminate water supplies into the nation's food supply. "With these results, it's time for health officials, perchlorate polluters and food producers to stop stalling by saying we need more studies," said Renee Sharp, an EWG senior analyst. "Rocket fuel is in our water, in vegetables, in milk. How much more evidence do we need to take action?" According to the EPA's preliminary risk assessment, currently under review by the National Academy of Sciences, exposure to the chemical should not exceed 1 part per billion (ppb) in drinking water -- the same level adopted by Massachusetts. Health officials in California have set a preliminary safety standard of 6 ppb.

Hmmm. Nothing so sexy as a big mustache of contaminated perchlorate. It does a body good?