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March 2005
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May 2005

Wish you Were Here: Phone to Post-Card Ideas for Civic Engagement

Vodafone is launching a very cool service that combines the cellphone with camera and a "postcard" maker.

We need a similar advocacy tool to bridge the technical and non-tech public on advocacy efforts. A new way to "involve a friend" that doesn't need email and that can be generated while people are fired up on an issue.

The advocacy postcard option would need to be set up by a neutral service provider. Campaigns and advocacy organizations could set up a number to send postcards from and pre-generate return mailing slips. The cell phone users could then send a photo, text (provided or SMS generated) and an address of a friend. This would be a new generation of a network that reaches offline with return mailing service.

Step 1. User with a camera photos self at rally, environmental hot spot, etc ...Wish you were here...Please do what you can to help.

Step 2 . Service drops it into a post card with a return signup for next rally/ lobby day/ election/ park clean up/ donation.

Step 3. Self-Organizing Network Grows.

Postcards via MMS: Vodafone D2 and Deutsche Post launch new service

Earth Day Virtual March

On the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans called for a cleaner, healthier environment. Their activism helped secure the Clean Air, Clean Water, and EndangeredSpecies Acts. Now, 35 years later, with the Senate's recent vote to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, that activism is needed to counter a growing threat to all hard-won environmental protections. Join the Virtual March

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.
Join the Virtual March

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. Join the Virtual March

Local politicians are not blame free. Local ordinances are not being passed would have saved millions in energy efficiency investments (as simple as free air pumps at gas stations). 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. Join the Virtual March

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

Data in the Party: Who's On First

There is a really insightful article on the backend strategy failures of the DNC. Building a database is not impossible. 2 million dollars into a messy strategy, a flawed data set and a poor strategy.

Democrats had plenty of opportunity to take advantage of online tools early on in the 2004 cycle. But the Party passed on opportunities that could have helped revolutionize their online efforts. Why? Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe made rebuilding the fundraising base and upgrading the core infrastructure of the DNC his priority. And that left limited funds or energy to seriously consider the other opportunities that were available.

Are they going to same thing about network strategies and the 2006 and 2008 cycle?

Networks are really showing off at Tasteless and Funny: Bush Flags on Dog-Do-Piles

I don't really like this but it is worth capturing. I can only assume that there is noway one person has planted all 2000 flags. It is therefore a distributed art or political speech. A bit over the top but it is german? Anyone on the under - over before it shows up in NYC?

Police in Germany are hunting pranksters who have been sticking miniature flags into piles of dog poo in public parks.

Josef Oettl, parks administrator for Bayreuth, said: "This has been going on for about a year now, and there must be 2,000 to 3,000 piles of excrement that have been claimed during that time."

And then when it continued it was thought to be a protest against President George W. Bush’s campaign for re-election.

But it is still going on and the police say they are completely baffled as to who is to blame.

"We have sent out extra patrols to try to catch whoever is doing this in the act,” said police spokesman Reiner Kuechler. "But frankly, we don’t know what we would do if we caught them red handed."

That's why we want you to call...U2 and Cell Phones

Ahhh a new twist on the rock and roll and civic change. I love this story. I love the power of the teachable movement and the connection of voice to power in hand.

Then Bono told everyone to take out their cell phones.

"During Zoo TV, I used to call the White House," he recalled. "They didn't take my calls then. Now they take my calls. They're getting used to me. That's why we want you to call. We want one million Americans to prove that Africa is also equal in the eyes of God."

Above the stage, a screen displayed instructions to send a text message in support of the ONE campaign, an American-based non-profit organization aimed at fighting global AIDS and extreme poverty.

The evening took a lighter tone with twang-y, rock-infused "Mysterious Ways." Bono's lyrics became literal when he picked out a fan from the front row –- a young woman with a skinny, supermodel physique, wearing skin-tight patent leather pants, spiked devil horns and impossibly high black platform boots. The woman, whom Bono introduced as "Tiffany," looked a lot like Mr. MacPhisto, Bono's alter-ego stage character brought to life during the band's 1993 Zooropa tour.

New Strategic Planning in the Corporate World: Will Nonprofits follow in the next 5 years?

Hype or pain... What is going to drive your group to think about strategy at a higher level? Can you squeeze any more efficiency from the three staff trying to save the Endangered Species Act? How about your one person staff dedicated to fighting the forest service and timber industry?

At one company after another--from Sears to IBM to Hewlett-Packard to Searle, strategy is again a major focus in the quest for higher revenues and profits. With help from a new generation of business strategists, companies are pursuing novel ways to hatch new products, expand existing businesses, and create the markets of tomorrow. Some companies are even recreating full-fledged strategic-planning groups. United Parcel Service expects to spin out a new strategy group from its marketing department, where strategic plans are now hatched. Explains Chairman Kent C. Nelson: ``Because we're making bigger bets on investments in technology, we can't afford to spend a whole lot of money in one direction and then find out five years later it was the wrong direction.''

Thanks Noah...

Portable Bar-Code Scanners :Connected Via Phone to the Internet: Social Data Shopping

A handful of folks were riffing at the board meeting about ways we can turn the data-rich environment on products into a tool for advocacy and social change campaigns. We dreamed about a bar code reader that let consumers scan bar codes in the store and then matched the bar code with the company that made the product delivering a set of social price data back to the consumer at the point of purchase.

...Lights by GE. $6.
...GE data ...owns 86 superfund sites. Fighting the EPA on the clean up of the Hudson river, large military contractor, millions of dollars in lobby expenses.
..Look to Marathon Light bulb to save the planet and money.

All the hardware is coming into line and the data sets of bar code to owner and owner to and EPA would be cake. the hardware could be "rented" to consumers entering the store and a print out of places to shop and alternative online and other goods could be generated to the user after each shopping experience.

Here is the type of hardware..card for the top of a treo that reads bar codes..

Link: >> Products & Reviews >> Software >> Socket OrganizeIT Suite.

News Is.... New site for campaign Strategists worth a visit.

Here is an interesting set of materials by Chris Rose on campaign strategy in the UK. There are some great insights in the few pages I have seen so far. The site is worth a visit.

News in the end is what we think it is and say it is. News is what people talk about - gossip, scandal and events that matter, shock or surprise.

Key factors making something newsworthy are 'news values'. For years I thought these were a set of values in the sense of moral principles but no. They are factors that make a story valuable, ie useful, to news outlets. They develop sales and egos, not ethics.

Frequency: timing and how it fits news schedules and deadlines. 'On this basis' says media researcher Mick Underwood1, 'motorway pile-ups, murders, plane crashes will qualify as they are all of short duration and therefore nearly always fit into the schedule. Such events are also unambiguous, their meaning is quickly arrived at ...' Trends and complex processes are generally ruled out unless they can be told through one-off events such as trade figures: hence the importance of indices like the FTSE500 as a way of covering things deemed important but difficult.

The site is

Death of Environmentalism: Green Group: Lakoff: Fun for the Whole Crazy Family

In a high profile game of "he said, they said" a huge mess of fragile egos are being stepped on all over the place in the environmental movement. In a powerful one-two punch the "Death of Environmentalism" and the "Reframe" papers have called the movement dead or stupid or both. Who is right? ... Who cares?

The cold reality is that environmentalism did not rank high on polls and/or concerns of the people in the election. It hurts. The worse part is much of America (not just old white rich folks) are not making connection between the work of the movement (the big green groups) and the quality of their lives.

The priority busy people give to the environment has dropped from the top of the list to the middle or bottom (clean water, breathable air and safe places to live) environment has been trumped.

Was it the "dead" movement, "dead" leadership or the way that green groups talked about the issue? I don't think it was either.... completely. "Life" has come to become a term that environmentalists avoid! We are not winning any communications fights. The survival of the mega-NGO has become a blood sport (see reactions to questions of authority) and well leadership is what it is.

For all the furry such a statement may make ...and to avoid getting a 10,000 word essay from anybody... I will agree with Carl Pope, we are still missing the mark today.

"environmentalism is falling short because it shares with the rest of the progressive movement a set of increasingly outmoded organizing, advocacy and political approaches. It is strategically disadvantaged when confronted with value based, longer range, and more carefully framed hard-right advocacy. But this is a case for modernizing the left, not for killing environmentalism."

However, the disappointment continues .. "dead and stupid" claims are not having an effect on organizing or communications strategy. (Take a look at these press releases.... look for values, diversity and plain speak... USPIRG,
NRDC, Sierra Club, etc ... it is not fun to look at. Headlines like " Groups Launch Nationwide Effort to Stop Use of Binding Mandatory Arbitration Clauses" really doesn't get frames, new ways of doing business or the reaching out beyond the choir. As opposed to WildAid or other groups that get the idea of connections and values (even the little Biodiversity Project or Forest Ethics). Some groups are getting the connections, communications shift and strategy implications some maybe getting them but they are not showing it.

My rant was inspired by this article from Grist. The failure I am talking about is highlighted in that some green group "sources" don't "get" the value of Lakoff. His value is his place on the pedestal. He is so "hot" that people will get behind his message.

His work is not much better than lots of the stuff I have seen come out of the Biodiversity Project, Russennello and Stuart, M&RSS or Edge Research or a hundred other smart polling and marketing firms.

The power of Lakoff is his "star" attraction and the ability the guru has to unify the message out of a movement. I don't care if we unify behind communications themes generated from a grade school student. Our communication plan is not a forever choice. We can tweak it and refine it as a loose network as we move. The problem the movement has (and the green group) is the ability to move together and deliver force with one punch and one voice. We have no top down leader. It is not any king or queen to be named. We are a loose network. The network needs to spew forth a voice we can loosely jump behind. Lackoff is "hot enough" to unify the grassroots and the professionals. We can work with the language he proposes (in fact I suggest someone ought to just hand him the work of the Biodiversity project or any other communications plan and encourage him to put the Lackoff stamp on it and let the movement rip.)

The last thing we should be doing is ripping him off the mountain top as some of the "sources" in the story do. The key is to get moving in one direction. Push, fight, claw and hug.. adjust as necessary. We must start the process of change and build a new momentum.

This circular firing squad is not getting us anywhere. The GOP is walking around behind the movement and slitting the throat on each groups interest one by one. The "leadership" farts around shooting each other (class actions suits, slice ...worker protection, slice..the protection of parks and preserved lands, slice... women's health, peace and security, slice...endangered species...) It is time to work together and stop shooting our own.

The story in Grist makes me sick.

But the fate of the audacious venture is far from clear. In December, Rockridge submitted to Green Group leaders a draft of the diagnostic phase of the project, which Lakoff was scheduled to discuss at a conference in January. But with little advance warning, Lakoff cancelled his appearance.

"He flaked," said a top-level Green Group participant who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He's in big demand right now, and the project apparently wasn't a priority. He has bigger fish to fry."

We have a problem we can begin to fix today...

I suggest it was the mismanagement of people's interests, their voice and attention that has stalled our progress. Professionals ignored and built personal disdain for the edges of the movement. A communications director actually told me at a party that "they don't want grassroots talking to the media".

The problem (of a disconnected public) can be solved with network-centric approaches. Design campaigns that re-engage people and deliver horsepower to the disconnected activists at the edge of the movement (yes, lots of people live in communities where environment is still important). They may not get fired up about breeding grounds for Caribou on the tundra or sinking islands in the Pacific but they will go to the wall on childhood asthma once they connect it to their lives. They still live in areas next to rivers that have little hope of swimming in during their life times. The power to do all the things that are important comes from the connection to a movement made at a local level. Think Global act local needs to apply to the political strategy of the green groups not just the bumper stickers that come with membership.

What to do? A new Top Ten for the Movement.

1. The people and the grassroots leaders are the heart of change. They are everywhere. The power comes from the ability to connect to each other and swarm on an issue.

2. The grassroots get power from momentum. It is more important to work with momentum than against it. Momentum can be instigated or natural.

3. The ability of the grassroots to get and maintain momentum is directly proportional to the communications and connections with each other (snowball, media cyclones and echo chamber effect) .

4. The ability to swarm together and "heal" breaks or divisions is directly related to the social friendships that are present.

5. Friendships are maintained by connections and catalyzed by common interest or common story. Common interest and common story can be identified and teased out of people. It can be reinforced across a rich set of communications channels.

6. Connections and communications channels can be maintained and supported strategically. The costs of maintaining connections can be reduced.

7. The power of a loose network of people to do things is directly related to ease at which they can acquire access to assets and expertise to guide and support their work.

8. In the long run it is inefficient to "lock" resources away from the grassroots because progress achieved without them will be easily "rolled back" without defense.

9. Everything a "group" can do. A loose network of people can do.

10. Political leadership comes from "command and control" or "quality of leadership and vision" not both. True talent driven leaders should embrace being connected to broader networks with flexible access to resources not fear it. New leaders will quickly emerge in a connected community.

Data Rich Control vs. Network Organizing

There is some really interesting maneuvering going on around the DC these days as various vendors are pitching enhanced voter file data sets.

While most of America is appalled at the amount of private information being filtered and sifted by the political parties the beltway are "hooked" on data. Thankfully, there are some solutions in the works.

S. 116 – Privacy Act of 2005 – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA Latest Update: S. 116 was introduced on Jan. 24 by Sen. Feinstein and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. Summary: S. 116 prohibits the sale and disclosure of personally identifiable information by a commercial entity to a non-affiliated third party unless prescribed procedures for notice and opportunity to restrict such disclosure have been followed. The bill grants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement authority. S. 166 also amends Federal criminal law to prohibit the display, sale, or purchase of social security numbers (SSNs) without the affirmatively expressed consent of the individual. This legislation prohibits the use of SSNs on checks issued for payment by governmental agencies and driver's licenses or motor vehicle registrations. It prohibits a commercial entity from requiring disclosure of an individual's SSN in order to obtain goods or services, and it establishes criminal and civil monetary penalties for misuse of an SSN.

The bill would revolutionize the way we think about data management t in the nonprofit, issue and campaign sectors. We would need to move strategy away from reliance on centralized data management strategy and begin to look at empowering local networks more effectively. Direct mail would be blinded of consumer data and all of us would be able to sleep easier knowing that the political machines are not tracking our every move and violating our privacy.

This bill should pass and I predict something like it will pass when some laptop with 10,000,000 identities shows up stolen and the data gets abused to piss off enough voters to clamor for change. What would this bill do to your strategy? If you can not imagine a world without centralized control of data then your entire operation is must be very centralized and dependent on incredible amount of message control and direct marketing. If you have a product or campaign that perpetuates itself than flying data blind is no big deal.

Wal-Mart Knows the Data Rich Compeditor has the Advantage: Just-in-time Delivery becomes Predictive Planning Tool

Here is a great article about another one of the ways Wal-Mart exploits customer data. It is a classic case of the eventual power that smart supply chain management and just in time delivery becomes a powerful tool for short term planning.

HURRICANE FRANCES was on its way, barreling across the Caribbean, threatening a direct hit on Florida's Atlantic coast. Residents made for higher ground, but far away, in Bentonville, Ark., executives at Wal-Mart Stores decided that the situation offered a great opportunity for one of their newest data-driven weapons, something that the company calls predictive technology.

A week ahead of the storm's landfall, Linda M. Dillman, Wal-Mart's chief information officer, pressed her staff to come up with forecasts based on what had happened when Hurricane Charley struck several weeks earlier. Backed by the trillions of bytes' worth of shopper history that is stored in Wal-Mart's computer network, she felt that the company could "start predicting what's going to happen, instead of waiting for it to happen," as she put it.

The experts mined the data and found that the stores would indeed need certain products - and not just the usual flashlights. "We didn't know in the past that strawberry Pop-Tarts increase in sales, like seven times their normal sales rate, ahead of a hurricane," Ms. Dillman said in a recent interview. "And the pre-hurricane top-selling item was beer."

Pop-Tarts and Beer! That is a storm survival kit if I ever heard of one. Is it different from NorthEast blizzards?

The point is not the pop-tart (which are just wonderful ) the point is how the entire supply chain that can swing new products into place based on a "push" strategy with a very short delivery path can also shift into a supply chain "pulling" the resources it sees it needs and having the data to back it up.

Why does this matter to advocacy groups? We never share data. We need to look at the raw response that works when media cyclones hit. What is successful in building loyalty to causes in the wake of a flood? When do groups need field organizers? When do the communications staff provide the most value? What is the critical window to get policy and political expertise plugged into a hot campaign? What is the right tempo of email to members and supporters when a group is operating int he middle of a major breaking news cycle? Is it OK to ask members to opt-in to a short term event news feed of email? When will the movement share enough data that our suppliers (donors and foundations) will have the confidence to believe they need to move their pop-tarts into our hurricanes?

Pew Profiles the Dean Activists: "Cyber-Soldiers" in the Network-Centric Campain World.

I have riffed before about the new leadership and skills that are going to be required to operate in self-organizing campaigns. I am particularly interested not in comparing these to the general public but to the current leadership in the nonprofit sector both seem to attract the same crowds and both fail because of the lack of diversity and dispersion.

Who are the internet activists ? the people widely known as "Deaniacs" ? who joined the Dean campaign as it slowly grew from asterisk status in early 2003 polls to the frontrunner position at the beginning of 2004? A new Pew survey provides the first detailed look at the cyber-soldiers of this pioneering campaign. An internet survey with a random sample of 11,568 activists drawn from the online database of those who had contributed money or otherwise worked on behalf of Gov. Dean provides insight into who they are, why they joined, how they reacted to Dean's loss and President Bush's reelection, and what they think about the future of the Democratic Party

Add this to the read list. I also think that the "cutting edge" drove some of these dynamics. As tools and methods for self-organizing lower the barriers to participation the higher thresholds for educational and time to commit will also come down eventually increasing diversity of participants.

Anton Van Leeuwenhoek - Biography of Anton Van Leeuwenhoek: Germs Microscopes and Networks for Advocacy

I have been using germs as a key indicator of what I mean about the leaps in "seeing" does to strategy. I have been talking about the impact microscopes had on germ theory and germ strategy.

"Geronimo Fracastorio (an Italian poet and physician, 1483 - 1553) of Verona, published a work (De Contagionibus et Contagiosis Morbis, et eorum Curatione) in Venice in 1546 which contained the first statement of the true nature of contagion, infection, or disease organisms, and of the modes of transmission of infectious disease. He divided diseases into those which infect by immediate contact, through intermediate agents, and at a distance through the air. Organisms which cause disease, called seminaria contagionum,... These particles, too small to be seen, were capable of reproduction in appropriate media, and became pathogenic through the action of animal heat. Thus Fracastorio, in the middle of the sixteenth century, gave us an outline of morbid processes in terms of microbiology."

Hundred and a handful of years later along comes Anton van Leeuwenhoek of Holland (1632-1723)
the father of microscopy. Anton works tiny lenses to great curvature. He was the first to see and describe bacteria, yeast plants, the teeming life in a drop of water, and the circulation of blood corpuscles in capillaries.

It takes 200 (1860's) years before Pasteur 'discovered' germ theory connecting the visualization of the germ with the theory and then working with the two together designing strategies to contain germs.

On top of that, it takes another dozen years before science accepted the lessons learned from Pasteur (and his recommendations to boil instruments) to start sterilizing operating room environments. (1897 Johnson & Johnson pioneers suture sterilization.)

* 1546 "Knew" Germs Existed
* 1660s Could See Germs in Microscope
* 1860S See the Germs and design Strategies based on new vision
* 1900s Wide spread adaption of Germ treatments

In some ways, we are in the same space today. We have known all along that networks are powerful. Old Boy networks, political family networks, alumni networks. etc. Networks deliver power to those participating. However, 1980's Valdis Krebs and others started to pioneer modern social network mapping giving us the opportunity to "see" the networks for the first time. We could start to map and measuring the responses over time.

We are just now at the point where we can begin to design network strategies and watch campaigns and issue work take advantage of the network treatments the theorists tell us will work. Any help from the science geeks that read this might be helpful in fluching out this story.

Fix the Ipod: Environmentalists Mouth Off to Steve Jobs: Campaign Voices 206-203-4948: Campaign Voices Mp3 style

Here is a very cool campaign and an opportunity to mouth off to Steve Jobs.

4.5 million of these pocket-sized music boxes have been sold, each weighing a slender 6 ounces while packing up to 5,000 songs.But while Apple declares that they are “committed to reducing the environmental impact of the work [they] do and the products [they] create” the iPod is not designed to have its toxin-laden battery replaced or removed. Apple can live up to their environmental commitment by making all iPod’s green.

LEss CD package ...Yahoo.... More Toxic battery ...booo

The really nice part of the campaign beside an excellent designed site is the connecting and republishing member voices. (listen to the messages from disappointed Ipod owners in the little Ipod on the site. )

Send a message to Steve Jobs and make Apple live up to its environmental commitments. Leave a message for him by calling 206-203-4948