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July 2005
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Arctic Promise: We want YOu: You lead the Charge

Thanks to Noah for the tip....

Finally, it looks like some of the more traditional campaigns are dipping their toes into the pool of bottoms up voice and organizing with their online tools.

They may have money, but we have a much more valuable asset: our collective ingenuity, and the ability to inspire thousands of smart, innovative people who know their neighbors and communities.
You're here at this site. You're passionate about the Refuge. And you have a chance to share your thoughts with thousands of people like you, all wondering: what can we do?
Tell us now. You have the floor — and everyone's attention.

Nonprofit Networking: The New Way to Grow

HBS professor Jane Wei-Skillern has been exploring something different: Her research suggests that a more powerful lever to increase a nonprofit's social impact might be to focus on building network relationships like-minded groups—even competitors. Organizations as unique as Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and Women's World Banking (which extends microloans) are deliberately using a network strategy and discovering its potential to serve more people more effectively.
"I'm interested in high performance networks and understanding how those networks were created and are managed," says Wei-Skillern. "A network approach as a deliberate management strategy for nonprofits is still relatively uncommon. Oftentimes an organization might be engaged in a partnership at one point or another, or be a member of an umbrella organization ... but it's not really a network approach that comes into play in the day-to-day operations as a core activity of the mainline business of the nonprofit."

Hey, Hey..Made you Look....Employees switch tasks every three minutes..

This looks like an important study. The consumerism, rapid impulse shopping and age of information overload are shifting attention spans and focus and standard operating procedure of life in the modern office.

Gloria Mark, a UC-Irvine professor, studies attention overload and multitasking. The Seattle Times reports that she's found the average employee switches tasks every three minutes, is interrupted every two minutes, and has a maximum focus stretch of 12 minutes. ....No longer constrained by any virtual limits, we're feeling the effects of this flood of digital assets in our inboxes and news aggregators, on our hard drives and iPods, overloading our very capacity for managing it all. Our 60,000-year-old patterns of information processing simply can't handle such overwhelming excess."

The O Reilly network always seems to find the neat technical focus and mine great studies of emerging technology and use pattterns. The job of network-centric advocacy and new campaign practitioners is to look at these trends and interpret the implications to campaigning and organizing. Is it still realistic to expect "membership and long term engagement with an issue in this new environment? Are you planning new campaigns, strategies and content that take less than 3 minutes and don't involve constant re-touch or interruption of the supporters already crazy work day?

You get 10,000 people for 12 minutes if you are lucky. Design social change campaigns that are increasingly about synchronizing and aggregating lots of brief encounters not campaigns that require endless open ended membership and participation.

Network-centric Parks: 30,000 Advocates Rally in the Connected Age

The online world reflects the onland organizing reality. The best place to find supporters for an issue is to troll social networks. Is this new? Hell NO. Ask any political hack that has a candidate attend a block party, concert, stream clean up or community meeting or funeral (like the old Irish Bosses). Professional trolling of social networks by field organizers is nothing new. However, field organizing is catching up with the reality that these networks are increasingly online.

If you were able to organize at a "event" or organizing table at anyone else's party which would be most effective for your group? Have you trolled the interent looking for those people and trying to engage them in your work?

Parks1 online communications director, Fred Gooltz, taps into communities of New York-based ultimate Frisbee players, sailboat gazers, and cycling enthusiasts, in the hopes of engaging them in parks issues. “Little do they know that parks is an issue that should be of interest to them,” observes Gooltz. Parks1 campaign manager, Justin Krebs, continues that “[Political advocacy] as an outgrowth of a social group"

Horizontal Fusion: A Key Concept for NetCentric Advocacy

This was interesting for lots of reasons... The Power to the Edges paper ....and now the push for the end of stove piped organizations...

The term "Horizontal" refers to reaching across traditionally stove- piped organizations, and "Fusion" refers to the process and applications that allow Net-Centric "melding" of information. Through Net-Centricity, users are able to seek the information they need......Horizontal Fusion is a direct response to the need to operationalize, integrate, and optimize technology and operations to achieve "Power to the Edge" in the new battlespace. Power to the Edge is a key factor in Force Transformation, ....

The main obstacles to Net-Centric transformation in fact are not technology....

DoD Deputy CIO, Priscilla Guthrie, has said, "The idea is to move from...a dissemination-based IT infrastructure a pull-based environment. ... Anyone is both the center and the edge. The idea is that when I need data that someone else has, I should be able to pull that data. I don't have to be in a specific location to do it. I shouldn't have to be required to do it at a specific time. But I should be able to pull the data I need, when I need it. That's what we mean by power to the edge. That's a significant transformation...."

No more portals or brands. In an advocacy sense this is the creative commons release of informaiton content and campaign ideas. Stop building protals start serving the needs of users regarless of membership, staff size, group affiliation. The wisdom here is not new but it should be applied to campaign efforts and foundations. The entire chain of advocacy needs to be designed so that as the casual user wishes to engage in the effort to foster social change the skills, tools, funding fuel and professional insights are available to them. We must stop locing the diesing into the process which fosters new think tanks, hubs and other new brands" to merely become the gateways to power and access and tryely mve the power and funding out along the push pull systems to the end users.

Ring ... Your Eggs Are Calling : In a case of the application to far a New service tracks fertility via SMS.

Now I am feeling a bit old fashion but this seems a bit over the top for even me. Ring=, ring your eggs are calling.

Eggalert: For those just too busy to track fertility on their own, this new text service notifies women of the best times for a baby. Subscribers receive SMS messages including vital baby making info such as the day of their next period, their most fertile period (to increase the odds of conception) and the day they’ll begin ovulating.

If you are that busy are you sure you really want a baby? Speedround: Ideas related to body functions that you want your cell phone to tell you about....


There are actually lots of cool health applications of phone technology from interacting with outpatients to surveying vacince and allergy shots to helping fight obesity.

Have a Few Ads in Your Feeds: Issue Work

So what is your group doing with all these passionate people out there reading blogs on issues? I look forward to the ways that we can plug campaigns into the content feeds of content and data. Not sure it needs to be a big commercial thing but it would be sweet if we could get nonprofits and issue advocacy groups to "bid" on terms to link into feeds.

Feedster partnered with AdBrite to offer a full service solution for selling advertising on your blog including sales, customer service, serving, scheduling, and billing. You’ll get an instant connection to advertisers and benefit from an automated “Ad Marketplace.” It even complements other ad solutions. Simple tools make it easy to publish your blog and now easy-to-use tools will make selling advertising a profitable business for you.

Shadows on the Wall: Reality and Perceptions in Political Organizing

Henri Poole digs into a neat line of thought about the tracking and metrics for social change and issue advocacy groups.

In Plato's 'Allegory of the Cave', he writes of a reality of shadows on the cave wall. IMHO, most of us (especially the campaign managers) are looking at the shadows (figuratively speaking), and measuring them (for example just sampling dollars raised). We have no vocabulary or even consciousness about the objects that cast the shadows. In fact, we're not even asking the questions yet. ...we quickly need to get up to speed on what casts those shadows. We need to stop measuring just "list size" and talk about the "connectors" that create the communities that are now measured and distilled and valued as "lists".

It may be a lot cheaper and more effective to protect the source of the shadow rather than keeping the shadow which has no value. How do we get at the objects and the "light"?

in a related story .....

Are we loosing ground on evolution and science?

Wow. I have really been amazed that the professional environmental, health, science, economics, math and basic academic community are not going nuts on the President's intelligent design push. I really thought that we would just let all the lunacy on evolution end up letting the religious right fall on own swords but the silence from basic 8th grade science teachers is spooky. (The press condeming the President of the United States is REALLY nice.)

Anyway...I am all for finding middle ground and making progress based on sound science and good risk communicaiton strategy but for all my friends in professional "make nice nice groups and agencies", I have one thing to say. Your loosing. Dick Cheney "Big time" loosing.

As many of the huge common-ground groups, non-political education, "conservation", win-win efforts working to greenwash bad corporate images (WAL-MART NFWF DEAL) and funding from big conservative leaning donors peal away from the more poltical and advocacy focused groups the movements voice has been weakened. (See TNC statement on the Presidents position on intelligent design. Of course ... there is none)

Chasing the dollars to design non-contraversial programs, we have taken away the voice of reason and neutered our capacity to speak out. It is so bad that now only the "fringe groups" can step into the fight to defend the march of human knowledge and science.

The "mainstream" groups focus on details of "sound management". No politics just science. Surprise... there is now a carefully crafted campaign and a strategic attack against the idea of sound management and respect for science. You (we) are loosing ground in the fight on the basic concepts of science. Science now fights the industries it created. There is a concentrated effort to discredit science. Science and logic are loosing (see the Luntz memo that is "winning". The culture war is making us defend the very concept of evolution.

What can you do? You say..." I work for an agency. I work for a big company. I work for a nonpolitical group." This is now slipping into a fuzzy area where "intelligent design debate" and the attacks on science and logic are not poltical... they are logical. There is a right and a wrong. This is not poltitics. It is education. If you have one stand up and say so. Don't be neutral on your entire education.

For those of us that remember high school, we need to tell everyone that we see what is going on here. The president is saying 2 + 2 = 5. If you disagree with him you are "being political". It's bullshit. There are no WMD. There is global warming. "Intelligent design" is not a valid theory along side evolution.

The GOP henchmen messing with the truth are wrong and dangerous. Calling them on this is not political but it is the best kind of advocacy. It is not prohibited by any law. All you cowards with high school diplomas better start thinking and speaking outloud or there is a whole lot more problems with this society than the evolution debate.

Speak Up.

Scorecard Ideas? Help.Help Help.

I actually need comments.... In my day job, we are making a pitch to redesign the site to serve a huge swath of the environmental movement. It is an amazingly cool site and assuming ownership of the site could be a great opportunity to put many of the ideas developed here on the blog into action on a high traffic site.

Scorecard is the web's most popular resource for information about pollution problems and toxic chemicals. Find out about the pollution problems in your community and learn who is responsible. See which geographic areas and companies have the worst pollution records. Identify which racial/ethnic and income groups bear more than their share of environmental burdens. Then take action as an informed citizen - you can fax a polluting company, contact your elected representatives, or get involved in your community.

So while I don't have the traffic of any of the larger sites I feel like some of the folks that I know read this blog would be able to offer some great ideas. I will also use the comments area to post some of my own ideas until I can get a more formal ideas tracking system established.

My inspiration for the open call comes from the old Dean list of great ideas of campaign tools. Thanks for your ideas and inputs.

Free Campaign Tool: SimpleVoiceBox

Here is a tool worth playing with for advocacy groups -- A community voicebox.

Ever want to update a group with voice messages on legislation, new actions of the day, etc ? Now several admins in your campaign can "post" messages with joint administration and hundreds of key participants can call in for updates.

Next steps... recording digital messages and sending them via voip or recording mp3 from the simplevoice box.

Please add your riffs below....

Link: SimpleVoiceBox.

The voice box system allows you to record a message about your products or services. Once you are set up, you simply instruct your prospective clients or current customers, associates, etc. to dial into your voice box and enter your passcode to listen to your message. Simple and direct.

Save a Baby from SIDS: Always put infants on thier backs to sleep: The impact of communications efforts on a campaign.

Good message and new messengers save lives in the outreach to African American community. Andy Goodman does a really nice overview of the impact culture, race and messengers can have on the effectivenes of message delivery. The core message... put infant children to sleep on their backs to save them from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) did not change but by playing around with the communications campigns saved lives.

The communications message "Back to Sleep" is nice and catchy slogan but saving your baby from death is a pretty strong motivator especcially if all you need to do is remember to put them on their back. The more direct litature and and campaign carried the message more effectively. Andy really hones in on the messenger aspect which played a role but I think the new campaign just carried the core message more clearly. I would guess finding more effective "channels" to the target audinece was hugely important and the final image and messenger shifts made the materials comfortable to distribute and peaked interest.

started distributing brochures (including the one pictured here) that emphasized “safe sleep for your baby,” a phrase that avoided possible confusion. Images of black mothers, fathers, and infants were
used liberally. African American parents were very receptive to the revised campaign ...

Disparities in death rates between black infants and white infants still exist, but the gap has narrowed. Between 2000 and 2003, the number of black infants dying from SIDS dropped 17%, and the more culturally sensitive outreach conducted by NBCDI and other groups undoubtedly helped.

Andy's letter is always worth the read.

Cross Post on GMT Blog