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October 2005
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December 2005

Your Story: Common Story: Connecting People to Each Other: Good Job Environmental Defense

Yes... environmental protection through sharing genuine voice. Lynn in Green Bay, WI is one of the more than 1000 people that shared their experiences of rare and endangered species. This is a campaign content "by the people". This is a nice example of the power of shifting communications strategy outward and moving power to the edge of your network.

Green Bay, WI How can you not be awestruck by the sight of a bald eagle soaring overhead? I had a memorable encounter with a bald eagle 10 years ago when I was canoeing on a river in northern Wisconsin. I was going through a very challenging time in my life (a divorce) and I attended a workshop for science education leadership. One of the activities during the workshop was canoeing. As a colleague and I were canoeing along, a bald eagle flew overhead. I will never forget the quietness of that moment or the connection I felt with nature. We need solitude and the beauty of endangered species in our lives to help us put things in perspective. I hope my grandchildren can have just one experience like this in their lifetime. That won't happen unless we preserve endangered species

Does your work matter to someone? Let them tell you and others why it matters ....

You'll never beat poker robots

PokerBots and the online gaming world have much to teach us. I like the two lessons here about the "fish" that get pulled in by the advertising only to hand over money until they quit. They hand over so much cash that it fuels another advertising purchase to attract new "fish". (sounds like political parties)

Of course, what the huge billboards dotting the country don't tell you is that an astonishing 90 per cent of online players are habitual losers. They're known as 'fish'. These inexperienced players have very little grasp of odds or strategy and might as well bet on raindrops rolling down a window. But the credit card deposits they make are the lifeblood of the new poker boom. They trickle down to the huge TV pots that ultimately draw in shoals of new fish. What is crucial for the boom to continue is that these fish think there's no cheating. In the beginning of online gaming, the big and obvious worry was collusion - groups of supposed strangers in fact conferring by phone. It's impossible to win against such a group, because when you get a strong hand, you don't rake in as much as you should to cover the losses from all your weak hands, since your opponents will work out who among them has the strongest hand and the rest will fold. But the websites stopped this - terrified that their cash cows would falter under this threat, they spent millions creating software to automatically monitor patterns of play and sniff out these collaborators.

I also like to understand more about the way players have cracked the system. First, the more information the "fish" have the quicker the system crashes. Second, the more players talk and collaborate and know when to fold the more the house looses.

In a political sense, networking the movement is a bit of the same game trying to beat the House (and Senate, and Administration). We need channels that enable us to "see" each others hands and pass good cards around.

Online Poker ....Don't Play.


How about a history of activism tour? Or environmental quality tour? Pipes that carry waste water into our rivers (let stickyshadows publish social content ). Let's create some stickyshadows that help tell the story of our work.

StickyShadows are virtual multimedia sticky notes that you create using your mobile phone or this web site. A StickyShadow is made up of media, such as text and a picture, and information about who can see it and when and where it's available.
The best way to learn about StickyShadows is by creating and using them

I hate that you need to register to leave a note but the concept would be great in a wildlife refuge or on a street corner in Atlanta as a history of civil rights and civil disobedience.

Amazon lets people help computers -- and get paid

Link: Amazon lets people help computers -- and get paid.

It used to be that humans told computers what to do. But with the launch of's newest service, called Amazon Mechanical Turk, a computer program will be able to ask humans to perform tasks that it can't do itself. The name Mechanical Turk dates back to 1769, when a Hungarian created a wooden robotlike mannequin that supposedly could play chess -- even defeating chess fanatic Benjamin Franklin in Paris. The Mechanical Turk toured around Europe to the amazement of large crowds and to the suspicion of a great many skeptics who surmised that a chess master was hiding inside. (Edgar Allen Poe even wrote an article detailing how it could be done.) The invisible human element is the idea behind Amazon Mechanical Turk, through which Amazon plans to supply "artificial artificial intelligence" -- connecting programs needing the human touch with humans, who can outperform computers in certain tasks

Network-Centric Services: Amazon Mechanical Turk

This is unbelievable! Amazon just launched a network-centric work service! The last several years we have been pitching the ideas and conceppts behind "packetizing" work of campaigns and advocacy to no reponse in the political and nonprofit sector.

Today, we build complex software applications based on the things computers do well, such as storing and retrieving large amounts of information or rapidly performing calculations. However, humans still significantly outperform the most powerful computers at completing such simple tasks as identifying objects in photographs – something children can do even before they learn to speak.

Amazon Mechanical Turk provides a web services API for computers to integrate Artificial Artificial Intelligence directly into their processing by making requests of humans. Developers use the Amazon Mechanical Turk web services API to submit tasks to the Amazon Mechanical Turk web site, approve completed tasks, and incorporate the answers into their software applications. To the application, the transaction looks very much like any remote procedure call - the application sends the request, and the service returns the results. In reality, a network of humans fuels this Artificial Artificial Intelligence by coming to the web site, searching for and completing tasks, and receiving payment for their work.

Time to rock and roll. the race is on! -- Run. Plot. Save.

This is one of my favorite uses of google maps and collaborative technology. Visitors can click on the map plot off a run, measure it out or share with the community.

I can see these as tools to walk a wildlife refugee, help birders or plot the walk list to help voter turn out.

I'll see you on the trail (please post your run link in the comments) Here are mine.

Rosa Parks: Thank You

I have been thinking a bit about Rosa Parks. I am grateful for all she has done for humanity, my country, my friends and my own life. The contribution of courage and vision has opened a better world for all of us including my family and the life my kids now have. I am thankful for leaders like Rosa.

I am thinking about the conflicting "myths" about Rosa. I am most disturbed at the "simple woman" stories. She was not simple because her job was a stream stress. I don't know why she was a streamstress (maybe it was a way to pay the bills) However, Someone's job does not define their character.

Rosa was brilliant. She was a genius. She was a leader with courage and conviction. She was an activists working for social change. She was a liberal. She was trained in field organizing. She was a fundraiser and she never buried her head in the sand and let "others" solve her problems. She didn't wait for "somebody" (as in somebody will do something about it). She was a great person who got fed up with the jim crow laws and took action. She was not the head of some group or at the top of some civil rights organization but she was a leader and a change maker.

Parks' grass roots activism had prepared her for this moment. She had attended a session the summer before at the Highlander Folk Center, the educational center for workers' rights and racial equality in Tennessee. Several years earlier she had been thrown off a bus by the same bus driver.
There were other black women in Montgomery who were arrested in 1955 for violating the segregated busing policy. But this time, the black community fought back in force. The NAACP had been looking for a test case to challenge segregated busing and Parks agreed to let the group take her case.
Parks lost her job and had trouble finding work in Alabama after her public stance. She and her husband moved to Detroit. For many years she worked as an aide to Congressman John Conyers, and she remained a committed activist. In the 1980s, she worked in the anti-apartheid movement and also opened a career counseling center for black youth in Detroit.

It matters because creating change is hard work. It matters that future generations look to her as a smart, hard working, fearless and steely resolved leader. It matters that we understand leadership comes from lots of places not just within the ranks of some institution. NAACP played a huge role in supporting her but the leadership was hers. They helped defend her but she was the one playing around with strategies to undermine the oppression of her family, friends and community. She was supported by a network of groups, communities, drivers, families and friends. The leadership was hers the success was because of the movement.

The movement she helped build. The movement she knew because of her grassroots work. The network of groups and people that swarmed Montgomery provided everything from legal aid to rides around town. Why does it matter that we look at Rosa the leader. It matters because if you want to inspire a new generation of change makers Rosa's example is much more complex than "get sick and tired" then sit on a bus.

Rosa's story includes awareness, activism, engagement, training and supporting others. She worked to help and support others in many campaigns in 1954 and 1955. Ultimately, she pushed with her own leadership and sacrifice.

Rosa's story is a success in that she inspired others including Dr. King. Her actions catalyzed a network in Montgomery and fueled clarity of purpose out across a grid of civil rights activists and groups. Her struggle created denser ties (providing the rides around town) and better communications grid across the movement (local and nationally). Her action unified resources behind a common story. The civil rights movement emerged leaderful and bossless. Rosa seems to be the self-effacing and quiet leader needed within so many movements today. We need more people to understand Rosa's leadership style and embrace it even if it is more complex than the myth of the simple woman / streamstress.