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Email Design Guidelines: Think About Image Filters in Email

Say it again... Design your email campaign to work without images! It is worth hammering this home as I see more and more groups moving away from the all text versions of newsletters. AND more emails coming from campaigns starting off with lots of links to images and clicks. (i would do some screen scrapes but you all know what I mean.

As more folks filter email in the mobile devise the problem is going to get even worse.

Link: Blogs For .Orgs: Email Design Guidelines.

Lots of organizations are interested in email newsletters and fund-raising. What many people don't know is that most email programs are set by default to filter graphics from email. MIT Advertising Lab points to this article from Campaign Monitor with tips on how to design around how most people receive and read email. The first guideline is to "Design for images being turned off," and the reason for that is because "anyone using AOL, Gmail, Outlook 2003, Outlook Express and the latest versions of many ISPs email software will never see images in any emails you send them by default."

Anecdote: Intervention design Archives

This is an interesting clip of interventions aimed at increasing "network health". Here they talk about simple name plates. Rob Cross talks about the value of "baseball cards" (face photo and background information. This look interesting because the consultant creates a process to develop the network building programs with people from the network. It would be interesting to test out work sessions that center around the 9 reasons people connect with the design sessions.

Link: Anecdote: Intervention design Archives.

Projects designed to improve things typically start by describing the desired result (behaviours, performance measures, work systems) closely followed by depicting the current situation. The change team then works out the steps to close the gap. This approach assumes things don’t change from the time you start and the time you finish AND you can predict what will happen when you start the change process. Sometimes this is true. There are plenty of companies who use the above approach. We have an alternative. Imagine if you could engage your staff in designing small interventions that they could implement themselves without a massive corporate programme. The biggest challenge in helping people design interventions is to get them to think small. Here’s one example to illustrate what I mean. This company practices hot-desking and they noticed there were very few conversations among people while they were at their desks. Staff morale was also low. On a typical day people would grab a seat automatically allocated to them resulting in many people siting next to strangers. The intervention involved providing each employee with a name plate (most interventions I’ve seen come with the exclamation, ‘no kidding!’) they could slide into their cubicle. The simple idea was that if people knew who they were sitting next to they might introduce themselves.%2

Network Building as a Community Development Streategy: Carefully Building Networks

Here is an interesting map of a city bound (Richmond, VA) network of key people. They are drawn as connected via the key organizations in the city (is this fair?). Just beacuse people belong to the same organizaiton are they connected is there a relationship?

However, I like the riff on connectedness that brings up the importance of "groups" in creating connections. It looks like we should get the article referenced here.

The author does a careful analysis of just how many relationships typically from from "circles" (group membership) versus "sociability" (introductions through others) and finds 59% arise through circles.

Social Captial Value in the Age of Peak Oil

There are a few things that I disagree with in this post including the general idea that Putnam was right. He was measuring the wrong things for today's culture (People are more connected (see the Pew study on Internet) . However, I think there is something interesting going on with the analysis and discussion of the future value of social capital and how the relative value of social capital increases under social stress.

Social stress (global warming, pandemic, peak oil) destroys economic value (de stabilizes the dollar) and burns up social capital (more stress and tension) at low level problems (day to day stress ) but in a crisis new leaders and new social capital is created. We are not alone in a crisis. Earthquakes, 911 and Katrina showed how millions of Americans could pitch in to help each other increasing dormant civic participation, volunteering and donations.

We are social creatures. It is our basic evolutionary survival instinct to work together when threatened as a group.

I like the thread and discussion.

Link: The Oil Drum: New York City | Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil.

I am now near the end of my reading of Robert Putnam's seminal work on Social Capital, Bowling Alone. Social Capital is one of those very hard to define subjects, but my interpretation is that it measures the level of trust, connectedness and mutual reciprocity in society. This is important for a wide range of issues from child rearing to economic development to how individuals (or communities) respond to a crisis situations. Social Capital could be the defining characteristic of communities that pull together in the face of high oil prices versus those that tear themselves apart in the ultimate tragedy of the commons. Looking at a map of the US you can start to understand why North Dakota and Vermont, despite their cold winters may be better places to live than Mississippi or Alabama. And this is only state level averages - each state will have within them communities that are stronger than others. And each community will have individuals that have more social capital than others because of their level of civic involvement. Those individuals and those communities will be one of our greatest assets as peak oil forces us out of our private cocoons - McMansions and SUVs - run on high levels of energy consumption and forces us to live in more shared living spaces, carp

Power to the Edges: Trends and Opportunities in Online Civic Engagement (FLASHBACK)

I put lots of energy into this paper (so did the rest of the writers). I don't think we kicked it around enough as a community. I did not do it on the blog but I am going to revisit a few pages. The link to the full paper is at the bottom but I am going to grab some chunks of it to put out here on the blog....

The age of connectivity is changing the landscape of commerce, manufacturing and society, restructuring the way individuals, companies and nonprofits interact with each other and with their communities:
1. Large numbers of people can be mobilized within hours—even minutes—to donate, volunteer, protest, call Congress, boycott—all at little or no cost.
2. Individuals are by-passing the work of established parties and organizations with their self-generated campaigns.
3. Individuals, groups and organizations are generating their own news without the benefit of mainstream media.

Traditional ways of doing business are coming to an end. For those concerned with building an active citizenry, these changes need to be understood and harnessed.

The December 2004 tsunami that hit the communities encircling the Indian Ocean may well be remembered not only for the size of the tragedy, but for the way the entire continuum of Internet and other communications tools were used in response: blogs coordinated help and communicated news; online contributions were raised in unprecedented amounts; cell phones and text messaging allowed citizen journalists to provide moment-by-moment reporting.

Three parallel tracks of Internet usage—nonprofit, commercial and individual—inform the future direction of civic engagement.

To date, nonprofit use has focused primarily on supporting or improving existing organizational practices (online brochures, email action alerts, “donate now” links), with a small number of organizations beginning to change how they think about and implement the Internet to engage their constituents.
In the commercial sector, Internet use has evolved from supporting traditional business practices to the creation of entirely new business models (just-in-time inventory, engaging the customer as product/service designer).

Individuals are increasingly connected, doing so at high speeds, and deriving satisfaction and a sense of community from their time online, reading their news online, joining online support groups, communicating with policymakers.

The convergence of these separate tracks was particularly evident during the 2003-2004 U.S. presidential campaign season, during which time we saw significant changes both in how organizations engage citizens and how citizens themselves engage in public policy. Online organizing can reach more people with greater frequency and gives people the opportunity to shape their engagement in real and meaningful ways.

While the tools for online engagement may be changing at lightning speed, the outcomes of online engagement do not differ significantly from those of more traditional efforts: individuals donate money and time to worthy causes, people register to vote and show up at the polls, policymakers listen and legislation is passed. Online engagement does not preclude, exclude or even dilute the need for “on land” (or offline) engagement. The key to understanding online civic engagement is not to focus on the latest tool or the latest tactic, but to recognize that engaging people and organizations in this new environment requires new ways of thinking and new organizational models.

Four aspects of civic engagement in particular have been most affected by recent online developments:

While civic engagement campaigns have traditionally been designed, initiated and carried out by organizations, today, loose networks of individuals can accomplish campaign objectives and deliver intense bursts of power either in partnership with or completely independent of organizations.
The traditional model of “broadcast” communications for civic engagement is being replaced—or at least augmented—by narrowcasting and citizen-as-newsmaker, which can that both broaden and deepen a campaign’s reach.

The Internet allows for a level of field operation management never possible before, with online tools to coordinate phone banking and neighborhood canvassing, to mobilize local citizens, to assess campaign impact.

The traditional “rule of thirds” that has dominated campaign fundraising has been flipped on its head due to the increasing willingness of individuals to make online transactions plus the significantly lower transaction costs of online giving.

The increasingly connected nature of society and the increased pace for social engagement are overwhelming traditional models for planning, funding and channeling public interest. New models require a different set of benchmarks, skills and training—changes that have very little to do with technology or the Internet and everything to do with building entirely new organizational cultures. Specifically, four areas of institutional-based civic engagement demand attention:

1. Design a connectivity culture that integrates technology and Internet communications with the sociology of engaging human beings.

2. Be nimble and quick to respond to current news and events, tying organizational issues to the often fleeting passion of the public.

3. Push power to the edges, actively encouraging and supporting citizens to help design and carry out their own organizing, and taking what they learn and improving the campaign with their suggestions.

4. Build network-centric leadership that establishes and supports “connectors,” invests in social capital, and develops new mechanisms for feedback and evaluation.

We are at a turning point in how Americans participate in civic discourse, where the barriers to full participation are lowered and the potential for powerful participation increased. While the last many years have focused on training individuals and building organizational capacity in specific areas, now is the time to “wire” these investments together while supporting new training, leadership and planning skills. The future of civic engagement belongs to communities and organizations that effectively align online and offline policy, strategy and campaign efforts with the passion and power of individuals.

About the Report:

Power to the Edges: Trends in Online Civic Engagement, commissioned by PACE-Philanthropy for Active Citizen Engagement ( and published by PACE and The E-Volve Foundation, provides an overview of the state of online civic engagement—what it is, where it is headed, and what it means for engagement efforts and those who support them. The preparation of this report included a review of relevant literature, monitoring of current online discussions on related topics, and in-depth interviews with leaders in the fields of online technologies, nonprofit capacity building, citizen engagement and social networks. This study is no ultimate guide, but a snapshot in time that serves as a jumping off point for further discussions about how these tools and the culture of online civic engagement can be further developed and scaled for broader, deeper and more lasting citizen action. Readers are invited to read the full report and participate in this ongoing dialogue at


Report authors: Jillaine Smith, Martin Kearns, and Allison Fine
Research assistant: Aaron S. Pava
Advisors and contributing editors: Jed Miller, Henri Poole, Dan Robinson

Seeking Stories about MobileActive Campaigns!

Mobileactive_ad Help. I am wokring on a project with our team at MobileActive to find examples and case studies of activists that make use of mobile phones in campaigns and organizing.

We're trying to track down campaigns using mobile phones for awareness building, voter registration, civic participation, event mobilization, fundraising and more. We are interested in learning about campaigns in any part of the world. As many of you know, we are currently tracking already many campaigns here and on our list.

Our goal is to compile an up-to-date set of "strategy memos" that showcase past successes and encourage new campaigns to use mobile phones as part of their civil society efforts.

Resources like these:
1. Stategy Guide to Using Mobile Phones in Civic Campaigns
2. GutterTech Guide to SMS: How To Employ a Zero to Low-Cost Trans-national SMS Strategy
3. Primer on Bulk SMS Messaging
4. Security Guide for Mobile Activists: Checklist and Tips

If you are involved in or are aware of any campaigns using mobile phones, please send us a note to info [at] mobileactive [dot] org and we will be in touch with you to learn more.

The MobileActive Strategy Memos are supported by the Surdna Foundation. MobileActive thanks Surdna and Vince Stehle for their support of this project.

We can always use help to continue the work so also please let us know if you can be helpful.

Information Awareness Across the Movement: Future Ticker on Key sites

I have talked with a few folks about the power of informational awareness across a coalition and network of groups. However, there is consistently a push back that it can not happen.

Please meet Richard Rogers a guru on the ways information moves thru issue networks. Richard showed me this project years ago and it has been stuck in my mind ever sense I first played with it.

Richard's tool indexes the websites of groups as they publish information to show the rise and fall of issues. I want to apply the tools and logic farther back in the food chain to discussion boards, listserves and internal planning pages of the coalitions so that loosely tied groups can have dashboards collecting response and feedback across lots of sites not just their own.

Richards approach to data, shifts in data and the amount of information online (culture change) are opening up new network-centric strategies that we must explore if we want to find new places to harness the power of our distributed movement.

Link: | The Web Issue Index.

The Web Issue Index of Civil Society may be likened to a consumer price index. A consumer price index watches price fluctuations in a stable set of goods for indications of inflation. The Web Issue Index watches the campaigning behaviour of stable sets of non-governmental organisations for indications of attention to social issues.

There is one source basket and it is comprised of those organisations that participated in the European Social Forum, Paris, France, November 2003. "Old Europe," a remark made by the U.S. Secretary of Defense in reference to those countries that did not cooperate with U.S. military policy in Iraq, also may be thought of as a collection of issues. The Old Europe Web Issue Index of Civil Society is such a collection.

The Web Issue Index ticker has three layers. Each layer wades deeper into the civil society issues, provided by the actor set. The top layer consists of the most significant issues according to the actor set, the middle layer the actors' most significant sub-issues per issue, and the bottom layer the actors' most significant URL per sub-issue. Significance for the issues and sub-issues is measured by frequency of mentionings in the actors' issue lists. For the bottom layer, the URLs, significance is measured by frequency of mentions and linking to the URL by the actors. These methodological guidelines are followed in a manual,

NPR : Political Puzzler: Bush Gets Fewer Repeat Donors

The value of long time supporters may not be what you think. I have been focusing a bit on the value of the casual connector to campaigns and the value of "johnny come lately" . The E-Advocacy Study pushed me to think about the churn on our email list and then this donor study knocked me off my feet...

What percent of Bush 2000 donors do you think the GOP was able to convert to donors to the campaign in 2004?

a. 95%
b. 85%
c. 75%
d. 50%
e. None of the above.

Remember these are known donors and supporters. That have been identified and targeted for years. This is the "gold" list from Bush 2000.

What percent of donors on the Democratic side from 2000 donated to any political candidate in 2004? (As if the Gore and Bradley campaign staffs had handed the list of donors to the field of democratic challengers including the Kerry campaign in 2004. )

a. 95%
b. 85%
c. 75%
d. 50%
e. None of the above.

I was in a meeting today and this quote form a meeting with Michael Malbin came up. And I died.

Bush was only able to convert 30% and the Democrats only able to convert 25% from the Gore list (to ANY 2004 runner).

We are not thinking of donors and casual connectors the right ways. As a movement on both sides we are spending much too much time pushing at old targets rather than always reaching out and seeking new names and new participants.

I would like to really see the big donor churn for the advocacy movement and issue campaigns. Are we making the same mistakes and flawed assumptions? Are our donors there every year (at what cost does it take to maintain relationships with so many folks that really are not interested in long term relationships? vs. just to keep moving through and connecting to lots of new people.)

I don't know about our donor and member strategy for sure but the results from both the M&RSS study and the political donations world should make us look at these trends and the strategy implications much more closely.

Link: NPR : Political Puzzler: Bush Gets Fewer Repeat Donors.

Political scientist Michael Malbin finds that just 30 percent of Mr. Bush's donors for 2000 came back and gave again for 2004. That's right: Among the donors who put George W. Bush in the White House, seven out of 10 decided not to help him stay there. More than just counterintuitive, this fact is roughly the inverse of what rules of thumb and past studies would suggest.

Exxon 9% of your Budget : Make up Ads

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been bought out as one of the mouth pieces in oil and big energy's media blitz. In case you didn't hear the ads are bogus, full of lies and professor who they are misquoting is speaking out.

The science says global warming is a problem. We are a part of the cause. Confusion and misinformation is a part of their strategy.

Link: Scientist to CEI: You Used My Research To "Confuse and Mislead" -

Hanson: The text of the CEI ad misrepresents the conclusions of the two cited Science papers and our current state of knowledge by selective referencing. The lead author of the Antarctica study, University of Missouri professor Curt Davis, said in the same release that CEI was twisting his findings deliberately to mislead the public:


Consumer-Generated Media: The Age of Engagement: New strategy for Tomorrow

This riff seems inline with the advise of netcentric campaign strategy. How are all of our campaigns and efforts being geared to leverage these themes? Are our advocacy campaigns assuming stories are fluid? Are we preparing and greasing the tracks for our success with multi-media content? Are we building strategy from local needs or just localizing national efforts? Are we building campaigns that assume the collaboration will come?

WE are spending so much time watching "what the right did" that we are missing the opportunity to jump out with new strategy for the new age. We are spending time on big media and big media voices while the big media buys myspace.

The best strategy we seem to have ....Foot Forward. Aim. Fire. Cry.

Link: Consumer-Generated Media: The Age of Engagement.

This is the age of transparency. Our world is becoming more transparent. The blog-enabled "Web recorder" archives real-time citizen experiences and narratives. This includes experiences with products and services.

Stories are fluid in the CGM age. When first-person narratives are involved, stories rarely have a beginning and don't have an end. A first-person experience often seeds needs, and individuals' narratives build upon it and take it in new directions. For marketers interested in conversations, that's a big insight.

A picture's worth a thousands words. We now live in a rich-media, consumer-controlled surveillance culture. Rich media changes the game. The same factors that historically made TV so persuasive and emotionally engaging are core building blocks of the blogosphere. It's time to start thinking more about the power of consumer-generated multimedia (CGM2).

All experience is local, even if it's global. How can you not feel more connected when seeing an immediate photo, hearing a emotion-laced podcast, or reading a first-person testimonial? Like it or not, the Web accelerates our thinking about global communication. We must think more broadly about the power of global influencers. They're much closer to us than we realize.

Real-time collaboration is here. Blogs are more than billboards or diaries. They ar

Real Youth Voices: YouTube - Hope: Myspace and YouTube Organizing for Peace

Here is an example of a high school peace activists (skyracer90) mashing together his own calls for brotherhood. From the way he has included a Twista song (powerpoint/video) to his connection with S.T.R.O.N.G (STRONG mySPACE) to the way Myspace connects him with 500 members.

He also was able to set up a multi-media, network building site all for free. In many ways, this site is more engaging than many of the site and much of the content our professional movement produces.

Link: YouTube - Hope.

Music: Hope by Twista ft. Faith Evans

Please visit S.T.R.O.N.G. "STRUGGLING TO REUNITE OUR NEW GENERATION". They are great people who are trying to put an end to gang violence. Visit them at:

This site is expressive without fancy words, collective (without tell-afriend), open for feedback and connected to culture and organizations. It is smart and a growing example of what our groups should be putting out there and encouraging members and staff to produce.

A few years ago a site with this open feedback and multi-media streaming would have cost thousands of dollars. Why do we still have so many brochureware movements?